Parents have welcomed the new crossing over Parkway at its junction with Rooks Hill. A petition requesting such a crossing was submitted around 3 years ago, and since then, local county councillor Malcolm Cowan has worked with highways officials to develop and deliver such a crossing.
"Anyone who knows Parkway will know it is a difficult road to cross in the single carriageway section. My suggestion on where to put it was taken up, and I was able to get access to some money that was set aside when the Parkway school site was redeveloped. Looks like a win-win all round"
Libdems vow to hold the Council and Spenhill to account on Phase 2
Last Thursday, 30th April, Welwyn Hatfield Council gave approval to Spenhill (the property arm of Tesco) to develop the old Shredded Wheat site next to the train station. In many ways this is a cause for celebration - the scheme is for high quality urban architecture in a strategic position in the town centre that will provide 850 new homes and will extend the retail and evening economies into Peartree Ward. The developer will also fund £4M of highways work and £3.5M towards educational needs, mostly towards a new, larger, Peartree School, which we very much welcome.
However, in one very important respect the scheme is hopelessly deficient. Only 50 of the 850 homes (less than 6%) are to be affordable homes, despite the Council's own policy that at least 30% of homes in this development should be affordable. That it was as many as 50 is only because pressure in the past week from our comments in the press has forced the issue. Only in the eleventh hour, on the day before approval, was the number of affordable homes increased from 35 to 50.
Leading Liberal Democrats are asking whether our Council was lost in action during the negotiations of the "deal" to develop the Shredded Wheat site.
Shockingly, despite a projected £86M profit, developers Spenhill are being told they only have to provide 35 units of affordable housing - just 4% of the total 850 being built. It is the stated policy of the Council that 30% of all new homes should be affordable. And the profits could well be much higher as the Council has failed to scrutinise the cost estimates.
Local councillors have seized on figures from Herts County Council, showing spending on road and pavement maintenance and improvements have reduced every year over the past four years.
Spending on highways has plummeted from £39.2 million in 2013-14 to £30.1 million this year. This is despite inflation meaning that less can be done for the same amount of money, and the ever-deteriorating state of local roads and pavements.
Cllr Malcolm Cowan, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at County Hall said, "The Conservatives are continually telling residents that spending on roads is going up. These figures, provided by independent and council officers, show that in fact this vital spending has fallen every year for four years".
The scene of an accident just before Xmas outside John Lewis has been abandoned with no further work planned, even before any restoration work is done.
LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan reported the damage on 23 December. Loose parts that came off the vehicle that crashed were removed, but that is all. Now Malcolm has received a report saying nothing remains to be done - no repair of the broken cycle racks, no repair to the smashed paving, no removal of the temporary protective fencing. It is both potentially dangerous, as well as an eyesore.
We asked the council to focus on reducing the following items:
1. £200k predicted loss at Humphrey's cafe at Campus West.
Unbelievable. This is open up to 12 hours a day and should be a license to print money, not to lose it. Copious amounts of wine are purchased by customers for some of the film nights.
2. 150k to resurface the Campus West car park.
Sounds like a gold-plated job. Have they had alternate quotes?
Many TV viewers will have been shocked to see the conditions being endured by single-person households at Boundary House WGC, exposed in a Newsnight feature last week on Britain's housing crisis.
What was shown were several examples of a single room - a "studio flat" in estate agent language - being home to a mother and two children - a room being kitchen, living room and bedroom to 3 people! The entire block is privately owned but the families have been moved there from the London Borough of Waltham Forest.