Final decision from Labour Party HQ on the complaint lodged by Lydney Town Council | Tim Dexter

In an email to, then Executive Officer of Lydney Town Council and later Assistant Clerk, Carol Wheeler, Labour Party Complaints Officer Tim Dexter said:

“Thank you for providing the additional information.

“If Mr Arnold is attending these meetings as a private individuall and resident then this would not be a matter that the Labour Party would be able to take any action on. We are unable to arbitrate on members’ conduct outside of their participation with the Party, and matters such as this would therefore be irrespective of their membership.

“I would advise that any concerns over safety or potential behaviour should be reported to the Police.”

Lydney Town Council supply Labour Party HQ with additional information regarding their complaint | Carol Wheeler

In response to a request for more information from Tim Dexter, Complaints Officer for the National Labour Party at Southside, Carol Wheeler wrote to him as Lydney Town Council’s Executive Officer saying:

“Mr Arnold openly publicises the fact the he is a Labour activist, the news article relating to this recent incident and indeed Mr Arnold’s own FB page promotes his status as CLP Campaign coordinator for The Labour Party.

“As Mr Arnold has in the past been publicly vocal in his views concerning the closures of local hospitals in both Lydney and Cinderford, he is therefore well known to many people; likewise when he attended a previous Lydney Recreation Trust Meeting at the Council Chambers he later placed a Press Statement on his FB page with the banner saying he was Youth Officer FOD Labour Party.

“At Monday’s meeting Mr Arnold, in line with Standing Orders (the Council’s Meeting protocol) was asked to state his name and address; as well as being known to all present, he gave the same home address as shown on his banner. Furthermore during/following the incident he has continued to post to his FB page which associates him with the Labour Party and the news article attached also advises of the fact that he intends to cause further disruption.”

Lydney Town Council lodge formal complaint to the Labour Party | Cllrs Bob Berryman & Brian Pearman

“Dear Sir or Madam

“We would like to make an official complaint against Mr Zac Arnold regarding his behaviour towards our Council/Council Members and Employees.

“At our Full Council meeting last night Mr Arnold, under the Public Forum agenda item, asked three questions of our Council. Under our Council’s Standing Orders questions raised under the Forum must relate to items on the agenda. However, our Council had previously provided Mr Arnold with answers to two of his questions a number of months prior.

“Under the first question, raised under Lydney Town Council’s budget for 2019/2020 (Agenda Item 9b), Mr Arnold sought to challenge/berate our Council for resolving not to participate in providing a District-wide Youth Worker as he felt that the Council held sufficient finance as it has elected to purchase a Town Flag/one of it’s Charitable Trusts had chosen to invest in sculpturing a tree trunk in Bathurst Park into a tourism feature. Mr Arnold was also derogatory towards our CEO and Proper Officer of our Council, and requested that his questions be answered by an Elected Official rather than unelected Bureaucrat. Mr Arnold had previously been informed by our Council that it had resolved to invest in youth provision locally, rather than contribute to a District-wide initiative and Mr Arnold was advised that the CEO was appointed to respond to matters on behalf of our Council. Furthermore, that the initiative referred to by Mr Arnold would likely result in an expense of £25,000.00 to our Council. Mr Arnold was also informed by a fellow Councillor that his question did not relate to the agenda item he had referenced as Mr Arnold had not had sight of the Council’s budget at that time.

“The second question raised concerned a complaint which had been made against our Council by Mr Arnold which Mr Arnold raised under Agenda Item 14 (Committee and Other Reports). Whilst the matter had been considered and resolved and duly minuted (publicly accessible) , with Mr Arnold being informed of the outcome of his complaint in writing mid-November, Mr Arnold did not accept the Council’s decision and requested that he receive a formal apology. Mr Arnold was advised that he had already received the Council’s response regarding his complaint, by this time Mr Arnold had become increasingly agitated.

“The third question Mr Arnold raised under Agenda Item 19 – Press Release/Statement which he referenced an article in Gloucestershire Live, in which the Mayor was interviewed regarding the submission of a planning application from retailer B&M to utilise a vacant, vandalised retail premises in our Town as their new store. Mr Arnold then sought to berate the Mayor for welcoming the news that the retailer was seeking to open a store in our Town, and he launched into a tirade against the management practices of B&M and their facilities provided to their employees. During this tirade Mr Arnold was warned by the Mayor that if he continued with his speech/argumentative manner the meeting would be suspended. Mr Arnold refused to pay any attention to the warnings given, our meeting was duly suspended and Mr Arnold was asked several times to leave the meeting by our CEO/Proper Officer. However, Mr Arnold refused to leave the meeting which resulted in the Police being called to our office to escort Mr Arnold from the building. Mr Arnold then refused to leave the site, despite the Police making a number of requests for him to do so, and we believe he was then arrested for Breach of the Peace and taken to Gloucester (Incident Number 366 of 14 January 2019 refers).

“We would advise that this is not the first time our Council has had cause for concern over Mr Arnold’s intimidatory manner and we would refer you to the enclosed e-mail which has been sent to the Police. Whilst we appreciate Mr Arnold is passionate in his political beliefs, we feel his actions have overstepped the mark of acceptability.

“We trust that you will take action regarding our complaint and we look forward to hearing from you.

“Yours Faithfully (for and on behalf of Lydney Town Council)

“Cllr Bob Berryman (Mayor) and Cllr Brian Pearman (Deputy Mayor and Chairman of the Personnel Committee”

Foodbank Britain: How Universal Credit is hitting this rural area | Zac Arnold

Zac Arnold writes about the effects of the Tory policy in his Gloucestershire community. This article was originally published by Left Foot Forward on 10 December 2018, you can view the original here.

Original Image: Left Foot Forward, 2018

The negative impacts that Universal Credit is having on ordinary people across the country is a path that has been walked plenty of times by “non-mainstream” media outlets.

The campaign to have the system scrapped entirely is in full swing. 

The real impact of this flawed project – of which ex-Tory leader and former secretary of state for the Department of Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, is the architect – is clear. However, it is also clear that Theresa May will not, at any costs, back down on the vanity project of her disgraced predecessor. 

The Forest of Dean, a small rural district in Gloucestershire ranked 303rd out of 324 local authorities in terms of social mobility, dragged itself through the full roll out of Universal Credit in November 2017 and the impact was clear within days. 

According to a source at Forest Foodbank, in the days following the roll out of Universal Credit across the district, use of the local foodbank operated by the Trussell Trust increased by 85%.

Even by early 2018 usage of the foodbank had only slowed to 50% and now, over 12 months later, usage is still up by 30%. 

The foodbank source also stated it “doubled the normal three vouchers in six months limit for those who can show us they are transitioning to UC” due to the demand and strain on claimants being so significant, and due to problems with payments not being received on time. 

What the Conservative government appear to forget is that the people suffering under this programme are just that. People. People that are vulnerable. People that are struggling to survive. People that need that extra hand and some humanity.

It appears that the government have no real grasp, or do not want to have a real grasp, on the level of devastation they are causing. 

The source also said foodbank staff “hear many stories of long initial wait periods well over the 5 week minimum, and very punitive sanctions for seemingly trivial transgressions.”

One such story being a “heavily pregnant girl in her early 20s who missed one job centre appointment due to health issues related to her pregnancy, and was sanctioned 47 days money, leaving her with absolutely no money for over a month.” 

The foodbank is also falling behind demand despite seeing an 11% increase in donations since last year and they are also experiencing a significant turnover of volunteers.

“There is only so much we can do, and it puts a lot of pressure on our wonderful volunteers and volunteer management team, leading to a higher than desirable turnover of volunteers, and we are currently recruiting in all areas, including a manager.” 

Forest Foodbank Volunteer

This is only a small sample of the impacts that Universal Credit is forcing on our communities. On our neighbours. On our families. On our friends. The Trussell Trust estimates that there has been an average 52% increase in foodbank usage in areas where Universal Credit has been fully rolled out with 1,332,952 people receiving emergency food supplies from Trussell Trust foodbanks in the 2017/18 year compared to the 2016/17 year. 

In the Forest of Dean, 3368 three day emergency food parcels were handed out to people in need in 2016/17 year alone. This was before the increase in usage due to Universal Credit. 

The full roll out of Universal Credit across the country is yet to be completed, with all local authorities set to have transitioned by 2022, and there is already a clear correlation between foodbank usage and the roll out of Universal Credit.

According to the Trussell Trust, the average 52% increase in foodbank usage in Universal Credit roll out areas in the 2017/18 year so far, slows to an average 18% increase in areas where Universal Credit is yet to be rolled out. 

Of course, the increased usage of foodbanks is not the only impact of Universal Credit. There are many more, with the likes of rent arrears and eviction included, but these are stories for another day in this saga of devastation.

It is clear that this government couldn’t care less about the people of our country and they have the nerve to pose for selfies at foodbanks in the run up to Christmas. 

Zac Arnold is an A Level Student from the Forest of Dean.

Zac Arnold

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Mindful of the Jo Cox case we do feel that this behaviour warrants noting ‘on file’ | Jayne Smailes

This email was not in the public domain and had not been seen by myself prior to Lydney Town Council publishing it in their press pack on 21 February 2019, not even the rest of the Councillors had seen it prior to 20 February 2019.

In an email to Gloucestershire Constabulary; namely Sergeant Andrew Doyle, and Lydney Town Council Personnel Committee members Cllrs Alan Preest, Bob Berryman, Brian Pearman, Carol Harris and Harry Ives, Jayne Smailes (Chief Executive Officer) states:


“Dear Personnel Committee/Sgt Doyle

“We write in order to make you aware that following last night’s Meetings three individuals (Trustee Holmes, visitors Zac and Louis Arnold) remained outside the building when everyone was leaving.

“As Carol and I were about to exit/set the building alarm Louis Arnold came back into the office the use the toilet so we had to wait for him before locking up; had Bob/Brian not remained in the Car Park talking we would have had to walk past the three of them for they remained at the planter at the top of the entrance ramp by the door to the building for no apparent reason.

“We do not propose any action be taken however, given recent Facebook posts in which the Council have been heavily criticised of late and mindful of the Jo Cox case we do feel that this behaviour warrants noting ‘on file’ by members of the Personnel Committee and the Police.”

Forest hospitals: The verdict? We fight on harder than before | Owen Adams & Zac Arnold

Today the Citizens’ Jury that was tasked to deliberate over one very difficult question – not whether or not we should keep or lose our hospitals (we are not allowed a say on that) – but the vague location of a new hospital (but not the site itself) decided on a verdict: Cinderford narrowly won the vote, with Coleford coming second and Lydney third. If anyone’s interested, the final tally after three rounds of counting (and checking with electoral rules in the process), was Cinderford 11, Coleford 8 and Lydney 6. Local media turned up for the verdict but no one reported on all the evidence that came out during the past few days except HOLD. The Forester didn’t speak to us, and The Forest Citizen have been nowhere to be seen throughout, but we did get a short bit on BBC1 Points West both today and on Monday.

Although Cinderford is the most central of the three towns up for consideration, none of the locations can be reached by all of the Forest of Dean district within a 30-minute drive, according to the map modelling used by the Jury. The evidence presented to the jury made it blatantly obvious the Forest of Dean district needs two hospitals. Residents in the west of the district have no realistic alternative to using a minor injuries unit in the Forest of Dean as the nearest other hospital providing the facility is west of Caerphilly, would face a longer journey to get the help they needed, or to visit loved ones in hospital (if they are able to get a bed). If the hospital had been sited in Coleford or Lydney, the north of the district would have lost out. So the NHS now has jettisoned its responsibility to provide hospital-based care and emergency treatment for people living west of Lydney, rather than providing accessible health for all.

The Gloucestershire Care Services Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group arrogantly presume they can shut down and sell off two hospitals which were built predominantly from hard-earned wages of miners and other workers. We have been informed from several different people that at the recent Forest Health Forum meeting, the Trust’s new CEO Paul Roberts misled local press and councillors by telling them our legal battle is off – this is not true and he should know that from the Trust/CCG solicitor. This is just one example of a mounting catalogue of deceit, misinformation, changing goalposts and just incredible unaccountability to us all, who the NHS and our hospitals belong to.

Nevertheless the Citizens’ Jury itself, although applied to a farcical situation where democracy was wholly disregarded for the crucial decision to replace our two hospitals with one, offered the first chance for 18 “ordinary people”, non-politicians, in the Forest of Dean to scrutinise the proposal and uncover all its holes even though the brief they had to follow was limited – to “make a recommendation for a location” rather than be given any idea of the exact location, type and size of site, or the bed numbers. So in many ways their decision had to be a blind one. They could not, for example, determine whether the hospital would be built on a coal mine or field, whether it needed millions of pounds of groundwork or road layout, or whether it would have adequate facilities. From Monday to Wednesday, HOLD reported on the Citizens’ Jury proceedings at Forest Hills Golf Club, and we observed throughout the five days.


See our reports from each of the first 3 days of the Citizens’ Jury:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


1. A conversation we had with a Dilke and Lydney hospital staff member revealed that there is sometimes (acute) Accident & Emergency treatment at our community hospitals – although this is not the norm people have been treated for heart attacks and other life-threatening emergency situations.

2. When the lift to the operating theatre broke down at Lydney Hospital, rather than fixing the lift, the operating theatre was closed. It is now used as a store room. This is one of a great many examples we have heard of “managed decline” or chronic underinvestment in our two hospitals.

3. Although not considered relevant so not included in any of the evidence to the Jury, thanks to the closure of many of Chepstow hospital’s facilities, with the nearest A&E in Newport, and nearest minor injuries unit in Ystrad Mynach, near Caerphilly, an increasing number of people from across the border are having to use the Dilke and Lydney Hospitals – the staff member estimated 40% of those needing aid for minor injuries and illnesses.

4. Several jurors have declared on several occasions, including yesterday, that they and most people they know still want two hospitals.

5. Gloucestershire CCG told the Jury the 1,600-plus people who completed its latest consultation on Locality are not representative of the Forest of Dean, and did not total the figures for preference (or no preference) in its outcome report, but only provided totals for each postcode area (unsurprisingly the majority for the town nearest them). In the next presentation on Equalities, however, it revealed Lydney had the largest percentage, with just over 50%. Despite taking out a double-page spread advertisement in the Forest Review, the results are only being considered by the CCG as a “broad indication” – it is the “rich data” the CCG is interested in. The CCG claims there was nothing to stop someone taking 50 forms and filling them all out. Surely this could happen for every consultation? Consultations were not sent to everyone because of the huge cost implication, the CCG said.A total of 9000 consultation booklets were produced. She did not have the figures of all those who had filled in more than one box, but they were included in the overall (disregarded) results. We will update when we discover how much this waste-of-money exercise cost us in public funds.

6. As one of the criteria for choosing the town location was that it was in an area of “regeneration”, Cinderford was marked out as a key place by Forest of Dean District Council planning officer Nigel Gibbons in his presentation due to the Cinderford Northern Quarter former opencast/ deep mine and former public Forest site near Hawkwell and Steam Mills, where so far millions of pounds of public money have been sunk into a college, one-third of a proposed spine-road network and “bat hotels” which alone cost £500,000. Chris Witham, chair of the town council who won over the jury, also mooted the Northern Quarter could become a new public transport hub. Cllr Witham also told the jury he did not know where the site would be but it is public knowledge that Cinderford councillors have been lobbying for a new hospital to be built on top of the Northern United deep mine since 2016 – an area previously designated for light industrial use but parts of it still occupied by protected bats. Expert engineers have previously warned this site is unsuitable and dangerous to build on. The college next door is said to have cost £50 million due to the massive ground-stabilisation work required. We hasten to add that we do not know – and the NHS say they do not yet know – which site they want to build on. This mystery site has to be within two miles from Cinderford Town Centre (the War Memorial) by road or 1.5 miles as the crow flies to meet the Location criteria. Chris Witham told the jury that the Northern Quarter was a £450 million development.

7. One juror spoke about mistrust of “many people where I live given that 46% didn’t want” a single replacement hospital and a “concern we are just ticking a box by going through this”. He asked for a commitment that “it won’t happen again” and that “proper deliberation would be given to our decision” by the NHS Boards who meet on August 30th to “consider” the Jury “recommendation”. He was “assured” by Caroline Smith, public engagement officer of the CCG, that the decision would be listened to – for the original consultation they “did have a preferred option”. She said they “genuinely did not have a preferred location”, and if they did not go with the Jury recommendation and “made a different decision” (on August 30) “we would need to be absolutely clear why we did that.”

8. We managed not to laugh out loud when we heard that the CCG is “properly scrutinised” by “elected members” (councillors) and the statutory Quedgeley-based Gloucestershire Healthwatch.

9. There is an “expectation” there will be free parking at the single hospital – the CCG said.

10. The future of GP care for people in Lydbrook using the Brunstone House practice is uncertain due to the proposed Coleford Health Centre, Coleford mayor Nick Penny said.

First thing on Friday morning, the Jury began with a short session for Jurors to raise points that they had over night or that morning or questions that they had from the previous day. The most interesting of which are listed below:

1. One Juror suggested that the presentation given by Councillors Nick Penny and Marilyn Cox on Tuesday contained misleading information. The Councillors emphasised both during this presentation and during their closing remarks on Thursday that Great Oaks Hospice in Coleford previously carried out a vast amount of research when deciding where to locate to and that this could be re-used to argue why Coleford was a suitable location for a new hospital. The Juror suggested that the land had been gifted to Great Oaks and that this was the reason for them locating to Coleford rather than a “vast amount of research.”

2. Another Juror suggested that the lack of thought by the Jury and it’s witnesses to consider the locations of the district’s schools in their decision was concerning and disappointing.

3. Another Juror suggested that some cause for investment should be split between Coleford and Lydney as Cinderford has had a history of receiving vast amounts of public investment with the other two towns receiving fairly little.

4. Dr Malcolm Oswald, Director of Citizens Juries CiC answered a question from a Juror as to why the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) was relevant to the Jury. Dr Oswald stated that this was presented to the Jury to ensure that they had the same information as the NHS boards will have later this month, and thus give the boards less reason to  “deviate” from the recommendation of the Citizens’ Jury.

5. Another Juror also suggested that they should have been given the evidence by the Community Transport providers as to how many users, use their services for health related purposes. This information was not given to them during the community transport presentation on Wednesday.

6. A Juror stated that what was proposed was a “new type of hospital” and was “not what the public expect” or support.

7. Dr Oswald stated that there were “no plans” to bring a maternity unit into the new facility and that it was “very, very unlikely to happen.”


Many other observances came out which we will examine in due course and may form part of the legal action we intend to take against the NHS and CCG when they attempt to close our two hospitals, the Dilke and Lydney Hospitals. If you want to help save them, our advice is not to be despondent and consider how many fights we have won in the Forest of Dean against the powers-that-be, recently and historically. We also call for everyone to stay united in the district and not let themselves become be divided by town allegiances.

Our observations: Forest hospitals citizens’ jury Day 3 | Owen Adams & Zac Arnold


1. Forest Routes community transport run by volunteers such as Dial-A-Ride (Lydney and Newent, plus Bream and Lydcare) are running at full capacity and facing a serious crisis due to proposed Government legislation which will force volunteer drivers and the charities to be licensed as commercial operators – and they are also facing sharply increasing demand due to the shortcomings of the NHS-contracted Arriva patient transport. Public transport in the Forest of Dean is awful – especially in the north of the district. Services from Mitcheldean, Ruardean and Newent and other north Dean villages are non-existent or very few to the three Forest towns. Jurors said it had been an “eye-opener” hearing about these crises.

These volunteers provide an “armchair to armchair” service, charging 45p or 50p per mile, some services for health appointments only, others also for social events – but are increasingly forced to cancel social bookings to prioritise on health. They also run public minibus services (sometimes daily, more often once or twice a week) which reach areas commercial operators fail to.

Recruiting suitable volunteers is not easy – as they have to be able to also provide care and a rapport with their clients, ensuring they help them from their homes to their destinations and if necessary wait for them to complete their appointments. Now with the new impending licensing changes, they face a very uncertain future.

A Juror later paid tribute to the work they did, saying the perilous state of community and public transport in the Forest of Dean was an “eye-opener”.
2. Forest of Dean District Council, GPs, community transport providers, county council highways, ambulance workers have no preference about hospital location – as long as it meets their various criteria (including planning regs, easy access for parking, ambulances, minibuses and Dial-A-Ride cars and not in several town centre congestion zones).


* Dr Paul Weiss, chair of the Forest of Dean GP “cluster” (representing 11 practices) explained that though Newent is part of the Tewkesbury GP “cluster” patients would generally go to the Dilke Hospital.

* Given that HOLD has been very careful to follow the rules – not to speak to any jury member and not to go near the jury room, we were concerned when we spotted an NHS CCG employee wondering into the jury room. We raised this with the Citizens’ Jury staff, and were told by the CCG that their employees were allowed to go and get food and drink from the jury room but not to talk to the jurors. As we cannot – and indeed should not be able to – observe the jury room itself we raised concerns. At the end of the day, it was announced that no observers should approach the jury as there had been complaints some had.

* Another concern of ours was that while statistics show that about one-third of minor injuries cases go outside the Forest of Dean for treatment – no statistics or information was offered, the subject did not arise, about all those using the Dilke and Lydney minor injuries units who were either visitors or had come from Chepstow or Monmouth areas, as they no longer have these facilities anywhere nearby. We were told this was not really relevant to the brief, which is about residents choosing a location.

* Dr Paul Weiss told the Jury that Forest of Dean GPs could not reach consensus on a preferred location at their June 2018 meeting. Each GP wanted the new hospital to be in their nearest town. He also spoke about the plans for a new health centre on Valley Road in Cinderford, and proposed Coleford health centre. He told the Jury that midwives, health visitors and other NHS staff would be based at the new health centre (as they currently are at Dockham Road). However, this is contrary to what we have been told and Dr Weiss afterwards said he didn’t know whether they would be.

HOLD was told at the launch of the proposed Cinderford health centre by NHS representatives that midwives and health visitors not financed by GPs (instead NHS employees while doctors are independent businesses) will not buy into the new centre, to be built by Assura Plc. Instead they will either be based at the community hospital(s) and other GP practices. The developer confirmed they have designed space for a pharmacy (which puts the future of the mandatory two pharmacy licensees in the town into question).

HOLD will be back tomorrow as the Jury continues. The agenda for tomorrow’s sessions includes the presentation of the outcome of the second public engagement around the location of a hospital and “closing remarks” from the representatives of Lydney, Coleford and Cinderford. The Jury will then vote on their recommended location around Friday lunchtime. Our observations from both days will be online each evening.

Our observations: Forest hospitals citizens’ jury Day 2 | Owen Adams & Zac Arnold

Today, the Citizens’ Jury to develop a recommendation on the location of a new, community hospital continued on day 2 of 5. Two members of HOLD’s Core Group were observing, here is what we learned:


1/ Friends of Lydney Hospital’s Tony Midgley said that if Lydney is not chosen for the new location, the Friends will review its current support for the single hospital proposal. The Friends also do not know what they would do with their £1.5 million assets if Lydney is not the chosen hospital site, as they were raised for Lydney hospital.

2/ There was confusion over whether Newent is part of the catchment area for the Forest of Dean hospital. We were told yesterday it wasn’t but today we and the Jury were indeed told it was. Lydney and Coleford had presented their 30-minute travel times maps but not considered Newent, while Cinderford did. As part of Lydney’s presentation, Dr Stefan Scheuner (resident of Stroud, GP in Blakeney) said Newent wasn’t part of the Forest of Dean as it was not part of the Forest of Dean GP cluster. He said it was a “matter for the health authority”.

Towards the end of the day, the Jury director Dr Malcolm Oswald confirmed the GP cluster designation (where Newent, and Staunton and Corse are part of Tewkesbury) is not relevant to the community hospital – the whole Forest of Dean District must be considered.

This advice does, however, contradict page 5 of the Case For Change which formed the basis of this whole proposal, which states:
“Of particular relevance is the commitment within the One Gloucestershire STP to the development of place based models of care, focused around groups of general practices and their registered population. The Forest of Dean cluster comprises the 11 GP practices within the Forest of Dean with a combined registered population of approx. 63,000 (Newent and Staunton to the north fall within the Tewkesbury cluster). Additionally, the CCG has assumed responsibility from Wales for commissioning healthcare services for those people who live in England, but who are registered with a Welsh GP. This adds a further 8,811 people to the overall population considerations.” (page 5 of document, or page 34 here

While jurors noted Lydney and Coleford had not including the north of the district in their travel / transport considerations, it was noted that Cinderford’s 30-minute travel time missed out Tidenham and everywhere west of Lydney.
3. Coleford has included provision for a new hospital as a last-minute addition of its Neighbourhood Development Plan despite not specifically consulting on that (only on its Health Centre). If the town is unsuccessful, the recently added paragraph will then be removed from the NDP’s Policy CITPA3 before it goes to referendum on September 13. See


* Lydney billed itself as “the town of the future”. Lydney was set to have the highest population rise of the three towns, plus up to 1,000 new homes in Beachley – by 2031 the Lydney team’s population estimates are 16,000 for Lydney, and 9,000 each for Coleford and Cinderford. John Thurston, presenting, said “we are not allowed to tell you about the two sites” identified and that they “did this before the exercise started”. As well as the lack of mention of Newent (see above), one juror said they were unhappy to see Mitcheldean was not within 30-minutes’ driving time (the criteria is that the majority of the Forest must have that maximum travel time). Lydney said it was the “best benefit for the most population easy to reach”.

* Dr Scheuner, an “unscripted” late addition to the Lydney team of five, raised fears about the “downgrading” of the Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust’s recently built c.£11m Vale Hospital near Dursley, where beds are being converted from non-acute community use to specialising in strokes. He also spoke about staffing problems, with Gloucestershire community hospitals relying on agency and locum staff.

* Coleford’s case was presented by town mayor Nick Penny and town councillor Marilyn Cox. They argued Coleford was “fresh, new and dynamic”, had 35 green spaces, and also it was the only part of the Forest where a majority (54%) had supported the consultation’s “preferred option” of a single hospital. They said Coleford was twice or four times better than Lydney or Cinderford in terms of bus links and frequency, and Coleford was set for a population growth of 23%, including “affordable” and “lifetime” homes. The Mayor said the town council did not know which two sites had been identified for Coleford, they had earmarked half a dozen sites for planners to verify as viable.

* Chris Witham, chair of Cinderford Town Council said the council had “consulted widely” with NHS professionals, as well as “third sector colleagues”. He did not reveal the potential sites, but the “£450-million investment” of the Northern Quarter, he said, would allow new transport links to be configurated. He argued that because Cinderford was accessible from the A40 or A48 it would make all the difference if one of those routes was closed if taking a patient for acute care in Gloucester. He also stressed that the support of helimed is invaluable in acute trauma specialist cases needing to go to Bristol, such cases are more likely in the Forest of Dean’s younger residents. Friends of the Dilke Hospital “fully support” Cinderford’s bid, but does not have £1.5 million in assets. Cllr Witham emphasised he wanted a hospital location that was “available to all” and that Cinderford was known as the “heart of the Forest”.

HOLD will be back tomorrow as the Jury continues and will be posting our observations tomorrow evening.

Our observations: Forest hospitals citizens’ jury Day 1 | Owen Adams & Zac Arnold

Today, the Citizens’ Jury to develop a recommendation on the location of a new, community hospital began on it’s 5 day run. Two members of HOLD’s Core Group were observing, here is what we learned:  

* On Friday the jurors will make a “recommendation” (not actual decision as, say the NHS Trust, they are not a “publicly-accountable body”).

* This “recommendation” will then be considered by the NHS Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) boards at their meeting on 30 August.

* The “recommendation” could go four ways is for a rough location rather than the actual site: within two miles by road of Lydney town centre, Coleford town centre, Cinderford town centre, or no preference

* Several jurors expressed fears that the site had already been chosen, but they were assured by Dr Oswald that, to his knowledge, it hadn’t been and dismissed rumours as “conspiracy theories”

* Tomorrow (Tuesday) representatives from the three towns (Newent is not considered part of the Forest catchment area any more) will each give a presentation – two sites will be identified for each town, but the jurors will not be considering any site, as this might cause land prices to skyrocket. Forest of Dean District Council planners have verified all are viable sites.

* The 18 jurors seem to be about half-and-half male and female, half-and-half born-and-bred Foresters, other half residents who have moved here and lived here for at least five years, and from many different backgrounds. A number of jurors asked pertinent questions – those relating to the unknown facilities, beds issue (work on “bed modelling” is still continuing) whether the sites would be big enough or could be potentially expanded, whether public transport links would be provided. We did not witness any of these questions being answered today.

* The Citizens’ Jury itself appeared to us to be efficiently and well-intentionally run by the founders, the non-profit charity, the Jefferson Center from St Paul’s, Minnesota, USA, who conducted the introductory session – and the UK director of the Citizens’ Jury CIC, Dr Malcolm Oswald, with an accent on encouraging “deliberation” rather than debate. Dr Oswald met us at the end of the presentations and we told him we thought it was a pity the Citizens’ Jury could not have been used to make the crucial decision, where our majority views were ignored, as it seemed a positive concept for increasing public participation (if applied correctly).

* We only spotted one councillor observing some of the proceedings today.

*According to Candace Plouffe, Chief Operations Director for Gloucestershire Care Services, maternity services are controlled by Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust, not Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust.

*The quality of care is excellent and the quality of services has been rated good by CQC in the current sites. According to Plouffe, these are not the problems with the current site. The issues are the ‘poor infrastructure and difficulty balancing services and staff across two sites.’

*There will another round of consultation in the future in Winter 2018, Spring 2019 or Summer 2019 which will focus on the facilities and services that will be available in a new community hospital, with Candace Plouffe (Chief Operations Director for Gloucestershire Care Services) stating that this consultation “could possibly include maternity.”

*It is likely that the business plan for the replacement of Lydney and the Dilke will be published in early to mid 2019.

*Construction on a new hospital is scheduled to commence in mid to late 2019 and is scheduled for completion around 2020/21.

Gloucester Area Trade Union Council unanimously back the HOLD campaign | Zac Arnold

“A huge thank you to Gloucester Area Trade Union Council for unanimously endorsing the HOLD campaign. They also agreed to pass a recommendation to all union branches who are affiliated to the council suggesting that they do the same and pledge funds when they are needed. This is one huge step in getting trade union support for our cause. It was a pleasure to meet with them this evening.”

Zac, representing the HOLD campaign, meets with members of Gloucester Area Trade Council as they back HOLD in the fight against the closure of the Forest of Dean’s two hospitals (Photo: Zac Arnold, 2018)

Legal, public and political efforts and positive, joint working in NHS campaigning | Zac Arnold with Aneira Thomas & Dr Tony O’Sullivan

First NHS baby slams government handling of health service | Swindon  Advertiser
Zac Arnold speaks on a panel at an NHS campaigning conference organised by Swindon Trades Council, photographed with the events organiser and Aneira Thomas, the first baby born into the NHS (Photo: Swindon Advertiser, 2018)

Zac speaks about the “three-pronged” legal, public and political approach that HOLD was taking towards the campaign and how positivity and joint working across divides is the only way to succeed, on a panel alongside Aneira Thomas the first baby born into the NHS and Dr Tony O’Sullivan. The event was reported in the Swindon Advertiser.

Zac suspended from membership of the Labour Party for alleged uncomradely behaviour | Nareser Osei

In a letter to myself, Nareser Osei as Acting Head of Disputes at Labour Party Headquarters, said:

Notice of administrative suspension from holding office or representing the Labour Party

Allegations that you may have been involved in a breach of Labour Party rules have been brought to the attention of national officers of the Party. These allegations relate to social media posts posts and uncomradely behaviour towards another member of the local party. It is important that these allegations are investigated and the NEC will be asked to authorise a full report to be drawn up with recommendations for disciplinary action if appropriate.

I write to give you formal notice that it has been determined that the powers given to the NEC
under Chapter 6 Clause I.1.A of the Party’s rules should be invoked to suspend you from office or representation of the Party, pending the outcome of an internal Party investigation. Because of the nature of the allegations received your presence at branch meetings and all party activity which includes campaigning, may be detrimental to the Party, while subject to this administrative suspension, you cannot attend any campaign activity or party meetings including those of your own branch or CLP, or Annual Conference, and you cannot seek office within the Party or be considered for selection as a candidate to represent the Labour Party at an election at any level*

In view of the urgency to protect the Party’s reputation in the present situation the General
Secretary has determined to use powers delegated to him under Chapter 1 Clause VIII.5 of the rules to impose this suspension forthwith, subject to the approval of the next meeting of the NEC. The General Secretary has appointed Phil Gaskin, Regional Director, to arrange conduct of the Party’s own investigation. You will be contacted in due course with details as to how the
investigation will proceed. Please quote case number DCN-0363 on all correspondence. It is hoped you will offer your full co-operation to the Party in resolving this matter.

*In relation to any alleged breach of the constitution, rules or standing orders of the party by an
individual member or members of the party, the NEC may, pending the final outcome of any
investigation and charges (if any), suspend that individual or individuals from office or
representation of the party notwithstanding the fact that the individual concerned has been or may be eligible to be selected as a candidate in any election or by-election. (Disciplinary Rules, Chapter 6 Clause I.1.A)

**A ‘suspension’ of a member whether by the NEC in pursuance of 1 above or by the NCC in
imposing a disciplinary penalty, unless otherwise defined by that decision, shall require the
membership rights of the individual member concerned to be confined to participation in their own branch meetings, unless the reason for the suspension in part or in full is their conduct in party meetings or there are concerns that their presence at branch meetings may be detrimental to the Party, and activities as an ordinary member only and in ballots of all individual members where applicable. A suspended member shall not be eligible to seek any office in the party, nor shall s/he be eligible for nomination to any panel of prospective candidates nor to represent the party in any position at any level. The member concerned will not be eligible to attend any CLP meeting other than to fulfil the requirement to participate in ballots. (Disciplinary rules, Clause 6.I.3)

Cinderford Council members grilled live by protestors as Chair threatens to close meeting in face of criticism | Zac Arnold

Gloucester Labour back HOLD as day of protest unfolds amid consultation outcome | Fran Boait

Fran Boait, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Gloucester said on Facebook:

“Today, HOLD – Hands Off Lydney and Dilke hospitals have been in Gloucester to protest against the Commissioning groups plans to close their hospitals. Their Protest continues this evening in Cinderford and Fran wanted to offer our support from Gloucester CLP and talk a little about why we need a Labour Government running our NHS #forthemany