Jun 11

We’re still officially in a drought!

Welwyn Hatfield hosepipe ban

Don't try this at home!

…so say Veolia our water company, you can read their explanation here.

It seems amazing that after what seems to be a couple of months of wet weather, today being no exception, and after the washed out jubilee celebrations, we are still officially in a drought with a hosepipe ban in Welwyn Hatfield. Luckily hosepipes are no longer needed as our gardens come to resemble a boggy swamp.

However, an environment agency spokesman recently said:

We have seen a huge improvement in water resources in just a few short months, putting us in a much more positive position for the summer. While the downpours in April were pretty miserable, they were really welcome as water companies were able to refill their reservoirs, river levels are mostly back to normal and many wildlife habitats that were suffering have recovered.

 

But apparently the ground water aquifers, the natural water source that Veolia taps into for most of our water, are not yet replenished. The ground water cycle is very very slow moving. Just how long could we remain officially in a drought while the rain pours?

Looking at the Environment Agency website there are today 33 separate flood warnings for the South East of England, see them here.

All of this indicates that water companies are not very good at managing their natural resources, or spreading the risk so that there is a plan B if aquifers cannot deliver. The government is promoting more collaboration between water companies to move supplies around using canals and rivers, but this seems to be a long way off. Until then we can don our raincoats and umbrellas and venture out into the terrible drought for a soaking!

It’s still a thousand pound fine if you use your hosepipe to wash the mud off your car!

You can download the current banning notice here.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=378

Jun 09

Welwyn (G.C.) Drama Festival

Welwyn Drama festival

Click the image to go to the festival schedule

The annual Welwyn drama festival looks better than ever this year, it runs from the coming Monday (11th) to Saturday with a different production by a different theatre group every night.

Ticket prices are very reasonable, bookings can be made at the at the Campus West box office, or online HERE.

This site wishes the festival companies every success, there’s nothing like live performance for a memorable night out.

The main festival website is here.

Notice

One last point of note, this drama festival is in reality the Welwyn Garden City Drama festival. It is not connected to Welwyn village, and is not linked to their forthcoming village festival which runs from the 15th to the 24th of June.

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=367

Jun 02

Welwyn Garden City reviewed in The Guardian

Howardsgate Welwyn Garden City

Welwyn Garden town centre

Welwyn Garden City is featured as the subject of the ‘Let’s move to…’ this week. The feature summarises a particular town as a place it might be nice to move to, noting the for and against. You can read piece by clicking here.

Hopefully a few more residents will add their comments to the piece, there seem to be a few aspects of the town so far unmentioned. Housing needs, and the future of the Tesco land-banked Shredded Wheat site for example.

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=353

May 27

Hatfield Portas pilot bid unsuccessful

Twelve towns have been selected for a share of the Mary Portas pilot fund aimed at  kick-starting high street regeneration. Sadly Hatfield was not among them. Hopefully it was nothing to do with the fact that Hatfield town centre does not have a High Street as such.

This article in a local paper has more details.

Today it looks as though the  long awaited regeneration of Hatfield town centre is as far away as ever. Hatfield certainly deserves better. Hopefully the town centre will be successful in the next round of pilot town applications for the scheme later in the summer.

 

Hatfield Town Centre

Hatfield Town Centre, what now?

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=347

May 24

Bags of deceit

In the last few days two new ‘charity’ clothing donation bags have landed on doormats across our area. I covered this issue a few years back on this website, at that time it was company called Rutex that was behind it.

The current ‘charity’ clothing collections appear to be from two different outfits (excuse the pun). Here are pictures of them, perhaps you also had one?

 

Exhibit A: Safe Today, but is it?

 

Exhibit B: Do Not Delay, probably better to permanently delay.

 

Digging into this a bit deeper it seems like the second hand clothing market is a booming one. Several dubious businesses (not charities) act in partnership with the so called charities to deliver the bags and collect donated clothing from householders. The charities they collect for are often not UK charities at all, and may be bogus charities in their own countries. The collected clothes have a market value and they will be sold on for a ‘per ton’ rate. A small percentage of the proceeds might go to support a good cause, somewhere, but the vast majority will line the pockets of a businessman. An overview of typical operations can be read here.

The big UK charities are of course a different matter, they do great work and almost all the money raised from selling on or recycling the clothes goes to fund their cause. All worthy and above board.

Door to door collections require a licence from the local council. Operating without one is illegal. This site will enquire as to whether our current suspects have a license, but it’s very doubtful. You can find out more about licensing by WHBC here.

The country of Lithuania seems to be home for many of these operations; it’s not clear why that is. This website has a lot of information and a directory of the very many companies involved in clothing collections. You can see from the list that many are bogus and many are closed down only to reopen under a different name later on.

So what about our current crop of suspect house collections?

Exhibit A:

“Safe Today” is not the name of a charity or a business; it’s just two words aimed at misleading you. The collection company is called Help of Hand UK and they have a registered office in Leeds, they are highlighted in this article from the Daily Mirror.  They have previously been prosecuted by Leicestershire council. The charity they claim to be collecting for are called Two Sisters, allegedly registered as a charity in Zambia but with a South African registered website. Their website is here, but it doesn’t seem to be professionally worded or follow the usual structure of development charity websites. Either way you be sure they will getting very little from Hand  of Help UK.

According to the charity bags website:

The price fetched by second-hand textiles fluctuates (in a similar way to other commodities such as oil and wheat).  As at December 2011, virgin clothes (see definition below) were fetching around £1,000 per tonne.  This was three times the price of five years before.This rise has caused an increase in the number of commercial collectors in the UK (including misleading and bogus ‘charitable’ collectors).  It’s also led to an increase in the theft of bags left out for house-to-house collections.” (source here).

Hand of Help UK claim to pay £50 a ton of donated clothing to Two Sisters, based on the value above that means they keep 95% of the proceeds from donations for themselves. Hardly a charitable operation.
Exhibit B:

“Do Not Delay” is the name of a breast screening project in Lithuania, operated by Lithuanian charity Azzara. The Daily Mirror also investigated it, here. The collection company are called Intersecond, more about their dubious status can be found here. A local newspaper article from 2008 about them can be found here.
The moral of the story here seems to be that it’s better to donate your clothing to a reputable UK charity, one that has a charity commission number and proper UK address. Better still, one whose work you know about and feel comfortable supporting. If we don’t stuff these bogus bags with our old clothes they’ll soon stop being delivered to us.
You can also report any suspect looking collection bags to WHBC at  licensing@welhat.gov.uk who should know whether or not they are legally collecting. If they are not legal trading standards would also be interested.

If in doubt stick the charities you know and trust.

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=334

May 20

South Hatfield Fete

The South Hatfield Fete took place yesterday (Saturday 19th May). The rain held off and local people turned out in droves to support the event and have a good time. You can read more about the fete and it’s organisers here in the local paper.

There was live music, tea and cakes and numerous activities to keep the kids entertained. Towards the end the PA system took over and some vintage rare grooves, Reggae and Ska music took many of us back to our youth! The Zumba was especially popular with lots of people being enticed to shake their thang and burn off a few calories in the process.

It was also good to see some Hatfield councillors and our MP in attendance.

Here are a few snaps from the day:

Zumba class in Hatfield

Zumba was all the rage!

 

South Hatfield Fete

Slides and a coconut shy at South Hatfield fete

 

Pugil sticks in Hatfield

Gladiators ready!

 

Hatfield Fete and stalls

Hatfield Fete and stalls

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=324

May 14

Our changing hospital provision

As most Welwyn Hatfield residents are aware our main hospital is currently being wound down with services transitioning mostly to the Lister in Stevenage. There is more background about this in the Hospitals and Health section of this site and on the new web site explaining the changes to services at the QE2 here.

The  three main concerns would appear to be:

1. Getting there in an ambulance

Getting to the Lister in an emergency will most likely take most patients  longer than getting to the QE2. According to the AA Route Planner the Lister is fourteen miles away from the QE2. Residents in our southernmost ward, Cuffley, are twenty two miles from the Lister. The latest performance indicators show that the East of England Ambulance service (March 2012) brought 95% of patients to a hospital in 16.8 minutes, and 99% in 25.6 minutes. No specifics are given though with regard to how long journeys from Welwyn Hatfield Borough to Stevenage took. It would be interesting to know, an FOI request perhaps?

 2. Getting there to visit, or getting home after a discharge:

Having to visit a patient in the Lister can be a trial from our borough. If you are lucky enough to drive you can park (spaces permitting) for between £2.30 and £7.10 daily, or £18 for a weekly pass. Full pricing here.

If you don’t have access to a car things are more difficult. Walking from Stevenage station to the hospital is too far for many people. There are a number of subsidised travel schemes available (see this leaflet) but they are usually not available without advance pre-booking and for some of them, meeting certain criteria.

Buses are scarce; Arriva buses only run three buses after 6pm weekdays and the last one is at five past ten, the timetable is here.  UNO buses run two buses from the Lister after 6pm with the last one departing just before 8pm, timetable here. UNO run no services at all at weekends.

A trip to A&E could easily result in being discharged after the last bus has gone. Then you are at the mercy of cab companies. A recent quote from  Stevenage Taxis  to get from the Lister to Travellers Lane in Hatfield on a weekday evening was at estimated £22. Hatfield based AAA taxis quote a fixed price for the same trip of £29. A quote to get from Hall Grove, WGC, to the Lister with Ambassador Cars in WGC  was estimated at £24.60. It’s a lot of money either way but the Stevenage based company seem to offer the best deal.

Not an affordable option for many, let’s hope they can ‘phone a friend’. If you are visiting a family member regularly, possibly for weeks or months this is a major concern, both in terms of cost and time. Concentrating services outside our borough may be a cost saving for the Primary Care Trust, but it will cost borough residents, particularly less mobile non-drivers, more in money, time and stress.

 

 3. Quality of Service at the Lister

The new ‘Surgicenter’ at the Lister is operated privately on behalf of the NHS by an arm of Carillion plc called Clincenta. In 2011 Carillion reported £120.8 million in operating profit in 2011.

Recently the Care Quality Commission criticised the centre in a report; staff numbers and training issues gave them cause for concern.  Read a BBC news story here.  Or read a more detailed article in the Stevenage Comet here. Our MP Mr Shapps has also commented on the report saying  “The Surgicentre debacle is as predictable as it is incompetent” , in our local paper, full article here.

As more QE2 hospital services are transferred to the Lister, including night time A&E this is cause for concern. The quality of service at the QE2 is not perfect, but the service on offer at the Lister should be at least as good. There is a feedback section on the NHS website where the public can comment on services received. The Lister A&E only shows 19 feedback reports in the last 18 months, this seems very low. In addition, only just over half of them are positive, they can be read here.

Our new QE2 is scheduled to be opened by Spring 2014, a plan drawing of the site is repeated below (more info on this subject can be found on the Health and Hospital page here.

QE2 Existing and new buildings

New hospital shown in red

 

Services in the new QE2 are said to include:

 Local A&E, for example:

Abdominal pain, child with a fever, broken bones, deep cuts needing wound stitching, burns and scalds

In addition to:

  • General outpatients
  • GP services, including in the evenings and at weekends
  • Diagnostics – such as CT and MRI scans, x-rays and ultrasound
  • Rapid Assessment Unit – for patients who need urgent assessment and diagnostics but do not need to be admitted into hospital
  • Endoscopy and day treatments
  • Ante and post natal services
  • A dedicated Children’s Centre
  • Therapy services – e.g. physiotherapy and occupational therapy
  • The Vicki Adkins Breast Unit

Full info can be found here.

This does seem quite a lot to fit into a relatively small space, in comparison to the size of the current hospital at least.

The above post is aimed at raising awareness of the changes to our local hospital services. This is widely recognised as a less than ideal development and one that has been fought by local people, and our MP. We are a borough with well over 100,000 people, and yet it’s deemed that a hospital in our own locality is now no longer necessary. In 1952 when the QE2 opened our resident population was quite a lot lower with about 20,000 in Welwyn Garden and slighly less in Hatfield. Although in modern times although the expansion in out-patient services and more effective medicine means that hospital stays are probably shorter on average than they were in 1952.

Notice

If you have any comment or recent experiences on the issues raised here please get in touch and they can be shared through this site.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=317

May 04

Welwyn Hatfield Election Results

The results are in. The numbers can been in full on the council website here.

It was good to see that two of the candidates who posted their views on this site were elected.

Overall change:

May 2nd May 3rd
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Con 37
Lab 9
Lib Dem 2
Con 34
Lab 11
Lib Dem 2
Independent 1

Which visually looks like:

So Conservatives lost 3, Labour gained 2, and significantly we gained our first independent councillor. Well done Sandra Kyriakides! A lone candidate winning out over experienced party election campaigners with their larger resources is no mean feat. Sandra’s win shows that local elections don’t have to be party politcal, any candidate pledging to fight for local people on clear and defined issues can win the day if they get their message across successfully.

Turnout across the borough was generally poor, about half that of 2010 overall. Here’s a breakdown, click to enlarge:

Election turnout Welwyn Hatfield

Notice

The numbers indicate that about 76,000 residents in our borough of 113,000 people (2009 pop estimate) did not vote at all.

 

The data shows that about twice as many registered voters turned out to vote in Handside ward as they did in Hatfield Villages. You have to wonder why that was? Apathy, a protest in the form of not voting at all?

The fact that in every ward far more people chose to stay at home than to vote at all, indicates that politics is failing to engage people. Councillors are supposed to be our mouthpiece at the table of local government, yet it seems that the majority have no preference about who they actually are. Past performances and pre-election pledges seem to do nothing to inspire most to take a view. An alternative interpretation might be that the party campaigning literature was largely generic. Particular party leaflets were mostly the same, with just a few changes for each candidate name in each ward. There was little individuality, except for in the case of our independent. Perhaps if election flyers talked more about genuine local matters, and made genuine local pledges, leaving out the inflated claims and party bluster, local people might be a bit more interested.

Finally, below are some interesting numbers for each ward. These are accurate estimates only. Some candidates, such as Stephen Boulton and Kieran Thorpe won by a very large margin.

Ward:                                                                                 Turnout:

 

Residents who did not vote:3989

Brookmans Park and Little Heath
36.48
Con % of vote 71.41
Labour % of vote 9.03
Votes cast 1672
Residents who did not vote: 4583
Haldens
29.94
Labour % of vote 49.93
Con % of vote 34.99
Votes cast 1452
Residents who did not vote: 4850
Handside
43.57
Con % of vote 48.44
Labour % of vote 28.85
Votes cast 2333
Residents who did not vote: 5355
Hatfield Central
24.85
Labour % of vote 52.83
Con % of vote 31.55
Votes cast 1236
Residents who did not vote: 4974
Hatfield East
28.96
Con % of vote 47.24
Labour % of vote 30.92
Votes cast 1465
Residents who did not vote: 5059
Hatfield Villages
21.44
Con % of vote 48.96
Labour % of vote 27.44
Votes cast 911
Residents who did not vote: 4249
Hatfield South
22.66
Labour % of vote 60.29
Con % of vote 25.88
Votes cast 904
Residents who did not vote: 3989
Hatfield West
25.71
Labour % of vote 41.46
Con % of vote 39.85
Votes cast 1616
Residents who did not vote: 6285
Hollybush
23.99
Labour % of vote 53.51
Con % of vote 34.65
Votes cast 1267
Residents who did not vote: 5281
Howlands
30.04
Labour % of vote 35.48
Con % of vote 33.63
Votes cast 1353
Residents who did not vote: 4504
Northaw and Cuffley
31.23
Con % of vote 76.00
Labour % of vote 9.88
Votes cast 1346
Residents who did not vote: 4310
Panshanger
25.68
Con % of vote 55.09
Labour % of vote 27.97
Votes cast 1287.00
Residents who did not vote: 5012
Peartree Ward
24.24
Lib Dem % of vote 36.69
Labour % of vote 36.30
Votes cast 1292
Residents who did not vote: 5330
Sherrards Ward
39.13
Con % of vote 47.96
Labour % of vote 32.97
Votes cast 1741
Residents who did not vote: 4449
Welwyn East
34.72
Con % of vote 68.67
Labour % of vote 16.81
Votes cast 1666
Residents who did not vote: 4798
Welwyn West
38.1
Independent % of vote 44.51
Con % of vote 40.61
Votes cast 1256
Residents who did not vote: 3297

 

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=272

Apr 22

Call to election candidates

Welwyn Hatfield local elections

You Decide!

It’s sometimes difficult to find out what your election candidates stand for, and what drives them. Most don’t have enough time to knock on every door, but by responding to a few simple questions recently sent to them, they can set their stall out on this page. Responses are presented as is, and in an unbiased manner.

 

Sadly, voting day is now upon us and only 6 candidates out of 16 have responded to this offer of free publicity. Those that have responded have made a stirling effort…thank you for that. The only party who’s candidates have not responded at all are the Conservatives, a pretty poor show. With wall-to-wall coverage of Mr Shapps this week in local and national media, perhaps they are relying on his popularity to see them through. It is hoped that voters in Welwyn Hatfield will vote on the basis of their candidate’s merits, and not on the popularity of MP’s or others, who do not act as ward constituency representatives.

Important!

Candidates from all parties are encouraged to participate in this free and fair platform, send in your statements and they will be posted here within hours, or sooner!

Election results will appear on this page as soon as possible after they are released.

Here’s how things stack up…

 

Current Seats Seats Up For Grabs
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Con 37
Lab 9
Lib Dem 2
Con 11
Lab 4
Lib Dem 1

 

Questions posed to candidates:

1)      What motivates you to stand as councillor?
2)      What local issues most concern you in Welwyn Hatfield and your ward?
3)      Are you against or in favour of the New Barnfield Incinerator?
4)      What do you think should happen to the Former Shredded Wheat site?

 

Candidate responses so far:

Only six responses have been forthcoming so far, they can be read in order of arrival below:

  1.  Jill Weston (Green, Howlands)

  2.  Sandra Kiriakides (Independent, Welwyn West)

  3. Craig Huteson-Stewart (TUSC, Hatfield East)

  4. Kieran Thorpe (Labour, Hatfield South)

  5. Simon Archer (Lib Dem, Hatfield South)

  6. Ian Nendick (Green, Handside WGC)

 

Hopefully a few more will take the opportunity, why wouldn’t they? Traffic to this site has spiked in recent days.

There are always ‘paper candidates’ at local elections, those who are fairly certain they can’t win, before they even start. They are put up by their parties presumably as a tactical measure of some sort, many run virtually no campaign at all. All very odd!

Turnout is traditionally low,  see the graphic below. But we can buck the trend can’t we?

Welwyn Hatfield election turnout

Candiate responses in order received:


Response from Jill Weston on 22nd April.

Jill is a Green Party candidate for Howlands Ward in WGC, she writes:

Q: What motivates you to stand as a councillor?

A:  As a Green Party councillor I would want to improve people’s lives by listening to what they need or want and then working to put these requirements in place. I would also want to improve the quality of both our town centres and our local communities by ensuring these are properly developed and cared for, using new legislation such as the Localism Act 2011.

I strongly agree with the following statement which is on the welwynhatfield.co.uk website:

“Welwyn Hatfield residents deserve strong representation at the borough council level.  With new legislation such as the Localism Act 2011 communities should have a bigger say in community developments that will affect them. Councillors are the conduit for this; effective and representative councillors can make a big difference to the quality of our towns and communities.”

Q: What local issues most concern you in Welwyn Hatfield and your ward?

A: In Welwyn Hatfield, the obvious issue to be most concerned about is the proposed incinerator at New Barnfield, which I have opposed at every opportunity. Improved recycling and green technology can deal with our waste in a cheaper, cleaner and more sustainable way, without harming the lives of local people and their children, and protecting the local wildlife. Kerbside recycling could be further improved, to include those living in flats and to encourage people who don’t participate to do so. I would like to see council housing built on carefully chosen brownfield sites to help relieve the huge housing need that has built up in our borough. I would want to see a continuation of the policy of tree-replacement when trees are felled. I would want to see more support for local shops and empty shops re-opened.

In my ward, I would like to see properly funded support for youth activities. There should be proper parking provision, to prevent people parking on grass verges. Flower-beds and shrub-beds should be better maintained, to the standard we see in the town centre. Hall Grove shops should be better maintained. A watchful eye should be kept on the severely downsized QEII Hospital to see that the best service possible is provided.

Q: Are you against or in favour of the New Barnfield Incinerator proposal?

A: Against – please see answer above.

Q:  What development do you think should happen at the Former Shredded Wheat site?

A:  An arts and community centre – art gallery, music/performance space for bands of all kinds, coffee bar and meeting space, internet cafe, advice centre for young people, paid workers acting as co-ordinators and ’connectors’ of people. Everything FREE. Could be part-sponsored by one of our large, local companies or through grants.

Thank you Jill.

______________________________________________________________

 

Response from Sandra Kyriakides, independent candiate for Welwyn West, on the 22nd April.

Sandra writes:

ABOUT ME:  I live in Welwyn village.  I am 67 years young, a doting grandmother, and an active member of the community.  My work career started in foreign news at the BBC, took me to the UN in the USA where I worked for the World Bank and the IMF and ended with 23 years at The Purcell School in Bushey.  Since my retirement I have devoted my time to work with charities, my family, and golf!

 

WHY I AM STANDING FOR ELECTION:  My association with Welwyn village spans 30 years and I am passionate about keeping it at its best: beautiful, vibrant, traditional, rural, atmospheric and community-led, with thriving local businesses to support it.  I am motivated to stand as a councillor for Welwyn West because of the lack of transparency in WHBC’s dealings with our Parish.  The interests in preserving a village community and environment have taken second place to those of making money; actions which fly in the face of current government policy.  Important matters, such as housing development, planning, infrastructure and the preservation of the Green Belt need constant monitoring.  If elected, I intend to be the eyes and ears of Welwyn and to ensure that its Parish Council is properly consulted from now on.

I care deeply about the village in which I reside and feel that it has no representation on the WHBC. If elected, I will do my utmost to protect Welwyn from any proposals that are not beneficial to the community.  Since canvassing the ward, I have been made aware of many issues that have not been addressed by WHBC and will do my best to get some positive action on these matters.

 

THE NEW BARNFIELD INCINERATOR:  Almost 6000 residents throughout the county have objected to the siting of a polluting incinerator within an established community.  It would create constant heavy traffic, in addition to destroying a large area of our Green Belt and wild-life.  The appalling solution to the fact that a school is next to the proposed site is to move the school!  Do the plans include rehousing the residents in the surrounding area also?  In our modern era of advanced technology, surely there must be an alternative to building an incinerator?  Are Veolia’s plans primarily for the benefit of themselves and their shareholders?  If they refuse to consider the wishes of the community and not look for alternatives, whilst holding the County Council to ransom over clauses in the contract, are they not showing their true colours as a company?  As a prospective councillor, not yet elected, my views probably count for little.  But my heart goes out to the residents who are living under the threat of this development and I hope that central government can be persuaded to intervene.

 

LOCAL ISSUES which concern me most are that the WHBC has been less than transparent in its dealings with Welwyn Village, both with residents and the Parish Council.  As I am a resident of this village, and care deeply about its future, I am concerned that there is a total lack of empathy with the ethos and lifestyle that exists in Welwyn.  Recent proposals by WHBC, particularly concerning parking, have shown that their primary interest is to extract as much money as possible from the village, regardless of the future impact the proposals would have on the businesses and economy of the community.  The current government policy (see Eric Pickles’ proposals) on preservation of rural communities and High Streets do not appear to have been taken on board by WHBC.

THE FORMER SHREDDED WHEAT SITE:  I feel strongly that we have more than enough department stores and supermarkets in the area.  Any new development should be for the benefit of the community on a social and recreational level, for all age groups.  Ideally, something that will bring the community together.  I appreciate that with the cuts in Borough Council spending this is unlikely to be a project fully funded by them, but perhaps local businesses could be persuaded to become involved in co-sponsorship of the development.

For questions or support, contact me:

07802 725423 or sandra.kyriakides@gmail.com

Thanks to Sandra.

_______________________________________________________________

 

 

Response from Craig Huteson-Stewart, Trade Unionists & Socialists against Cuts, candiate for Hatfield East,  received on the 23rd April.

Craig writes:

We are proud to be in the campaign of Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) throughout the country in building a clear electoral alternative against all the cuts in jobs and services. Hence providing an electoral voice for those who have been disenfranchised by the mainstream political parties who are offering no alternatives apart from vicious cuts and making the ordinary working people & students to pay for the financial crisis inherent within the capitalist system supported by the neoliberal policies of all the three main political parties.

The TUSC manifesto for the 2012 local elections
Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions – we reject the claim that ‘some cuts’ are necessary to our services.
Reverse the cuts that have already taken place. We need all our council services back and the services like street lights, public libraries, rubbish collections etc., should be further improved to fulfil the requirements of the local communities.
Reject increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.
Vote against the privatisation of council jobs and services, or the transfer of council services to ‘social enterprises’ or ‘arms-length’ management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation.Use all the legal powers available to councils, including powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations, to oppose both the cuts and government polices which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies.
When faced with government cuts to council funding, councils should refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing them on – while arguing that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that the government makes up the shortfall.
In Welwyn Hatfield, along with all the above mentioned programs, we will utilise this election campaign to continue our protest against the downgrading of the QEII hospital services, to support the anti-incinerator campaign and to put forward a clear democratic socialist alternative to this miserable capitalist system which is all about a tiny minority of individuals accumulating wealth by exploiting the jobs, services & standard of living of the vast majority of people.

Kindly join and support us in the process of building a true alternative.

 

Thank you Craig.

_______________________________________________________________

 

 

Response from Kieran Thorpe, Labour party candidate for Hatfield South. Received on the 23rd April.

Kieran writes:

1) What motivates you to stand as councillor?

Having lived in Hatfield all my life with all of my close family living here, I was appalled in 2008 when it was announced the Town Centre regeneration had faltered again, and was incensed that this information came out late on polling day. I just couldn’t believe the way this information was kept secret until it could be conveniently leaked out after most people had already voted.
Attending a public meeting soon after this event, I spoke out about the neglect Hatfield has suffered in recent years, and with others, helped form ‘Action Hatfield’, a group that successfully fought for interim works in the Town Centre.
From this point I started to take more interest into how our Council operates, and realised that what it says and what it does are often two different things. In 2009 I stood in a by election in South Hatfield, during the expenses scandal, and managed to win even though I was told by Conservative and Lib Dem Councillors that I had “no-chance”. Since then it’s been a rollercoaster ride of non-stop campaigning, listening to residents, and fighting the council every step of the way on the majority of disastrous policies they have introduced.
Overall, what motivates me is the ongoing fight for social justice, the often shambolic approach the council takes to democracy, and the knowledge that the Town I love needs a strong voice to stand up for it, and residents need a representative who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.
Every year I read the election leaflets of the other parties, and realise just how easy it is for them to say “I’m fighting plans for an incinerator” or “I will serve residents” and yet I know that they do neither. This is what spurs me on, the knowledge that there are many others who would take my place and do nothing for Hatfield.

2) What local issues most concern you in Welwyn Hatfield and your ward?

Obviously, the biggest threat to my own ward is the Incinerator, but I’ll talk about that below. As I stated at the time it was announced, against my wishes, the fortnightly collection scheme causes many issues in South Hatfield. All too often collections are missed, or problems crop out that are beyond the control of residents, leading to bins not being collected. Regardless, it is they who suffer, and have to fight the council tooth and nail just to get the most basic levels of service that they should be entitled to expect in return for their council tax. This goes for all locally delivered services contracted out by the council actually, and if I were ever in the position to do so, I would hold an urgent review of each outsourced service, looking not solely at profit, but service delivered to residents. It’s great that people like Cllr Dean Archer organises residents to clear litter in Hatfield, or we can help clear graffiti from the wall and subways, but the council should be ashamed that in these tough times, they take tax from residents, and then expect them to cover the increasing gaps in service.
For Welwyn Hatfield overall, I’m very concerned about the selloff of our council housing under the re-launched right to buy scheme. Our council are borrowing over £300m to subsidise other areas of the country, and will gradually pay this off over time with the receipts raised from rent profits – currently around £16m per year, which currently goes to central government. How are we going to be able to pay this huge sum off if with a diminished housing stock to take rents from?
Leaving the financial implications to one side, council housing for me is the bedrock of a sustainable society, it allows subsequent generations to stay close to their families, building strong communities. The mass privatisation of council housing that has been ongoing since the 80’s has seen private landlords take over, an influx of commuter professionals and students taking up homes designed for families, while families struggle in tower blocks and flats without gardens. This is bad for children, community cohesion and also our schools, who without the steady supply of children, have been closed down, leading to those who are left having to travel further.

3) Are you against or in favour of the New Barnfield Incinerator proposal?

I am against the proposed Incinerator, and unlike the Conservative Party I am against an incinerator being built anywhere. Rather than simply say “I’m fighting the incinerator” which all candidates say without much foundation, I will state what I’ve actually done to fight these terrible proposals.
In 2009, I helped organise and spoke at a number of public meetings to draw public awareness of what was happening, while the Conservative County Council were still saying they might not choose an incinerator and might not choose Hatfield. When they refused to come to Hatfield to face residents, I went to Welwyn Garden City and told them their plans were abhorrent, because they were talking about tearing down a former secondary school, then a fantastic resource library, and building a waste burner next door to a special needs school.

By this time, we had formed an action group, Hatfield Against Incineration (HAI), which I am the vice chair of. HAI has worked hard to organise many public meetings, most of which I’ve spoken at, and petitions, and has made sure that residents were aware of how to respond to consultations and make sure their views were heard.

I put forward a motion at the Borough council calling for us to oppose the Incinerator entirely and to take steps to support the campaign against it. I was pleased to see this passed by all those present, and the council have been good to their word, donating 20k to the trust set up for the legal battle that will soon take place.

Most recently, I was proud to have organised, alongside residents and other HAI members, the march from South Hatfield to Hatfield Town Centre. It was one of the proudest days of my life to see Hatfield come together and send a clear message to the County Council that their plans were deeply flawed and they need to realise the level of opposition they face.

4) What development do you think should happen at the Former Shredded Wheat site?

This is an issue of increasing importance to me as I now work in a building adjacent to the site itself and walk past it every day. It’s important to understand the land in question is owned ultimately, by Tesco, and they have a history of ‘land banking’ areas, and where they do not get their way as in this case, they simply ‘sit on’ their investment until the local authority crumbles and lets them proceed with what they want, normally an unnecessary superstore. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen, and I call on the government to pass legislation that stops huge corporations carrying out this most undemocratic of practices. So the question itself is speculative, because without Tesco’s agreement as landowners, nothing can go forward, and anyone speculating what they would do is doing just that.

Putting that to one side, in theory, I would hold a large consultation ‘charrette’ process with the local public and businesses to see what ideas they had for the site, and what they felt was needed for the future of this area in Welwyn Garden City. This can be incredibly useful to ensure the needs of the community are met, and the charrette is extremely empowering to all as they see how their ideas are combined into the overall plan that eventually comes from this process. This is the best way to ensure that local residents get the development they want and to me, that is more important than what can make a short term impact on the council’s finances. As a council we should at all times seek to serve need, not greed.

 Thank you Kieran.
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Response from Simon Archer, Liberal Democrate candidate for Hatfield South. Received on the 23rd April.

 

Simon writes:
I am Simon John Archer aged 60, and I am standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hatfield South. I have lived in South Hatfield since 1978. I am currently Chairman of Hatfield Against Incineration and have been campaigning for several years against the New Barnfield incinerator. I work for Arriva the Shires (bus operator) as their Registration and Compliance Officer and can often be seen checking the punctuality standards of buses in Hatfield and WGC.
Thank  you Simon.
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Response from Ian Nendick, Green Party candidate for Handside, WGC. Received on the 28th April.

Ian writes:

Q: What motivates you to stand as a councillor?

I believe that there should be representation for those persons who want there to be more consideration of environmental and social issues by the council.  At present these issues form a small part of the considerations of parties which have other axes to grind. This often appears to mean little more than attacking each other.

The first past the post system of election favours established parties.  This effectively disenfranchises people with other viewpoints.  The only reasonable way to alter this situation is to work within the present system and that starts with standing for election at a local level.

I am standing at the invitation of the local Green Party because I have previously been frustrated in the past at the lack of a Green Party candidate to vote for in local elections. Although the Green Party accords most closely with my own views compared to the other parties available I am not tremendously happy with the party system as a whole so this is a welcome opportunity to express my views on matters of interest to voters.

Q: What local issues most concern you in Welwyn Hatfield and your ward?

I am fortunate to live in an area which has few serious problems.  Handside has a wealth of trees and open spaces which need continuous protection.  As a frequent cyclist and father of relatively young children another issue that interests me is traffic and parking.  Sensible planning decisions are a large part of the Council’s impact upon the area and are key to both of these matters.

The Council’s recycling strategy is welcome although I would very much like it to be extended to commercial premises such as the Gosling Sports Park as well.

Q: Are you against or in favour of the New Barnfield Incinerator proposal?

I am against this proposal.  I am sure that the vast majority of people standing for election in this borough will be against the proposal so this will not be surprising.  Most are opposed to this scheme because of the particular circumstances which involve moving a school and building the facility close to areas where a lot of people live.  The Green Party are also opposed to incineration as a way of dealing with waste in general.  It is polluting and diverts attention from the focus which should be on increasing recycling and reducing waste.

Q:  What development do you think should happen at the Former Shredded Wheat site?

This is going to depend upon who can be found to develop it.  In an ideal world it would be a community centre or something similar but it is not practical to suggest this can be conjured up out of nowhere.

Thanks Ian.

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=147

Apr 08

Major site reworking…

The Howard Centre entrance

The old site has been put to bed, long live the new site.

This site aims to be a new local resource that will promote local involvement in local matters. Participation, inclusiveness and transparency are recurring themes in our coalition government. They are being pushed down to the local authority level, but how well they are acted out locally remains to be seen.  In addition, local services and the way they are delivered is changing, health and social care being a prime example.

This site will attempt to be a ‘signposting’ resource that will have various links and pointers to useful sources of information, as well as acting to foster debate on these important matters for us residents of Welwyn and Hatfield. Both Welwyn and Hatfield face challenges in the current climate, but they are not always the same. This site intends to give equal weight to both towns, and help to get information out there that will benefit all residents. Whether you live in Northdown Road or Heronswood Road hopefully you will find something useful on this site.

More content will appear on these page in coming weeks.

Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=1

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