South Gloucestershire adopts a new Council Plan to make the district greener and fairer, with four-year action plans and a 10-year vision

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Councillor Claire Young and Councillor Ian Boulton

South Gloucestershire’s new Council Plan sets out its overarching strategy and describes a vision for the district to be a fairer and greener place for all in 10 years time.

It maps ways that the district can ensure that its children and young people can thrive deliver the new, affordable homes it needs, protect nature and take action to tackle the climate emergency, without having to choose between those priorities, but by making them work together.

In order to achieve this, the next four years must be a turning point for South Gloucestershire. By making the right choices now the council can grasp new opportunities, take early action on emerging challenges and start to reverse the growing inequalities in our district.

The plan sets out ways of managing a growing, ageing and more diverse population over the coming decades, while building the right infrastructure and protecting our natural environment.

The council recognises that it cannot tackle any of the challenges that face our communities alone, and so the new plan sets out how it will work with residents, community groups, town and parish councils and partners, as well as central government to meet its objectives.

It will play its part, but collectively there will need to be action to limit the impact of the climate and nature emergency, which is already impacting local people’s lives. Reducing emissions, restoring nature, and ensuring our communities are prepared for more extreme weather and flooding will be vital.

The pandemic and public sector budget cuts have weakened our social infrastructure and there are signs of rising inequalities, so the Plan sets out to first tackle the areas where recent years have seen set-backs in terms of equality of opportunity, for example, while taking steps to improve everyone’s life-chances and build towards a better future.

This plan aims to put South Gloucestershire on the right path for the coming decades by:

• Driving the green transition with a focus on renewable energy, green infrastructure, nature recovery, low carbon transport choices and decarbonising heating.
• Ensuring the next generation gets the best start in life and that every child is able to thrive.
• Strengthening social infrastructure and taking action now to improve community climate resilience and reducing long-term health inequalities.
• Building better places using the council’s powers in planning, transport and housing; strengthening its voice in the West of England Combined Authority and its influence with national government.

In commending the plan, Council Leader, Cllr Claire Young, said: “We want to set a fresh direction for a fairer, greener future. Since the last local elections, we have had hundreds of community conversations with local people, community groups, and town and parish councils.

“The message we have heard loud and clear is that this and future generations want more affordable homes, but to retain what makes South Gloucestershire special, with its balance of places to live and our beautiful countryside.

“People also want it to be easier to get around and to be able to make the choice to travel in cleaner and greener ways, not always relying on the car.

“We will play our part in making sure our children and young people get the best possible start in life and that they can choose to continue living in South Gloucestershire.

“These challenges are not mutually exclusive, we can achieve both. We think it is vital that we have a strong and clear vision, and then to be open and transparent with people about the choices we will need to make for this future to become a reality.

“The vision is underpinned by a range of action plans and we will report on and demonstrate our progress to ensure that we can be held to account for our work.”

Co-leader of the Council, Cllr Ian Boulton, said: “It is really important to have a strategy to guide us as we look to the future. This fresh direction for the council is based on the conversations we have had with residents across the district.

“This plan reflects what residents and partners told us is important – with at least two thirds of respondents to the consultation supporting every goal. This is a shared vision and the plan sets out how we will achieve it.

“Too many local people are facing more inequality and bigger challenges than they did five years ago, and our first step has to be to reverse that so everyone can share in a better future. Our children need more investment in our schools and on youth services. By making the right choices now, and by working together with our partners, we can make that happen.

“We will be accountable and open about how we will change not just our actions, but our thinking, to keep our eyes on the end goal.”

Councillors Young and Boulton have published a video to introduce the new Council Plan to residents, which is available to view online: https://youtu.be/bC6dXR35IRw

The new Council Plan is published on the council website: www.southglos.gov.uk/councilplan2024-2028