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.
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."
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.
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.
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?
Newly 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."
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."
Whilst the attached picture might be quite amusing, the situation on Welwyn Hatfield's roads is way beyond a joke. Hertfordshire is in danger of becoming a laughing stock due to the appalling state our roads are in.
Conservative-led Herts Council Council's Highways Service, led by Welwyn Hatfield's own Cllr Pile as cabinet member for highways, are simply failing to deliver even the most rudimentary service. Holes are left unrepaired. Lights remain unfixed. Accident damage to street furniture is rife and streetsigns that look more like vertical lawns remain uncleaned. Cars are being damaged by potholes and a flood of claims is being received by County Hall on a daily basis.
It is all very well for John Dean and Grant Shapps to boast about freezing council tax, which we supported as necessary given the freeze in many people's incomes. But it is only half the story.
Services have been cut by both borough and county councils.
The borough still
- fail to take any action to stop the destruction of our grass verges
- they have reduced the number of grass and hedge cuts
- reduced tree budgets
- cut planning staff so there is less enforcement
- reduced grants to the voluntary bodies that do so much good
The list goes on. And of course the borough's budget shows a major deficit every year - hardly the mark of a well-run council.
An election leaflet from Cllr Pile has claimed that he has 'stopped the incinerator in its tracks', whereas the plans are simply on hold until the planning inquiry in September.
All residents are urged to ignore the claim and continue to support Hatfield Against Incineration (HAI) and the New Barnfield Action Fund (NBAF), especially financially, to stop the incinerator.