Councillors Corner with Councillor Tim Harman, Leader of the Conservative Group at the Cheltenham Borough Council

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Where is Cheltenham Borough Council Going?

The heading above could easily be “Where is Cheltenham going? ” but let me explain why either heading could be used. There has been a long debate about whether the Council should relocate from the Municipal Offices to a smaller and more cost-effective location. Despite buying a large building in Bath Road under the guise of making a move there are still no plans in hand to move.

It has become a bit of property speculation and the best thing since sliced bread according to the Liberal Democrat Cabinet. If it is a sleight of hand and a sign of a lack of clear direction, then as Leader of a small Opposition Group I offer the thought that this situation with the Offices could be a metaphor for where the Liberal Democrats are leading, or rather ‘not leading’ our town. Readers may be aware that for some considerable time the Council has been developing a ” Place ” strategy as a base for developing our economic future including tourism etc. Recently I asked the question how it was getting on and the answer was that it was stuck with no clear timetable for delivery. ‘Place’ seems to me to be a woolly concept which has been a reason for not getting on with critical plans rather than a vehicle for progress.

As a town we face many challenges and the current Council is very adept at blaming everyone else for its own failings. Whereas it is legitimate to plead limited resources, it is a fact that other cities and towns who face much the same constraints but seem to be doing much better. So where are we going? In writing this article I will almost certainly be accused by the Liberal Democrats of talking Cheltenham down which is not my aim, rather it is to point out a very real and worrying situation. It is my duty. My group will be setting out a clear and far better future for Cheltenham in the weeks that are ahead.