Open letter about bus cuts

39 bus routes across Hertforshire are all under threat from the Conservative-run county council.

The Conservatives have forced through a flawed consultation on bus cuts on County supported routes, wanting to cut buses after 6.30pm every day and cut all routes on Sundays.

The County consultation on this is at https://consult.hertsdirect.org/bus-services/, but it provides no real options and also implies that some of these bus routes are subsidised to the cost of £9 a journey which is not true.

When this was debated by the Council the Tories said these blanket cuts would save £700,000. Only after questioning was it revealed that the cut was £887,000. They then said it only affected 200,000 passenger journeys. Now, again after questioning, this the true figure of over £809,000, a four-fold increase has been dug out. The highest subsidy of any of the routes is £4.19 not the £9 as claimed.

The Conservatives have already cut bus support by £800,000, just over 2 years ago. If these cuts go ahead that’s another £800,000, mounting to over a 36% cut in just three years. Yet they refuse to cut the press and publicity budget by this amount and gleefully spend over £5m on securing empty buildings they will not sell, and spend over £10m on trying to get a incinerator built in Hatfield – that money was wasted as its been rejected!

It seems cutting bus services for the less well off and those unable to drive due to health problems, thus forcing people to stay indoors at night and on a Sunday is an easy choice for them. That’s why Liberal Democrats have opposed these blanket cuts  and  tried to get this flawed consultation stopped – but we were outvoted. So now we have launched a county-wide petition that you can sign at http://signme.org.uk/985.

Please sign this petition and also say so no on the web consultation. If you are not a bus user it’s still important. Just think if everyone or even just half who used this buses diverted to a private car or taxi what the effect of 800,000 extra such trips would be on traffic at night and weekends!

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Etna Road water mains problem

 

 Note received from county council

An inspection was carried out on Friday 18/7/14 and found Affinity Water had an emmergency road closure in place and works already in progress to repair a water leak, the road closure being required due to the position on the excavation being in the centre of the carriageway. Affinity Water was contacted by phone to highlight the site and request that the reinstatement and reopening of the street was given priority, as other streets in the vicinity already had closures in place.

It was also highlighted that heavy scarring of the carriageway caused during the works would need to be attended to. A follow up inspection has since been carried out and Affinity Water have been issued with defects relating to the heavy scarring still remaining on the carriageway and a depression with adjacent cracking around the new reinstatement. This defect will now be monitored and inspected under NRSWA.

12% fall in St Albans ‘footfall’ over past year

The Liberal Democrats have expressed concerns about the 12% in ‘footfall’ between 2013 and 2014.

Lib Dem Group Leader Chris White said: ‘In July 2013 there were 26690 visits to our shops. The equivalent count in July 2014 was 23540.

‘This means that there has been a 12% fall in trade in a single year – at a time when the economy in this part of the world is recovering.

‘It is quite clear that the council’s new parking regime is responsible for this very significant drop. The Administration now needs to respond to the clear wish of the council and revise this policy – and not revisit the cheap point scoring they attempted at last week’s council meeting.’

TORIES ACCUSED OF MISLEADING RESIDENTS OVER BUS CUTS AS NEW FIGURES SHOW OVER 800,000 BUS JOURNEYS COULD BE CUT

Hertfordshire’s ruling Conservatives have been accused of misleading residents over plans to reduce bus services in the evenings and at weekends.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, and Highways Spokesperson, Stephen Giles-Medhurst has found out that instead of the 200,000 passenger journeys being cut due to the Tories suggested cuts to evening and Sunday services, the real figure will actually be closer to 809,000 passenger journeys.

Stephen said, “When the proposal first come out I asked for details of who would be affected by what route and what the county subsides were. I have had to chase several times for this and now after the Consultation process has started, with in my mind flawed data, the Council has had to admit that the number of people affected by this cut is 4 times as many as theyfirst told us, with some 809,00 journeys actually facing the cut. This is scandalous, the Tories run the council and they should be checking what they are proposing, tens of thousands of residents will be affected and no longer able to use buses if these cuts go ahead. Read more »

St Stephen’s Hill closed from Monday

Edited note from the county council

The resurfacing scheme will take place between 8pm and 5am, using a full road closure between the junctions with Watling Street and Griffiths Way. It is expected that it will be completed in five nights.

Signed alternative routes will be in place. Vehicle access to properties during the working hours will be maintained and controlled by gatemen at each end of the closure but access will only be allowed when it is safe to do so.

The contractor aims to complete the noisiest operations such as removing the old road and jack hammering by midnight to reduce the disturbance to nearby residential properties. 

The work is weather dependent and from time to time unforeseen circumstances can arise and work may continue outside the advertised hours.

Any changes to the proposed start date, duration or working hours will be announced on the information boards on site and will be available at www.hertsdirect.org/roadworks

Bus service routes may be affected by these works – for details of any changes you can visit www.intalink.org.uk – and look in the ‘service disruptions’ section.

General road faults like potholes or faulty streetlights can be reported at www.hertsdirect.org/highwayfaults

Council’s parking policy successfully challenged by Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat councillors have expressed satisfaction with the decision of St Albans District Council to in principle reverse the decision to increase parking charges made as part of last years budget process.

“This is an important step on the road towards reversing the introduction of Sunday charging and returning the amount of free parking at leisure facilities to 3 hours,” commented local councillor Gerard McHale.

“We have also requested that the introduction of one hour free parking on pay and display car parking be considered and look forward to hearing the report from Cabinet in Autumn”, Gerard added.

Chris White, Lib Dem Group Leader, who proposed the motion noted: “We strongly objected to this proposal when it was introduced last year, and we are now happier that this is now in the process of being reversed. We will continue to force the issue until the final process has been concluded.”

One in four 16+ pupils not in employment or training

In a report submitted to the County Council’s Children Services Panel, officers disclosed that almost one in four of all young people in the County’s care between the ages of sixteen and eighteen were neither employed or in education or training (NEET). This compares with average for this age range of one young person in thirty.

Mark Watkin, Opposition Spokesperson for Children’s Services commented “This is shameful. These young people are entrusted to the care of the County Council and for so many to be aimlessly drifting at such a young age in a County with some of the best schools and colleges and with one of the lowest unemployment figures in the country is damning.

“I recognise that these young people present some of the highest challenges of any group, but if they stay unemployed and out of education for too long they will inevitably drift into crime and possibly prison which would be totally unacceptable.

Mark concluded by saying, “It is critically important that the County Children’s Service addresses this as a matter of urgency.”

Bus cuts condemned

At today’s meeting of HCC the Liberal Democrat group fought to save local bus services from swinging cuts planned by local Conservative politicians.

County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst said “We need full and detailed information to make sense of these budget cuts and what they will mean for non-commercial bus services.

“It might be that there are other options we could consult on, such as fare changes, rather than these swinging cuts that shall affect 200,000 passengers a year on 39 different routes.”

County Councillor Sandy Walkington commented “This shall affect young people and the elderly, but also commuters who rely on bus services to and from train stations and in effect place a curfew on some of our residents”

Sadly the local conservatives forced through a wrecking amendment that totally ignored the practical reality of what these cuts will mean for those not served by commercial bus routes.

Grass cutting fiasco

Local Lib Dem County Councillor  Aislinn Lee has been forced to make yet another formal complaint about grass cutting – this time to the County Council.

Aislinn wrote to the county council outlining her concerns about the reduced number of cuts to the grass along the A405 towards St Albans and especially the safety implications on the roundabouts.

Aislinn said, “I have been absolutely inundated with complaints from local residents and many from further afield about the height and the safety implications, of the vegetation along the A405 from the Noke Roundabout through to St Albans.

“I am particularly concerned with the very real hazard (that I can confirm from daily personal use) of the height of the vegetation on the Tippendell Lane/A405 roundabout. For years Highways have been aware that drivers do not slow down when approaching this roundabout from both directions along the A405. Some works have been done in the past to try to remedy this, but right now there is little chance of this fast moving traffic seeing other vehicles manoeuvring around the roundabout as they approach it.

“This will inevitably lead to a tragedy if we do not make this area as visible as possible. I firmly believe that the County Council is failing in its duty of care by not cutting back this vegetation.”

Aislinn concluded by saying “I shall continue to pursue this matter as drivers from across the County are being let down by HCC”.

 

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Chris White

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17 Cunningham Avenue
St Albans
Hertfordshire
AL1 1JJ
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