On November 5 a meeting of the Forest Economic Partnership was held at the new Gloucestershire College Campus on Cinderford’s Northern Quarter. The FEP is a coalition of councils and other organisations working cross-border in both England and Wales to build a strong economy for the region and increase regeneration.
The County Council’s representative is Councillor Alan Preest. Recently Cllr Preest stated on Facebook “beware, not friends of GCC, or basic day to day Conservatism” despite the reality that the FEP is working hard against all odds to regenerate our communities, and is slowly but surely making significant progress in doing so.
Zac Arnold, Forest of Dean Constituency Labour Party Youth Officer, said:
“These kinds of comments from Cllr Preest go to summarise the lack of support that the Forest of Dean receives from Gloucestershire County Council and it has been clear for some time that the Conservatives at GCC have one aim, and that’s to abolish FODDC and initiate a unitary authority for Gloucestershire no matter of the cost to the district’s development. They are only serving themselves and are out of touch with reality and we cannot let them get away with it.”
Cllr Di Martin, Leader of the Labour Group on Forest of Dean District Council, said:
As Leader of The Labour Group on the Forest of Dean District Council I fully support and an involved in the FEP, viewing and embracing it as a means of developing skills bringing employment and opportunity to the people of the FOD.
I was shocked and dismayed at Cllr Preest’s comment on Facebook , reinforcing the Group’s concern and suspicion of the reason why this area often seems to be overlooked by the County Council and concerns that plans are being hatched for the future that may threaten our Council’s very existence.
Unitary Authorities decrease representation, are more at risk of ignoring local issues, are easier for people to manipulate, the authority is controlled by a select few and other examples across the world have shown how Unitary structures can at best be completely ineffective at dealing with local issues, and at worst, become tyrannical. A Unitary Authority is something that we cannot and will not accept.
Cllr Preest should be replaced as the County Council representative to the FEP by somebody who is actually interested in supporting the development of the Forest of Dean both economically and physically. Alan Preest is not this person.