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Update on St Claire’s planning application

Note from Chris White

1. Meeting with Hightown Praetorian

I had a meeting with the Chief Executive of Hightown Praetorian and explained to him that a two hour exhibition without any previous attempt to talk to stakeholders or councillors was hardly the way to proceed. He agreed to have a meeting with the Residents’ Association committee and this will be happening at some point next week.

2. The District Council

I have made it clear to officers of the council and its ruling group that the matter has so far been poorly handled. As a result a senior officer of the council will also be talking to the residents’ association. Continue reading

Fresh funding to improve Alban Way

A sum of £30,000 has been secured to improve vegetation and woodland along the Alban Way for the benefit of wildlife, pedestrians, cyclists and other users.

The money will be used to implement a programme of work agreed by St Albans City and District Council following consultation with the public earlier this year. It forms part of a wider management plan that is being developed for the route.

The funding is a share of a £130,000 grant received by Hertfordshire County Council from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund. The grant money will also fund other schemes in St Albans, Watford and Hemel Hempstead that encourage local economic growth, improve sustainable transport options and reduce carbon emissions.

The County Council’s Countryside Management Service (CMS) will now implement work on the Alban Way to develop a more diverse woodland structure and wildlife habitat.

The vegetation will be managed to open the route and to let light into the path, making it a more attractive route to use. This work will take place over the winter to be completed by the end of March 2015.

It follows re-surfacing work carried out last year as part of the Council’s strategy to promote active travel in the District by improving facilities for cycling and walking. The Alban Way forms part of the Green Ring being developed to help cyclists and pedestrians to get around the City with minimal use of roads.

Vulnerable families to suffer most from county council cuts

The Conservative run County Council has decided to cut £500,000 per annum in the funding of vital public transport for young people, including those with special educational needs. This followed a consultation with pupils, parents and schools where only 279 responses were received, of which, shockingly,  just 15 were young people. Respondents were not allowed to askfor the continuation of the existing service, but were asked to choose between 5 different proposals of which, thankfully two of the more draconian were withdrawn.

Families with children with Special Educational Needs, who already face significant costs related to their children’s needs, will be asked to pay up to £1173 towards the cost of their transport.

Councillor Mark Watkin, Opposition Spokesperson for Education commented like so many cost cutting proposals I am worried about the ill-considered consequences. Will families with children with decide to withdraw their children from courses because the additional charges will be more than they can bear? At least the county has promised to review this scheme after running it for a while to see what the impact has been.”

White lining failure: Grosvenor, Ridgmont and Hillside Roads

Note from Chris

A number of you have expressed frustration about the fact that the repainting of lines is still not complete weeks after the original resurfacing.

Sadly this is typical of this contractor, Eurovia, who have also failed to make good previously around Maple School.

On Friday I spoke to a representative of Eurovia in the presence of county council officials. They are aware now of local feelings but protest that completion of the work has been frustrated by parked cars. I pointed out that this was an area much used by commuters and so this problem was hardly surprising.

They now say that they may need to close the roads fully again to complete the work. As yet they have given no date but I will continue to chase.

Tories challenged to withdraw bus cuts

Hertfordshire Liberal Democrat Leader, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst (Central Watford and Oxhey), has challenged the Conservative run county council that is proposing bus cuts to 58 routes to cancel the plans after almost no one supported them.Just 30 residents out of 4548 that responded to the official council consultation entitled “Have your say on a more efficient bus service for Hertfordshire” supported the idea.

In addition several thousands of petition signatures have already been presented to the county council opposing the cuts. It is estimated some 10,000 residents have now signed petitions across the county being collected by bus user groups, residents’ associations and the Liberal Democrats that will go to a meeting to consider the cuts on 4 November.

In an open letter to the Conservative member for Highways who proposed the cuts, the Liberal Democrat Leader has asked him to drop the cuts programme totally and review services with other partners such as the NHS Trust and bus operators to see what savings might be achieved. If revised changes are possible thee would be a  fresh consultation.

Cllr Giles-Medhurst also wants a review other routes whereby working with commercial operators the council might increase passenger trips and ensure the service goes to the areas that passengers want to go to and at the times that suits them.

Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: “The cuts figure – an 18% reduction in one year on top of cuts made a few back – is unacceptable and will unduly affect the young, less able and less well off in our society. Some areas will have no public transport at night or on a Sunday: this will be in effect a curfew for them and must not be allowed to happen.

Continue reading

£40,000 devolved to local communities in St Albans

Eight St Albans communities are being given £5,000 each to spend on council-owned assets in their area by St Albans City and District Council’s City Neighbourhoods Committee.

At a meeting on Thursday 25 September, the City Neighbourhoods Committee agreed to devolve £40,000 from its unallocated budget to the eight wards in its area which do not have a Parish Council. The City Neighbourhoods wards are:

  • Ashley;
  • Batchwood;
  • Clarence;
  • Cunningham;
  • Marshalswick South;
  • Sopwell;
  • St Peters;
  • Verulam.

Each of these wards will receive £5,000 following a consultation process to spend in this financial year on assets owned by the District Council that are managed by the City Neighbourhoods Committee. Continue reading

Draft Strategic Local Plan out for six week public consultation

St Albans City and District Council is carrying out a public consultation on a draft Strategic Local Plan for the District of St Albans.  The six week consultation begins on Friday 10 October.  It ends on Sunday 23 November. A Strategic Local Plan, when adopted, provides overarching policies and principles for what can be built and where.  All local authorities are required to have such a plan for future development. There is a web consultation portal on the Council’s website where people can give their views (http://stalbans-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal). Continue reading

Winners of St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Awards 2014

 

Residents’ favourite food and drink businesses were honoured at the St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Awards 2014 held on Monday 6 October.

The awards ceremony at St Michael’s Manor marked the end of the two-week St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Festival. They are organised by St Albans City and District Council with the support of a steering group of advisors.

Earlier this year the public was invited to vote for their favourite food and drink businesses. The winners of the public vote were announced at the awards ceremony and are:

  • Best Bar – Mokoko Cocktail Bar
  • Best Independent Food or Drink Shop – Buongiorno Italia
  • Best Café – The Pudding Stop
  • Best Newcomer – The Pudding Stop
  • Best Local Producer – Redbournbury Watermill and Bakery
  • Best Local Restaurant – Lussmanns Fish & Grill
  • Best Pub – The Verulam Arms
  • Best Takeaway – Godfrey’s Fish and Chips
  • Most Family Friendly Venue – Inn on the Park.

Two further awards were presented on the night.

Chris Evans from Hatch received the Kate D’Arcy Award for Exceptional Customer Service. This award was given in memory of Kate D’Arcy, a much-admired local restaurateur who died in June 2010.

An award for Food and Drink Champion of the Year was also presented to Johnny Shepherd from The Pudding Stop. The steering group selected Johnny from among the other award winners.

Have your say in Local Democracy Week (13-19 October) 

Take part in Local Democracy Week and air your views on local issues at a series of events organised by St Albans City and District Council.

There will be an opportunity to meet local councillors, discuss topical issues, and to enter a democracy-themed art competition.

Local Democracy Week is a Europe-wide initiative running from Monday 13 October to Sunday 19 October, aimed at getting people involved in the democratic process locally.

Events in St Albans District include:

Make your voice heard – Thursday 16 October (7pm-9pm).
You can find out how the democratic process works and what it is like to be a Parish or District Councillor at this event at the Civic Centre.

Air your views at St Albans market – Wednesday 15 October

Students from Oaklands College will be out and about in the market finding out the views of local people on key issues. They will feed back their findings to the Council.

Democracy art competition – closing date: Wednesday 15 October

Everyone can enter this art competition focused around democracy. We need to receive your artwork (with name and contact details attached) at the Council Offices at the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street by Wednesday 15 October. Entries must be no bigger than A3. They will be judged by the Mayor of St Albans City and District and the winners displayed at the Council’s offices. The finalists will be invited to meet the Mayor at the Council’s offices on Friday 17 October, when the winners will be presented with certificates. You can enter in one of four categories for different age groups, each with their own theme:

  • Primary school children: Romans in St Albans
  • Pupils in years 7-9: Magna Carta and St Albans
  • Pupils in years 10-13: Modern Democracy in Europe
  • Over 18 years: Fighting for Democracy and First World War Centenary.

Youth “council takeover” – Thursday 16 October

Young people from the District’s schools and colleges will be playing the role of Councillor for the day. They will take part in debates on education, the environment and independence for St Albans. The Mayor of St Albans City and District will chair the debates and District Councillors will be providing support and advice.