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Car parking visitor permit charges review

The impact of an increase to the cost of visitor car parking permits in the St Albans District is to be reviewed.

The price of a single-use permit for streets that form part of a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) rose from a minimum 37p to £1.30 earlier this year.

This rise was due to the withdrawal by St Albans City and District Council of four-hour visitor parking permits. They had cost £3.70 for a book of ten – the equivalent of 37p each.

Vouchers are now only available at a cost £13 for a book, £1.30 each, although they can cover a whole day.

A report on parking permits was considered by the Council’s Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on Thursday 7 September.

After a debate, members decided to ask the Car Parking Working Party to review the impact of the changes at its meeting next month.

They have also been asked to investigate how the scheme could be amended to assist those residents who are less able to pay.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, the Committee’s Chair, said: “This was a significant rise for many of our residents and I have been told some are struggling with it. Continue reading

Did Herts Police Tsar deliberately mislead County Council?

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, was recently challenged at a Council meeting by Paul Zukowskyj, Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for resources, about the loss of constabulary staff, including significant numbers of police officers and PCSO’s, since Mr Lloyd was first elected in 2012.

Government data clearly show a fall in constabulary staff from 3729 FTE in 2012 to 3398 FTE in 2017.

The minutes of the meeting state “Mr Lloyd stated that he did not recognise the challenge and provided assurance that his office was committed to retaining the same number of PCSO’s within the county”. In the meeting Mr Lloyd stated that the staff numbers appeared to have fallen much more than they actually had due to the establishment of cross-county collaborative units and redeployment of staff to them.

However, in response to an FOI to Hertfordshire Constabulary, the Constabulary state they have followed the guidance by the Home Office in preparing the figures: “For the purposes of counting accurately, officers and staff that are part of these units should be counted only by the force whose payroll they are on.”

So are the staff on the payroll of another force? Continue reading

Lib Dems condemn local NHS over Nascot Lawn

At yesterdays meeting of Hertfordshire County Council parents from the NHS Nascot Lawn Respite Care home presented a petition with over 14,100 signatures seeking the commitment of the Country Council to do all in its power to ensure the continuing support and care even though the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group had announced withdrawing the £600k funding from October 31st which will force the centre to close.

The motion drafted by Councillor Mark Watkin and the Liberal Democrats and presented jointly with the Labour Group is attached as is Mark’s speech supporting the motion.

Mark condemned the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group for its heartless approach, and in particular its total failure to consult with parents or the County Council before making its decision. Mark was appalled that without carrying out fresh assessment the CCG had announced that only two of the over sixty children had medical needs. In fact at this moment no fresh assessments have been carried out.

Mark commented “This decision defies understanding. These children and their families face some of the greatest challenges that life can present. The fact that they can function and support their children through all adversity is very largely due to the respite they receive from the dedicated medical staff at Nascot Lawn. To suggest that they only have social issues is an insult. These families can not function without the support of Nascot Lawn.”

Following debate, the motion was amended by the Conservative majority to remove the the attack on the underfunding of the NHS, but then was passed unanimously.

Lib Dems step up the pressure on air pollution

A Lib Dem motion calling for anti-idling zones in St Albans was passed by Councillors at the full council meeting ​on Wednesday, with technical amendments from other groups.

Chris Davies, who moved the motion, said: ‘​The statistics tell us air-pollution is harmful to everyone, in particular to those classed as vulnerable: young, elderly, those with respiratory or heart problems. Motor idling is one of the main contributors to air pollution and although the District Council has launched an ‘anti-idling campaign’ this is reliant on the public goodwill and taking action.  Continue reading

Lib Dems table motion on Nascot Lawn closure

Mark Watkin as opposition spokesperson for Children’s Services has tabled the following motion about the proposed closure of Nascot Lawn Childrens Respite and Care Centre.

It will be debated at the next meeting of the County Council in support of the petition which will be presented by parents and families who are dependant on the services provided by Nascot Lawn which is now due to shut down at the end of October.

Mark comments “The Government is talking about easing austerity. This cannot happen soon enough. The closure of Nascot Lawn is entirely due to the Government’s insistence that the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group reduce their expenditure by £45m p.a. In these circumstances it always seem to be the most vulnerable that suffer first and worst. While we wait for the Government to change its tune, the County Council MUST dip into its £3m underspend from last year to keep Nascot Lawn going until it has had sufficient time to assess how best to serve the needs of this group.”

Council notes:

That on Friday 16th June, Herts Valleys CCG informed families across Hertfordshire that they would no longer be funding its contribution of £600k towards Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust run Nascot Lawn Children’s Respite Service.  Consequently Nascot Lawn will be forced to close on 31st October 2017. Continue reading

Allotment fees – victory so far over proposals for massive rises

In a victory for the Liberal Democrats and allotment holders the ruling Conservatives have been forced to shelve their plans to increase allotment fees by 400%.

‘Liberal Democrat councillors and allotment holders were astounded by the attempt by the Conservative council to balance the books on the back of City Centre allotment holders,” noted Clarence councillor Gerard McHale. Continue reading

Lib Dems oppose Police taking over Fire Service

The Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner has this week released his plan for taking over the Fire Service, justifying the idea with massive ‘efficiency savings’ including ‘one-off capital receipts’ of up to £15m.

Paul Zukowskyj, lead Lib Dem member on the Community Safety panel at County Hall condemned the move saying, “David Lloyd has virtually completed his asset-stripping of the police, including overseeing the loss of more than three hundred police posts across the county since 2012 and closing numerous police station front desks, now he wants to do the same asset stripping to our fire service.

“We need the services, as we’ve seen recently with the terror attacks and now the fire in Grenfell Tower. Asset stripping them will mean they might not be there when we need them the most. This hostile take-over has to be stopped and the Lib Dems at County Hall will resist it every step of the way.” 

Paul continued: “Will closure of Fire Stations follow the closure of our Police Stations?  The Yearly revenue savings of up to £4m, which are most likely to comprise staff losses, are likely to mean less fire fighters at a time when the need for both services has never been clearer. The one-off capital receipts are likely sales to developers of fire or police stations, which the PCC says are no longer required. Continue reading

County Council plans for junction of Hatfield Road and Station Way

Note from the County Council

Hertfordshire County Council has been working on a proposal to improve the pedestrian crossing within the existing signal controlled A1057 Hatfield Road/ Station Way junction in St Albans. The objective of the scheme is to facilitate safer pedestrian access to the St Albans Railway Station Complex from the northern side of Hatfield Road. I am contacting you to provide you with an opportunity to give feedback on the scheme.

A pdf of the diagram is here: ITP17007-CONSULT [1]

Let us know what you think!