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.”
Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Barbara Gibson has said the Tories’ Brexit Deal is dead after Parliament defeated Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time.
Gibson said: “No amount of tweaking can turn this deal around. Theresa May’s Brexit Deal is dead.
“The Tories have made a hash of Brexit. It has become a national embarrassment and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party have aided and abetted them from start to finish.
“Grant Shapps voted against his own Government’s deal, but he hasn’t committed to preventing a no-deal catastrophe, or to giving the people the option to stay in the EU. Welwyn Hatfield deserves better. There is no form of Brexit that is as good for the UK as the deal we have being a fully functioning member of the EU.
“Now is the time to back the Liberal Democrats and join us in demanding better than Brexit.”
Lib Dems have discovered the Conservatives plan to keep secret the location of potential new housing developments until after the local elections.
Having been told their Local Plan is ‘unsound’ by an independent inspector, the Borough issued a new ‘call for sites’ – asking landowners whether they’d want to build houses on their land. The Borough were overwhelmed at the response – 65 completely new sites and 70+ sites that had previously been rejected that were put forward again.
Unable to turn around an assessment of so many locations in time, the Conservatives have decided to delay revealing the sites until after the May elections, despite the Local plan Inspector urging the council to speed up the process. The Borough know where all the sites are, and there is no legal reason they could not be made public, but in a clearly political decision the Conservatives have decided to keep them secret until after the election.
In a move that LibDem campaigner Jane Quinton described as “clearly premature and open to legal challenge” the Council’s planning committee voted to approve the outline planning application from landowner Mariposa and HCA – ignoring the repeated objections of hundreds of local residents over many years.
Conservative Panshanger Councillor Terry Mitchinson not only failed to stand up for Panshanger residents who have opposed the loss of the airfield, he even spoke in favour of the development.
After the meeting Jane had this to say:
“The Local Plan process has dragged on for many years now and it will be at least another year before the Inspector produces his final judgement. This development is being pushed by the owners with the Council’s blessing, based on a remark made by the Inspector at the end of one of his hearings. At that stage, he was misinformed about the planning status of the airfield, but a leading QC has subsequently briefed the Inspector and the Council, pointing out that the land remains designated as an Airfield even if non-operational. Despite this advice, the council have still decided to determine this planning decision on what must be shaky legal grounds.”
“The proposals in any case do not deliver on Garden City principles, with too dense a development and too few facilities, putting even more pressure on amenities such as Moors Walk and Moneyhole Park.”