M25 widening seemingly abandonned

It would appear that the plans to widen the M25 have been abandonned, presumably to save money (given the recession and the fact that banks are no longer paying corporation tax etc).

This should be welcome: continually expanding roads only generates extra traffic and pollution, as we have seen countless times before. The proposal to use the hard shoulder, something I have observed working successfully in the Midlands, is not without its difficulties and will involve some additional widening in the ‘safe havens’ that need to be created at 500 metre or 800 metre intervals – these are essentially secondary hard shoulders to deal with broken down vehicles.

As ever, though, it is only half a policy. We learn this morning that the Government’s rail programme depended on high passenger numbers and we can only fear that lost reveneues will yet again be recovered by increased ticket pries. Rail is too expensive. If we want a working transport system, we need to make rail affordable and reliable. Ten days ago I was forced to drive to Liverpool and back because of the unreliability of the railway line. This is madness.

Heathrow is a problem here too

It might be easy to suppose that the outrageous Labour plan for a third runway at Heathrow has little impact on this area. Climate change (and it does exist, despite the bleatings of those with a vested interest in motoring or the oil industry) affects us all. The pollution from an expanded Heathrow will affect the planet. But more immediately we are under the flight path to the various expanding airports on or near our county borders. Recent consultations show that revised flightpaths will clip St Albans.

Perhaps even more annoying is the diverted rail investment. The Government clealy does not get it. We DON’T want a new high speed rail line TO an airport. We want high speed rail lines instead of airports.

What can we do? Support the protestors at Heathrow, at Stansted and in Harpenden (concerned about the menace from Luton airport). Don’t fly unless you really have to. Going to Paris? Go by train. Brussels? Train. Spain? Train (yes – really , I did it this summer).

Am I calling for a boycott? A boycott always smacks of hurting yourself to prove a point. If you want to, do it. The point is, however, that travelling by train rather than by air is often more pleasant. There are exceptions, like the west coast mainline. And the pricing policy required by this Government makes train travel seem an expensive way of moving about. But think train first. And don’t use BAA airports.

Is this the right time to be leaderless?

It is worrying to see that the independent Chair of the Safeguarding Children Board in Hertfordshire has resigned. This is a key post and she had been in office for only a short time. Hertfordshire is very much in the public gaze at the moment because there are some serious doubts about its capacity to protect childen at risk. The resignation of the chair cannot help things. I do hope that a new chair, with the relevant skills and time, can be found to ensure that there are no tragic incidents in Hertfordshire.

If anyone has any concerns about how the county council handles child protection they should contact me – full anonymity is assured.

Queuing problem on Verulam Road

Residents have been contacting us about this for some time. The problem is with the phasing of the lights on the pedestrian crossing on the High Street. For a long time Herts Highways denied this but have now agreed that there is a problem and that it is fixable. I am told that this change is imminent. We’ll see.