Who is Zac and what are his commitments in today’s Town and District Council elections? | Zac Arnold

Zac has lived in Lydney his whole life and is a member of the
core group of the campaign to protect our hospitals and has
been standing up for Lydney on issues such as youth
provision and council spending.

Our Environment.

Fight to defend our climate from imminent catastrophe and pledge to protect the public forest estate from privatisation and fracking.

Our High Streets.

We will create thriving community hubs in our town centres and investigate the viability of a small business loyalty card scheme.

Our Health.

Labour will fight for our NHS to maintain and enhance the services currently offered with adequate bed provision provided.

Your Labour Candidates support the retention of two community hospitals
in the Forest of Dean and will continue to fight for this. Lydney and Tidenham Labour Party contributed the second largest lump sum donation to a potential legal challenge to defend our health services.

Our Culture.

Labour will defend the rights and traditions of Foresters. We will work to protect freemining and communing for future generations.

Our Housing.

Labour is the party of decent, affordable housing for all. We will look into setting up a council-run housing company.

Our Young People.

Labour will fight to defend the limited youth services we have and will look at fresh new approaches to plug the gaps left by the Tories at Gloucestershire County Council. Labour supports the Youth Association initiative being led by the Forest Voluntary Action Forum and will work to provide funding and support for this and other projects.

We need an enhanced, powerful and far-reaching effort to protect the lives of our generation | Zac Arnold

Zac Arnold, Labour’s Candidate for Lydney East in tomorrow’s Forest of Dean District Council elections, is to call for a more “enhanced, powerful and far-reaching” effort to “protect the lives
of a generation”.

The proposals come in light of the death of well-loved Gloucestershire teen Callum Paskin who is believed to have passed away as a result of an Epileptic Seizure whilst asleep in his Quedgeley home. The proposals also come after a young Lydney man in his 20s tragically committed suicide
earlier this week.

Zac Arnold is set to call for a “united, non-political effort against the mental health crisis in the Forest of Dean and an enhanced, powerful and far-reaching awareness initiative to tackle the stigmas and consequences of Epilepsy, Autism and other additional needs” in a bid to “protect
the lives of our generation.”

According to the Epilepsy Society: “Anyone can develop epilepsy, at any time of life. It happens in people of all ages, races and social classes. Epilepsy is most commonly diagnosed in children and in people over 65. There are over half a million people with epilepsy in the UK, so around 1 in
100 people.”

According to the Guardian in 2018, “Growing numbers of teenagers in England and Wales are killing themselves, official figures show, sparking fresh concern about the deepening crisis in young people’s mental health.

There were 177 suicides among 15- to 19-year-olds in 2017, compared with 110 in 2010 and more than in every year since then except 2015, when the toll was 186, the Office of National Statistics data shows.”

The proposals will include the development of a cross-authority board working with local schools, the police, the National Health Service and other bodies and authorities to develop a “joined up approach to protecting our generation”. Other proposals include a large-scale public
awareness campaign and an education programme in partnership with local schools.

Zac Arnold said: “With a deepening mental health crisis, a failure of our authorities to meet their responsibilities and a lack of public awareness around issues such as Epilepsy and other additional needs, the lives of a generation need protecting.

“We need to abandon this stiff upper lip mentality and talk about the real issues. But, not only do we need to talk about the real issues. We need to take real, hard-hitting action to tackle the

“This is why I am launching this project and I am asking for local schools, political parties on all sides and other authorities to get on board. We need to take real, immediate action to, wherever we can, protect the lives of our young people both here in the Forest of Dean and in the South West as a whole.”

Zac’s Town and District Council election campaign suspended for 24 hours | Zac Arnold

For the next 24 hours I will cease campaigning in memory of a friend Callum Paskin and fellow candidate David Humphreys (Green Party, Newent) both have sadly passed away in recent days.

Solidarity and love to the families and friends of Callum and David. Both will be remembered for decades to come. Campaigning will resume tomorrow evening. The election for Newent and Taynton Ward will now take place on June 20 rather than May 2.

Forest of Dean Labour Chair responds to backlash over Parliamentary All Women Shortlist decision | Cllr Bernie O’Neill

Zac formatted and distributed the following press release on behalf of Bernie O’Neill, Chairman of Forest of Dean Labour Party.

Bernie O’Neill, Chair of the FoD CLP, states: “I think it is important to put the record straight on the issue of the AWS, which the National party has decided we in the Forest of Dean must carry out for our next Parliamentary Candidate. Regional office state, “The Labour Party has a long held policy of supporting positive action to improve the gender balance of our candidates and elected representatives at every level. Also, whilst I understand there may be some local opposition, the decision to run Forest of Dean as an All Women Shortlist was made by the National Executive Committee, and their decision is final.

“Before Christmas we were informed that we were, as a CLP, to undertake consultation with members regarding whether we would support an AWS or Open selection. It was made very clear that the final decision would be for the National Party to make, and that the CLP would simply give guidance as to the views of its members. Branches were invited to consult their members and take their views forward to a General Committee meeting, which all members were also invited to attend. The timescale we were given for completing this was very short. At the GC, a very constructive discussion took place in which the views of branches and individuals were expressed. Views seemed evenly divided, and a vote was taken at the insistence of our regional representative which we were assured was indicative, not binding. The outcome of this vote was 12 to 11 in favour of AWS.

“Our Regional representative then composed a brief report of the meeting stating how the debate had been carried out and noting the views of delegates. This was forwarded to the National Executive Committee, who take all decisions relating to selections. This exercise was carried out in a number of other CLPs across the country who were eligible to open the selection process for PPC.

“We were informed on Friday of last week that we were to have an AWS. This is NOT a decision taken by the Constituency Party NOR by the Labour Group, NOR by me as Chair. This is the position that we now find ourselves in and are we are awaiting further information as to how we proceed.

“Personally, I am disappointed with this outcome as I have consistently spoken against AWS for more than 20 years, but I have been disappointed with a number of decisions taken by the Party in over 40 years membership. However I am still an active member, and shall continue to be so. I trust that those members who have expressed views complaining about AWS will seriously consider the fact that the most important thing is that we rally around our future candidate in order to de-seat Harper, to ensure a Labour MP, which the Forest so desperately needs.”

The next Labour MP for the Forest of Dean will be a woman | Forest of Dean Labour Party

Zac formatted and distributed the following press release on behalf of the Forest of Dean Labour Party.

“The next UK General Election will offer voters in the Forest of Dean a female Labour Candidate. Following a consultation exercise involving all four branches in the district and a decision by the party’s National Executive Committee it’s decided that The Forest candidate should be selected from an “All Women Shortlist” or AWS.

“The problem of under representation of women in Parliament is fairly evident. Even now in 2019 only 191 out of 650 MPs are women. Labour has 99 women MPs out of 232 (42 percent) but the Conservatives only 68 out of 330 – only 20 percent.

“Labour are committed to trying to increase the number of women in parliament and started the AWS policy with the 1997 General Election, which returned a record number of Women MPs (see picture). Indeed many of the current most impressive Labour MPs – eg Angela Rayner, Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy – were selected from all-women lists.  The Conservatives remain opposed to an AWS, the party chairman  Patrick McLoughlin said “We don’t try and impose all women shortlists because we  try and give local associations as much freedom as possible in the way they go about selecting their candidates.” It’s safe to say that at 20 percent women MPs, whatever the conservatives think they might be doing is failing.

“The Forest of Dean of course has only ever had one woman MP – Diana Organ. Her period of office coincided with Tony Blair and since she departed no other women have been adopted as candidates.

“Cllr. Bernie O’Neill, Chair of the Forest of Dean Constituency Labour Party said, ” We shall now have to make sure that the woman we choose to stand as our Candidate at the next General Election, is the very best that we can find and the most suitable to represent the residents of the Forest.  I am sure that she will have the full support and help from the members of the Labour Party in the Constituency in what is sure to be a tough campaign, whenever it comes.”

“The party also wished to thank Shaun Stammers who stood as Labour Candidate at the last General Election and who will now not be able to stand as a potential candidate next time around.

“Any interested women candidates should now make contact with the Forest of Dean Labour Party.”

Lydney Town Council back down on threat to skatepark due to pressure | Zac Arnold & Cllr Roger Holmes

This evening (Monday 28 January 2019) Lydney Town Council’s Recreation Trust backed down on their consideration to demolish Lydney Skate Park due to a reluctant and active campaign led by our Youth Officer, Zac Arnold and Labour’s only current town councillor, Cllr Roger Holmes.

“This is great news for the young people of Lydney who have been targeted and labelledby Councillors and Officials

Zac Arnold, Forest of Dean Labour Party Youth Officer

The trust asked to keep “all options on the table” regarding the tackling of “anti-social behaviour” at the facility which was seen widely as the continuation of an unsuccesfull war on young people by the council.

After the vote at Monday’s trust meeting. Cllr Harry Ives (Conservative Party Member) proposed a motion trying to wipe the slate clean and act as if the council was never considering this option when they most definitely were.

Zac Arnold, Youth Officer for Forest of Dean Constituency Labour Party, said:

“This is great news for the young people of Lydney who have been targeted and labelled as “thugs” and “chavs” by councillors and council officials due to the actions of a small minority of young people who’s behaviour isn’t acceptable.

However, the attitude of Lydney Town Council is still far from acceptable in itself and we must continue to push for real change in the approach that our elected representatives take when it comes to representing our young people.

Removing a facility such as this would have only increased tensions, moved issues elsewhere and would have come at an extortionate cost to the tax payer.

Cllr Roger Holmes, Lydney Town Council (Lydney North)

Forest of Dean Labour Party is still incredibly concerned at the failure of the council to participate in the district-wide youth services initiative currently being led by the Forest Voluntary Action Forum.

The fight is by no means over and we hope that the people of Lydney will realise this May that Lydney is in desperate need of real change to ensure it works for the many, not just the privileged few.”

Councillor Roger Holmes, Labour’s Councillor on Lydney Town Council proposed a motion at the trust meeting calling for the trust to leave the Skate Park “as is” and install CCTV cameras which are deemed to be more effective in tackling anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Holmes said:

“I’m extremely proud to have proposed this motion on Monday which committed the trust to retain the Skate Park and Multi Activity Games Area on the trust ground.

Removing a facility such as this would have only increased tensions, moved issues elsewhere and would have come at an extortionate cost to the tax payer.”

We must all condemn the actions of the few, and work to improve things for the many | Zac Arnold

Zac Arnold, Youth Officer for Forest of Dean Constituency Labour Party, said:

“Yesterday (Friday 25 January), it was reported that the newly refurbished bridge across Dean Forest Railway from Lydney Boating Lake to St. Mary’s Church had been hit by an arson attack suspected to have been committed by young people. This is the latest in a series of acts of mindless vandalism across the town in recent years.

These acts must be condemned wholeheartedly and in the strongest of terms, but, simultaneously we must realise that these acts are committed by a very small minority of individuals and we must work together to find a solution.

For far too long, our young people have been left feeling isolated and attacked as a result of persistent cuts from both the Conservative government and the Conservative-led Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and this must stop. In order to stop acts like this, we must build a strong and constructive relationship with all parties, work to take our young people off the streets and provide them with the services and facilities they need to thrive and take pride in the community they live in.

It’s time for change, it’s time to rebuild our youth services so that they work for the many not the few. This is the only way we have a chance of ending this. If anyone has any information regarding the vandalism directed at the bridge please don’t hesitate to get in touch, all information will be treated anonymously and reported to Dean Forest Railway and the Police.”

Locally, Labour Will:

  • Fight against any attempts to demolish Lydney Skate Park unless the equipment is re-sited in an alternative location.
  • Put pressure on relevant authorities and work with key partners to provide dedicated outdoor and indoor spaces for our young people to socialise and give them something to do.
  • Put pressure on town and parish councils to cooperate and participate in the Forest Voluntary Action Forum district-wide youth services initiative which was launched this month.
  • Fight to ensure Gloucestershire County Council reverses the cuts to frontline youth services that are leaving our young people behind.

Nationally, A Labour Government pledges:

  • Abolition of tuition fees and reintroduction of maintenance grants.
  • Free lunches for pupils.
  • Votes for 16-17 year olds.
  • Extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health.
  • Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18-year-olds from lower and middle income backgrounds.
  • Improve careers advice.
  • Investment – in teachers and facilities – in FE sector.
  • End the cuts to youth services.
  • Extend Staying Put arrangements to support all children and young people in residential and other forms of care until they are 21 (not just foster care).
  • Ensure that young people understand and are able to easily remove any content they shared on the internet before they turned 18.
  • Introduce free bus travel for under 25s.

Chris Williamson MP joins Forest of Dean Labour on the doorsteps of Lydney West | Zac Arnold

Throughout today Forest of Dean Labour Party have held a day of action across Lydney ahead of May’s local authority elections. This included a morning street stall and Councillor meet and greet followed by canvassing in Lydney West for Steve Stockham’s Town and District election campaign and a community meeting on a swathe of issues including local government funding and the future of the Labour Movement.

We were lucky enough to be joined in the afternoon on the doorstep by Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North and a former Shadow Minister, who then led discussion at a packed meeting at Regent Hall.

Zac Arnold, Campaign Coordinator for Forest of Dean Labour Party and organiser of the event, said:

“I would like to thank Chris for his time in coming to Lydney and providing us with valuable insight direct from Westminster and his extensive life experiences. It’s been a great day and has really lifted spirits in the run up to us asking the public to join us in rebuilding Lydney for the many, not the few.”

Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North and former Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services and former Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, said:

“Excellent day campaigning on the #LabourDoorstep with the Forest of Dean Labour Party, followed by a great meeting with members. Big thank you to Zac Arnold for organising today’s event. #ChangeIsComing in the Forest of Dean.”

Chris Williamson MP to visit Lydney in January 2019 | Zac Arnold & Cllr Bernie O’Neill

The Forest of Dean Constituency Labour Party is excited to announce that Chris Williamson MP for Derby North, former Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services and former Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government will be coming to Lydney as part of a day of action being held on Saturday 19th January 2019.

The Forest of Dean has been forgotten by Westminster for far too long and this is changing… I’d like to thank Chris for coming”

Zac Arnold, Forest of Dean Labour Party Campaign Coordinator and Event Organiser

The day of action will begin at 10am outside Lydney Co-op on Newerne Street where members will be reminding constituents of the importance of registering to vote ahead of May’s local elections. Chris will be joining us at 2pm and members will be hitting the doorsteps with Chris to spread Labour’s plan to rebuild Britain so that it works for the many not the few.

An informal meeting for Labour Party members and affiliates will then take place at 3.45pm until 5pm on the topic of internal party democracy and cuts to local authority budgets.

Zac Arnold, Campaign Coordinator for Forest of Dean Labour Party and organiser of the event, said: “The Forest of Dean has been forgotten by Westminster for far too long and this is changing, the Labour leadership are determined to rebuild our country so that it works for the many and nobody is left behind any longer. I would like to thank Chris for coming and extend an invitation to the public to come and meet with us at some point throughout the day to discuss Labour’s plans for the district and for the country after May.”

“It will be really great to welcome Chris to Lydney to meet, not only members, but the general public.”

Cllr Bernie O’Neill, Forest of Dean Labour Party Chairman

Councillor Bernie O’Neill, Chairman of Forest of Dean Labour Party, said: “This is excellent news for the Forest of Dean Labour Party, as for too long we have been in the shadow of larger areas such as Gloucester and Bristol. It will be really great to welcome Chris to Lydney to meet, not only members, but the general public. I trust this will be the first of many more visits from National figures to the Forest to see what we have to offer, and to give support in the run up to the Council elections in May.”

The Tories want the Forest to fail | Zac Arnold & Cllr Di Martin

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.