Mark Harper failed to offer any reassurance or support for the Forest of Dean at a meeting requested by Council Leader Mark Topping at Coleford last week.The meeting was attended by the Deputy Leaders and CEO, Nigel Brinn.
Afterwards, Mark Topping said:
“Mark Harper made it clear the Government has no intention to resolve the Local Government funding crisis which has brought councils all over the country to the brink of bankruptcy. I can only conclude that’s where the Conservatives want us to be. Privatising publicly owned assets like car parks is part of that vision, as has been made explicit by the Government recently. What a hammer-blow for local people it would be if the Conservatives get their way and our car parks end up run by NCP.
“He also offered no hope for communities across the Forest of Dean which are struggling to improve road safety. Many parishes are calling for 20 mph limits in residential areas to reduce the number road deaths and serious injuries and help improve community wellbeing. There is a mass of evidence which proves how effective 20 mph limits are on the right roads but the Transport Minister is opposed to it – even though the Government signed up to it in 2019. He seems to have no sense of urgency about reducing road casualties.
“I also challenged him on the Government’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza where more than 10,000 children are estimated to have been killed in recent months. The whole world is calling for an immediate ceasefire, but he, and the Government of which he is a part, remain complicit with a regime that’s in the dock at the International Court of Justice accused of Genocide.
“I also highlighted the pressures being put on our homelessness service in the Forest of Dean as a result of the Government policy of shutting down accommodation for asylum seekers. Again, no offer of support.
“Similarly I raised the issue of the so-called Shared Prosperity Fund and the decision to remove decision-making on how grants are spent away from districts like the Forest of Dean and put in the hands of more remote authorities. They call it devolution, it’s exactly the opposite.
“It is very disappointing that our current MP is unable to offer any support or reassurance on any of these issues”