Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats have welcomed the announcement by the Save Gosling Campaign to a room full of sports hall building users last Wednesday, of a deal with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) to potentially see squash and badminton continue for up to another 5 years. This follows GLL’s shock announcement on Xmas Eve that they would close the building from 31 March, subsequently extended to end June, and now to end September.
However, the deal means the daytime use of the sports hall building will be very limited, and many groups who currently use the facilities will not be able to, and in any case relies on Hertfordshire Police also taking a five year deal.
“It was a fantastic night for Remain and the Lib Dems” says Cllr Macolm Cowan. “Nationally and locally our positive, unambiguous Remain message has knocked Tories and Labour sideways. In Welwyn Hatfield, in the May elections we achieved 33% of the vote and in these elections we are now a strong challenger for the Grant Shapps’ seat, having got more votes than Labour and the Conservatives put together.”
In the Remain/Leave battle here, the vote was a clear win for Remain with the parties with a clear remain message (Lib Dems , Greens and ChUK) taking 41.5% of the vote share with leave parties (Brexit Party and UKIP) trailing with 36%. “I hope Grant learns the lesson after all his switching sides – Remain is well ahead and he backs our strong pro-Europe view”.
It is with deep regret that we have to report that have been unable to negotiate a power sharing agreement with Labour after the recent May elections. Such an agreement would have taken the Tories out of power.
We have had three meetings with Labour over the past week, two positive and encouraging but the third, sadly, not.
As Labour have one more councillor than us (13 Labour to our 12 Lib Dem councillors) we had quickly acquiesced to their request to hold the Leader and Mayor roles within a joint administration. Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council operates on a “cabinet” model, similar to central government, and as such, we were seeking broad equality with Labour in the number of cabinet posts our councillors would hold. We were also seeking limited control over the budget, in order that we could deliver on the promises we have made to the residents of Welwyn Hatfield.
Whilst Labour did eventually concede an additional cabinet place (although this just shared our existing agreed roles and therefore offered no increase in scope) they refused to allow us any control over any part of the Council budget whatsoever. We were seeking a mere 0.2% of the budget, to be shared equally between all wards irrespective of party, as a locality fund to support local projects. Had they agreed, Labour would still have retained effective control over the remaining 99.8% of the budget. Labour’s inflexibility and lack of goodwill on this issue was a matter of extreme concern to all involved in the negotiations and did not provide the foundations on which we felt future constructive governance could be built.
We hope that residents understand why we could not go into a close relationship like this on the basis of Labour's calls to “trust us”, without any binding commitment on their part. How many people would go enter into a personal or business relationship on such a basis?
Welwyn Hatfield is finally free from decades of Conservative rule as the LibDems gain four seats, in Panshanger (Jane Quinton), Sherrards (Frank Marsh), Handside (Anthony Dennis), and Peartree (Jayne Ranshaw) as well as successfully defending Welham Green and Hatfield South (Jaida Caliskan). The Council is now made up of 23 Conservatives, 13 Labour and 12 LibDem councillors.
In Handside Ward, Anthony Dennis scored the biggest vote of the night – with 1488 votes, and a majority of 821, in a ward were three years ago it went to three re-counts.
They also came within 31 votes of a seat in Hatfield East and won three seats on Hatfield Town Council where they now hold the balance of power – both Tory and Labour parties have six each.
Herts County Council said this beautiful oak will be cut down next week.
We aim to stop that!
Without any consultation and on very short notice, both our Tory-controlled Councils have colluded to rush through a plan to fell the large oak tree near the junction of Pentley Park and Pentley Close. When the Dr Barbara Gibson (County Cllr, Haldens Division) and Jean-Paul Skoczylas (Borough Cllr, Sherrards Ward) learned of this last week, they took swift action to halt the rushed process to allow proper scrutiny of the decision.
Barbara has managed to secured a temporary stay of execution, but we’re going to need to demonstrate overwhelming community support to buy more time and get the decision changed.
This is a beautiful, healthy tree, estimated to be well over 200 years old. We believe the decision to cut it down is faulty, and if allowed, sets a precedent that potentially puts at risk the character of the entire area.
We need your help
Please join us for a rally around the tree, on Pentley Park near junction with Pentley Close, this Thursday, 25th April, at 6pm to find out how - signup for the rally on our Facebook Page or just turn up on the day. We’ll have petitions to sign, yellow ribbons to tie on, and a group photo for the local paper. Please invite your friends. We need to send a clear message to both Councils.
Today the Liberal Democrats announced the list of MEP candidates for the EU elections scheduled for 23rd May, with the list of seven candidates for the Eastern Region led by Dr Barbara Gibson, Hertfordshire County Councillor for Haldens division of Welwyn Garden City.
Barbara said: “It is clear that Brexit is a failure, and that the people want a way out of the mess created by the Government. This election is the first step, an opportunity to send a powerful message that the people demand a final say, and the opportunity to stay in the EU.
“As the largest pro-European party in England, the Liberal Democrats are the best positioned to make that happen.
“What we need in MEPs is dynamic leaders who can effect change, who will lead reform, rather than using the EU as the scapegoat for the failures of our own successive Governments.
“I’m pleased to lead the list of Lib Dem candidates for the region, and hope to have the opportunity to make the EU deliver even more for Hertfordshire and the Eastern Region.”
It is still not certain whether or not the UK will be taking part in the European Parliament elections on 23 May. If you want to vote in those elections, whether you're a UK citizen or an EU citizen living in the UK is essential that you are registered to vote. You need to complete your registration by 7th May 2019 to be able to vote in these elections:
If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK
If you’re a citizen of an EU country (other than the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus) resident in the UK, you can either vote in the UK or in your home country.
If you want to vote in your home country
Contact electoral authorities in the EU country where you’re a citizen.
If you want to vote in the UK
In addition to registering to vote, you need to complete and submit a European Parliament voter registration form
If you live in Welwyn Hatfield, your local Electoral Registration Office is:
Electoral Registration Office
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council Offices
Welwyn Garden City
Telephone: 01707 357 300
If you live outside the Welwyn Hatfield area, you can find your local Electoral Registration Office on the government website, here.
Responding to today’s vote on the Government's withdrawal agreement, Welwyn Hatfield’s Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Barbara Gibson said:
“Today’s outcome was entirely predictable. And just as predictable was the fact that Welwyn Hatfield’s MP made another u-turn, voting in step with the ERG, after twice rejecting May’s deal then voting for no-deal earlier this week.
“Mr Shapps is not listening to the majority of people of Welwyn Hatfield, who are tired of this Brexit madness and now want to remain in the EU.
“It’s time to stop playing political games with our future. Since the Government has failed, and Parliament can’t decide, the best way out of this mess is a People’s Vote.”
Liberal Democrat County Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Barbara Gibson spoke in a debate at the Lib Dem party conference, where the party passed an emergency motion calling on the Government to take urgent action to tackle knife crime by providing funding and support for youth services and protecting children from gang related crime.
In the debate, Gibson said: “A society that fails to protect, nurture and develop its children — all its children — will fail. We are currently seeing the early signs of that failure.
“In Welwyn Hatfield, Liberal Democrats have decided that investment in our youth has to be our primary focus, for two reasons: Because it is our responsibility, and because it is our opportunity.”