Helen Quenet, Monday 5th February 2018
Thank you Madam Deputy Mayor.
The approach of the end of the financial year, is a good time to review any organisation. To look at what has gone well, and what needs to be improved upon. Here are four things in which we should aspire to do better in 2018/19.
Issue 1: Better internal communication
For example, the cross-party, Rat Scrutiny Committee was unaware until an article was published in the Welwyn Hatfield Times this week, that there is a major (£16,000) rat reduction initiative underway in Hatfield. If we are to scrutinise effectively we need to know what is already happening, otherwise we waste time.
Issue 2: Hatfield Nightshelter
This has been a fantastic initiative, with many really positive changes made to the lives of people in our homeless community. Massive credit needs to be give to Lynne Sparks for her work to make this initiative a success. But the Nightshelter closes in March, so now is the time for a full and honest review. This review must involve volunteers at the shelter and representatives of the Borough Council. One of the key things that needs to be addressed is hygiene, in particular, the need for a venue with running water for cooking and indoor sanitation including showers. The homeless in Welwyn Hatfield are still our residents and are deserving of as good quality a service as we can give them.
Issue 3: Waive the Brown Bin Charge for those on council tax benefit
Information is not currently available on how many people have brown bins and who are also on council tax benefit. We need to revisit this. Many people I have met on the doorstep were not only keeping their gardens tidy and recycling food waste but were also providing an excellent community service by using their brown bins to dispose of tree leaves and grass cuttings from their streets. They used to do this voluntarily, for the benefit of all in their area, but have now stopped doing it owing to the Brown Bin Charge. Residents' pride in their local environment should be recognised and encouraged.
Two weeks ago I was doing my routine door-knocking in South Hatfield and was really depressed by what I came across. I don't ever again want to call at three consecutive houses where our elderly, and often very poorly, residents are having to live with black mould, leaky wet rooms and drafts caused by lack of insulation. It is simply NOT good enough for our residents and we can and must do better for them.
Let us all resolve to make WelHat a better place to live in for our residents in 2018/19.