Letter about A1(M) non-widening

It is not too often I have to say I agree with council leader John Dean, but on the issue of the A1(M) non-widening, I must.

John may not be aware, and I am sure readers are not, that this latest plan is the 5th in just a few years. First we had a climber lane from the Clock to the top of the hill on the way towards Stevenage. Then there was converting the hard shoulder into a running lane when the road was busy - an idea I fear will eventually lead to a major pile-up, but what do I know. Then there was easing the entrance onto the motorway northbound, and also at junction 7 - Stevenage south, followed by turning the northbound hard shoulder into a full lane - this was being discussed with the county council just a month ago.

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Letter to warn Welwyn Hatfield of new electoral role concern

The following letter was sent to the Welwyn Hatfield Times to raise the profile of the issue that an edited electoral role can be sold to any organisation.

Dear Sirs

The cost of your Privacy

As readers will be aware from your piece last week the council has been forced by legislation going back to the last government to sell edited copies of the electoral roll. We have now found out that two thirds of our smart voters have opted out of the edited register and so reduced the risk of being buried under mounds of unwanted junk mail.

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Council "Clean-up" makes things worse

Litter on verge 1A clean-up of the verge while a road was closed for resurfacing has left a disastrous trail of rubbish that is probably worse than before it started, says LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan, who was contacted by an angry local resident who says he phoned both borough and county councils to get them to remove the litter.

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Herts County Council "gave fraudster a licence to steal"

Lorraine Graves, the former Herts County Council social worker who pleaded guilty to stealing tens of thousands of pounds from vulnerable pensioners in her care, took advantage of a system that was simply not fit for purpose.

Until 2011, HCC's system for managing Adult Social Care 'bank accounts' for people having difficulty running their own finances relied on Dickensian era paper-based ledger systems while senior management overview of the system was almost totally non-existent.

A request by a victim for a statement of their account took nearly three months to produce and when it was finally provided it was as a printout of an Excel spreadsheet hurriedly put together by an officer in the council - not a proper statement because the system to produce one simply didn't exist.

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Lack of independence in high ropes enquiry queried

Local Liberal Democrat councillor Malcolm Cowan has queried the apparent lack of any external element to the enquiry into the high ropes accident at Stanborough Park.

"The Health and Safety Executive must have their own reasons for neither running nor taking part in an enquiry, but their presence would have provided reassurance to residents. During the months that have passed since the tragic accident there has been ample time to bring in someone independent, but that has not happened. That does seem odd.

"Councillors such as myself have just had one basic information note directly after the accident, nothing since. I am learning more from the Welwyn and Hatfield Times than from the council itself - that cannot be right.

"After Finesse's problems at KGV, including the £200,000 wasted on unused 3G soccer pitches, questions must inevitably arise about their ability to manage these projects."

Lib Dem county councillors given senior jobs in official opposition group

Local LibDem county councillors Malcolm Cowan and Paul Zukowskyj have both been given senior jobs in the official oppostion group at County Hall.

Paul is shadow spokesperson on finance, property and human resources, taking over from Malcolm. Paul says 'This is a big job and I am looking forward to it. It is important a fresh pair of eyes are brought in from time to time and I intend to be rigorous in checking that our money, staff and property are used efficiently and properly.'

Malcolm moves to become a vice-chair of Overview and Scrutiny. He says "Scrutiny is the vehicle for opposition and backbench councillors from the ruling group to undertake investigations into the effectiveness of the council's policies. It provides some counterbalance to the power of the Cabinet. It is ironic that although I am also a borough councillor, I am barred from taking part in scrutiny here in Welwyn Hatfield by a decision of the Tory group."

Malcolm has also been nominated by the county council to serve a second term on the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority, who run several of the Olympic venues, as well as large areas set aside for nature and wildlife.

WHT letter regarding the state of WGC footpaths

Dear Sir

One of your correspondents last week pointed out the poor condition of some of the footpaths in WGC town centre. The county council's own firgures show that only about 2% of the highways budget goes on footpaths, and at the current rate of progress, each stretch of footpath gets resurfaced about once every 136 years - and no, that is not a mis-print.

So it is hardly surprising our footpaths are in a poor state and have been getting worse over a long period of time. The problem is made worse by the way in which many commercial vehicles mount the footpaths as a matter of course.

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Letter regarding Labour Cllr Colin Croft

Dear Sir

Is it possible for the local Labour party to tie itself in any more knots over moved-to-Yorkshire councillor Colin Croft? Firstly, Labour group leader Kieran Thorpe says still-councillor Croft should resign, but he doesnt, and nothing happens. Now there is a motion of no confidence which a senior Labour councillor admits he has seen, but says 'It doesn't exist'. What's that about?

And look up the council's website to see where you can write to Cllr Croft, and the answer comes up, not his former home in Hatfield, not his new home in Bridlington, but wait-for-it, the local Labour party office. And if you want to phone him, he leaves a Welwyn Hatfield number, not a Yorkshire one.

Not exactly value for money, is it?

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Cowan

Ringway "still failing" says councillor

Malcolm on Damaged RoadNewly re-elected LibDem county councillor Malcolm Cowan says main contractor Ringway are still failing Herts residents.

He says "Several months ago I reported the start of Ayot Green Road, over the motorway, as needing resurfacing due to the vast number of potholes. Instead, and after a long delay, Ringway have applied patches to the worst of the holes. Many of the smaller holes have been missed, the road looks like it has got chicken pox due to the number of patches, and perhaps worst of all, they failed to sweep up the vast amount of stones that had been unearthed from the potholes.

"These stones could be lethal if a car or lorry caught them and sent them flying. I got Ringway to promise to pick up loose stones and gravel when they carried out work, at a recent Highways and Transport meeting at County Hall, but they have either forgotten or decided not to bother."

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Former long-standing Conservative councillor is backing LibDem Malcolm Cowan

Dennis Lewis, former long-standing Conservative councillor, is backing LibDem Malcolm Cowan in the Handside and Peartree county council election. He says

"Although I was a Conservative councillor for many years, I shall be supporting Malcolm this year because he has done a good job and is passionate about improving standards.

He cares as passionately about the town as I do."

Malcolm Cowan says "I am very pleased, proud and honoured to have Dennis's support. He has worked hard for WGC for nearly half a century and is widely respected in the town. I know from going round, that many other Conservatives take the view that my work deserves their support."

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