Motorway decision not so Smart

Smart motorway in operation cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Bill Boaden -

LibDems renew call for halt to A1(M) ‘upgrade’ as Highways England carry on regardless

After visiting the “Information event” put on by Highways England last Friday outside Waitrose in WGC, local LibDem Councillors expressed deep concerns that work is still scheduled to start in a matter of weeks.

Just weeks ago, Mike Penning, the former roads minister responsible for signing off Britain’s smart motorways, called for a halt to the rollout of further schemes of this type. He accused Highways England of killing motorists by “casually ignoring commitments” on the systems fundamental to the safe operation of these roads.

In a subsequent statement Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps promised that Smart Motorways would be put on hold pending a full safety review, but at the event last Friday, representatives of Highways England were absolutely clear that work on the A1(M) between junctions 6 and 8 is still scheduled to start in March.

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Conservative Councillors vote to close three short break respite homes across Herts

Respite care offers a lifeline for many people

Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats decry the decision by conservative members to close three short break respite homes across the county, significantly reducing capacity.

The three sites slated for closure are at Tewin Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hixberry Lane, St Albans and Apton Road, Bishops Stortford.

At the Adult Care and Health Panel today, a petition was presented by the Carers organisation, Carers in Herts, making very valid points and seeking a cooperative process with Adult Care Services to build the right respite strategy service before closures are considered, and Cllr Ron Tindall as LibDem spokesperson put this forward as an alternative recommendation to the panel. Sadly this vote was lost with all Conservative members voting against, despite several of them having echoed the concerns of the petitioners and opposition members during the debate. Instead the proposal to authorise closure was voted through; all opposition members voted against. One Conservative Member who had suggested that the recommendation should be amended to consider the plans further before committing to closures at least abstained (much to his credit).

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Tower blocks on Shredded Wheat site set to soar higher

How high will the high-rises go?

At the Local Plan meeting of 25th January 2020, Colin Haigh, head of planning at Welwyn Hatfield council revealed that the landowners of the Shredded Wheat site are asking to build a further 700-900 homes, literally on top of the 1450 they have permission for; this would likely mean much higher tower blocks, already set to be 8 storeys tall.

Malcolm Cowan, Liberal Democrat group leader and Peartree councillor, said “This threatens to create tower blocks that could be seen from much of the town. I thought that in our Centenary, this was still supposed to be a Garden City, not part of Inner London, where tower blocks are taking over.

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Council Housing Targets – Tsunami of Damage no choice at all

Cllr Paul Zukowskyj is angry that our precious Green belt under threat from Council Housing Targets

Borough Council planners are intending presenting ‘options’ to councillors on proposed housing, but they really give no choice at all.

Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel (CPPP) on Thursday 23rd Jan will be presented with four ‘options’, but the difference between each is whether the damage to the green belt is massive or only enormous.

Paul Zukowskyj, Lib Dem Borough Councillor for Welham Green and Hatfield South, and a member of the CPPP commented: “The options presented all deliver a tsunami of house-building on our green belt. None of the options balance the damage to our green spaces with the need for housing. The ‘preferred’ option suggests building 15948 homes, just 52 less than we would need if we had no green belt. Is protecting our green space worth just 0.3% of the housing need?

“I can’t accept any of the options offered, and I urge fellow councillors to join me. We are supposed to defend our communities, not stand by while they’re trashed.”

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Lib Dems set out £100bn plan to tackle climate emergency

Smoke in the sunset

The Liberal Democrats have set out ambitious £100 billion spending plans to tackle the climate emergency, including generating 80% of our electricity from renewables and retrofitting all homes by 2030.

The plan includes the full costings of how the Liberal Democrats would spend £100 billion tackling the climate emergency and details on how they would cut greenhouse gases in every sector of the economy to achieve net-zero by 2045.

Targets in the Liberal Democrat’s ‘Our Plan to Tackle the Climate Emergency’ include:

  • generating 80% of our electricity from renewables by 2030
  • retrofitting all homes – cutting energy bills – and targeting those in fuel poverty first by 2025
  • planting 60 million trees a year to increase UK forest cover
  • ensuring all new cars sold are electric by 2030
  • banning all non-essential non-recyclable single-use plastic within three years.
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Brexit costing public services up to £470m a week

QE2 Urgent Care Centre, Welwyn Garden City

The Liberal Democrats have revealed that Brexit is already costing the government £380-£470 million a week – money that could have been spent on the NHS instead.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has estimated that GDP is £55–£66 billion lower this year than it would have been without Brexit, mainly due to uncertainty deterring business investment. Business investment in the UK has fallen by 3% since the end of 2017, whereas other G7 countries have seen it grow.

Based on the IFS figures, the Lib Dems have calculated that public sector receipts (which are 37% of GDP) are £20.3–24.3 billion lower this year than they would have been, which equates to £380–470 million a week.

The claims and counter claims about the NHS in this election can be traced all the way back to Boris’s big red Brexit bus and the now widely discredited claim that leaving the EU would give the NHS £350,000,000 a week.

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Vote Lib Dem to ‘stop Boris and stop Brexit’

Vote Lib Dem to ‘stop Boris and stop Brexit’

We urge all Remain voters in Welwyn Hatfield to vote Liberal Democrat to "stop Boris and stop Brexit in the most important election in our lifetimes”.

With just three days until polling stations open, the Lib Dems have unveiled ready-to-go legislation for a People’s Vote as soon as Parliament returns after the results on Thursday.

We would introduce two draft bills that together would pave the way to a People's Vote on Brexit. First, a ‘Paving Bill’ which would enable the Electoral Commission to start the necessary consultation around a referendum question and lead campaign designation. Secondly, a full Bill which would provide for a referendum on the deal versus staying in the European Union.

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The state of school buildings is a ‘disgrace’ and putting ‘lives at risk’

Crumbling schools a disgrace

Liberal Democrat candidate for Welwyn Hatfield, Paul Zukowskyj, has said the state of school buildings ‘is a disgrace’ and urgent investment is required after years of Tory cuts.

His remarks come after an investigation by The Guardian found one in five school buildings in England require urgent repairs. Nearly 700 schools have been referred to the national health and safety body over concerns they are failing to safely manage asbestos in their buildings, potentially putting thousands of staff and pupils at risk, the report reveals.

It is thought that about 90% of school buildings in England contain asbestos, often around pipes and boilers, and in wall and ceiling tiles. Last year, according to The Guardian, the government launched the asbestos management assurance process to find out more about asbestos in schools. According to information released following a freedom of information request, of the 2,952 schools bodies that responded in full to the survey, 2,570 (87%) reported having asbestos in at least one of their buildings.

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Lib Dems leading on business and innovation

Turbo-charging the UK’s position as a “global research powerhouse”

The Liberal Democrats have set out a plan today to turbo-charge the UK’s position as a “global research powerhouse” with a £17bn research and development fund that will help level the economic playing field across all regions.

The five-year funding programme will be used to leverage private investment and ensure that national spending on research and development reaches 3% of GDP as soon as possible. The additional funding would come out of a £130 billion capital investment fund that would also support vital infrastructure projects across the country.

Part of this funding would increase investment in the Strength in Places fund, which is designed to support regional growth by investing in programmes that would help close the economic gap between regions. So far, the South East has secured investment for a major agri-tech support programme.

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174% rise in homeless children in East of England a ‘shocking indictment’

Child homelessness is a shocking indictment on modern society

The 174% increase in homeless children in the East of England is a ‘shocking indictment’ on modern society.

A report released by Shelter reveals that 135,000 children will be homeless and living in temporary accommodation on Christmas Day in Britain, affecting one in 107 children.

Shelter also highlighted the impact of temporary accommodation such as emergency B&Bs and hostels on families, where the facilities were often sub-standard and lacked privacy and security for families.

In the East of England, there were 8,400 children living in temporary accommodation as of 31 March 2019 out of a total child population for the region of 1,404,273. This equates to one in every 167 children living in temporary accommodation.

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