Welhat LibDems celebrate Handside Landslide

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.

Newly elected Handside Councillor Siobhan Elam and the winning team at the count

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."

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Heartless Tories ignore facts

Herts Lib Dems Press Release

"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
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End of Finesse not a surprise say LibDems

Hatfield Swim CentrePapers 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.

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Councillors to probe rat issues

RatLiberal 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."

LibDems react to Philip Hammond's budget statement (and the small-print!)

Nigel Quinton - Welwyn Hatfield PPCToday 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.

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Does this look fixed?

Malcolm Cowan, LibDem councillor is furious with a response from the county council's highways service. He reported an upturned drain in Heather Rd WGC. The response he got was:

This is an update to the highway fault reported on 06/11/2017 2:20 PM
The reference number is: 201013199114
Fault type: Road and cycle lane
Location: Heather Road, Welwyn Garden City
We have inspected this location and the necessary works have been carried out. No further action is planned.
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Reverse advent calendar launched


Try a different Advent calendar this year!

This year, Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats are supporting our local food banks through a "reverse advent calendar". It's a simple way to support those who need a little extra help during the festive period.

Just put aside a box and on each day of Advent add a food item. It's a great way to reflect the true spirit of Christmas giving. Some of our members will be involving the whole family in choosing items to donate.

For full details and more information, please see our Reverse Advent Calendar page

EMS U-turn - Letter to Welwyn Hatfield Times


Dear Sir,

If buses often come long in twos, so it seems do U-turns by our local council. So just days after the welcome U-turn on allowing food waste into the brown bins – where was the justification for banning it, and where is the justification for suddenly changing once the £35 subscriptions were banked, comes another far less welcome, this time on the WGC Estate Management Scheme (EMS). A scheme to help preserve the uniqueness of WGC and stop it being slowly turned into yet another town but increasingly difficult to use.

For years the council has complained about the complexity of EMS and the difficulties of enforcing even-handedly between leaseholders and freeholders. Finally they brought forward plans to replace almost all of the scheme by changing the planning rules, giving us a simple transparent way to help protect the design of the town and equality of enforcement. Everyone was signed up – all 3 political parties, the council’s staff, outside heritage bodies. All systems should have been go. Many of us were even hoping it would open the door to make the protected area boundaries more sensible.

But then months of delay, as usual unexplained. Then bombshell, not only is the council sticking with the current EMS, it introduces charges for applications, so in many cases, you will pay twice, once for planning permission, once for EMS permission. Did someone say another stealth tax?

To add insult to injury, WGC councillors representing the areas affected were not consulted, nor the ones who had worked to come up with a better alternative. Just 4 cabinet members were needed to push it through last week, none representing WGC. No prior notice, no debate. And it would seem no budget to publicise and explain the scheme to residents. You really couldn’t make it up. Don’t the Tories realise what a jewel they have here in WGC and how easily it can be destroyed?

Yours sincerely

Malcolm Cowan

LibDem councillor, Peartree ward

LibDems step in where Council fears to tread


Last weekend Councillors Nigel Quinton and Malcolm Cowan, along with new activists Siobhán Elam, joined with local resident Clive Marlowe to clear up the area behind Howard House, for which nobody seems prepared to take responsibility.

Clive had contacted the team as the rubbish that was collecting was attracting rats, and the Council were saying "nothing to do with us"!

We were able to get the Council to agree to tackle the rat infestation, although as yet we do not know if this has been done, but as the Council deny all responsibility to clear the rubbish, saying it belongs to a company in receivership, we decided we had just better get our sleeves rolled up.

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Inspector tells Council it is OK to plan for fewer homes, and that Local Plan is not sound

Local Liberal Democrats have welcomed comments from the government inspector who is conducting the current Examination in Public of the Council's Local Plan that it would be acceptable for the Council to plan to build fewer homes if it felt it was constrained by the Green Belt, and that a further Green Belt Review was required. "This is what we, and many others, have been telling the Council for a long time" says County Councillor Nigel Quinton.

The comments follow the second round of hearings into the soundness of the Local Plan, which covered the calculation of housing need, the overall settlement strategy and the Green Belt. The inspector had begun the week by telling the Council that he did not view the plan as 'sound' in its current form, and he ended the week by confirming that this was still his view, although he felt it could be made sound if the Council did additional work or made amendments.

Councillors Nigel Quinton and Malcolm Cowan both participated in the hearings on behalf of the Welwyn Hatfield LibDem party, who have submitted a considerable number of comments to the various consultations on the Plan over past years.

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