House Notes with Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood
THERE'S one problem where the effort made by various authorities rarely seems to reflect the misery being inflicted on innocent people: noise.
Persistent noise drives people to distraction – from foul language over the garden fence to careless pubs in residential areas to training aircraft flying low again and again on quiet summer days. It ruins peaceful daytime, interrupts sleep and even disrupts work.
The police say actual criminal offences are rare. Councils tell me they need time and resource to establish a case stronger than a neighbour's word. The alphabet soup of ASBOs and ABCs (acceptable behaviour contracts) didn't crack this problem. Good social landlords like Cheltenham Borough Homes do act against persistently noisy tenants but the culprits can be businesses or homeowners or tenants of careless private landlords.
Change is coming. Councils and the police have been given greater powers but national charity Environmental Protection UK is pressing for more. There are calls to revive plans for better regulation of private landlords. I've pressed councils, landlords and police to do more locally. But for those suffering right now, action can't come fast enough.
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Highlights of the week:
Tuesday: Never short of ambition, the Victorians kicked off a modest project in 1899 to produce a definitive history of every county and parish in the land. Many Victoria County Histories are complete but wars and economic downturns left others unfinished – including Gloucestershire. Dr James Hodsdon of the Gloucestershire County History Trust told me that Cheltenham is still missing so he's looking for supporters with a sense of history to help fund the work. Your name could be in the next volume! Contact James at 49 Pittville Crescent Lane.
Thursday: Breakfast with the Gloucestershire Independent Network. I'm not brilliant before 7am but entrepreneurs have businesses to run hence the early start. I've been to business networking 'clubs' before but GiN is friendly, down-to-earth and focussed on bringing quality local businesses together. And they support Winston's Wish too.
Saturday: I never knew there were 260 species of British bee, only a few of them honeybees or bumblebees. I met up with the Bee Guardian Foundation (www.beeguardianfoundation.org), Friends of Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve and other local bee fans for my first ever meeting under a bridge. We walked the old railway line learned about 'Trees for Bees', the importance of pollination and how we can all be better bee guardians.