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Question time on rail services

From the District Council

Train users have a chance to quiz railway executives about services between London and the St Albans District.

Representatives of Govia, which operates the Thameslink line, are to attend a public meeting later this month.

They will be joined by colleagues from Network Rail which owns the track and other infrastructure.

Members of two rail user groups will also be in attendance to give their views on behalf of travellers. These are the Association of Public Transport Users and the Train Suffererjettes.

A wheelchair user who regularly uses the route will be present to talk about his experiences.

The meeting has been arranged by the Planning, Resources and Housing Scrutiny Committee of St Albans City and District Council. It will be held in the Council chamber at the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, on Thursday 2 February from 7pm.

Anyone who wants to raise an issue can do so by emailing  scrutiny@stalbans.gov.uk by Monday 30 January.

 

Their questions will be put to the executives by Councillors.  If requested, their names and addresses will be kept confidential.

Delayed district council posting to ‘ladder roads’

The letters were supposed to have been mailed before Christmas. The District Council has admitted that it did not stick to the deadlines it gave ward councillors and has sent us this note:

The letters for the Ladder Roads consultation have now been sent down to the Council’s post room.  Due to the number of letters these will be sent out in stages over the next week.The documents will be on the Council’s website under www.stalbans.gov.uk/troconsultations  from tomorrow. The closing date for responses is 3 February.

Revised Christmastide bin collections

Usual collection day Revised collection day
Monday 26 December 2016 Wednesday 28 December 2016
Tuesday 27 December 2016 Thursday 29 December 2016
Wednesday 28 December 2016 Friday 30 December 2016
Thursday 29 December 2016 Saturday 31 December 2016
Friday 30 December 2016 Tuesday 3 January 2017
Monday 2 January 2017 Wednesday 4 January 2017
Tuesday 3 January 2017 Thursday 5 January 2017
Wednesday 4 January 2017 Friday 6 January 2017
Thursday 5 January 2017 Saturday 7 January 2017
Friday 6 January 2017 Monday 9 January 2017
Monday 9 January 2017 Tuesday 10 January 2017
Tuesday 10 January 2017 Wednesday 11 January 2017
Wednesday 11 January 2017 Thursday 12 January 2017
Thursday 12 January 2017 Friday 13 January 2017
Friday 13 January 2017 Saturday 14 January 2017

‘Sufferjettes’ speak out on Govia

County Councillor Sandy Walkington was delighted to join the brilliantly named ‘Sufferjettes’ in their protest this morning at St Albans City Station.  Many of those protesting are female commuters making the particular point that train delays and cancellations play expensive havoc with childcare arrangements. They just want the service they are paying for.

Sandy helped lead the chant which received thumbs-up from the hurrying commuters going past:

‘What do we want?  Trains on time!

‘When do we want it?  Now!’

Sandy said: “I was on the Environment and Transport Panel at County Hall which grilled Thameslink senior executives last week.  It goes without saying that the service needs to be run as advertised.  But problems are likely to continue in the near term due to driver shortages, track closures at London Bridge and teething problems with the new Class 700 trains.  None of these is the fault of the poor long suffering passengers and they should be properly compensated, not just Delay Repay but a proper and substantial fare cut until the advertised service can be delivered.”

Herts Valleys CCG slammed for £8.5 million cut in anti bed-blocking monies

Liberal Democrats at County Hall have slammed the Herts Valley CCG for its sudden announcement that it is terminating its support for anti-bed blocking measures in the west of the County.

Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Chris White (St Albans Central) said: ‘This is a shocking decision. No warning was given of what amounts to a reversal of Government policy to integrate health and social care.

‘It seems that NHS England has decided to punish the CCG for non-delivery of their NHS efficiency savings and because of additional demand at Watford General Hospital. The CCG has been told that it is in official “financial turnaround” and it has accordingly decided to cease providing £8.5 million of “protection of adult social care” monies to Hertfordshire County Council.

‘These monies are used to provide home care and intermediate beds, as well as preventative measures.

‘It is legally questionable whether the entire amount can be terminated and we understand Herts CC will be considering a legal challenge. This we fully support.’

Chris added: ‘No-one in Hertfordshire will benefit. If beds are blocked, procedures will be delayed and patients will be made to wait longer for hospital admission because people are being kept in hospital unnecessarily. The personal and financial costs of being in a hospital are huge – especially when the alternative is being cared for at home after release from hospital.

‘It is just financially wasteful to keep someone in hospital longer than needed – as well as a poor way of ensuring appropriate recovery and recuperation.’

Message from Govia

Dear stakeholder,

I would like to offer my wholehearted apologies for the severe disruption on Thameslink services this week.  I appreciate that this has been immensely frustrating to our customers on the back of the extended disruption last week after a power surge damaged signalling systems in the Luton area.

This week there have been further major incidents affecting Thameslink services. On Wednesday evening following a fatality near Elstree and Borehamwood, with services held for around 80 minutes while emergency services attended, and subsequent services delayed or cancelled.

Yesterday evening one of our trains came to a stand near Kentish Town at 1842.  Our provisional findings are that there was a loss of overhead electric power which caused a ‘tripping’ in of the circuit breakers in the train involved.  With the train unable to receive power, a rescue train was sent from Cricklewood.  However, when that train was attached the same problem affected the rescue train.  Our priority was the comfort and safety of our passengers, so the trains were decoupled in order for passengers from the original train to be evacuated on to the rescue train.  This took place at around 90 minutes after the original incident began. After that, the stalled train was cleared once engineering assistance arrived. Continue reading

Public meeting on future of local hospitals

A public meeting is to be held to discuss major proposals for improving hospitals covering the St Albans district.

Local NHS organisations are reviewing health services in order to meet the rise in demand from a growing and ageing population.

They have completed the first phase which involved looking at options for enhancing emergency and acute care.

Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is leading the review with West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT). They will present their plans to the meeting on Wednesday 30 November.

Members of the public are invited to attend the event, hosted by the St Albans and Harpenden Patients Group (SPAG), and ask questions.

It will be held in Committee Room One at the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, St Albans, from 7pm.

The CCG and WHHT favour extensive redevelopment of both Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital. They say it stands the best chance of success. Continue reading

Have your say on Detailed Local Plan

Note from the District Council

The Council is inviting representations on its Detailed Local Plan (DLP), which
adds detail to the Strategic Local Plan (SLP) using policy text and a Policies
Map. The DLP covers topics such as specifying Green Belt boundaries, the design
and layout of new development and protecting the environment and residential
amenity.

The consultation period runs for six weeks between Wednesday 9 November 2016 and Wednesday 21 December 2016. Full information on the Detailed Local Plan process and the current consultation can be found at http://www.stalbans.gov.uk.

How do I make a representation?

Continue reading

Keep your homes safe on bonfire night

Message from Neighbourhood Watch:

We are reminding residents to keep their homes secure and report suspicious behaviour over the Firework weekend.

Last year 18 burglaries occurred in St Albans between November 5 and November 8, when many people were out attending firework displays. Therefore, we are urging residents to leave lights on when  going out to a firework display or if they leave their home empty any time after it gets dark.

Residents can make their homes more secure by following some basic crime prevention advice such as:

  • Make a habit of checking that ground floor windows and doors are closed and locked when you leave the house or go to bed. Upstairs windows should be locked when the house is unoccupied.
  • PVCu doors must be locked by lifting the handle and turning the key to ensure all the security features are in place.
  • Car and house keys should be kept out of sight in a safe place. Don’t leave them on display on window sills, in porches, hallways or kitchens.
  • Secure your rear garden by shutting and locking any gates. Burglars can use garden tools to break in, so make sure you securely lock away any tools after use.
  • Use timer switches on a lamp, radio or tv set so that they turn on as it gets dark in the evenings.

Message from Govia about disruption

I would like to update you on the latest situation with Thameslink, where an overhead power line problem followed by a major signalling fault has been severely disrupting our services and passengers since Tuesday afternoon.

Network Rail, which owns and maintains the signalling, track and power supplies, now expects to complete repair work tonight. To facilitate this, we will be stopping all trains between St Albans and Bedford from 2300 tonight until 0400 tomorrow and running buses between these two stations instead. I have attached a spearate update from Network Rail that gives more detail about what they have been doing.

Owing to the level of disruption caused by this incident there will still be alterations to Thameslink services tomorrow (Friday) as we return the service to normal, even if Network Rail does complete its repairs. This is because our trains are out of position for the normal timetable.

We aim to run a normal service between Bedford and Brighton, and between Sevenoaks and London. However, there will be a reduced stopping service between Luton and London St Pancras, and between Sutton/Wimbledon and London Blackfriars as the service recovers. We are asking passengers to check www.nationalrail.co.uk or 03457 48 49 50 for the latest service information.

To recap, it has been a long and difficult three days for our Thameslink passengers and for our staff who will all be relieved now to learn that Network Rail has repaired this major fault.

The effect on our service has been severe, especially north of London where we have had to cut back the number of trains to just a few an hour, between Bedford and St Pancras, and also reduce the service to and from Sutton and Wimbledon.

We would like to thank everyone involved for their patience. If anyone was delayed by 30 minutes or more then we urge them to claim compensation at www.thameslinkrailway.com/delayrepay.