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Inside Politics with Michael Wilkinson: What lies ahead in 2014?

By citizenmike  |  Posted: January 01, 2014

insidepolitics

Inside Politics with Michael Wilkinson

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Each week, public affairs reporter Michael Wilkinson takes an alternative stroll down the corridors of power.

2014 is going to be one big year for Gloucester.

There will be huge changes at Gloucester Quays with new brands and restaurants just the tip of the iceberg.

In the city, a new home for the Eastgate Market will be found after 40 years at its current location and TK Maxx will move in.

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There is also some movement with key sites such as the Fleece Hotel and the former Marks and Spencer site which are both going on the market to be sold and leased respectively.

The most immediate change we will notice is the demolition of the much maligned Golden Egg later this month.

The face of Gloucester is changing quite quickly but there is a hell of a lot of work to do. Nobody is kidding themselves about that.

But what about the people that can make it happen?

Well of course another big event this year will be the Local Elections on May 22.

They will coincide with the European Parliamentary elections, due to be held on the same day.

Many politicians have told me privately how they are worried about the UKIP effect.

The UK Independence Party will no doubt field more candidates in Gloucester than ever before and, paired with a key election on Europe, could they be in for some surprise wins?

There will also be some significant departures, including that of Quedgeley’s Fred Wood, who currently sits as cabinet member for resources.

With a few years of grassroots campaigning under his belt, and above all a real passion for the people he has served, Fred will be sorely missed by many. His loss will be felt in much the same way that Jackie Hall’s was.

It will leave Conservative leader Paul James with a black hole of wisdom in his small administration.

It will also leave people like Saj Patel, cabinet member for the environment, who has previously been criticised as a chink in the armour of the administration, much more vulnerable to attack.

People with long memories will remember that Saj switched his allegiance from the Labour party to the Conservatives at the last minute as he prepared to make his bid to stand for election.

Back then, Labour’s Sonia Friend said: “I like Saj but it’s a shame that not everyone sticks by their principles, which is important. It’s interesting to see how someone’s beliefs can switch like that in such a small time.”

Now he sits in the halls of power but Labour will always see him as a weak spot.

Fellow cabinet member Jennie Dallimore, Mr James’ right-hand woman as deputy leader, is also going to be challenged at the ballot box - by her friend Garry Mills, a Labour heavyweight.

Then there’s Labour.

Could leader Kate Haigh find her leadership challenged this year?

Perhaps mayor Chris Chatterton might throw his name into the hat? By next May he will have been to 900 public engagements and won the affections of hundreds of people across the city. He will have transformed himself from a resistant back-bencher to a self-styled leader.

Whatever happens in May, the chances are that the face of politics in Gloucester could look quite different and what that means for Gloucester’s regeneration is another story.

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5 comments

  • MrGarnet  |  January 10 2014, 7:29PM

    UKIP is the only way people wake up!!

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  • cityboy1981  |  January 06 2014, 8:47PM

    UKIP, UKIP, UKIP, UKIP, UKIP, UKIP...... ALL THE WAY

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  • JemmyWood  |  January 02 2014, 6:36PM

    Mike, unfortunately my job precludes me from taking any political office, so I'll have to stick to taking local politicians to task for their numerous failings.

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  • Mike_Smith_Gl  |  January 02 2014, 5:18PM

    Absolutely, spot on, "Jemmy". We, in UKIP, believe that absolutely. That's why we do not operate a Party whip system. We have a briefing meeting next week for our prospective candidates. This is to inform them of what they must expect as candidates/Councillors and what is expected of them as UKIP Councillors. Anyone who is interested in standing for UKIP should contact me via our Facebook page, UKIP Gloucester Branch before next Wednesday. How about you, Jemmy? You talk a lot of sense and, as you say, "actions speak louder than words"! Mike Smith, Branch Chairman. 01452 424606.

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  • JemmyWood  |  January 02 2014, 10:11AM

    There will be some major upheaveals after the elections. People in Gloucester are getting fed up with local tin pot politicians not doing the job they were elected last time to do. Some big names will fall thats for sure. One thing that some councilors still have not learnt, is actions speak louder than words. So much hot air and bluster comes out of the council chamber with so little action. Just to help them out... Here's a bit of free advice LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE SAY AND WANT, not what you or your political party say they want. Easy really.

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