WEEKLY COLUMN by Stroud District Council leader Catherine Braun

ON Saturday, I was delighted to attend the launch of a new charity, Sanctuary Breaks, which provides respite breaks in rural Gloucestershire for people seeking sanctuary: asylum seekers, refugees and survivors of trafficking and torture. 

It was wonderful to meet the new trustees, as well as refugees and asylum seekers who have already benefitted from sanctuary breaks in Gloucestershire. This charity provides a valuable place of welcome, safety and hope to people, as they navigate through the long, complex and often hostile asylum system. If you’d like to get involved, as a volunteer, supporter or to donate, please contact the team at www.hillhouseretreats.com

This week, there were two public meetings on planning matters.

The Development Control Committee met on Tuesday to consider applications in Thrupp, Cam and Dursley, and on Thursday the Council will discuss the draft Local Plan, which as previously mentioned, is being examined by Planning Inspectors. 

It’s important to have an up-to-date Local Plan, so that community infrastructure is delivered alongside new development, and so that new homes are built to high environmental standards.   
Next week, the Strategy & Resources Committee will review our draft budget for 2024/25, and discuss the new Market Town Vitality Fund, which will support locally-led initiatives to promote the vitality of the high street in our market towns. 

The budget for next year also recognises local housing challenges and will encourage owners of empty properties to bring them back into use, by increasing their council tax premium. We’ll also implement a new premium on second homes.  

For those in financial need, council tax support will continue to be provided.

For care leavers, council tax support will be extended to the age of 25, as part of an overall package to help prepare them for independence and improve their life chances as they leave local authority care.