REGENERATION is the most important issue facing Gloucester but has everyone really got their eye on the ball?
City MP Richard Graham this week quit his Government role as parliamentary private secretary to the Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire, claiming he wants to focus more on Gloucester’s regeneration more than four years into the job and just 10 months away from seeking re-election.
Labour see Gloucester as a key battleground. It is 38th in their list of top target seats and with Richard’s slim 2,420 majority, he is surely worried that he might not hold onto his seat if he is too busy in government.
Asked what she made of his resignation, Labour’s parliamentary candidate Sophy Gardner tells me: “Four years into the role is a bit late to realise that regeneration is a priority for Gloucester.
“He has kept his role as a trade envoy though which means he will still get to go on his nice trips abroad.”
The impending election will inevitably see Richard’s track record on regeneration scrutinised heavily, while Labour will have to prove that their woman can really stand up for the city.
Why, for example, will we not have our new bus station and revamped railway station before the Rugby World Cup?
If these things really mattered, they would have been pushed through the system as a matter of urgency, with our MP leading the charge.
Instead we will be building them in the same fashion Brazil built its football stadiums. Late.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
We already know that Richard Graham, Sophy Gardner and Luke Hindhaugh will be fighting for the Gloucester constituency for the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip respectively at the general election. But what about the Liberal Democrats?
I understand that Lib Dem group leader Jeremy Hilton will not put his name into the hat this time round. But keeping it very much in the family, his partner Rebecca Trimnell tells me she is considering standing.
Party members remain unconvinced about their chances though. “It doesn’t matter who we put up, we’re doomed,” one tells me.
This is my last Inside Politics column, as I head off into the sunset to take up a new post with The Telegraph. I’ve had an incredible two years championing the city for the Citizen. Gloucester has a lot going for it and I shall be watching with interest to see how it develops.