Welcome to this update about our plans to provide better hospital facilities for the residents of west Hertfordshire.
Over the last few months our focus has been responding to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19. This continues to be a priority for the trust, and we are also now looking at how we can re-establish some of the services that we needed to put on hold in order to prioritise caring for the sickest patients with COVID-19, earlier on in the pandemic. During this time, we have also not forgotten the pressing need to plan further into the future and so we are continuing to work together towards new hospital buildings opening in 2025.
We also want to work with our local communities to ensure that we can use feedback from the populations we serve to shape our plans.
As you may be aware, the Prime Minister announced last September that West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust was in the first wave of the Government’s new Hospital Infrastructure Programme (known as HIP One). This is great news and means we can plan in earnest, considering detailed costings and designs.
Behind our plans is a philosophy of making more care closer to home. Where possible, we will plan your treatment so that you only come to a busy hospital site when you need the facilities it has.
When you need a consultation, we will try to make that appointment available at a GP practice or other community facility, or even at your home by phone, video call or other technology.
Our experience during the COVID-19 outbreak has shown us that it is possible to provide support to many patients without face-to-face appointments. This is more convenient for patients and saves the NHS money.
The reason for telling you about how patients are being cared for in new ways is that this affects the kind of buildings we will need in the future.
Planning new hospital services and buildings will take into account how healthcare has changed and will continue to change, as we embrace the latest clinical and technological best practice.
The Government has committed to funding new buildings that will dramatically improve the experience of patients and staff in west Hertfordshire and we are now ready to start our detailed planning work.
This will be set out in the outline business case (OBC) which is completed using an approach set out by HM Treasury. The main purpose of the OBC is to revisit the case for change and the preferred way forward identified in the Strategic Outline Case (SOC).
The SOC was approved by the boards of West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust and Herts Valleys CCG in July 2019 outlining a way forward based on option one from a shortlist of four that were the subject of public engagement and a stakeholder evaluation process. The OBC builds on the SOC and will include updated activity modelling and the latest information on population growth and forecasts.
It must also contain the results from a review of the site options available. A key factor in deciding how suitable a site is will be how quickly it can be developed � we call this �deliverability�. Another key deciding factor is whether the site can be developed within the available funding.
Our boards will consider a raft of information as they make their decisions, including views from clinical staff, from patients and from the public. The first key milestone is to agree the shortlist of options for more detailed appraisal and we expect this to take place in the autumn.
There will be opportunities to have your say and ask questions before this point as part of an engagement programme � which will be largely online due to restrictions on public gatherings. We will be making information available over the summer and want to involve as many people as possible, so please look out for information on https://www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk/about/redevelopment/
There are different ways to get involved from simply signing up to updates, or to joining a reference group. We will also be looking for people from the reference group to engage more deeply and inform our decision-making. Examples of this would be to work with us on the redesign of specific services and the methods we will use to assess the longlist.
If you want to be find out more about this reference group, please visit this website where there is a form for you to apply to be part of the group.
Even if you do not want to play an active part in this work, we would very much like to send you further updates. If you do not want to receive these, please let us know by emailing email@example.com with the words �unsubscribe� in.
And if you want to find out more about the work so far that has brought is to the point of developing our outline business case, you can visit https://www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk/about/redevelopment/
We hope to hear from you.
- Herts County Council has launched a “Social Distancing in the Highway” public health-related initiative.
- Essentially, vehicular movements on certain roads across the county will be restricted in order to yield more “road space” for pedestrians.
- The main reason for the initiative is to facilitate social distancing where current pavement width simply does not allow this.
- St Albans schemes are due to be put in place from Tuesday 26 May.
HCC are working on other streets across the county. A B-List is being drawn up. It will include locations deemed to have less-compromised footways, but nevertheless which may benefit from similar interventions. The C-List will be a schedule of roads suggested or otherwise considered for some sort of treatment, which HCC has reviewed but concluded they cannot take forward.
The three current SADC A-List locations are:
Harpenden: Bowers Parade (Vaughan Road to no. 37 Bowers Parade) – on-street parking bay closures, for length of Bowers Parade.
St Albans Town Centre: George Street, High Street and Market Place/City Centre – road closures, to pedestrianise city centre roads.
Hatfield Road: (Sutton Road Roundabout to Clarence Road) – closure of on-street parking outside shops.
This work is being led by county council officers and is extremely fast-paced in nature. Important information is emerging all the time, virtually on a daily basis. Cross-county meetings now take place weekly.
Additional points to note:
- HCC will be monitoring road and crossings usage post-implementation. That will include possible phase changes to traffic lights and crossing demand buttons.
- There is a recognition that these interventions will push parking demand back into off-street car parks in some instances.
- Where road closures take place, the intention is to ensure access is maintained for deliveries, waste collection, street cleaning and, of course, emergency response vehicles.
The Liberal Democrats are leading a cross-party effort to secure Government agreement for an economic package to support the UK’s world leading creative industries, including a timeline for its urgent implementation.
Writing to the Chancellor, the cross-party group of parliamentarians have warned that government support so far has failed to reach “the very large numbers of directors of small limited companies, freelancers or agency workers that keep our creative industries booming.”
Over 130 MPs and peers from across the political spectrum have signed the letter and expressed fears that unless further action is taken quickly workers in the Creative Industries and their families will be “left with no option than to join the ever-growing queue for Universal Credit.”
The German federal government has already announced in recent weeks an aid package for the country’s creative and cultural sectors. This includes a €50 billion for small businesses and freelancers, including those from the cultural, creative, and media sectors.
Daisy Cooper MP, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport who coordinated the letter, is hopeful of a virtual meeting with the Government having secured the support of the Creative Industries Federation and UK Music.
Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper said:
“The Coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. Thousands of families will face financial hardship and people are rightly worried about their loved ones.
“While we saw government step in to stabilise banks in 2008, we have not seen the same urgency for the plight of many across the creative industries who are self-employed, freelancers or agency workers.
“Unlike Germany, the Government’s response has been too slow. Ministers must resolve the gaps in their plans and come forward with adequate support or risk decimating Britain’s world leading creative industries, one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy.”
Caroline Norbury, Chief Executive of Creative Industries Federation, added:
“The creative industries are being hit hard by the fallout from Covid-19. With theatres, venues, museums and galleries closing, film shoots being postponed and festivals being cancelled, many creative professionals are facing an uncertain future.
“Creativity is an intrinsic part of the UK’s cultural identity, and one of the things that the country excels at globally. The creative sector will also be critical to driving the UK’s economic recovery – and transforming lives for the better in every community – as we re-build.
“For our sanity, our culture and our sense of shared experience, it is imperative that creative professionals are protected and supported through this crisis.”
Tom Kiehl, UK Music’s Acting Chief Executive: said:
“Many in the music industry are required to be Company Directors to conduct their work yet are currently disqualified from Government help for the self-employed and cannot furlough without damaging their business. We are urgently seeking Government help to make sure these individuals, often low earners, do not slip through the net.”
All rough sleepers in St Albans District who want emergency accommodation to protect them from Covid-19 have been provided with it.
The agencies involved in the successful effort to make them safer were Hightown Housing Association’s homeless services team, St Albans City and District Council and a number of local charities including Open Door and Druglink.
In another initiative, plans have also been put in place to ensure the District’s homeless continue to be supplied with food during the lockdown which forced the closure of one free meals service.
Councillor Jacqui Taylor, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, Inclusion and Protection, said: “We have received extra funding from the Government to help rough sleepers during the Covid-19 public health emergency as they are a high-risk group. Along with our partners, we have ensured that all those who have engaged with us and want accommodation have been found it.
“It is hoped that this may also lead to a permanent change in their life for some of them as they will now have access to support services that can help them find a new path.”
Hightown runs several homelessness services in St Albans, including the Open Door night shelter and supported housing services, Martin House and Kent House, and temporary accommodation units at St Claire’s and Marlborough Road. They also manage two outreach workers who engage with rough sleepers on the streets.
Normally, during the winter months, St Albans rough sleeper Severe Weather Emergency Protocol provides 10 additional emergency beds through a volunteer-run initiative at Open Door and at a local church, managed by the Open Door charity. However, the national lockdown meant that communal night shelters needed to be closed and alternatives found using the additional funding.
Hightown homelessness services operations manager, Lou Champness-Nye, said: “It’s a fast-moving situation with numerous challenges, including the need for rough sleepers to want to engage with us, as well as managing individuals with complex issues and no recourse to public funds. However, our team has been working tirelessly with our colleagues at St Albans City and District Council and other local groups to get people off the streets so they can abide by social distancing rules, protect their own health and avoid transmitting the virus.
“With the Council’s support, we’ve been able to fast-track service users from our Kent House and Martin House units into council housing stock, while at the same time, moving people out of the SWEP provision into the Open Door night shelter and into our own temporary accommodation to free up rooms there.
“The local charity Druglink has also gone out of its way to support us by providing accommodation for four of our service users who have no recourse to public funds. We’re continuing to help these individuals with emergency food parcels.”
Alongside emergency accommodation, the provision of food and support for the homeless is another area where a co-ordinated approach from multiple organisations is making a difference. Social distancing rules have forced the temporary closure of Centre 33 that normally provides breakfasts and evening meals, so a contingency plan has been rapidly implemented.
Cllr Taylor said: “Existing volunteers at Centre 33 wanted to continue to help and we have found a way for them to maintain supplies of cooked food for the homeless.
“Our Business Compliance team was able to advise the volunteers on how food could continue to be cooked safely while social distancing rules were applied.
“The way those volunteers and other members of the community have come together to face the complex challenge of keeping rough sleepers safer during the Covid-19 crisis has been outstanding.
“No one needs to sleep rough or beg in the District at this difficult time as accommodation and food is available. I would ask people to bear that in mind and think of making a donation to Open Door or another local charity to enable them to continue their vital work.”
Lou said: “We’re keeping the Open Door shelter open 24/7 to provide round-the-clock support and running the usual lunch drop-in service at the earlier time of 12.30-1.30pm.
“At the same time, we’re liaising closely with the Open Door charity and Centre 33 who are working with St Saviour’s Church to provide a base from which volunteers can cook food off the premises safely while observing social distancing guidelines. This will provide a hot meal for those currently resident at the night shelter, and other vulnerable people. It’s been really fantastic to see the community pull together as one to support those most in need.”
Lindsey McLeod, treasurer for the Open Door charity St Albans, added: “Thanks to the continued support of our dedicated team of volunteers, we’ve been able to maintain essential services to homeless people in St Albans during this difficult time.”
The Open Door charity welcomes food donations from the general public to continue to run the lunchtime drop-in service. If you would like to donate food, please email the Open Door shelter on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shops, pubs, restaurants and some other small businesses in the St Albans District may be entitled to a Government grant to help them during the Covid-19 crisis.
More than £20 million of cash support is likely to be distributed to an estimated 1,500 qualifying enterprises in the District.
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 could be entitled to £25,000.
Those with a rateable value of up to £15,000 could be eligible for a grant of £10,000.
Other small businesses from any industry that currently qualify for small business rate relief or rural rate relief are also in line for a £10,000 grant.
None of this money needs to be paid back to the Government.
St Albans City and District Council is distributing the cash within its area and an application is not necessary as it can identify qualifying businesses.
However, to make the payments, the Council may need information it does not currently hold.
So, it is asking eligible local businesses to provide details by using its new online portal:stalbans.force.com/guest/s/coronavirus-grant. Around 400 have already done so.
Further details about the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, the Small Business Grant Fund and other Government schemes available to businesses during the Covid-19 emergency can be found here https://bit.ly/39Bonff.
These include a job retention scheme, deferring VAT and self-assessment payments, and business rates holidays.
All businesses, including those with a property with a rateable value that exceeds £51,000, may be eligible for a Covid-19 Business Interruption Loan and should contact their bank for more information.
Councillor Mandy McNeil, Portfolio Holder for Business, Culture and Tourism, said:
Pubs, shops, restaurants and cafes are the heart of our community and are being hit very hard by the Covid-19 crisis.
Many of them along with other small businesses are fighting for survival and the Government grants which have been announced could keep some afloat.
We are anxious to ensure that we can pass this money on to every business in our District that qualifies.
We’ve set up this online portal to ensure we get all the information we need and that no one misses out, so I would urge our local businesses to make use of it without delay.
Joint statement from CEOs of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group: Temporary closure of St Albans Minor Injuries Unit as part of COVID-19 response
Our top priority – as we respond to the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak – is to provide the best care we can to local people under these very difficult circumstances.
This means that we are constantly reviewing our services, with the aim that as many clinical staff as possible are available to treat the sickest patients. In the case of the minor injuries unit (MIU) at St Albans Hospital, this was attended by fewer than ten people per day over the last week. After careful consideration, we have decided that the skills of the staff at the MIU could be better directed to care for patients at Watford General Hospital who are very unwell, or to fill the roles of colleagues who are now working in newly created areas for patients suffering from severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The MIU will therefore close at its normal time on Friday 3 April and will remain closed for at least the whole of April. Given the recently low attendances we are not expecting that the temporary closure will present problems for large numbers of local people. It will reopen when circumstances permit.
The advice for patients with minor injuries is to visit https://111.nhs.uk/. This is the 111 online service. This will provide advice as to where a patient should go for their symptoms. The 111 phone service is also available, but of course this is a busier than usual.
Those patients who feel that they need a GP appointment should call their local GP practice and they are likely to be offered a phone or video consultation in the first instance, unless a face-to-face appointment is necessary. During evenings, weekends and bank holidays calls to GP practices will be automatically routed to the GP extended access service. Patients who have sustained serious injuries and/or are suffering blood loss or a serious deterioration should call 999.
No-one with COVID-19 symptoms should attend any medical setting unless explicitly directed to do by the NHS 111 service or the 999 call operator.
We are sure that everyone will support all the efforts being made to focus our resource on where it is most needed.
Please share this information with others within your organisation as appropriate.
Christine Allen David Evans
Chief Executive Interim Chief Executive Officer
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group
Note to new subscribers
Note to new subscribersWe are councillors and campaigners in St Albans Central Division (Clarence and St Peter’s wards). In order to keep in touch more closely, we are sending you this e-newsletter, which now goes to over 1200 email addresses. If you want to unsubscribe then please go to the bottom of the page and follow the link.
Chris White (County Councillor for Clarence and St Peter’s and Clarence District Councillor)
Jacqui Taylor (St Peter’s District Councillor)
Josie Madoc (Clarence District Councillor)
Will Tucker (St Peter’s District Councillor)
Danny Clare (Clarence District Councillor)
If you would like to respond to anything in this newsletter then please contact us.
In this newsletter
- Changes to parking enforcement regime
- Council tax support
- Helping each other
- Household waste sites
- Election postponement
- Refuse collection
- Daily updates
- Crime and anti-social behaviour
- Fleetville Infants road safety
- Fleetville Community centre
- Russell Avenue garages rat infestation
- Planning for the future
- Sundry highways matters
- Important links:
- Police: report a concern
- Highways fault reporting
- Street name plates
- Street cleansing
- Planning applications
In accordance with new data protect regulations, the relevant privacy statement can be found here.
Changes to parking enforcement regime
Given the massive change in lifestyles plus the need not to minimise burdens to NHS and other workers, the council has radically changed the nature of the parking enforcement regime. See press notice.
Council tax support
The impact in residents’ income has been recognised and support can be obtained. See press notice.
Helping each other
The council has an official partner to manage the increasing number of people who volunteer. People offering help are specifically asked to use Communities 1st rather than set up their own groups, because the latter can lead to significant safeguarding and data protection risks. More details here.
Given the noticeable increase in attempts by criminals to exploit the current emergency, now is a good time to sign up to Herts Police OWL.
Household waste sites
These are run by the county council and have also been closed as part of the lock down. There are some troubling implications in terms of potential fly-tipping, with the remaining local collection sites (‘bring bank sites’) at supermarkets being over-run. While this is not an easy request, residents are for the duration asked to hang on to the waste that cannot be picked up the district council’s refuse collection service.
The current plan is anyway for the bring bank sites to be decommissioned from 1 May, because they have a negligible impact on recycling but are responsible for a great deal of unsightly mess: doorstep collections have largely rendered them obsolete.
There will be no local elections this year, meaning that district council elections will take place in 2021 at the same time as the county council elections. The Police and Crime Commissioner elections will also take place at that time. Councillors (Chris in this division) whose terms of office were due to end in in May 2020 will have their term of office extended by a year.
Chris had a meeting with Veolia this week and has been assured that there are robust contingency plans in place for bin collection, including redeploying other resources and if necessary cutting back on some types of doorstep collection. Veolia, however, hopes to maintain a full service.
Chris also raised the question of street cleanliness: he cited as examples Avenue Road and Hillside Roadwhere last autumn’s leaf mould had not been tackled. It was agreed that there needed to be better targeting: some streets have more leaf mould than others (depending rather obviously on the number and types of trees).
Chris and the council Chief Executive are writing to bin collection staff as a thank you for their continued commitment – and because, we are sorry to say, a motorist screamed abuse at them on Avenue Road this week because they were having to manoeuvre bins through parked cars.
It is more important than ever that all public sector workers are treated with respect and are not abused physically or on line as they carry out their duties for us.
This will remain open for the time being as a food-only outlet with significant social distancing measures for the time being. This is in part because there has not and never has been any guidance that markets should close (any more than indoor supermarkets) but there is a need to keep the stressed food chains operating given the level of hoarding that has unfortunately taken place, to the detriment of people on lower incomes and key workers.
The Government is keen for takeaways to continue operating, as well as for restaurants, pubs and other businesses to convert to operating on a takeaway basis. Residents, however, are asked to place orders by phone or internet in advance and then collect rather than turn up, order and hang around. Some local businesses have already set up delivery services for the duration. For the latest details go to Enjoy St Albans.
Although libraries are physically closed, Hertfordshire Libraries are launching various online reading initiatives, for example, a virtual reading group is starting today via their Facebook page. Visit here to find out more.
Daisy Cooper is producing daily updates covering a raft of issues – both nationally and locally. If you want to sign up for future emails, just visit her website.
Crime and anti-social behaviour
Danny has been dealing with the police and other agencies about anti-social behaviour in the Hall Place Close area. Residents will be consulted about any physical changes that might be advisable.
There appears to have been a resumption of drug-dealing in the Clifton Street area: as ever residents are urged to contact 101 so that it is on police radar: this allows more effective patrolling and other actions.
Fleetville Infants road safety
There has been a meeting between the school, parents and the county council. As a result, county council highways official reviewed the junction of Woodstock Road South and Eaton Road, where clearly there are large quantities of pedestrian traffic in conflict with cars. The county council will now have a closer look at what can be done here (this is something Chris has been requesting for some time).
Chris has also asked for more frequent warden patrols along Royal Road. Parents are also asked where possible not to enter Royal Road with cars because the lack of a turning circle means that cars are doing three point turns in a street with a large number of pedestrians.
Fleetville Community centre
Council officials are unconvinced that an asset transfer to the trust will at this stage safely deliver what the community wants and needs and so is intending to set up a joint steering committee to try and get fund-raising and project planning fully off the ground. This would have started this month but the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted matters. It remains a key priority of your councillors.
Russell Avenue garages rat infestation
This issue seems now to have come under control, not least because of baiting and discovering that an empty garage contained a food source.
Work on processing the ladder roads consultation continues despite the shutdown. There have been hundreds of responses and these are being worked through one by one. We remain of the view that changes should largely only take place where residents of the street want it.
District council corporate plan
This has at last been agreed. More here.
Planning for the future
What comes after the local plan? On the assumption that the government inspection system sees sense and resumes hearings in St Albans, it is time to look to the next phase: the years 2035 onwards.
Initial work is now being done and you can have your say. Follow this link for more information.
Sundry highways matters
- The missing 20 mph signage at the entry to the Grange Street area 20 mph zone has now been rectified. Thanks to those who reported this.
- Dangerous wall – Old London Road: Jacqui has worked with the district council to ensure that the dangerous wall does not collapse into the road.
- Removal of stump and planting of new tree on Ridgmont Road: Chris has decided to fund this out of his county council highways locality budget.
- Breach of one way driving on Townsend Avenue and Cecil Road: this has been happening again. In both cases, there is adequate signage so it has to be assumed that the incidents are deliberate and thus should be reported to the police (with photos/video).
- Police: report a concern
If you have a concern go to this link
Alternatively you can report incidents anonymously through Crimestoppers
For up to date information about crime in your area sign up to: Herts Police OWL.
- Highways fault reporting
Highways are a county council matter and the link for reporting faults is here.
- Street name plates
These are for some reason a district rather than a county service and so can’t be reported as highways faults. If you spot a missing or damaged nameplate, please email to this address.
- Street cleansing
- Planning applications
The easiest way to keep abreast of new planning applications is to follow this link.
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If you would like to respond to anything in this newsletter then please contact us.
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Published & promoted by J Taylor on behalf of Liberal Democrats, all at 9 Hatfield Rd, St Albans, Herts AL1 3RR
Recycling, waste collection and street cleaning services in St Albans District are currently operating as normal during the Covid-19 crisis.
St Albans City and District Council’s contractor Veolia is continuing to provide the essential services for residents.
Both organisations are working to minimise disruption with resources being monitored closely to ensure services can be delivered safely.
Residents are urged to continue using recycling and waste collection services as usual.
This includes non-essential services such as bulky waste collections.
In order to prevent further spread of Covid-19, households that are self-isolating and showing the symptoms of the virus should follow the UK Government’s ‘Stay at home’ advice and ensure:
- Personal waste such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths are securely disposed in rubbish bags, and not in paper or card recycling.
- Any bags containing personal waste should be double bagged, tied securely and kept separate from other waste.
- Bags containing personal waste are to be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual external general waste bin.
To ensure that recycling and waste collection services are delivered as normal, residents are being asked to park considerately on congested roads in order to maintain access for collection vehicles.
Civil enforcement officers – formerly known as traffic wardens – have been instructed to take action against unsafe or inconsiderate parking.
Residents are also asked not to make unnecessary journeys to Household Waste Centres as these are all currently closed.
Residents should hold onto waste destined for Household Waste Centres until they are reopened.
Those seen to be ‘fly-tipping’ and leaving waste outside the gates of Household Waste Centres or next to local neighbourhood recycling banks could be fined or even prosecuted.
Councillor Chris White, Leader of St Albans City and District Council and Portfolio Holder for Climate and Environment said, “This public health crisis affects us all so we’re asking everyone to pull together. Our refuse collectors are designated key workers and are doing a fantastic job in helping to keep our community safe by continuing their essential environmental health work.”
“Our partners at Veolia are working hard to ensure that services are not disrupted to residents and that this situation is managed. I am assured they are taking all the necessary precautions to keep operatives safe from contamination. Of course, if staff need to self-isolate, some services may need to be reduced. We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks.”