Council refused permission to appeal on rail freight court dismissal

St Albans City and District Council has been refused leave to appeal the dismissal of its court challenge against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The Council had challenged the Secretary of State’s decision to grant planning permission for a strategic rail freight interchange at Park Street near St Albans. The High Court dismissed the Council’s challenge on 13 March.

On 13 April, the Council applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal the dismissal.

The Council has now received notice, dated 29 June 2015, that permission has been refused.  In his decision, Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Sullivan says that he considers the grounds of appeal put forward by the Council do not have a real prospect of success.

The Council now has seven days to decide whether to request that Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Sullivan’s decision is reconsidered at an oral hearing before the Court of Appeal.  We will take advice from our legal advisors before making this decision.

Chris criticises National Grid over Hatfield Road disruption

Chris White has criticised National Grid Gas for the continuing disruption in Hatfield Road.

Chris said: ‘I saw there were problems last week and asked the county council to intervene. HCC was assured that the worked would be complete on Friday but lo and behold there were huge jams over the weekend.

‘National grid are taking far too long to fix this, causing misery to local people, commuter and local businesses – who have suffered a loss of takings. How long does it take to do a gas connection? Why weren’t the trenches filled in last week?’

Homestart update – Conservatives refuse to budge

Sandy Walkington and Chris White are supporting HomeStart in its campaign to maintain county council funding support

Sandy Walkington and Chris White are supporting HomeStart in its campaign to maintain county council funding support

At Thursday’s Children’s Services Cabinet Panel, 40 angry incredulous HomeStart managers, Chairs, volunteers and clients heard the Conservative members of the Children’s Services Cabinet Panel support the complete cut of support to the 9 HomeStart Branches in the county, worth £395,000 per annum from September 2015 as recommended by officers.  In so doing they voted down a motion from the Liberal Democrats that they should go to tender so that they could judge the relative value of the services HomeStart provide before making any final decision.

HomeStart  provides targeted support to over 700 families referred to it by Children’s Centres, Health Visitors, GPs, social workers and self-referrers. The common thread about these families, whatever issues they present, is that they are unable to access the services provided by these very professionals. It is claimed that in some unexplained way, apart from setting targets,  these professionals will now fill the gap left by HomeStart. Without this core funding, many of the HomeStart branches face financial crisis and may not be able to continue. Continue reading

Hertfordshire County Council rail strategy consultation

Note from the county council

This is to let you know that the public consultation on the draft Rail Strategy starts today and runs until the 4th August. It can be found, together with the questionnaire online at

This consultation provides an opportunity for the public, rail users and other stakeholders to comment on the strategic priorities that have been proposed in the Strategy.

Rail is an integral part of Hertfordshire’s transport network and is fundamental to supporting the Hertfordshire economy and aspirations for the future.  A new rail strategy is required to maximise the county council’s ability to influence future investment in and development of the rail network.  The  Strategy 2015 aims to ensure that the railway in Hertfordshire can support sustainable economic development by identifying investment priorities for the next 15 to 20 years and beyond, which the county council will work to secure.

If endorsed and adopted, the Hertfordshire Rail Strategy 2015 will become part of our Local Transport Plan.


Conservatives attack Home Start services

Members of Hertfordshire County Council Children’s Services Cabinet Panel yesterday received additional papers announcing the withdrawal of the annual £391,000 grant to the 9 HomeStart operations which cover the county. Their role will now be added to the increasingly complex range of tasks to be handled by the 91 Children’s Centres.

By withdrawing the £391,000 annual grant to the nine HomeStart centres across the county on the basis that it could be supplied by Children’s Centres , the Conservative County Council is putting the future stability of 395 client families at risk. Without the close support of the Homestart volunteers who help them in their homes, many of these families will disintegrate. Likewise the local HomeStart teams will almost certainly have to close for lack of sufficient funding. Continue reading

Roads Set to Get Even Worse

Conservative-led Hertfordshire County Council have confirmed that the appalling state of our roads is set to get significantly worse.

The Finance meeting of June 10th were told that Herts Highways had overspent their budget last financial year by £1.16m (budget £14.9m, spend £16.1m), despite the continual decline in the state of our roads and footpaths that is obvious to road and footpath users across Hertfordshire.

Lib Dem opposition members proposed an amendment that stated the council would properly fund road maintenance.  The Conservatives all voted against. The Conservative Chairman then confirmed Highways would be expected to meet budget next year, meaning the service will have to massively cut costs. Continue reading

Exhibition on architects’ plans for new museum and gallery

Note from District Council

Come to a public exhibition on the architects’ plans to transform St Albans into a museum and art gallery and give your views.

The exhibition will be held in the Town Hall during the Magna Carta celebrations, on Friday 12 June (2pm-7pm) and Saturday 13 June (10am-3pm). Project team members and the architects will be on hand to answer questions about the plans and to discuss the vision for the new museum and gallery.

Visitors will see artists’ impressions of what the new museum and gallery will look like and be invited to give their views on the proposals via questionnaires.

The aim of the consultation is to gather feedback on the plans prior to the submission of a planning application later this summer.

The exhibition will remain on display at the Town Hall until the end of the Alban Weekend (20-21 June 2015).

You can see a preview at the Museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road until Friday 12 June when the exhibition moves to the Town Hall. It is mounted in the Activity Room. As the room is not always open to the public, please call the museum on 01727 819340 to check opening times before visiting.

The design for the new museum and gallery was unveiled in April by the architects, John McAslan and Partners. It includes the addition of glazed link galleries to the first floor of the old Town Hall. These glass-covered walkways will enable visitors to walk round the building and see wonderful views of the City.

There is also provision for a new temperature-controlled and secure basement gallery to be created under the building to house national touring exhibitions and contemporary art shows. The ground floor will accommodate a visitor information centre, exhibition space to showcase St Albans’ history, an education area and a café.

St Albans City and District Council is working with St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust and the University of Hertfordshire Galleries on the project.


Your chance to quiz Thameslink

Rail users are invited to give their views on the performance of the Thameslink service to St Albans City and District Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee.

The Committee will be questioning senior management from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Network Rail about the service at its next meeting on Thursday 4 June.

The Committee registered concern in December last year about a deterioration in service performance since Govia took over the franchise in September 2014.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Chair of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee, who is a daily commuter to London, said: “At our next meeting, Committee members will want to know if the service performance indicators are improving now that Govia has been in charge for more than eight months. We have also asked for information about the plans to improve St Albans Station. If anyone has any questions they want to raise, please let us know and we will do our best to put them to the rail company representatives.”

Please send us any questions by Wednesday 3 June. They can be emailed to or posted to the Scrutiny Officer, St Albans City and District Council, Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, St Albans AL1 3JE.