Note from the district council

A review of St Albans City and District Council’s policy on gambling is now open for public consultation.

Councils are obliged by law to review their gambling licensing policy every three years and the latest proposals can be viewed in full online.

All interested parties – including community groups, businesses and individuals – have until Thursday 8 October to have their say.

Their views will be considered by Councillors from the Licensing and Regulatory Committee before any policy changes are voted on. Continue reading

Green ring completion

Note from the district council

We have finally received consent from the Planning Inspectorate to carry out work on Sandpit Lane between Walton Street and Lemsford Road.  This will allow us to construct the final link in the scheme and complete the entire loop around the City centre.

The work in question is in two parts shown highlighted in blue and red on the attached plan: Sheet 020G

In the area shown in blue we will create a new 2.5m wide gravel track through the lightly wooded area.  These works will be carried out by the District Council.  As this work is not on highway land and will not have a significant effect on traffic on Sandpit Lane we are able to start this work fairly soon.  The programmed start date is 24th August 2015 and we expect the work to be complete by 1st September.

Works in the areas shown in red will be carried out by Hertfordshire County Council.  This work will affect the highway and will have a significant impact on traffic on Sandpit Lane.  This is particularly the case in the small red area opposite No. 21 Sandpit Lane where a new toucan crossing is to be installed. Because of this, the HCC contractor must book road space to carry out the work. A three month notice period must be allowed before works can commence.  Taking into account the likely construction timescale, this takes us into the Christmas embargo period.  This is the period when no works are allowed on the busier roads.  Therefore it will be the new year before this work can start and it is likely to be around February/March before the route is fully completed.

More grass shambles

The county council’s inability to deal with the simple problem of grass continues as residents across the district wonder why there are weeds growing untidily in the gutters.

Local Lib Dem county councillor Chris White said: ‘Residents in various streets have approached me about this – including, as examples, Flora Grove and Hart Road where the problem is especially noticeable.

‘The function of weed clearance lies clearly with the county council but there has been no way of reporting it online. In fact I was advised to report it as a weed problem on the pavement and append a note saying that the pavement weeds were really in the gutter.

‘It didn’t really matter because the county council reporting system then told me that it was a district council matter away.

‘After much to-ing and fro-ing the county council has agreed it’s a county matter and are now – at the end of the growing season – finally getting round to clearing the unsightly mess.

‘Yet another highways shambles.’

Conservatives admit that Home-Start cuts were made without any consultation with professional groups

Service users, Staff, Volunteers and Councillors alike were stunned to learn on Monday that a Conservative Councillor made the decision to cancel the £395,000 annual grant to HomeStart without any consultation with either HomeStart, the Health Visitor Service or the Children’s Services.

Monday’s scrutiny of the decision was the result of the Liberal Democrats on Hertfordshire County Council challenging the Conservative-run Cabinet on how and why the decision to axe the Homestart Service was made.

The Conservative Administration claims  that the 270 families whose support the County Council has been funding will be adequately served by the network of Children’s Centres, despite the fact that they are already reeling from a £1.8m cut in funding imposed in May 2015. The claim flies in the face of the fact that the number of families being referred to HomeStart by these same Children’s Centres and Health Visitors has been increasing year on year.

County Councillor Mark Watkin, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Children’s Services stated:  “I could not believe it. The families HomeStart supports are all assessed as having significant needs.  Health Visitors and staff at Children’s Centres do know about these families but don’t actually provide them with support. Continue reading

Thameslink improvements: still a long way to go

Performance of the Thameslink rail service has improved since the end of last year, St Albans City and District Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee has heard.

At its last meeting, Councillors questioned senior management from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Network Rail on the performance of the service.

They heard that, while the service had improved since the end of 2014, almost 15% of trains were more than 5 minutes late in May and June. Govia has a long-term internal target of reducing this to 8%.

Councillors were updated on Govia’s plans to improve the service by rolling out new trains with more carriages and introducing additional late night services. These improvements will help increase passenger capacity by 60% by May 2018.

Councillors also heard that Govia had embarked on its biggest ever recruitment and training programme to ensure sufficient drivers to deliver its current time-tabled services.

In addition, Govia outlined to the Committee plans to develop the Ridgmont Road entrance to St Albans Station. The plans include more ticket machines, wider ticket gate lines, a cycle hub, and improved retail and toilet facilities. The Committee asked for a full presentation of current plans to be given to one of its Autumn meetings. Longer term, Govia is looking to install an additional footbridge in 2019, subject to funding being forthcoming from Network Rail.

At Harpenden Station, Govia is developing plans to extend the car park to provide additional places, subject to funding being approved by the Department for Transport.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Chair of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee for St Albans City and District Council, said: “Committee members noted that the performance of the Thameslink service had improved a little. However, performance targets are still not being reached. With many commuters forking out over £4,000 per year, it is not acceptable that one in six trains is over 5 minutes late.

“We were pleased to hear that Govia is recruiting and training extra drivers to help ensure that services run to schedule. However, these won’t all be in place until the end of 2016. And only a day after the meeting, trains were still being cancelled because of driver non availability.

“We have asked representatives from Govia to present the proposals to improve St Albans Station to the Committee. Our meetings are open to the public and webcast. It’s important that these proposals get a full airing. To all intents and purposes the station is a public building and local people are entitled to have their say.”

Change to charity permits

Statement from St Albans District Council

Charity collectors working in the St Albans District will know exactly what is expected of them following a revision of the licensing rules.

St Albans City & District Council has amended the policy for the issuing of permits for street and house-to-house collections of money and clothing.

Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Watch schemes are being informed of the changes and told how to report any concerns about collectors to the Council.

Any member of the public who is concerned whether or not a collection is genuine can call the Council on 01727 819254.

The new policy is designed to ensure fund-raisers are donating the maximum amount possible to charity and that no personal or commercial profit is being made.

Permits for house-to-house clothing collections will normally be granted where it is shown that all of the profits are being given to charity.

It is hoped the changes will maintain the reputations of local and national charities operating in the District and bolster public confidence in their fund-raising activities. Continue reading

Drover’s way to be closed on Sunday 16 August

Note from the County Council

 

NOTICE is given that the Hertfordshire County Council intend to make an Order under Section 14[1] 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.

 

Government scraps green deal

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.”

Heated debate at county hall about Home-Start

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