Liberal Democrat County Councillor Barbara Gibson has been selected to fight the next General Election for the Lib Dems. She was confirmed as the Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Welwyn Hatfield by local party members at a specially convened meeting on 28th February.
Barbara was elected as County Councillor for Haldens Division in Welwyn Garden City last May. A former university lecturer and business woman, Barbara is a relative newcomer to politics, joining the Liberal Democrats less than two years ago.
"To me, this feels like a natural extension of what I'm already doing here in Welwyn Hatfield," said Barbara. "All the issues that affect us locally are inextricably linked to national politics, from the huge cuts to local government funding, to the impact that a hard Brexit will have on our businesses, our jobs and our lives. I'm very grateful to have this opportunity to fight on behalf of Welwyn Hatfield residents to ensure our interests are represented properly."
Nigel Quinton, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate in the 2017 General Election, has offered his full support to Barbara: "Barbara has a special talent and will make a fantastic MP for Welwyn Hatfield - someone who truly listens to local people and will work hard to make their voices heard."
A native of Oklahoma, USA, Barbara has lived in the UK since 2002, and in Welwyn since 2005. She became a UK citizen in 2011. She holds a PhD in Intercultural Communication from Birkbeck, University of London.
When we speak to people on the doorstep, parking is an issue that often comes up and it is clear that in large parts of Welwyn Hatfield, there is insufficient parking provision for today's car-owning society. Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has started a consultation on parking in the area to try to gain a better insight into specific parking issues that residents have. They have launched an on line survey where you can let them know specifically what problems you are experiencing with parking in your street. It's a simple survey that only takes a few minutes to complete so please do take the time to fill it and the Council know your views.
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.
The start of the New Year has yet again brought fare rises well above wage growth as the Tory government see rail users as easy target. LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan says "While the private rail companies force passengers to endure over-crowding day after day, their chiefs pocket millions in pay and bonuses".
Great Northern users have seen delays time after time – the official figures show 24% of all trains on Great Northern are officially late i.e. more than 5 minutes late – nearly twice the rate on nearby Thameslink trains. But, as the poster on the footbridge at WGC station shows, the proportion actually arriving on time is much lower – just 31% arrived on time at Kings Cross last month, and 40% at Cambridge; and this does allow for the trains that skip Hatfield and WGC to catch up time, leaving passengers stranded.
"At minimum we should get a fares freeze, on a value for money basis there should be a reduction" said Malcolm.
Former Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrat councillor, Michal Siewniak, was contacted few months ago by Assistant Professor Katarzyna Radzik - Maruszak, from a University in Lublin, Poland. Mrs. Katarzyna Radzik - Maruszak is writing her dissertation on Local Government (LG) in the UK and she wanted to talk to current and former councillors from Hertfordshire.
She was really pleased that some Polish people (still not enough!) are keen to be part of the democratic process. Being part of public life is so important and it shows that EU nationals contribute in many different ways, also by becoming a 'civic voice' for their residents. Following a visit to the UK, Mrs Katarzyna Radzik - Maruszak invited Michal on a return visit to meet her students who study politics at UMCS in Lublin in the South East of Poland.
Michal Siewniak said: "I was delighted to come to Poland and give a lecture on the subject of Local Government in the UK which took place on Wednesday, 13 December. It went really well! I had an opportunity to talk to a superb group of students (35) who were very eager to learn more about the political process in the UK, Welwyn Hatfield, canvassing, Liberal Democrats and my experience (as a Polish migrant) of standing and winning a seat.
Yesterday Siobhán Elam was elected as the new Liberal Democrat Councillor in Handside Ward with 52.4% of the vote, taking over from Rachel Basch who had had to resign having been promoted into a politically restricted role in the Civil Service.
Siobhán, who only joined the party this year and has not been involved in politics before, said: "I'm delighted to have been elected tonight to serve the people of Handside. I am looking forward to doing everything within my power to make sure that I do justice to the confidence that people have placed in me. It is such an honour to represent my neighbours in this way and I want to thank everyone who has made this possible."
"Conservatives heartless to ignore facts", say Lib Dems over decision to close Cuffley Camp outdoor centre.
In spite of a last-minute bid by the Liberal Democrat opposition on Hertfordshire County Council to save Cuffley Camp, the fate of the outdoor centre looks to have been sealed after Conservatives councillors refuse to reconsider their decision to close it.
The future use of Cuffley Camp was cut short by the nine Conservative councillors of the council's Cabinet, who agreed earlier in the month that the council should pay an undisclosed sum of money to withdraw from its lease agreements, leaving the tax-payer with a hefty bill reported to be over a million pounds.
A intervention by Liberal Democrat councillors secured a review of this decision, forcing a special meeting of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee, held yesterday. Leader of the Opposition Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst argued that the Cabinet had failed in its duty to give full and proper consideration to the facts of the decision, for example:
- The impact of closure on staff members employed at the site, who could now lose their homes
- Alternative finance options demonstrating the potential ongoing viability of the site
- The absence of discussions with land owners on the possible operation of the site by a new group prepared to invest and maintain the site for outdoor use
Papers to next week's Cabinet meeting show that Finesse, a company wholly-owned by the council, who run various leisure facilities in the borough - Hatfield Swim Centre and Leisure Centre, Stanborough Park, KGV playing fields, Panshanger golf course, Moneyhole and Digswell playing fields - are handing over the running to Greenwich Leisure, who recently took over the Gosling facilities.
Liberal Democrat Councillors on Welwyn Hatfield Borough warmly welcome the agreement of the other parties to a Scrutiny being held into the numerous problems with rats across the Borough. The request for the scrutiny was tabled by the Liberal Democrats.
LibDem Cllr Helen Quenet who will sit on the scrutiny group said "I tabled a Freedom of Information request recently, which showed that 443 council-subsidised rodent treatments had been carried out across the Borough during the year from Sept 2016, however this figure underestimates the size of the problem as many people will have rodent infestations treated privately. It is clearly a major problem.
"During my time as a Councillor I have become very aware both of specific areas which seem to have disproportionate rat activity and individual cases where the presence of rats has caused great distress to residents. A scrutiny like this, gives all the parties a chance to examine an issue in depth and to research successful initiatives carried out in other areas of the country and indeed world. Such cross party working to my mind is the most constructive way forward in many areas of the Borough's work."
Today Philip Hammond had an opportunity to help the British people; but he bottled it.
He could have given much needed money for the NHS, or for Social Care, or for local government which continues to bear the brunt of austerity politics. But that would have upset the hardliners in the Conservative Party, and of course he needs to save even more money to fund Brexit. That £3billion for the costs of Brexit in today's budget is just the tip of the iceberg, but even that could and should be being spent on vital public services.
And most of what he announced seems like smoke and mirrors to us. The stamp duty change will help barely 3500 people, and will likely lead to house price rises, benefitting the property owners, developers and estate agents, not those desperate to buy.