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Heartless Herts Valleys CCG pulls the plug on Nascot Lawn

Yesterday the Herts Valleys CCG made the appalling announcement that they had confirmed their previous decision to withdraw their £600,000 annual support for Nascot Lawn children’s respite care home.

Cynically they claim their decision was taken because the County Council had failed to engage with them in looking for a workable way forward when it has been their failure to engage from the outset that has caused this dreadful situation to occur. What have they been doing for the last six weeks during the engagement process? The one glimmer of hope is that their funding has to continue for a further six months, which provides a desperately short period of opportunity for a viable respite service to be formed. In the meantime, the families face a bleak future with no idea how they and their vulnerable children will receive respite care.

Liberal Democrat County Councillor Mark Watkin, Opposition Spokesperson for Children’s Services, and in whose Division Nascot Lawn is located, commented: “I am so saddened and angry by the failure of the CCG to look for a viable way forward. We know that they are facing a massive financial challenge, but simply pulling the financial plug and hoping that others will provide the solution is disgraceful. The county council must now sit down with the CCG and the families with one aim only – to find a solution that will deliver the respite care that these families need and deserve.”

Councillor Peter Taylor, Deputy Mayor of Watford, commented: “I am so upset for the families who will be affected by this decision. They have fought an amazing campaign to save this much-loved centre and remained incredibly positive throughout. It is now vital that all sides work together to support the children and families who currently use Nascot Lawn.”

Joint action between Herts CC and SADC at last

St Albans City & District Council has joined forces with Hertfordshire Highways to carry out street cleansing and highways repairs within roads that are heavily parked. Confirmation of the TTRO permits for the date and roads listed below came through yesterday so I needed to deliver letters to all residents today. (Copy of letter attached)

Brampton Road – 15.11.17

In additional to these roads work is also planned for Cavendish Road and Alboin Road but as yet dates and permits have not been issued.  As soon as we have these I will write again.

Police and Crime Commissioner spends your taxes on more admin staff rather than police officers

Liberal Democrat County Councillors were astounded when they were told today (8th November) that the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, intends to employ an additional 20-30 administrative staff instead of funding more police posts.

County Councillors on the Community Safety and Waste Management Cabinet Panel heard a report from Colin Woodward, a County representative on the Police and Crime Panel (the body that is supposed to hold the commissioner to account), that David Lloyd planned to employ the coach-load of administrators to ‘help him do his job’.

Paul Zukowskyj, Opposition Deputy Leader and Lib Dem councillor for Hatfield South, commented: “Having presided over the loss of hundreds of police staff since he was first elected, to require now more admin staff to do the job he was elected to do is laughable.

“We’ve seen recruitment to the police plummet; in some areas over half of posts are vacant. Morale in the remaining staff is at an all time low, crime has started to rise as the force is stretched ever thinner, but our PCC needs more admin staff and is willing to spend your taxes on that rather than on police officers.

“Our PCC has recently put in a bid to run our fire service too. After this example of bloating bureaucracy I don’t think he should be trusted to run a bath, let alone critical emergency services.”

Highways contractor with £1m+ fines set to get further five year contract

Liberal Democrat opposition councillors at Herts County Council have hit out over a decision to recommend that its main highways contractor, Ringway, is set to be awarded an extended contract for another five years.

Ringway has been fined just under £1.2m for poor workmanship in the last 5 years, leaving opposition councillors scratching their heads over the decision to extend Ringway’s services.

Deductions totalling £1,187,348 have been made against Ringway’s contract for poor performance against set standards, with more fines pending this year.

The contract, in place since 2012, is worth over £182m and covers the provision of highways works across Hertfordshire. Only last week Shropshire Council announced that Ringway were to be replaced by Kier to manage its highways. Ringway had won the contract in 2011 but had a number of problems.

Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst exposed last week that the Conservative council were to recommend that Ringway get an extended contract at the November meeting of the County Council’s Cabinet Panel for Highways. Stephen comments: “I am shocked that the Conservative council want to award Ringway another five year contract, just saying it’s ok because they are improving! There has, on the face of it, been no market testing, something I thought the Conservatives were in favour of. Are there no other highways contractors that are more efficient and cause fewer problems for Hertfordshire’s residents?”

“It is almost daily that my colleagues and I report issues that do not result in fines but are just sloppy jobs or things that are being ignored. One has to think there must be a better choice.”

 

Conservative county council set to agree current highways contractors can carry on for another five years

Opposition councillors at County Hall have been shocked and angered to hear that Herts County Council are intending to extend the contracts of much-criticised highways contractors Ringway for a further five years.

Councillors were informed in a short email sent on Monday afternoon, with the news that the full decision would be made in November.

“This was a bolt out of the blue,” said Leader of the Opposition, Liberal Democrat Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst. “Over the past six years there has been considerable criticism and many justified complaints from residents and councillors about the poor state of our roads and pavements. Despite the poor performance of the highways contractor it seems that Conservative councillors and county council officers are prepared simply to grant Ringway a further five year contract. Continue reading

Care crisis cover-up: vulnerable residents to be asked to pay more to meet the funding shortfall in social care

The Conservative-run County Council is set to ask some of the most vulnerable residents in Hertfordshire to contribute more to social care charges to cover up the Government’s failure to fund social care properly.

The move comes at a time when demand for social care is growing, but continued cuts to social care budgets imposed at national level mean Hertfordshire County Council is looking to save £4m in its adult care budget.

Conservative councillors seem determined that it is our most vulnerable residents who should make up the difference. At the most recent Adult Care Services Cabinet Panel they voted to consult users on proposed increases to care charges that could leave some paying more than £130 a week extra for the care they receive. The move was opposed by Liberal Democrat Councillors.

Councillor Ron Tindall, Liberal Democrat Opposition Spokesperson for Adult Care Services and Health and Wellbeing, said: “These cuts are a direct result of the government’s continued failure to properly fund social care. We have some sympathy with the Council’s need to make savings, but these proposals will simply push more vulnerable people into poverty, and will likely mean that some will turn down services that they feel they can no longer afford.” Continue reading

Fencing Work – Temporary Closure of Alban Way from 2 October for 10 days

From the District Council:

St Albans City & District Council’s Housing Department will be replacing the wooden boundary fence between Woodvale Park and Alban Way.

The Alban Way will be closed to both pedestrians and cyclists during this work.

The works are due to start on Monday 2 October 2017 and will take around 10 days to complete.

Advanced warning signs were erected at each end of the proposed closure on 22 September to forewarn users of the impending closure.

A signed diversion route will be in operation when the Alban Way is closed, which will divert users via Morrisons car park, Hatfield Road and Sutton Road, and vice-a-versa. A plan of this diversion route is attached for information.

Cable: 10,000 EU nationals have quit NHS since Brexit vote

Vince Cable has called on Theresa May to use her speech in Florence tomorrow to make a bold offer on EU nationals’ rights, as new figures reveal that almost 10,000 EU workers quit the NHS in the year after the Brexit vote.

9,832 EU nationals left the NHS between 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017, figures published by NHS Digital today have revealed. This is an increase of 22% on the previous year, and up 42% on two years earlier.

In total 3,885 nurses, 1,794 doctors and 1,518 support staff from the EU left the NHS between June 2016 and June 2017.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for negotiations on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British citizens living in Europe to be ring-fenced so that neither are used as bargaining chips in the broader Brexit negotiations.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

We are losing thousands of high-quality nurses and doctors from the NHS, driven partly by this government’s heartless approach to the Brexit talks.

Using EU nationals as bargaining chips is not only morally wrong, it is utterly counter-productive and damaging to our NHS.

It’s time for the government to take the issue of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in Europe out of these negotiations.

Theresa May must make a bold offer to the EU to ring-fence negotiations on citizens’ rights and come to a rapid agreement.