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”.

 

“Admit your catalogue of errors” demands County Councillor

Paul Zukowskyj, Lib Dem County Councillor for Hatfield South, where Herts County Council wanted to build a massive waste-burning plant in the green belt, has put down a motion asking HCC to own up to, and apologise for, the catalogue of errors in bringing forward plans for the development.

On Tuesday 8th July, campaigners learnt that the Secretary of State and the Planning Inquiry inspector both agreed the plant should not be granted planning permission.

HCC have spent huge amounts of council-tax payers money on pushing the development in the face of massive opposition.

Paul commented “Even now the Council are claiming the plant would have meant huge savings, but have completely and utterly ignored the huge damage the plant would have done, to the greenbelt, to the setting of grade 1 listed buildings, to the kids at the immediately adjacent school, to the natural environment and to local residents living in the shadow of their alien and unnatural “sea-urchin” plant. Read more »

Outrage as County Council proposes £880,000 more of bus cuts.

Hertfordshire Liberal Democrat County Councillor reacted with outrage as the Conservatives finally admitted at the 8 July Highways Panel that they were looking at saving up to £880,000 by stopping all county council supported bus routes after 6.30pm every day and ceasing them on Sundays from next year.

Two years ago the County Council voted through bus cuts of £800,000, and in February this year were forced to withdraw further proposed bus cuts of £200,000 after they admitted they did not know who would be affected and which routes would go.

Now in a report to the Highways and Waste Panel on Tuesday 8 July they have proposed a consultation that could see 39 services affected and cut 200,000 passengers journeys a year.

The Liberal Democrats have promised to fight the service reductions.

‘Bus cuts on this scale are totally unacceptable. There has been no attempt to review routes to save them or maybe even an increase fares by a few pence to save the service: it’s just a cross the board cut of everything that runs at night or Sunday and the Tories should be ashamed at even suggesting it,’ said the Liberal Democrat Leader.

Petition against household waste site changes

Most people in the St Albans area use either Sandridge Road or Waterdale. The Conservative administration at County Hall plans to close them for two weekdays and restrict opening on the remaining days to the 8 till 4 pm winter timetable all year round.

Lib Dems think this is crazy and potentially a fly tippers’ charter.  We believe the sites should continue to open every day, and if hours have to be shortened, it should be in ways that suit residents and not the operator, for example later closing at weekends and at least one weekday evening.

If you agree with us, please sign our petition at http://chn.ge/1zpGmz2 and also complete the county council questionnaire at www.hertsdirect.org/wastechanges

It would be great if you can share this with friends and neighbours so that as many people as possible make their views known.  If enough of us show that we care, there is every chance that we can end up with a more customer-friendly outcome.

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Chris White

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17 Cunningham Avenue
St Albans
Hertfordshire
AL1 1JJ
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