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. (more…)
Note from the district council to Chris White
S106 funding of £5,000 has now been allocated to this project and I wanted to let you know about it so it’s on your radar.
The primary aim of the campaign is to improve air quality and protect the health of residents and visitors, by persuading drivers to switch off their engines when they are stationary. The aim is to educate drivers to the impacts to health, environment and their pockets, of leaving their engines running and encourage them to switch off. This is a light-touch educational campaign and no enforcement action will be used against drivers who idle their engines.
Over the coming months I intend to produce publicity materials which will be distributed to schools, taxi drivers and bus companies. Residents will also receive a flyer in their resident permit mailings. I will also be encouraging community groups and schools to lead on projects to promote the messages within the campaign where possible.
St Albans District Council last night agreed a Liberal Democrat proposal to create a £100,000 flood fund to help domestic and business premises which have been flooded more than once per annum over the past two years.
Chris White, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, said: ‘We introduced this idea a year ago but the other parties failed to back us. This year, I am pleased to say, we got all party support.
‘There are too many individual properties which have suffered flooding in this district. While the headlines have understandably been about the terrible events in the north of England, surface water flooding and sewage has affected homes and businesses in this area as well – in some cases for many years.
‘Currently government backed schemes are inadequate to help those affected and the costs of localised flood prevention can be very high.
‘The details of the scheme have yet to be agreed but this should provide welcome relief to some of our residents.’
Liberal Democrat Councillors Edgar Hill and Chris White are pushing for St Albans District Council to adopt Fixed Penalty Notices for persistent offenders caught littering.
“I have received numerous complaints and witnessed personally the ever increasing problem of littering in our Parks and Streets” said District Councillor Edgar Hill. “It must be plain to see that educating the Public alone is not sufficient and issuing a Fixed penalty Notice to offenders for littering could be a valuable tool in the Council’s armoury.”
Chris and Edgar have liaised with local council officers who agreed that under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environmental Act 2005 it would be good practice for the Council to have the ability to issue Fixed Penalty Notices.
“If you add that there is also evidence from other neighbouring Councils who have adopted the Scheme, contracting this out could make it cost neutral and self funding” said Liberal Democrat District Group Leader Chris White. “I can see no reason why St Albans District Council doesn’t implement Fixed Penalty Notices and take the fight back to the litter louts.”
Liberal Democrats are incensed by the way Herts County Council are downplaying the need to take action on road flooding. Malcolm Cowan, deputy leader of the county council’s Lib Dem group says: ‘I was told by the highways contractors Ringway that road flooding is a low priority and I was unlikely to see any action from a long list of local flooding sites I had painstakingly compiled.
‘I know that gully cleaning is a very hit and miss affair – many drains that are covered with weeds and will not take water are ignored, with possible clearance postponed for up to a year. Yet blocked drains are a major cause of the flooding problem. Driving through a flood means you cannot see any potholes that can cause accidents, and of course the flooding itself rapidly causes further damage to the road. Not to mention the risk of skidding or aquaplaning.
‘Now I have been told that a road has to be impassable for at least 10 hours before action is taken – 10 hours is more than a complete working day. And this excludes the problems of footpaths that are stopping pedestrians going out and about. And of course road flooding can easily lead to the heat-breaking incidence of flooding of property and homes.’
Malcolm added: ‘The stench of complacency needs to be fumigated and some purposeful action take place, starting with insisting Ringway clear blocked drains, not walk away from them.’
At yesterday’s meeting of the District Council, Conservative councillors opposed a Liberal Democrat motion expressing concern about the inadequacies in maintaining highway verges this year.
Lib Dem Group Leader Chris White said: “What was made clear during the course of the debate was that the Tory councillors are not happy to criticise their colleagues in County Hall, even when such an obviously abysmal job has been done.
“It has also been made clear over the course of this process that there has been a failure in handover and monitoring and this is something that the district council administration needs to take responsibility for.”
Chris added: “We will continue to speak up for local residents and hold the Conservative administrations both at District and County Hall to account, even if the local councillors are willing to accept the inadequacies in services being provided to local residents.”
Hertfordshire County Council will emit less CO2 in future after pressure from Lib Dem Councillors Paul Zukowskyj and Malcolm Cowan at the Performance, Resources and Transformation Cabinet Panel last week.
Paul and Malcolm had questioned HCC’s extremely low carbon reduction target a number of months ago, when the Conservatives proposed a CO2 reduction target of just 2% per year. Having achieved a 25% reduction over four years, Paul and Malcolm questioned why the new target was so low.
At last Wednesday’s panel, officers informed the panel that in 2013/14 CO2 had been reduced by 7%, so they were suggesting revising the five year target from 10% to 15%.
At Paul and Malcolm’s insistence, the panel agreed to add a new recommendation to Cabinet, that the target be kept under review and increased even further if progress continued.
Paul commented: “The new 15% target is really welcome, reducing CO2 not only helps limit climate change, it also keeps HCC’s energy bills down, saving public money from going up in smoke.
“The original target was simply too low. HCC should be showing the way. With the new target of 15% it really helps show what can be done with a little effort. We’ll be pushing HCC to raise this to 20%. A target should be ambitious, and with LED street-lighting due to come on stream shortly, 20% would be ambitious but achievable.”
Note from the district council
If you are planning a Christmas meal with work colleagues, friends or family in St Albans District check the food hygiene ratings for restaurants before you book.
St Albans City and District Council inspects local food businesses to check they comply with food safety and hygiene regulations and gives them a score.
The food hygiene ratings run from 0-5, with five representing a very good level of hygiene and a zero indicating that urgent improvement is required.
The Council is a part of the Food Standards Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and puts all its ratings on the scheme’s website at: www.food.gov.uk/ratings. Local restaurants and food businesses are also given a Food Standards Agency green and black sticker showing their food hygiene rating to display on their windows.
You can’t tell a restaurant’s hygiene standards by how clean and tidy the staff look, or by how busy it is. It’s the things you can’t see – like germs spread by bad hygiene practices – that you need to consider when selecting a restaurant. If there is no green and black sticker in the window or you spot a low rating online, you can make an informed choice about where to book.
Nationally, 93% of food businesses are rated three or better through the Food Standards Agency’s scheme so there are plenty of eating places with good standards.
Today Hertfordshire County Council discussed its next steps in long-term planning for the disposal of household waste.
The Conservative administration decided to leave the door open for the Veolia plan for New Barnfield, despite the Planning Inspector and the Government both turning down the proposal. Liberal Democrat councillors attempted to amend this policy and end once and for all an arrangement that has already cost local taxpayers millions while delivering nothing.
Sandy Walkington, County Councillor for St Albans South and opposition spokesperson on the environment, said, “I proposed that we stop wasting Council Tax on this failed project and move forward to find a solution which reflects the latest technologies, and offers flexibility and resilience over the long term. There are other solutions which will be better for the environment and offer genuine value for money. “Sadly every Conservative on the Panel voted to carry on with Veolia, when it’s clearly time to go back to the drawing board.”