Democracy under attack

On 28th August 2019, The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, launched an assault on the heart of our democracy and requested proroguation of Parliament in order to to drive through a no-deal, hard Brexit, against the majority wishes of Parliament, that will be catastrophic for the vast majority of British people and EU citizens currently living in the UK.

Paul Zukowskyj calls on everyone who values our precious democracy to join us and send a clear message: This Tory tyranny can not and will not be allowed to succeed.

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QEII Closure - Fact Check

Grant Shapps, Mike Hobday, Nigel Quinton and other campaigners delivering the cross-party "Save QE2" petition to the PCT

Letter to Welwyn Hatfield Times


Dear Sir or Madam,

Last week’s letter, from Labour’s parliamentary candidate (Welwyn Hatfield Times, 3rd July 2019), was full of righteous indignation, but short on facts or serious solutions.

She needs someone who lives in Welwyn Hatfield to tell her what actually went on with the closure of the old QEII. It was the 2001-05 Labour government that originally promised us a new ‘super-hospital’ in Hatfield to replace the QEII, but they reneged on that promise when they lost to Grant Shapps and the Conservatives in 2005. After both Grant and I had kicked off our own campaigns, a cross-party campaign was subsequently formed to fight this decision, which her predecessor, Labour PPC Mike Hobday joined too. Thousands of signatures were collected, a great deal of hard work was put in and detailed evidence was presented, but sadly, the Conservatives at county hall chose not to refer the decision to the Secretary of State. The decision was taken to expand the Lister at Stevenage, and to replace the old QEII with what we have now. This all happened under a Labour government, before 2010.

We all have political history in our parties of which we can be less than proud. I am proud of some of what the Lib Dems achieved in coalition, on tax reform, renewable energy and equality especially, and angry about what we allowed the Conservatives to get away with, but you can’t always get what you want. We will continue to try, and to demand better of ourselves and others.

Nigel Quinton
County Councillor for Handside & Peartree

Meadow Verges in Welwyn Hatfield

Meadow verge with Tamsin Jackson-Mynott

Last year Lib Dem Councillor, Tamsin Jackson-Mynott, instigated trials of verge meadows, as an alternative to cropping the grass on a very short cut every few weeks.

The meadow verges being trialed are now in bloom and are thriving with life. Sandwiched between the A1 and B197 there is now a mini meadow full of bees, beetles, damsel flies, moths, butterflies and many more; at Southway there is even more - Knapweed, Vetch, Red Clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Hawksbit, Cowslips and a host of fine grasses so important to productive habitats. At the Community Orchard at Woodhall Open Space the pollinators finally have proper habitat to breed - which means more fruit for residents to enjoy!

Tamsin is thrilled with the progress of the meadow verges: “With proper management these will flourish and improve year on year with more flowers and habitat and so more lovely bugs and beasts can thrive within them. In future there may well be some planting required to improve on this year’s success, but given that one update I posted on social media last week had over 250 positive responses so far asking for more, I would love to deliver this for residents.”

Fauna on Digswell Hill Verge

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QE2 Urgent Care Centre threatened

QE2 Urgent Care Centre, Welwyn Garden City

Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily to news that the Urgent Care Centre at the QE2 may close at night, making the whole of Eastern and Central Herts depend on the Lister.

“I know Lister A and E and Urgent Care Centre is overwhelmed – I was there for around 5 hours recently” said LibDem council group leader Malcolm Cowan. “Having people like me sent up to Stevenage is one of the reasons it is overwhelmed. We need a publicity effort to tell people they can be treated locally at QE2. We are losing everything to Lister, after we were told the Urgent Care Centre – already a step down from a full A and E service – would be available 24/7. And for anyone without access to a car, this is even worse, buses become almost non-existent in the evenings, let alone overnight when an expensive taxi is all that is available”.

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Wel Hat Lib Dems call for a Climate Change Emergency

Declare a Climate Emergency

We are proud to announce that we have asked for a Special Meeting of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council on June 19th to declare a Climate Emergency.

It would be great to have lots of support there, to show that the people of Welwyn Hatfield really do care about the future of our planet.

The meeting is scheduled for 7:30pm in the Council Chamber, Campus East, Welwyn Garden City AL8 6AE

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Service Below Par

Hatfield Station

Letter to Welwyn Hatfield Times


Dear Sir or Madam,

One of your correspondents last week bemoaned the state of the rail timetable serving WGC and Hatfield. He is quite right in his criticisms and indeed there are further faults, often for example leading to more cars on the road than we would want, and less trains that could carry the drivers.

Rather than just complain, however, I and a representative from the Hatfield Association of Rail Travellers will be seeking an early meeting with Govia to try to bring about improvements. I do not pretend this will be easy. The dead hand of the civil servants at the Department of Transport are written all over the structure of the services, in the same way as they ‘designed’ new trains without wifi (now being expensively retro-fitted), without seat-back tables for drinks and produced seats so uncomfortable that they are called ironing boards.

We will however give it our best shot.

Malcolm Cowan
WGC rail user group and Borough Councillor

Progress at Gosling, but a long way to go

Gosling Sports Park

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.

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Lib Dems Lead Remain Charge in Welwyn Hatfield

Barbara Gibson, Lib Dem MEP for the East of England, with Vince Cable

“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”.

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Power Sharing Talks with Labour Break Down

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?

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LibDem Gains End Conservative Control of Welwyn Hatfield

A tired but jubliant Lib Dem team at the Welwyn Hatfield local election count in May 2019

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.

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