Note from County Council about closure of Sandpit Lane

I am writing to notify you of the forthcoming Highways Maintenance works due to take place on Sandpit Lane, St Albans.

The first part of this scheme is on-going under traffic signals, however, the works requiring road closures will take place on Monday 13th February and are programmed to take approximately 5 Days to complete.  Given the likelihood of danger to the public whilst the works are being undertaken, it will be necessary to close Sandpit Lane.

The works have been carefully phased and will be split into two separate closures, given the location of each site along Sandpit Lane:

Closure 1: Road Closure of Sandpit Lane between Jct. Marshalswick Lane Jct. House Lane: 9:30am – 4pm to carry out Drainage Investigation, Verge / Tree Works.

Closure 2: Road closure of Sandpit Lane between Jct. B651 Sandridge Road Jct. Marshalswick Lane: 8:00pm – 5:00am to carry out Carriageway Surfacing, drainage and Road Marking works.

Update on Clarence Park steps and ramp

A routine safety inspection was conducted on the ramp and steps structure on 03 February. During the inspection it was noted that the current deterioration of the timber sections is such that structure is now deemed unsafe. The deterioration has accelerated since the last inspection in December. Owing to the extent of the deterioration observed it was recommended that the structure should be closed immediately on the grounds of health and safety until remedial measures are put in place

This morning officers met with Cllr Alun Davies and Clarence Ward Councillors Chris White and Ellie Hudspith at the site. As a result officers are currently obtaining price quotations to carry out repairs to sections of the steps to enable its reopening at the earliest possible convenience.

With a design for the construction of a replacement structure in steel now in place officers will also investigate the option of replacing the existing steps only (in steel) in the short term whilst options are considered for permanent solution.

A quotation will be communicated back to councillors by the end of next week so that a way forward can be agreed.

Living in la la land

Claims by Govia and Network Rail bosses that they are working very hard to improve services, have been slammed by Liberal Democrats as a product of “living in la la land”.

The claims were made at a special council “Question time on rail services” on Thursday 2 February, where passenger groups including the community campaign group “Train Suffererjettes”, the Association of Public Transport Users and a rail user with disabilities, set out the daily challenges faced by passengers.

Daisy Cooper, the St Albans Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate who is campaigning to become the next MP for St Albans said: “It is extraordinary that rail bosses tried to persuade councillors and the public that services are improving when their own reports and local people’s real-life experiences show the complete opposite.

“Their own reports say that St Albans station has potential safety risks from over-crowding during peak hours; that only 48% of trains arrive on time; that delays from incidents are getting longer; and that the poor information on disrupted St Albans services has been due to Govia’s operations centre being all-consumed by the ongoing Southern Rail crisis. On every indicator that matters to passengers – cost, reliability, and comfort – train bosses are failing, and to suggest otherwise is the stuff of la la land.”

Cllr Robert Donald who quizzed the rail bosses on remediation plans said: “We are dealing with unparalleled levels of anger and frustration from long suffering commuters yet the rail management teams seem unable to learn from previous incidents and give passengers any confidence at all in their ability to improve services. They don’t even seem to have the outline bones of a plan to meet their contractual obligations by any particular date let alone a detailed improvement programme.”

Cllr Ellie Hudspith said: “Following our questioning, train bosses have now admitted that passengers will likely not see any improvement in rail services until the works at London Bridge are completed in January 2018, yet passenger fares continue to rise – it’s a scandal.” Continue reading

Lib Dems ask for explanation for ‘staggering’ ambulance waiting times

Liberal Democrats have asked for an urgent explanation for the staggeringly high ambulance waiting times at Watford General – which are, by a long way, the worst across six counties.

Liberal Democrat county Health spokesperson Chris White said: ‘Figures show that more than 1000 working hours were lost while ambulances queued at this hospital – in contrast to just 200 at Luton and Dunstable, itself bad enough.

‘Watford General was the worst in the entire region (which includes the six counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk). In total around one eighth of the delays were at Watford.

‘The 1000 hours mean patients waiting in ambulances and not getting treatment. The situation is clearly critical and we need to hear from both the hospital and the ambulance trust why this is happening and what they are doing about it.’

Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate campaigning to become the next MP for St Albans, added:

‘St Albans district patients need urgent answers from Watford General’s hospital management as to whether staff shortages, additional patient pressures, or Conservative cuts – such as the recently scrapped £8.5 million grant for home care – or something else are to blame for these staggeringly high ambulance waiting times.

‘Front-line NHS staff do an amazing job under difficult circumstances but and may need additional support to help bring these waiting times down. We need to know that there is a plan.’

Ambulance waiting time table here: hhhl-december-2016

District Council statement on Clarence park steps

We have been trying (so far without success) to replace the ramp and steps at Clarence Park. Sadly we have been very badly let down by our contractor and our agent and this will impact on our future choices of expert. We are still trying to resolve the issue but it is proving very difficult.

The structure has for some years now been in a state of decay and has been declining. You may recall that we spent thousands of pounds stabilising it 3-4 years ago. We have recently been undertaking regular inspections in an attempt to keep open the ramp and steps for as long as possible. Paul Gallagher carried out an inspection this morning and found significant areas of concern. As a result we had to close the structure immediately. It was not therefore possible to give any advance warning.

Although we have been carrying out spot repairs we have now reached the stage where economic repair is no longer viable. Paul has estimated that between £3K and £5K will need to be spent to deal with the current problem but that will not guarantee the safety of the structure. It is also possible that these costs will increase if we uncover further areas of rot. For your information, yesterday we had a report that someone had put her foot through the bottom platform of the ramp & steps. We don’t believe she was hurt but we haven’t heard directly from her so we don’t have all the details.

As the senior officer responsible for health and safety I cannot knowingly allow an unsafe situation to exist. Therefore it will be necessary for the structure to remain closed until we find a solution, either in the short or long term.

Emergency closure of Victoria Street

Message from the County Council

I am writing to notify you of the forthcoming Highways Maintenance works due to take place on B691 Victoria Street, St Albans.

Due to the sudden deterioration of the carriageway surface nearby the Station, it has been decided that these works will need to be completed as soon as possible, to prevent failure of the carriageway besides major disruption to the local area and road users alike.

In addition to this, there have been longstanding issues concerning the signal timings in this area, resulting in significant delays on a regular basis.  In view of that, the Traffic Loops in this area must be reinstalled to improve its performance and will be carried out under the road closure to avoid further disruption at a later date.

The works are due to commence on Monday 13th February and are programmed to take approximately 5 Days to complete.  Given the likelihood of danger to the public whilst the works are being undertaken, it will be necessary to close Victoria Street between the junctions of Marlborough Road / Upper Marlborough Road and Station Way.

There is likely to be congestion in the area whilst the road closure is in place, however,  the works have been carefully phased and sequenced to mitigate delays.  Activities will take place between 09:30 – 15:30  and the highway will be clear at all other times.

Liberal Democrats Party Political Broadcast – ‘Groundhog Day’

The Liberal Democrats new party political broadcast airs tonight on BBC 1 and ITV1.

The broadcast is inspired by the classic Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day and features a couple waking up to a radio news bulletin on the morning after the European referendum. As the days pass the morning routine stays the same but the couple are greeted with different news – from the election of Donald Trump in the US and the rise in racist incidents following the referendum to warnings over the NHS winter crisis and reports of Labour backing Brexit – and worry about what is happening around the country and the world.

Tim Farron addresses the audience with a clear, unapologetic pitch to the millions of people who do not support what this government is doing, and look at Labour and don’t see an effective opposition.

And for those watching closely there’s a David Cameron gag in there too.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: 

“There are millions of people across the UK who are being let down by this Conservative Brexit Government and their plans for a hard, divisive Brexit. They are people who voted Leave and Remain, Labour and Conservative, and do not feel they are being represented.

“If you wake up every day with a sinking feeling about the way our country and our world is going, then we are the only party standing up for you.

“The Liberal Democrats are fighting for an open, tolerant and united Britain. We are holding this government to account on Brexit and the under-funding of the NHS. The Liberal Democrats are the real voice of opposition this country needs now Labour are left fighting amongst themselves.“

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The PPB can be viewed here

Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats announce six key priorities ahead of May’s County Elections

 

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Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto for May’s County Elections today, setting their six key priorities to fix if they win control of the council from the Conservatives.  The Liberal Democrats have promised to help reverse cuts to social care and protect key services for vulnerable people in Hertfordshire, to tackle the shocking state of the County’s roads and pavements and to deal with the crisis engulfing Hertfordshire’s NHS.

The Liberal Democrats would protect the County’s Public Health budget and seek to find a permanent solution for the future of areas three local hospitals. The Liberal Democrats will also prevent further cuts to local bus services and help bring an end to the school place chaos in the county.

Cllr Stephen Giles Medhurst, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at County Hall said, ‘The Conservatives have run the Council for nearly two decades now without a break but simply fail to deliver on basic services. Our roads are some of the worst maintained in the country, far too little is being done to secure places for primary or secondary school children, our transport links have suffered from huge cuts while at the same time as the Conservatives spend money on wasteful propaganda. We believe it is time for a change.

‘We are clear with our six priorities that we want the Council to work for local people and deliver on key services. More and more people have been saying how they are fed with the Conservative County Council and are putting their faith in the Liberal Democrats to deliver real change at County Hall.”

Full manifesto here.

 

Question time on rail services

From the District Council

Train users have a chance to quiz railway executives about services between London and the St Albans District.

Representatives of Govia, which operates the Thameslink line, are to attend a public meeting later this month.

They will be joined by colleagues from Network Rail which owns the track and other infrastructure.

Members of two rail user groups will also be in attendance to give their views on behalf of travellers. These are the Association of Public Transport Users and the Train Suffererjettes.

A wheelchair user who regularly uses the route will be present to talk about his experiences.

The meeting has been arranged by the Planning, Resources and Housing Scrutiny Committee of St Albans City and District Council. It will be held in the Council chamber at the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, on Thursday 2 February from 7pm.

Anyone who wants to raise an issue can do so by emailing  scrutiny@stalbans.gov.uk by Monday 30 January.

 

Their questions will be put to the executives by Councillors.  If requested, their names and addresses will be kept confidential.

Delayed district council posting to ‘ladder roads’

The letters were supposed to have been mailed before Christmas. The District Council has admitted that it did not stick to the deadlines it gave ward councillors and has sent us this note:

The letters for the Ladder Roads consultation have now been sent down to the Council’s post room.  Due to the number of letters these will be sent out in stages over the next week.The documents will be on the Council’s website under www.stalbans.gov.uk/troconsultations  from tomorrow. The closing date for responses is 3 February.