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Health changes – a summary

As of today:
– The Acute Admissions Unit has now opened at Watford with 38 beds (and should be fully operational in a fortnight with an additional 22 beds)
– The first of two Catheterisation Laboratories has already opened at Watford and the Watford Cardiac Care Unit has been extended
– The Watford Stroke Unit has been extended
– The Hemel Hempstead Cardiac Care Unit has transferred to Watford
– An additional CT Scanner and other specialised diagnostics will be commisssioned in the Watford AAU next week
– All chest pain patients both in ambulance and ‘GP heralded’ go to Watford AAU or straight to Cardiac Centre
– All blue-light ambulance cases from St Albans go to Watford A&E or AAU or Cardiac Centre or Stroke Unit
– All acute stroke cases go to Watford AAU or straight to the Stroke Unit.

Next week:
– a specialised Gastro Ward opens in Watford
– planned surgery at Hemel Hempstead ceases.

In a fortnight:
– Simpson Ward patients from Hemel Hempstead transfer to specialised beds in Watford
– all ‘GP heralded’ patients will be directed to Watford.

On 13th March: Intensive Care and Emergency Surgery at Hemel Hempstead cease.

Planned surgery continues unchanged at St Albans.

No money at all for lamppost repainting

Chris has discovered that there is no money at all for lamppost repainting in St Albans.

Throughout the city, there are lampposts of varying age, many of which are clearly in need of care and attention. Paint not only makes the environment look better but it prolongs the life of these expensive assets.

Chris comments: ‘I was amazed to hear that the county council intends to spend nothing at all on looking after lampposts. I have asked for this matter to be raised at the local highways committee next month to see if anything can be done to deal with the worst cases of neglect. But this strikes me as a classic example of poor use of taxpayers’ money. The Tories must learn to spend a little to save a lot.’

Chris calls for councils to have the power to take over empty shops

Chris has called upon the Government to change the law to give councils the temporary power to take over empty shops where the landlord has not taken reasonable steps to find a tenant.

Chris said on Radio 4’s Today programme and BBC breakfast yesterday: ‘We are in danger of moving from clone town to ghost town. As more shops get boarded up high streets become less attractive and fewer people want to visit. This can then lead to a spiral of decline – sometimes known as broken window syndrome.

‘If councils had the power to take over these shops they could use them for purposes which will help us all through the recession – clubs for jobless people, temporary youth clubs, or even just cheap accommodation for businesses which are struggling. But the real boon would be that the high street wouldn’t spiral into decline.

Under the proposals landlords would have three months in which to find a tenant before a council could use the powers proposed. Even if a council did use compulsion, the landord would still receive rent.’


In the light of two recent fires in schools, the latest in Verulam School in
St Albans, Liberal Democrat councillors have called upon schools and the
county council to work closely on fire safety.

Liberal Democrat Leader Chris White said: ‘There are some disturbing reports
from around the county. In more than one school fire alarms have not been
audible in all parts of the building.

‘The governors have a responsibility to ensure that the school is safe and
should seek advice from the county council’s fire and rescue department. The
county council also needs to step up its health and safety audits so that
there are no more serious incidents.’


Station noise complaints are back – but FCC say it’s cured

I have had renewed noise about excessively noisy announcements from the station. FCC have got back to me and say:

– the problem is now cured
– the local staff now have access to the box (this was previously a problem for some reason – only staff up the line could deal with it)
– there is anyway a new system on its way which will be sensitive to ambient noise.

Let me know what you think: do you believe things have improved?

Fix 1: Liberal Democrats propose package of green measures

Liberal Democrats yesterday proposed a package of green measures as
amendments to the Conservative budget debated at county hall.

Measures include a 35% increase in subsidies for buses, a 25% increase in
spending on repairing footpaths and a significant roll out of 20 mph zones.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Chris White said: ‘People have been very clear
with us on the doorstep: they want more accessible transport, pavements
which aren’t turning to gravel and safer residential streets.

‘Other parts of the country manage 20 mph speed limits with ease. Our
proposal to spend a million pounds on this project would mean that most
towns in Hertfordshire would see 20 mph limits in residential streets within
the year. Sadly the Tories refused to back this.’

Malcolm Cowan added: ‘I am shocked that we only spend £4 million on
repairing footways. The fact that so little is spent and our proposal to
increase was turned down show that the Tories have no interest in


The Liberal Democrat proposals would be funded by reductions in overstaffing
at county hall.

Liberal Democrat Manifesto Fix 1

Fix our roads and pavements

Hertfordshire’s roads and pavements are among some of the worst in the
country. Anyone crossing our county boundaries can see at a glance just how
bad things are.

You tell us constantly this is your main priority. On every survey response,
on every newsletter reply slip and face to face on the door step, you tell
us how disappointed you are with the state of our roads and pavements.

What we will do to change this:

– Repair and maintain the roads before they deteriorate and need to be
completely replaced
– Get rid of Herts Highways and give residents more of a say to get real
– Introduce ‘Pothole Moles’: a pro-active team to blitz potholes properly
so they don’t need to be filled in again two days later
– Strictly enforce the new legislation on utility repairs to ensure roads
are only dug up once and are then repaired to a high standard

Road surface problems in Woodstock Road South and Laurel Road

These two roads have recently come to my attention from my own observations. I have had the following response from Herts Highways.

‘Cat 2’ works are permanent patching (not a simple pothole repair).

Woodstock Road South is currently scheduled for the 2010/2011 financial
year. I will pass your comments onto our asset managers who are currently
shaping the 09/10 programme to see the feasibility of moving these works

Laurel Road does not currently feature on the five year IWP at all. I will
investigate the road to establish what low CAT 2 type works are necessary
for the road.

District council to continue to work towards pavement parking ban

I have received the following note from the District Council. Comments gratefully received.

Members may recall the proposals to create a District Wide footway and
verge parking prohibition.

The impact would have been to ban parking on the footway or verge.
Drivers would be advised by zone entry signs as they entered the

It was recognised that in a number of locations e.g., Folly Lane in St
Albans & Cowper Street, Harpenden that parking on the footway would be
necessary. At these locations signs would advise that footway parking
was authorised by placing signs adjacent to the parking place.

Unfortunately guidance from the Department of Transport advises that
unless repeater signs of the ban are in place every 30m a District wide
ban would not be authorised.

The Secretary of State’s view is that motorists cannot be reasonably be
expected to read, understand and remember the parking restrictions at
the entrance to a Controlled Parking Zone that covers an area of more
than a dozen streets.

In the circumstance the alternative is to introduce a ban on a location
by location basis.

We will shortly be advertising for consultation a footway and verge
parking ban in three places across the District.

1. Watsons Walk, St Albans – The entire length

2. Harpenden Road – Texaco Garage to Sandridgebury Lane

3. Colney Heath – The central area

Once these have been advertised we will be in a position to commence a
rolling programme of such bans.

As it is sometime since members were consulted on suitable locations now
is an opportune time to identify those areas where a footway and verge
ban is both necessary and feasible.

Your recommendations are therefore sought.

The key aspects to consider when recommending locations are:

1. Footway and/or verge parking is causing damage.

2. Footway obstructions are being caused. The rule of thumb being
insufficient space is available for a double buggy to pass.

3. There is an alternative parking location for residents.

Priority will be given to those locations that fulfil all three of the

The London Road houses and Tesco

Update from Chris Brazier, portfolioholder for planning

‘I had a meeting with Tesco in November, they cleaned up London Road and asked that we did not pursue repossession. The reason they gave me was that they would do the houses up to Town Houses standard and then either sell them or rent them out. Under the Housing Act I have to let them carry out their promise and I have given them until the end of this month to submit a planning application for the houses in London Road. Robert [Donald] is arranging for a further meeting with Tesco in March:
a) To discuss the planning application of the houses
b) To discuss why no application has been submitted and our response.

‘A new application for the retail store is due soon but I have no idea what the new proposals are.’

Waste and recycling FAQs

This was issued last Tuesday but still holds good. Further updates will be made available as published.

Refuse and Recycling FAQ’s (for waste website)

Q What is happening with refuse and recycling collections this week?
A All scheduled collections are taking place this week where it is safe to do so. We do however have to be mindful of the safety of our crews and residents both when moving large and extremely heavy collection vehicles around in slippery conditions and when moving containers off and on the footways.

Q My road is still icy. Will my refuse and recycling be collected?
A We will attempt to access as many roads as possible. Any roads that are not accessible will be listed here and regularly updated. We will return to these roads during the course of the week as conditions improve, so please leave your waste/recyclables accessible for collection.

Q Will you be collecting missed refuse or recycling from last week?
A Unfortunately, there is not sufficient vehicle capacity or resources to collect all the refuse and recycling from the missed areas last week. Also the crews are in different parts of the district. However on your next scheduled collection day during the week commencing Monday 16th February, we will collect all excess refuse and recycling as follows:
a) Flat packed cardboard placed next to your green wheeled bin/bag
b) Excess newspapers, magazines, cans and plastic bottles placed in carrier bags next to the boxes – but glass bottles must be in the recycling boxes, NOT in bags
c) Excess refuse in refuse sacks next to the black wheeled bin

Q When will collections be fully back to normal?
A We are now running to the normal schedule. Weather permitting, we expect all missed collections to have been picked up by the end of the week commencing 16 February.

Q By next week I will have had uncollected food waste for well over two weeks. Are there health concerns?
A No.The low temperatures and the containment of the waste in the secure wheeled bins/kitchen caddies will ensure that there are no possible health concerns. Food waste can also be disposed of in either green or black bins. Any bagged refuse prone to attack by animals can be double bagged .

Q What happens if my refuse bin is overflowing?
A Please put any refuse which cannot be stored in the bin in black bags and place next to the black bin on the scheduled collection day. Please tie all bags securely.

Q How do I find out the latest information?
A We will be updating our website regularly with the latest information and answers to residents questions. This information will also be held by our contact centre staff (01727 866100) and we will be issuing information to the local press and radio, and to local councillors.