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Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats

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Rail Fares Up; Service Still Down

London-bound service at HatfieldNews that rail fares will rise by 3% at local stations is massive blow to passengers, and also to the reputation of MP Grant Shapps who vowed to stop the rise. "Even a government without a majority feels able to snub the MP and other more vocal Herts MPs who wrote together to oppose any rise" says local LibDem council group leader Malcolm Cowan, who is also chair of the WGC rail user group. "The Department for Transport set the fares for rail operator Govia. Chris Grayling, as Transport Minister must have signed off these ludicrous fare rises. If Grant is serious, he must demand Grayling's resignation."

"The new rail timetable to operate from 9 December continues to provide a sub-standard service far worse than before the so-called upgrade in May that had to be withdrawn after the chaos of cancellations. So we are being made to pay more for less. LibDems demand better."

At Tuesday's Full Council meeting at of Herts County Council, Nigel Quinton, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Handside and Peartree, put the Leader of the Council on the spot over the continued failure of the rail companies to respond to representations from the Council and from Rail User Groups. According to Nigel "The County Council seem oblivious to the appalling lack of response on our line and the continued inadequacy of the service - LibDems demand better and I was pleased to note that the Leader undertook to look again at what they could do to bring pressure to bear on GTR. It was very notable that lots of reference was made to an MP towards the west of the County, where services are much better, and none at all to our absentee MP Grant Shapps."

Malcolm is also looking for rail users to work with him and other travellers to build the case for a rewrite of the timetable that more closely meets our needs. Please use our Feedback Form to get in touch.


Local hospital trust misses targets yet again - why?

New QE2 Hospital, Welwyn Garden CityFigures just secured by the BBC show the local North and East Herts Hospitals Trust missing 2 out of its 3 main targets, and not even providing data for the third.

On seeing patients in A and E within 4 hours, it hasn't hit the target for over 3 years. For cancer care treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral, it is 8th worst in the UK out of 131 trusts, having not hit its target since April 2015. For planed operations and care, it has failed to provide any data, as was the case earlier in the year.

Yet nearby Luton and Dunstable, drawing its staff from a similar catchment area, results are very different: On A and E, it is top throughout the country (and well above targe), on cancer care it is well above average and above target, and on planned operations and care it is above average though slightly below target.

The data for mental health care, which is organised by the local Clinical Commissioning Group not the hospital trusts, the results are even worse, Welwyn Hatfield at number 188 out of 195, whereas the one covering Luton and Dunstable is number 56.

Malcolm Cowan, Liberal Democrat group leader who revealed the figures said "This should be a massive wakeup call for everyone involved, yet it repeats results seen previously. Quite how an organisation can fail to provide results is beyond me, and the ones they have published are very poor.

"It mirrors the complaints I get from my constituents and in some cases, my own experience. And while the NHS is badly underfunded, some trusts such as Luton and Dunstable seem able to deliver much better results.

"If this was a school, they would be in special measure with the head having left. But in the NHS, while there is inspection, there is no democratic voice so that councillors or MPs can force change, they are largely a law unto themselves. Something must change, and soon."


Depot out of Service

Letter to Welwyn Hatfield Times


Dear Sir or madam,

Residents of Peartree Lane with the threat of a bus servicing depot being built at the bottom of their gardens are jubilant after a planning inspector threw out an appeal against the refusal by Welwyn Hatfield council.

Applicants Welham Travel saw their application recommended for approval by council officers, but after I as ward councillor plus local residents spoke out against it at a planning meeting In January this year, councillors threw the application out.

The applicants then raised an appeal to an inspector at the last possible moment. The local residents association strongly objected to the proposal and I also wrote to the inspector explaining why the application should be rejected and finally the inspector announced he agreed and the application was rejected.

It was very disappointing to see the council planning officer recommending approval, but I and residents were determined to fight it and our stance has been justified. It shows a well organised and argued campaign can win. Peartree residents can look forward to sleeping more easily as a result of this.

Jayne Ranshaw, one of the local residents who fought this said "This proposal was wholly unsuitable in a residential area. We are delighted that the inspector upheld the councillors' decision and rejected the application".

Malcolm Cowan
Liberal Democrat Councillor


Christina Raven Selected as Liberal Democrat Candidate for Welwyn West

Christina Raven, LidDem Candidate for Welwyn WestThe Liberal Democrats have chosen Christina Raven as their candidate for the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council by-election in Welwyn West ward set for 29th November. An osteopath who practises in Welwyn, Hitchin and SE London, Christina grew up in Digswell and returned in 2007 to live in Old Welwyn.

Christina explained why she is standing: "My earliest memories are rooted in this community, and I've made Welwyn my home for more than a decade. I love this community, and want to contribute to both preserving what is best about it, and also making it better.

"There are so many things about this area that are special, but we are also facing a number of challenges that could do irreparable harm. Too often in the past decisions have been made at the Borough Council level that ignored the views of our residents and of our Parish Council. Decisions should be made at the most local level possible, not from the top down.

"I believe Welwyn, along with Wilshere Park, Oaklands West and the Ayots, needs someone who will fight for the needs of our community, rather than toeing the party line. I hope to have the opportunity to be a champion for our area as the next Councillor for Welwyn West."


"Incapacitated" Service

Letter to Welwyn Hatfield Times


Dear Sir,

Your feature last week on the new Moorgate trains repeated the boast from Govia that they have '27% more capacity'. However that is only achieved by having fewer seats and more space for enforced standing.

100 fewer seats than the old trains they are replacing. Is that progress? Is that what someone travelling on a train for up to 45 minutes wants? And still no loos on them.

Another train specified by the government rather than the train operator, like the uncomfortable outer-suburban class 700s.

Meanwhile we struggle on with just half the off-peak trains scheduled to run. How much longer will this continue? Every week I get a report from Govia telling me what a great job they are doing and that they are running more trains then before the May debacle - well not here in Welwyn Hatfield, we have less.

And now we face ever-higher fares for this appalling service. Rail minister Jo Johnson, taking instructions from his boss Failing Grayling, says we don't deserve even a one-year freeze. Beyond belief.

Malcolm Cowan
Liberal Democrat Councillor


Parking Problem Parked Again

No parking on vergeA decision on controversial parking changes in Parkway Close was postponed again last week due to the overwhelming opposition of local residents. LibDem group leader Malcolm Cowan who spoke up at the meeting said 'I cannot understand why the council seems determined to force through something against such strong opposition of those affected. The council normally does everything it can to work by consensus on parking and this usually works. Yet here, not only are residents set to lose parking spaces, their petition against was snubbed by the council to such an extent, members of the Parking Panel were not even made aware of it.

'This is poor at so many levels'

County councillor Nigel Quinton (Lib Dem) says 'There can be no excuse, and no hiding place, for the way the County Council has behaved in recent weeks. Assurances I have been given repeatedly have been shown to be false. I am taking this up at the highest level.'


Liberal Democrats Applaud PCC's Withdrawal of Hostile Takeover of Fire Service

Sustained Opposition Forces Re-Think

Hands off our Fire service!

In a joint announcement issued today with Herts County Council, Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd agreed to abandon his proposal to take control of the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, leaving the service under the governance of the County Council.

Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat Councillor and Opposition Spokesperson for Fire Service, Barbara Gibson said "This is long overdue, but very good news. How much time and money has been wasted by the PCC trying to railroad through his empire-building plan in spite of unanimous opposition from every county councillor, including those in the PCC's own party. In addition, most district councils have passed Motions opposing the move.

"The takeover bid should never have been submitted. Our sustained campaigning on this issue has saved the Fire Service from being asset-stripped and weakened. Lib Dems will continue to fight to put community safety first."


If at first you fail, try, try again

"That seems to be the motto for Wetherspoons at 22 Parkway" says LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan. "While it is smaller than the 2 previous attempts which were turned down unanimously by the Development Management Committee, much of the harm that was identified then continues. And how disappointing that they have chosen to reveal their plans during the summer holidays when so many people are away."

Site of proposed Wetherspoons on Parkway, Welwyn Garden City

"It still has no parking either for customers or deliveries - Parkway will again bear the brunt; it is still fails to conform to the zoning for office-type use and it still looks like a large bar is the main feature. This is a pub by any other name. Yet there are far more suitable sites within the town centre - why don't Wetherspoons go for one of these?

"The plans Wetherspoons have submitted show the bedrooms are so small that the bed would be up against a wall in most rooms - hardly likely to attract many customers beyond the stag night crowd, and the worry is the hotel use will be dropped after a short while and Wetherspoons desire for a mega boozer will come about.

"You only have to look at the state of the building and grounds now to see the company cares not one bit for local opinion or sensitivity to the surroundings. Owner Tim Martin has repeatedly failed to reply to letters to him, showing his lack of interest in the town, just a desire to make a fast buck and let us face the consequences."