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City council's regeneration efforts are great, say local authority experts

By citizenmike  |  Posted: March 20, 2014

PaulJames

A good report for City Council leader Paul James

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EVERY child hopes for a good school report to be sent home – and Gloucester City Council was no different when it was reviewed by experts from other councils.

A team of local government officials from around the country have given the thumbs up to the council’s ‘huge’ efforts in the regeneration of the city.

It points to successes such as the revitalisation of the Docks, the Robert Raikes pub, preserving the Fleece Hotel and creating St Oswald’s Retail Park and redeveloping the Railway Triangle.

The peer review, which included a panel made up of the likes of Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, saw every angle of the council scrutinised.

Chris Bowron, programme manager for peer support at theLocal Government Association, who also on the panel, said: “There has been a huge amount of regeneration and development activity in Gloucester over recent years and the council can be proud of what has been achieved in this regard.

“There seems to be a successful balancing of the regeneration and economic growth agenda with preserving the heritage and history of the city.

“The city vision has a focus on prosperity and emphasises the importance of the economy, regeneration and economic development.

“The council recognises the need for a strategic economic plan to help map the future out in more detail. There is much good work taking place on both physical and social regeneration in Gloucester, although we suggest these two strands need to be more closely integrated.”

But the group warned that cuts at the council could leave council bosses with the need to re-prioritise their goals for the city – as a reduced number of council officers may not have the resources to deal with every issue.

Mr Bowron warned: “Whilst the ambitions for further growth and development of the city continue to be high, it is important to ensure there is sufficient capacity to fulfil them. There has been a lot of change recently in relation to the way regeneration is managed and funded.

“The key question that needs to be answered is whether changes that have taken place have led to a reduction in capacity and resources. If the answer is ‘yes’, then there will inevitably be a requirement for re-prioritisation in some form.”

Paul James, leader of the city council, said: “I am pleased that the efforts that the council has put in around regeneration in recent years has been recognised in the peer challenge.

“There is of course more to be done and I am aware officers are working in difficult times with reduced resources.

“I see the report as being very positive but we have got to make sure there are sufficient resources to deliver what we want and I am mindful of that.”

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4 comments

  • SELINA30  |  March 21 2014, 5:57PM

    How does the Citizen fall for these "feel good" press releases?

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  • huccydave  |  March 21 2014, 2:42PM

    Yes progress has been made but just building new shops is not the answer to everything. What about infrastructure we had the perfect spot for an integrated mainline train station on the triangle with a new bus and coach station beside it . But no put another bloody supermarket there instead,this council has no vision.

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  • The_Selector  |  March 21 2014, 11:24AM

    The Citizen needs to cut the hero-worship and actually read the report. It was very damning on matters concerning the city council's leadership culture and style. Paul James has been guilty of cultivating this atmosphere.

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  • jas37  |  March 20 2014, 9:18PM

    There's no doubting the regeneration that is continuing to take place in Gloucester must surely eclipse that of any other Town or City of similar size. The Quays is still a work in progress but has already had a huge positive affect on the City. The Greyfriars housing development will make a considerable difference to the City centre, the new residents will certainly increase the vibrancy in the Centre. The Prison and Blackfriars sites have huge potential, My main concern is whether the City Council posses the vision and drive to enable this potential to be fulfilled. The situation in the Docks appears to expose the Council's lack of vision and ambition. The Quays has presented Gloucester with a huge opportunity to benefit from the additional visitors and high profile of Peel's investment in our City. The main Docks area is desperately short of visitor attractions but the City Council have granted themselves planning consent/change of use to of the lower two floors of Phillpotts Warehouse to use as Offices. What a difference an attraction such as the Robert Opie Museum, an Art Gallery or even another Antiques Centre would make to the entire Docks area. Could there be a more blatant display of a lack of vision and ambition? Does this bode well for the Blackfriars and Prison sites?

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