Responding to the letter received by local Councils this week from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government calling for local authorities to prepare for a no deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat County Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Barbara Gibson said:
“Asking cash-strapped councils to prepare for a no deal when it is in the Government’s gift to rule it out is nothing short of an insult to local services.
"With local government being eroded at every opportunity and councils struggling to even run just the most basic services, to add this burden for no reason other than to scaremonger support for the Prime Minister’s already defeated deal is utterly shameful."
In November last year LibDem County Councillor Nigel Quinton was very pleased when his motion asking the County Council to throw its weight behind calls for Central Government to confirm funding for Maintained Nursery Schools beyond March 2020 received unanimous support. But today it emerged that the Council has done nothing for two months, finally sending a letter to the Secretary of State only last week.
“What on earth were they doing?” Nigel asks. “As our debate in November made clear, our maintained nursery schools require urgent confirmation of continuing funding, or they face total uncertainty, potential loss of staff, and loss of places, possible closure. How can it take two months for the Council to compose a letter?”
On Christmas Eve 2018, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), operators of the Gosling sports complex in Welwyn Garden City, quietly announced that a decision had been made to close the sports hall and associated facilities at Gosling Sports Park at the end of March.
Liberal Democrat Cllrs Nigel Quinton and Siobhan Elam, County and Borough Councillors respectively, are shocked and disappointed at the news. Nigel commented: “As Hertfordshire’s Year of Physical Activity draws to a close we learn that a sports hall that was only upgraded four years ago, and which is subject to development agreements of 15 years, will be closed without any consultation whatsoever. The operators GLL are letting down our community dreadfully. Gosling is a much loved facility that has served the people of WGC and more widely, for very many years. As owners of the facility, what are the Council doing? The heart of the town’s leisure provision is being ripped out without a word or a care.
News that rail fares will rise by 3% at local stations is massive blow to passengers, and also to the reputation of MP Grant Shapps who vowed to stop the rise. "Even a government without a majority feels able to snub the MP and other more vocal Herts MPs who wrote together to oppose any rise" says local LibDem council group leader Malcolm Cowan, who is also chair of the WGC rail user group. "The Department for Transport set the fares for rail operator Govia. Chris Grayling, as Transport Minister must have signed off these ludicrous fare rises. If Grant is serious, he must demand Grayling's resignation."
Figures just secured by the BBC show the local North and East Herts Hospitals Trust missing 2 out of its 3 main targets, and not even providing data for the third.
On seeing patients in A and E within 4 hours, it hasn't hit the target for over 3 years. For cancer care treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral, it is 8th worst in the UK out of 131 trusts, having not hit its target since April 2015. For planed operations and care, it has failed to provide any data, as was the case earlier in the year.
Yet nearby Luton and Dunstable, drawing its staff from a similar catchment area, results are very different: On A and E, it is top throughout the country (and well above targe), on cancer care it is well above average and above target, and on planned operations and care it is above average though slightly below target.
Last week Liberal Democrat Cllr Tamsin Jackson-Mynott won over the entire Borough Council who voted unanimously for her motion to put pressure on Grant Shapps MP to lobby the Govt to save funding for maintained nursery schools.
Speaking not only as a Councillor but as a parent using the wonderful facilities provided by maintained nursery schools for her daughter, Tamsin said, “The argument to save the funding for maintained nursery schools is not a cash saving exercise - it's about protecting a learning environment for young children that is rich with experience, support, knowledge sharing, cross school network learning, SEND support and teacher training. Nothing new is needed, just a maintenance of the status quo. But for that to happen we all need to work together to this common goal for all of our children”.
The Liberal Democrats have chosen Christina Raven as their candidate for the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council by-election in Welwyn West ward set for 29th November. An osteopath who practises in Welwyn, Hitchin and SE London, Christina grew up in Digswell and returned in 2007 to live in Old Welwyn.
Christina explained why she is standing: “My earliest memories are rooted in this community, and I’ve made Welwyn my home for more than a decade. I love this community, and want to contribute to both preserving what is best about it, and also making it better.
A decision on controversial parking changes in Parkway Close was postponed again last week due to the overwhelming opposition of local residents. LibDem group leader Malcolm Cowan who spoke up at the meeting said 'I cannot understand why the council seems determined to force through something against such strong opposition of those affected. The council normally does everything it can to work by consensus on parking and this usually works. Yet here, not only are residents set to lose parking spaces, their petition against was snubbed by the council to such an extent, members of the Parking Panel were not even made aware of it.
'This is poor at so many levels'
County councillor Nigel Quinton (Lib Dem) says 'There can be no excuse, and no hiding place, for the way the County Council has behaved in recent weeks. Assurances I have been given repeatedly have been shown to be false. I am taking this up at the highest level.'