Note from the County Council
NOTICE is given that the Hertfordshire County Council intend to make an Order under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, to prohibit all traffic from using that length of Drovers Way, St Albans from its junction with Russell Avenue north eastwards for a distance of approximately 130 metres.
The purpose of the Order is to enable utility maintenance works to take place.
The section of road will be closed between the hours of 8.00am and 5.00pm on Sunday 16 August 2015, when signs are in place. An alternative signed route will be provided for traffic whilst the road closure is in place.
Commenting on the Government’s plan to stop funding for the Green Deal, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
“Today’s news is yet another blow for green industry and British jobs. The Conservatives claim they want to tackle climate change, but this is further evidence they don’t care about the environment.
“For five years we fought sceptical Tories to ensure we were the greenest Government ever by investing billions in renewables and setting out ambitious climate change targets.
“By quietly dumping the Green Deal, David Cameron has yet again shown how little he cares about the future of the planet.”
This morning at County Hall there was a heated debate as local staff and volunteers watched to see the fate of the nine Homestart Schemes across the County.
After a petition signed by 2800 Hertfordshire residents was presented by Homestart three motions were presented; one from the Conservative group in favour of slashing funding to the service, and two from the Labour and Liberal Democrat benches seeking to save the Service.
The Conservative administration refused to listen to political arguments or the pleas of the Homestart staff and volunteers and voted three times to axe funding to this lifeline for vulnerable families.
Speaking with passion, and with with experience as a Home Start family support visitor, County councillor Sara Bedford (Abbots Langley) said, “I found a report moved by a certain young Cllr Gordon, when he was the Executive member for Children Schools and Families.
“I quote – ‘The schemes in Hertfordshire are well managed, deliver good outcomes and save money well in excess of funding for the schemes.’, I quote – ‘Providing more support at lower levels for children and families provide better outcomes because such children and families tend not to need higher level services’. Continue reading
On Monday afternoon, a group of HomeStart Managers, volunteers, and families with their young children watched in dismay as the Conservative Cabinet of Hertfordshire County Council voted unanimously not to renew its annual funding of £392,000 for the home visiting service. This decision would also cut off the £206,000 funding provided by the County’s Clinical Commissioning Groups resulting in a devastating reduction of £598,000 a year to HomeStart’s funds. The impact on HomeStart and its committed band of trained volunteers will be incalculable
In the report to Cabinet this service was described as popular with its service users. It had proved that a charity staffed by volunteers could engage with hard-to-reach families whereas the Children’s Centres could not. In spite of this, the justification for these cuts, was that the need for home servicing had changed. Somehow the recently reorganised groups of Children’s Centres, themselves struggling from having a £1.3 million cut in their funding together with the County’s recently restructured Health Visitor service will now be able to support those very families that in the past they had failed. How, was never explained nor how it would be paid for. While the contracted number of families supported is 395, the actual figure that HomeStart support is over 1,100. Continue reading
Conservatives at Thursday’s district council meeting refused to back proposals previously agreed by one of the council’s committees to move immediately to a living wage for all council staff and contractor staff.
Lib Dem Cllr Aislinn Lee said: ‘This issue has been around for 33 months. I really thought that when George Osborne announced the National minimum Wage the Conservatives locally would finally understand the issue and fall into line.
‘Instead of supporting many very low paid employees (via our contractors) they have pretended that the issue needs yet more work. What a message to send out to these residents!
‘They also complained that the “task and finish” group of councillors which looked into this had done a bad job – despite this never being mentioned to anyone before Thursday.’
Chris White, Lib Dem Group leader, added: ‘I often wonder what the difference is between “procrastination” and “prevarication”. The Conservative wrecking motion manages to be both.
‘We need to look after poorer members of society and recognise that it is no longer acceptable for the state to have to use the benefits system to pick up the excessively low wages paid by employers.’
Local Liberal Democrats have called for resources to be made available to ensure that residents in the city have a say in how the development plan for the area is put together.
Lib Dem Leader Chris White said: ‘There is a growing feeling that the current plan process is currently only concentrating on the green belt – important though that it is.
‘There are growing anxieties about the lack of new infrastructure given the increasing number of units being given planning approval, especially in areas around the city station.’
Gerard McHale added: ‘It is important for people’s voices to be heard and so it is disappointing the Conservatives refused to provide any resources for this This will mean it will be more likely that the developing local plan will fail to take into account the wishes of people who live here.’
Chris has particular criticism for Labour councillors: ‘Yet again Labour spoke out loudly against allowing city centre residents a say, claiming bizarrely it would be “unfair”. It is amazing how often Labour will try and do down the city – last year they told people to abandon St Peter’s Street and shop elsewhere if they didn’t like the parking charges.’
When Liberal Democrat councillors at County Hall initiated a ‘scrutiny’ into the scope and efficiency of the Hertfordshire schools repair and maintenance programme, little did they expect to learn that the county’s schools are in such bad condition relative to other education authorities.
Evidence given to the councillors by the county’s officers included the government Education Funding Agency ‘condition dashboard’. This shows that Hertfordshire is in the bottom 8 percent of English local education authorities in terms of the condition of its school buildings.
“Parents will be shocked that their children are being educated in such poorly maintained buildings,” said Cllr Sandy Walkington, who took part in the scrutiny process. “Hats off to teachers for achieving the results they do. But we cannot go on accepting a position so near the bottom of the league table. It’s not just about having smart buildings, there are clear health and safety issues.
“It was even more shocking to hear Conservative councillors at the evidence gathering session state it was ‘ good to have school buildings in such a poor condition since it means we get more money to repair them’. So much for that glib Conservative soundbite about the importance of mending roofs when the sun is shining.”
Councillors on the committee were presented with a list of 55 schools in the county with outstanding repair needs totalling £15.9 million and they were told there was no budget for these projects. “Some of these outstanding schemes are rated D1,” Cllr Malcolm Cowan, Vice Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee said.
“Condition ‘D’ in county council speak means that the asset is ‘life expired’, exhibiting major deterioration with a serious risk of imminent breakdown or presenting a health and safety hazard. The ‘1’ means that repair is deemed to be urgent to prevent immediate closure of the property or high risk to its occupants or remedy serious breaches of legislation.
“It simply beggars belief that Hertfordshire children are expected to study in buildings exhibiting such an appalling failure in maintenance,’ Malcolm Cowan concluded.
At yesterday’s meeting of the District Council, Conservative councillors opposed a Liberal Democrat motion expressing concern about the inadequacies in maintaining highway verges this year.
Lib Dem Group Leader Chris White said: “What was made clear during the course of the debate was that the Tory councillors are not happy to criticise their colleagues in County Hall, even when such an obviously abysmal job has been done.
“It has also been made clear over the course of this process that there has been a failure in handover and monitoring and this is something that the district council administration needs to take responsibility for.”
Chris added: “We will continue to speak up for local residents and hold the Conservative administrations both at District and County Hall to account, even if the local councillors are willing to accept the inadequacies in services being provided to local residents.”
Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats are seriously worried about the fallout from the Conservative Government’s budget ‘for working people’ that is clearly anything but.
Despite saying ‘Britain deserves a pay rise’, George Osborne has apparently decided this only applies if you work in the private sector, so if you’re a teacher, fire-fighter, police officer or nurse you deserve to have your pay cut every year in real terms. Continue reading