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Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire are expressing their concern about revelations that local NHS bosses are in discussions with a private developer about selling land at the Frenchay Hospital site.

News has recently emerged that housebuilder Redrow has submitted an application to develop land at the Frenchay Hospital site which has long been reserved for health and social care provision. At South Gloucestershire Council's Health Scrutiny Committee this morning, councillors expressed their concern about the possible impact of this move on the promised health services.

Although the NHS representatives at the meeting apologised for the way the news had broken and confirmed they had not encouraged Redrow's planning application, they pointedly refused to ask the developer to withdraw it. They confirmed to Labour councillor Ian Scott that exploratory discussions with the housebuilder had begun in November.

The Health Scrutiny Committee resolved to seek an assurance from the NHS that this plan would not be taken forward unless all partners, including the council, were satisfied that the long-promised health and social care provision would still be delivered on the site.

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Speaking after the meeting Councillor Ian Scott, who leads for Labour on health issues, said:

"The financial problems facing the NHS are clearly forcing local managers to look for any way they can to find money. This is an inevitable effect of the Tory government's austerity programme.

The community and councillors need to keep pressure on the NHS to ensure that the plan for health and social care services promised for Frenchay over many years does not suffer or get scaled back as a result of this or any other deal with housing developers."

Labour concern over Frenchay development

Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire are expressing their concern about revelations that local NHS bosses are in discussions with a private developer about selling land at the Frenchay Hospital site....

The Leader of South Gloucestershire's Labour councillors has welcomed the publication of new council ward boundaries that will result in a cut to the number of councillors on the district's council.

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The Local Government Boundary Commission today published its final recommendations for the boundaries on which the May 2019 council elections will be fought. These cut the number of councillors to 61 (from 70) and come after a long process of consultation. The recommendations now need formal confirmation by the parliamentary authorities.

Some familiar ward names are destined to disappear, such as Rodway, Siston and Westerleigh, whilst new ones will be created including Charlton & Cribbs and New Cheltenham.

Because South Gloucestershire's population is set to rise, the changes mean that the average number of electors served by each councillor will increase by 25%, from 3,008 to 3,773 per councillor.

Labour Group Leader Councillor Pat Rooney comments:

"At a time when the council is cutting hundreds of jobs and those staff that remain are working harder, I feel that elected councillors should not be exempt. A reduction in the number of councillors will also help to reduce costs, although it will only make a tiny dent given the size of the black hole in the council's finances.

Reducing the size of the council at a time of population growth was always going to trigger some big changes, and although I don't like all of the proposals I do commend the Boundary Commission for their tidy solution overall."

Labour welcomes boundary proposals

The Leader of South Gloucestershire's Labour councillors has welcomed the publication of new council ward boundaries that will result in a cut to the number of councillors on the district's...

Labour's Finance spokesperson on South Gloucestershire Council says that the Conservative administration's refusal to share budget information with its new Scrutiny Commission proves that there is a "culture of concealment" at the council.

Councillor Adam Monk had tabled questions for today's Scrutiny Commission requesting information on the impact of the national financial settlement and on specific budget proposals being considered and rejected by each of the council's directorates.

The answer supplied gave an update on the impact of the national financial settlement but in terms of local proposals it stated that:

"Directors are currently working confidentially with the [Tory] administration in respect of next year and future years budget options"

Councillor Adam Monk says:

"When the Tories abolished most of the council's committees last May they promised that the new Scrutiny Commission would play a key role in providing checks and balances.

It is now crystal clear that they have no intention of sharing key information with the cross-Party Commission in the formulation of the Council Budget. Instead, councillors will be presented with the budget on a 'take it or leave it' basis.

We are regularly exposing examples of the culture of concealment at South Gloucestershire Council under the Tories' new system, and we now have proof of this in writing."

Budget secrecy proves "culture of concealment"

Labour's Finance spokesperson on South Gloucestershire Council says that the Conservative administration's refusal to share budget information with its new Scrutiny Commission proves that there is a "culture of concealment"...

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