Chris Skidmore March 2017 Column

March 03 2017

IN last month’s column I spoke about the upcoming mayoral elections taking place in May this year. Since that column the Conservative Party has elected our candidate and I am delighted to tell Voice readers that the Conservative candidate will be the South Gloucestershire councillor and local businessman, Tim Bowles.

IN last month’s column I spoke about the upcoming mayoral elections taking place in May this year. Since that column the Conservative Party has elected our candidate and I am delighted to tell Voice readers that the Conservative candidate will be the South Gloucestershire councillor and local businessman, Tim Bowles.

This a vitally important election for our area, it is worth millions of pounds in extra funding and allows significant powers to be devolved from central government to our local area. I believe that it is therefore essential for our area that we have someone that will stand up for South Glos’ interests so we are not dominated by Bristol, similar to what happened under the previous Avon authority.

The West of England is doing incredibly well - we are one of the only areas of the UK that gives more money back to HMRC than we take - but investment in infrastructure is desperately needed to keep up with the progress South Gloucestershire is making. Locally we have been consistently let down by political agendas and this has resulted in our roads becoming the most congested anywhere outside of London and our Greenbelt being threatened. To deal with this, greater emphasis should be given to the development of Bristol’s urban brownfield sites so we can protect our area’s Greenbelt from unwanted and unneeded development. I know this is also an issue Tim is focused on and I know he will do everything he can to secure the improvements that have been promised for so long and, as all South Gloucestershire MPs are now Conservatives, we will work with him to deliver the vital infrastructure projects our area needs. 

With 2/3 Councils, 6/9 MPs and the Government now Conservative, it makes sense that we elect a Conservative Metro Mayor so he can work with us to use the extra money to solve the problems our region faces, rather than use the position as a petty political point scoring exercise as I worry others may do. As a local candidate, Tim Bowles knows the transport improvements our area needs and will deliver on them, he will protect our Greenbelt sites by ensuring Bristol’s brownfield sites are better utilised, and will work positively with Government and councils to ensure South Gloucestershire gets its fair share.

My position is clear, I fully endorse Tim Bowles as the Conservative candidate for our area’s Metro Mayor, but whatever your political leanings, as your local MP, and the minister responsible for democratic engagement, I want to make sure local constituents are aware and informed about these elections, and above all, local residents have their voices heard on May 4.