Cheltenham Liberal Democrats – ambitions for jobs, homes and environment

New jobs, new homes and the climate emergency are at the forefront of all our minds as we recover from the Covid pandemic. As Liberal Democrat leaders in local government, we need to address all these. I was proud to lead the media briefing in Cheltenham announcing our internationally significant development that covers all three of those topics.

The Golden Valley development will bring up to 12,000 new jobs, 3,700 homes and two million square feet of commercial space, centred on the UK’s first cyber security focused campus: Cyber Central. And we will achieve some of the highest levels of sustainability in development available as part of a Garden Community.

Cheltenham already has a booming cyber security sector, partly down to the important work undertaken by GCHQ’s site at the west of the town. The town has eleven times the national average of cyber security business. It was because of that strong base and the vision of the Lib Dem led council, including our hardworking officers, that we made our biggest ever investment. We purchased the land for £37.5million, giving us control over the future of the site. That meant we could aim high on environmental standards and set affordable housing at almost 40 per cent of the development. That’s part of our £180million commitment to building affordable housing in Cheltenham. Our developer partner HBD X Factory, announced formally today (30 July), is working to a supplementary planning document that sets out our ambitions.

And those ambitions are set high. The jobs at Cyber Central will be in skilled professions that will give Cheltenham people a better future. Already, Gloucestershire College is offering a degree apprenticeship in partnership with the University of the West of England. Pioneering local industry leaders have setup Cynam to ensure knowledge is shared among the local cyber security community – and they’ve been doing some brilliant outreach to get women and girls involved in STEM too. Thanks to the hard work undertaken already, there is significant interest in the site from household names.

None of this would be happening if the Liberal Democrats had not been running the Borough Council for the past 11 years, for most of that time under my inspirational predecessor Steve Jordan. This announcement is a taste of the difference we can make to our communities when we take a positive, can-do approach to the future.

* Rowena Hay is the leader of Cheltenham Borough Council. She has been the councillor for Oakley ward since 2008 and a cabinet member for nine years.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • John Littler 31st Jul '21 - 8:58am

    Left Turn Ahead. Opinion – Young People. Guardian

    1. Labour beat the Tories among voters aged 18 to 24 by an unprecedented 43%. (Anecdotally this concurs with my own
    Understanding of young people’s views in North Oxfordshire.)

    Earlier this month free-market thinktank the Institute of Economic Affairs published Left Turn Ahead, a survey of young people’s attitudes towards capitalism and socialism.
    “Younger people really do quite consistently express hostility to capitalism, and positive views of socialist alternatives,” it found. The common argument that “they will grow out of it”, the survey continued, “is simply not borne out by the data. There are no detectable differences between the economic attitudes of people in their late teens and people in their early 40s”. These attitudes might be “a preview” of “mainstream opinion in Britain tomorrow”.

    At every general election from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, and again in 2010, as many or more under-45 voters chose the Tories as Labour. The radicalisation of the young, which has also happened in other parts of Europe and the United States, is a new feature of 21st-century western politics.

  • John Littler 31st Jul '21 - 8:58am

    2. One reason for this radicalism’s spread and persistence, despite its lack of electoral success, is that it is rooted in everyday experience – in particular, the modern experience of work. Zero-hours contracts, exploitative internships, graduates stuck in cafe jobs, a decade of stagnant wages, general precariousness. ( I could add rocketing rents and unaffordable mortgages.)

    So the launch by Labour earlier this week of a “new deal for working people” could be significant.
    (The LibDems need a response to these growing problems which cannot be solved by markets in a largely privatised and under regulated economy)

  • John Littler 31st Jul '21 - 9:05am

    3. LibDem Policy Doc’s are overburdened with details and fail to grab most people’s attention, even the politically interested. Priority should be given to headlines and summaries, say the top 4, top 8 and top 12 points.

  • I bet the “Golden Valley Development” isn’t zero carbon and thus is just adding to the climate and environmental mess we’re in….
    Played correctly, it could’ve used to kick and cajole the government into delivering on some LibDem environmental policies…

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