Gosling Closure Shock

On Christmas Eve 2018, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), operators of the Gosling sports complex in Welwyn Garden City, quietly announced that a decision had been made to close the sports hall and associated facilities at Gosling Sports Park at the end of March.

Liberal Democrat Cllrs Nigel Quinton and Siobhan Elam, County and Borough Councillors respectively, are shocked and disappointed at the news. Nigel commented: “As Hertfordshire’s Year of Physical Activity draws to a close we learn that a sports hall that was only upgraded four years ago, and which is subject to development agreements of 15 years, will be closed without any consultation whatsoever. The operators GLL are letting down our community dreadfully. Gosling is a much loved facility that has served the people of WGC and more widely, for very many years. As owners of the facility, what are the Council doing? The heart of the town’s leisure provision is being ripped out without a word or a care.

Read more

Rail Fares Up; Service Still Down

Thameslink service passing through Hatfield

News that rail fares will rise by 3% at local stations is massive blow to passengers, and also to the reputation of MP Grant Shapps who vowed to stop the rise. "Even a government without a majority feels able to snub the MP and other more vocal Herts MPs who wrote together to oppose any rise" says local LibDem council group leader Malcolm Cowan, who is also chair of the WGC rail user group. "The Department for Transport set the fares for rail operator Govia. Chris Grayling, as Transport Minister must have signed off these ludicrous fare rises. If Grant is serious, he must demand Grayling's resignation."

Read more

Local hospital trust misses targets yet again – why?

New QE2 - Welwyn Garden City

Figures just secured by the BBC show the local North and East Herts Hospitals Trust missing 2 out of its 3 main targets, and not even providing data for the third.

On seeing patients in A and E within 4 hours, it hasn't hit the target for over 3 years. For cancer care treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral, it is 8th worst in the UK out of 131 trusts, having not hit its target since April 2015. For planed operations and care, it has failed to provide any data, as was the case earlier in the year.

Yet nearby Luton and Dunstable, drawing its staff from a similar catchment area, results are very different: On A and E, it is top throughout the country (and well above targe), on cancer care it is well above average and above target, and on planned operations and care it is above average though slightly below target.

Read more

Depot out of Service

Letter to Welwyn Hatfield Times

12/11/2018

Dear Sir or madam,

Residents of Peartree Lane with the threat of a bus servicing depot being built at the bottom of their gardens are jubilant after a planning inspector threw out an appeal against the refusal by Welwyn Hatfield council.

Applicants Welham Travel saw their application recommended for approval by council officers, but after I as ward councillor plus local residents spoke out against it at a planning meeting In January this year, councillors threw the application out.

The applicants then raised an appeal to an inspector at the last possible moment. The local residents association strongly objected to the proposal and I also wrote to the inspector explaining why the application should be rejected and finally the inspector announced he agreed and the application was rejected.

It was very disappointing to see the council planning officer recommending approval, but I and residents were determined to fight it and our stance has been justified. It shows a well organised and argued campaign can win. Peartree residents can look forward to sleeping more easily as a result of this.

Jayne Ranshaw, one of the local residents who fought this said "This proposal was wholly unsuitable in a residential area. We are delighted that the inspector upheld the councillors' decision and rejected the application".

Malcolm Cowan
Liberal Democrat Councillor


Christina Raven Selected as Liberal Democrat Candidate for Welwyn West

Christina Raven, LidDem Candidate for Welwyn West

The Liberal Democrats have chosen Christina Raven as their candidate for the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council by-election in Welwyn West ward set for 29th November. An osteopath who practises in Welwyn, Hitchin and SE London, Christina grew up in Digswell and returned in 2007 to live in Old Welwyn.

Christina explained why she is standing: “My earliest memories are rooted in this community, and I’ve made Welwyn my home for more than a decade. I love this community, and want to contribute to both preserving what is best about it, and also making it better.

Read more

"Incapacitated" Service

Letter to Welwyn Hatfield Times

15/10/2018

Dear Sir,

Your feature last week on the new Moorgate trains repeated the boast from Govia that they have ‘27% more capacity’. However that is only achieved by having fewer seats and more space for enforced standing.

100 fewer seats than the old trains they are replacing. Is that progress? Is that what someone travelling on a train for up to 45 minutes wants? And still no loos on them.

Class_700.jpgAnother train specified by the government rather than the train operator, like the uncomfortable outer-suburban class 700s.

Meanwhile we struggle on with just half the off-peak trains scheduled to run. How much longer will this continue? Every week I get a report from Govia telling me what a great job they are doing and that they are running more trains then before the May debacle – well not here in Welwyn Hatfield, we have less.

And now we face ever-higher fares for this appalling service. Rail minister Jo Johnson, taking instructions from his boss Failing Grayling, says we don’t deserve even a one-year freeze. Beyond belief.

Malcolm Cowan
Liberal Democrat Councillor


Parking problem parked again

No Parking

A decision on controversial parking changes in Parkway Close was postponed again last week due to the overwhelming opposition of local residents. LibDem group leader Malcolm Cowan who spoke up at the meeting said 'I cannot understand why the council seems determined to force through something against such strong opposition of those affected. The council normally does everything it can to work by consensus on parking and this usually works. Yet here, not only are residents set to lose parking spaces, their petition against was snubbed by the council to such an extent, members of the Parking Panel were not even made aware of it.

'This is poor at so many levels'

County councillor Nigel Quinton (Lib Dem) says 'There can be no excuse, and no hiding place, for the way the County Council has behaved in recent weeks. Assurances I have been given repeatedly have been shown to be false. I am taking this up at the highest level.'


Liberal Democrats Applaud PCC's Withdrawal of Hostile Takeover of Fire Service

Sustained Opposition Forces Re-Think

In a joint announcement issued today with Herts County Council, Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd agreed to abandon his proposal to take control of the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, leaving the service under the governance of the County Council.

Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat Councillor and Opposition Spokesperson for Fire Service, Barbara Gibson said "This is long overdue, but very good news. How much time and money has been wasted by the PCC trying to railroad through his empire-building plan in spite of unanimous opposition from every county councillor, including those in the PCC's own party. In addition, most district councils have passed Motions opposing the move.

"The takeover bid should never have been submitted. Our sustained campaigning on this issue has saved the Fire Service from being asset-stripped and weakened. Lib Dems will continue to fight to put community safety first."


If at first you fail, try, try again

"That seems to be the motto for Wetherspoons at 22 Parkway" says LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan. "While it is smaller than the 2 previous attempts which were turned down unanimously by the Development Management Committee, much of the harm that was identified then continues. And how disappointing that they have chosen to reveal their plans during the summer holidays when so many people are away."

site-of-proposed-wetherspoons-on-parkway-welwyn-garden-city.png

"It still has no parking either for customers or deliveries - Parkway will again bear the brunt; it is still fails to conform to the zoning for office-type use and it still looks like a large bar is the main feature. This is a pub by any other name. Yet there are far more suitable sites within the town centre - why don't Wetherspoons go for one of these?

"The plans Wetherspoons have submitted show the bedrooms are so small that the bed would be up against a wall in most rooms - hardly likely to attract many customers beyond the stag night crowd, and the worry is the hotel use will be dropped after a short while and Wetherspoons desire for a mega boozer will come about.

"You only have to look at the state of the building and grounds now to see the company cares not one bit for local opinion or sensitivity to the surroundings. Owner Tim Martin has repeatedly failed to reply to letters to him, showing his lack of interest in the town, just a desire to make a fast buck and let us face the consequences."


Recycling Rethink Required

08/08/2018

Dear Sir,

Twelve years ago as a Borough Councillor I was able to persuade our Council to start the process of a Climate Change Strategy and, after years of pressure from LibDem colleagues, to see positive moves towards increased recycling rates. Sadly, under our Conservative administration, the Climate Change Strategy withered on the vine, but I was pleased to see recycling rates increasing year on year to achieve 53% in 2016/17. This despite the ridicule I received from certain Conservative Councillors that 50% recycling would be totally unachievable.

Lib-Dem-recycling-collection.jpgIn 2005 local LibDems ran regular collections. Residents could bring their plastic waste, which at the time the council refused to collect.

By comparison, LibDem-run Three Rivers Council (in Rickmansworth) is achieving 63%, so there was still room for improvement, but now we hear that Welwyn Hatfield has dropped from 53% to 43.4% recycling rate in a single year. This fall in performance is due almost entirely to the Brown Bin Tax introduced last year, as many of us argued would happen at the time, which has massively reduced the amount of garden waste being recycled.

It is not even clear that the change of policy, which was pushed through by the Conservatives despite massive public opposition, has saved much Council Tax payers' money.

It is surely time for the new Conservative leadership at the Council to rethink this policy and start leading our community towards a greener future.

Nigel Quinton
Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Handside & Peartree


Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Email.