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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Recycling plummets following brown bin charge

Brown Bin Tax #FailCouncillors were shocked to learn that the recycling rate in Welwyn Hatfield has dropped from 54% last year to 46% this year.

Even worse, the target the council sets itself has dropped even further - from 53% to 42%.

Asked why, the council replied: "The brown bin tax".

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New plan for Shredded Wheat site cautiously welcomed by LibDems

Shredded Wheat SiteThe new owners of the Shredded Wheat site in WGC unveiled plans to borough councillors last Monday. The plans increase the number of homes planned from 850 to 1471; this allows for 30% of all the homes to be social housing, working in partnership with a Housing Association, a key demand of the LibDems when the previous Spenhill plans were approved earlier in the year.

"This is a phenomenal number of homes, and we are concerned about the density and building heights proposed, but the very welcome increase in social housing proposed should allow for at least one Green Belt site to be removed from the Local Plan" said LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan.

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Wetherspoons goof again

Eyesore at 22 ParkwayThe unauthorised and possibly illegal new sign advertising yet another planning application for a pub at 22 Parkway WGC is already drawing criticism.

Wetherspoons did themselves no favours with their 2 previous planning applications - they failed to engage in any way with the public and its representatives, failed to talk to the planners and put in applications so poor they were unanimously rejected both times.

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Government threatens even higher housing target for Welwyn Hatfield


Just as Welwyn Hatfield faces an Examination in Public into its flawed Local Plan, the government has now announced another vacuous target for house building. The Tories' previous stated aim was to see 200,000 homes built per year, they now want this to be 250,000. Last year (2016/17) only 147,000 were built.

The impact on Welwyn Hatfield is likely to be that instead of needing 800 homes per year across the Borough, we need 877 per year. This in an area where 79% of the land is Green Belt, which the government wants protected into the future. Yet next-door Hertsmere, which has exactly the same proportion of Green Belt land as Welwyn Hatfield, is given a 38% cut in its allocation.

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Police and Crime Commissioner's grab for fire service slammed from all sides

The attempt by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd to also take over fire services in Herts has met all party opposition as Herts County Council voted unanimously against, despite David Lloyd having been the Conservative ruling group's deputy leader until recently.

Welwyn Hatfield council, also under Tory control, saw its cabinet vote against, as did the all-party Social Overview Committee.

"This is an unprecedented snub for the PCC. Clearly councillors have made a decision on the facts of the case, which was very weak, and I totally welcome that" said local LibDem leader Malcolm Cowan.

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