About Me

The online diary, thoughts, opinions and observations of Andy Read, Independent district councillor and former Mayor of Stroud in Gloucestershire, England. This is intended as one of the ways in which I try to inform local people what I am doing as their representative and as the only Independent councillor on Stroud District Council.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Family Pond Dipping at The Lake at The Lawn

Families will have two opportunities to get a closer look at the exciting variety of animals that live in the two ponds at The Lake at The Lawn off Cainscross Road.

There is a host of pond life to discover at this wonderful two-hectare Community Green Space including water snails, water boatmen and water beetles.

Two pond dipping events have been organised by Stroud Valleys Project on Wednesday 6th & 13th August 2014.

There will be two sessions on each morning between 10 – 11.00am and 11.15 – 12.15pm.

Booking is essential: Ring SVP on: 01453 753358 or email tamsinbent@stroudvalleysproject.org
Cost : £2 / child; Free for accompanying adults

The Lake At The Lawn was officially opened two years ago  by a local charity following a long campaign by local people to restore the long-lost pleasure garden of the 10-bed Victorian mansion into a community green space.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Greens win Stroud Central election - May 2014

Congratulations to Caroline Molloy who today won my former Stroud Central ward seat in the district council elections. I believe it is the first time a Green candidate has been successful in the Central Ward. I know the Greens ran a good, positive campaign and I wish Caroline the very best in the years to come.

The full results are as follows:
Caroline Molloy  Green Party            289
Tosca Cabello-Watson      Labour     231
Haydn Sutton      Conservative           212
Steve Dechan      Liberal Democrat      32

Full coverage of the results can be read here.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Stroud Central Ward: Elections May 22nd 2014

I am urging people to vote Green on Thursday (May 22nd) when a new councillor is elected to represent my old seat on Stroud District Council.

A third of the council is up for election on the same day as millions of voters across the country turn out to select new European politicians.

Caroline Molloy is the Green Party Candidate of the Stroud Central Ward which I vacated in April. Caroline works and lives in Stroud and was heavily involved in the successful campaign to stop the privatisation of Stroud's hospital.

I have worked closely with the Greens throughout my time in Stroud. They have an excellent record of standing up for local people and enhancing Stroud’s vital community services. That’s why I’m happy to
endorse Caroline Molloy as the best candidate for Central.

Another local Green councillor, Molly Scott Cato who lives in the Central Ward, is heading the Green Party list in the south west for the Euro elections.

However, what is most important is that on Thursday people get out and use their democratic powers to select the best people to represent them at local and European level.

A copy of Caroline Molloy's election leaflet can be read here:

There are three other candidates for the Stroud Central seat. The full list of candidates is as follows:

Caroline Jean MOLLOY
32 Springhill, Stroud,
Green Party

Tosca Sofia Antonia CABELLO WATSON
Wribbenhall, Rodborough Hill, Rodborough
Labour Party

35 Lower St, Stroud,
Liberal Democrat

Parkfield, Parkend, Stroud,
Conservative Party

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ending on a positive note: Delight as Farrs Lane flats plan is firmly rejected

Finally some good planning news: For the past 18 months I've been assisting residents and businesses in Farrs Lane and Nelson Street to fight a scheme to convert a row of small industrial units into a towering block of 10 flats.

This was one of the worst applications I'd seen in over 20 years of planning in Stroud. We worked closely with planning officers at SDC to ensure the scheme was soundly rejected. However the applicant took it to appeal last year, and so we were in the hands of a government planning inspector for a final decision.

Residents have just been in touch to tell me that the inspector's decision has now been published: he has also soundly rejected the scheme - upholding almost all of the council's refusal reasons. Great news and hopefully a fresh scheme can now be developed for the site retaining it's employment benefits and minimising any impact on local families and businesses.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Nice farewell press coverage this week

Nice article in the SNJ (local paper) this week about my emigration. They got the timeline a bit mixed up - but nice to get a goodbye mention. Even nicer as the reason I moved to Stroud 21 years ago was that I was offered a job as a trainee reporter at the SNJ! Life always comes full circle.....


Monday, 24 March 2014

After 20 years, it is time for a change.

After two decades worth of politics, I have today handed in my resignation letter at Stroud District Council. My final day as the Independent councillor for the centre of Stroud will be April 4th. The timing means that a by-election can be held at the same time as the other council and European elections on May 22nd.

Overall I have served 13 years on Stroud Town Council, including four as Mayor and Deputy Mayor. I've also completed seven years on Stroud District Council - initially serving four years as a Labour district councillor for Cainscross before successfully standing as an Independent for Stroud Central in 2011.

As posted on this blog on January 1st my wife Debbie and I are relocating to central France to work on developing a new community-based countryside project. We finally sold our house in Uplands Road at the end of January. I completed my final week of work in Stroud on Friday, which included the official completion of The Lake at The Lawn restoration project.

I shall remain ward councillor until April 4th. My contact details are on the tab above. I intend to keep this blog running - but obviously with more of a French theme. I am currently writing up a big article reflecting on some of the issues I've been involved in over 20 years as a councillor. I'll post the article on this blog in the next few weeks.

I was asked today for a quote for the local papers. This is what I said: “I have always aimed to be a positive councillor. From officially opening the town’s public conveniences, to complimenting Princess Anne on her dress sense. From pulling Tesco trolleys out of the Painswick Stream on a freezing Sunday morning, to taking the government to London’s High Court and winning, it’s been challenging yet full of variety and great fun.

Pic - Officially opening the Bedford Street public toilets whilst Stroud Mayor - by very kind permission of my former colleague and top pic man Paul Nicholls

Dudbridge Canal Locks and The Lawn officially open

Boats have passed through the historic Dudbridge Double Canal Locks for the first time in 70 years as the latest part of the multi-million pound canal restoration in Stroud was completed.

I was able to join over 100 volunteers to celebrate the official opening of the locks. The event also marked the completion of an 11-year project to restore the adjoining derelict pleasure gardens of a long-lost Victorian mansion. Volunteers spent 610 days transforming The Lake at The Lawn, next to Cainscross Roundabout, into a two-hectare green oasis for local people and wildlife.

The Lake at The Lawn from the towpath
Having set up Stroud Community Land Trust (CLT), the charity which owns the site and also managed the restoration project, it was a personal pleasure to see the transformation of the whole area.

SCLT, formed by local residents to save the site, raised £150,000 to complete the work. The bulk of the funding came from the Big Lottery's Changing Spaces Fund. We worked with four schools, planted 76 trees and worked with 23 different partner groups.

Following Stroud District Council's restoration of Dudbridge Locks, volunteers from the Cotswold Canals Trust and Stroud District Council's Tuesday and Thursday groups have been busy at the site. They have fitted all the paddle gear to the locks, laid new towpath and concreted the area to avoid repetition of the flood damage caused earlier this year.

Last Wednesday's volunteer event saw boats pass through the two Dudbridge locks for the first time in 70 years. Volunteers were treated to a barbecue organised by Stroud District Council, SCLT and the Cotswold Canals Trust. I was keen to ensure that rather have some politician cut a ribbon, the opening event celebrated the work of volunteers.

Jack Telling, the Canal Trust's chairman told me: "Both The Lawn and canal projects simply wouldn't have happened without volunteers. They do a fantastic job in all winds and weathers. They are the unsung heroes. This event is a small thank you for a job well done."

Restoration of the locks also creates a footpath link into The Lake at The Lawn from the canal towpath for the first time ever. This was a key request from the local community when the project was launched.

Joining the celebration will be volunteers from the Stroud Valleys Project, which helped with The Lawn project and is now busy creating Stroud's waterside park at Capel's Mill.

Volunteers enjoyed beer and a BBQ in the sun

The restored canal at Dudbridge

Canal boats pass The Lake at The Lawn (left) for the first time in 70 years

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