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Meetings to update on plans for developing hospital sites

Note from the local NHS bodies

A series of meetings are taking place during October and November to provide an update on plans for developing hospital sites in west Hertfordshire.

The meetings, led by West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, are taking place in each locality. The details of the meetings are below:

St Albans & Harpenden

7-9pm

Wednesday, 24 October

Trinity Church Hall,  1 Beaconsfield Road, St Albans AL1 3RD

The meetings will highlight work that is taking place to progress our plans following meetings with national regulators, NHS England and NHS Improvement. There will be information on how we might organise future services, how we will involve local people and others in refreshing our plans and as well as an update on timescales.

There will also be an opportunity to put questions to executive officers and health professionals from the Trust and the CCG.

To help us cater for everyone who wants to attend, please email communications.hvccg@nhs.net to book onto this event.  Please state when booking if you have any particular accessibility needs.

Massive disruption in city centre in October

Note from county council

I am writing to notify you of the upcoming Major Utility works along the A1057 Hatfield Road, St Albans between the junctions of A1081 St Peters Street and Upper Marlborough Road.  Collaborative working has been arranged between Affinity Water and Fulcrum to connect their new services with the purpose of avoiding further disruption at a later date.

In order to create a safe working environment for the workforce and members of public alike, the works will be completed under a partial road closure.  A temporary one way restriction will be enforced in each direction (Eastbound/Westbound) consecutively in order to minimise disruption whilst maintaining traffic flows.

All Eastbound traffic will be diverted via: A1081 St Peters Street – B691 Victoria Street and Upper Lattimore Road and vice versa for Westbound traffic.

The works are due to commence from Monday 8th October  and programmed to take approximately 10 days to complete, weather permitting.

Some degree of disruption and delay can be expected as a result of these works and whilst we will make every effort to minimise these, please allow extra time for any journeys you have planned in the area whilst these works are in progress.

Liberal Democrats applaud PCC’s withdrawal of hostile takeover of Fire and Rescue Service

In a joint announcement issued today with Herts County Council, Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd agreed to abandon his proposal to take control of the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, leaving the service under the governance of the County Council.
 
Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat Councillor and Opposition Spokesperson for Fire Service, Barbara Gibson said: “This is long overdue, but very good news. How much time and money has been wasted by the PCC trying to railroad through his empire-building plan in spite of unanimous opposition from every county councillor, including those in the PCC’s own party? In addition, most district councils have passed motions opposing the move.
 
“The takeover bid should never have been submitted. Our sustained campaigning on this issue has saved the Fire Service from being asset-stripped and weakened. Lib Dems will continue to fight to put community safety first.”

Herts Tories short-change schools

Lib Dems were disappointed, but not surprised, when Hertfordshire Tories voted to enhance property developer profits by reducing the amount they have to pay to provide school places.

The change in policy, from the upper end of the range allowed in the regulations to the bottom end, was proposed by officers because it was ‘too difficult to argue’ after neighbouring authorities and the Government’s own agency, the ESFA, allowed developers to contribute the lowest possible amount or are building schools to the lower specification.

Paul Zukowskyj, Shadow Cabinet Resources Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats commented: “I want the very best for our children. Officers should ask for the standard that the County set just two years ago, because if they ask for less they most certainly won’t get more.

“It would probably surprise no-one that some of the developers, and the major shareholders behind them, who stand to potentially benefit from this change are also major donors to the Conservative cause.”

Shameful that County Council has neglected its art collections

At a meeting on Tuesday 5 June, Members of the County Council’s Education, Libraries and Localism panel were faced with stark facts. Following years of neglect, the Council has apparently realised that it has two valuable art collections worth over £25M which nobody was looking after! Their solution: dispose of over 90% of the works, and just keep the most relevant to Hertfordshire.

Unsurprisingly those in the know had raised a petition from over 500 concerned Hertfordshire residents requesting that the Conservative-run County Council rethinks its plans and works considerably harder to ensure that the collection remains in public rather than private hands and seeks alternative management and funding options for the collection.

Panel members from all parties spoke mostly in support of the petitioners, whilst recognising that officers had at least begun to address the problem. Sadly a good and constructive debate was cut off by the Conservative chair who pushed through a recommendation to cabinet, backed by all Tory members, to just note the report and do nothing to address the concerns of petitioners – not good enough in the opinion of the Liberal Democrat and Labour Councillors present!

County Councillor Mark Watkin, Liberal Democrat and Opposition Spokesperson for Education slammed the County’s approach. “The way this wonderful asset has been allowed to fall into decay is shameful.  It is all too reminiscent of the County’s gross mismanagement of Cuffley Camp Outdoor Centre which had to be disposed of because of lack of investment and neglect. It is clear that there has been insufficient and inadequate consultation with bodies such as the University of Hertfordshire, local Museums and other interested bodies. Nothing should be done until all local avenues have been explored, and a coherent strategy developed.”

Lib Dems oppose library plans

At today’s meeting of the Education, Libraries and Localism Cabinet Panel. The Liberal Democrat team voted against the County’s plans to outsource their much loved and highly popular Library Service while the Labour Group leader abstained. In spite of this, the Conservative led Panel agreed to the County developing a detailed business case before finally deciding whether to go ahead with the scheme.

The Conservative run County Council is being forced into making swingeing cuts across all of its services, and in particular is looking to save £1min the Library Service as a result of the withdrawal of funding from the Conservative Government. It aims to do this by establishing a public Service Mutual (PSM) company to operate all the existing libraries which it will hope will result in achieving the necessary savings. To do this it is paying significant sums for consultancy advice from Mutual Ventures which could have been used to improve the current service.

The Council admits it is a high risk approach as the financial benefits of over £600k per annum will only be achieved if  the PSM is awarded charitable status and is able  to reclaim 80% of the business rates that the Libraries pay.

Mark Watkin, opposition spokesperson for Libraries explains “By their own admission, the County Council recognises that the current Library service is relevant, versatile and innovative. Its total usage through visits and online access is increasing. However the outcome of the recent consultation showed that more residents opposed the proposals than supported them, similarly so did a majority of the hard working library staff. The Council needs to have greater confidence in their ability to generate income from a wider use of their facilities. Expecting the County’s 10 District Councils  as well as the County Council to forego their business rate income, is not a socially acceptable approach to solving the financial challenge.”

Consultation on crime priorities

Note from the district council:

Each year the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) consults with the public and local groups on its plans for the coming year to tackle crime and disorder across the District. The survey seeks residents’ views on whether the Partnership’s priorities are correct and how they think we should tackle these.  It gives residents an opportunity to share their views on crime and anti-social behaviour in the district and to highlight problems that they feel need to be addressed. The results from the survey will support the development of action plans for the Community Safety Partnership in the coming year.

Please read the draft strategy before answering the questions in the survey. The survey can be accessed:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/JMZ3P6H

The strategy can be found here: CSP Draft Strategy 2018-19

Herts CC responds to Chris White over 20 mph fiasco

A shamefaced Herts County Council has responded to Chris White’s criticism of its failure to complete the installation of the 20 mph zone east of Holywell Hill.

Chris said: “Controversial highways contractor Ringway encountered a detailed snag in relation to signing outside one particular house. But they failed to tell the County Council or indeed local county councillors.

“This project is already years overdue despite it being flagged as of key importance by me and my colleague Sandy Walkington. This latest fiasco shows yet again that Ringway should no longer be the main highways contractor in this county – as Liberal Democrats have pointed out repeatedly.”

He added: “They now promise that the problems will be resolved this month – but we have had promises before. We want action and competence – so it’s difficult to be optimistic with Ringway, a company which can’t even empty a blocked drain even a year after it has been reported, let alone keep a grip on pothole repairs.”