Welhat waste and litter problems escalate

Local Liberal Democrats are angry about the local council's failure to empty recycling banks and are demanding improvements.

The large paper, plastic, glass and can banks have been full and overflowing for around a fortnight and are not being emptied. The council have admitted the company they use has just one lorry which is off the road. "It is astonishing that the council is dependent on such a small operation - did they know about this when the contract was signed, and why is there no backup?" asked LibDem councillor Malcolm Cowan. "This seems to be taking cost-cutting to ludicrous lengths. The photos attached show the situation at several bins across WGC.

There was a similar situation of all the paper banks being full across the district 2 years ago - I hoped the council had learned the lessons - clearly not."

Malcolm surveyed most of the recycling locations in WGC last Thursday following complaints and the results are "truly shocking" he says, with most having a lot of litter around as well:

  • Moors Walk (Panshanger) - all 8 bins full and overflowing
  • Morrisons (Blackfan Rd) - all 8 bins full and overflowing
  • Woodhall - all 7 bins full and overflowing, with dozens of bottles lying round
  • Church Rd - both paper bins, glass overflowing, and much broken glass lying round
  • Haldens - brown and clear glass overflowing
  • Shoplands - plastics overflowing
  • Hall Grove - plastics and paper overflowing
  • Hollybush - paper bank overflowing
Overflowing Recycling Bins: WoodhallWoodhall
Overflowing Recycling Bins: ShoplandsShoplands
Overflowing Recycling Bins: Blackfan RoadBlackfan Road
Overflowing Recycling Bins: Moors WalkMoors Walk
Overflowing Recycling Bins: Church RoadChurch Road


No progress on Splashlands as meeting is ended after 14 minutes

The empty and barely-used High Ropes course at Stanborough ParkLiberal Democrats are frustrated at the lack of progress on a new Splashlands after a long-awaited meeting was ended after 14 minutes with no report to consider.

"We have waited years for something to replace the long-lost swimming pool at Stanborough and we keep getting promises" said group leader, councillor Malcolm Cowan. "It is 2 years since I went to a meeting to narrow down future features to accompany the childrens' splash area, but it appears no progress has been made. Last week, the Splashlands Procurement Board met, but the meeting was ended without a report to consider; it is now postponed, probably to late September.

"To call this progess snail-like is an insult to snails. The council seems to lack any appetite to actually deliver anything, not even a better cafe. Maybe the fact that the High Ropes, long touted as the way to make money to fund the splash area is actually forecast to make a loss, has shaken them so much that no-one is willing to put their name to anything. It is desperately disappointing. Another promising summer will drift pass with nothing to show. A lady told me recently there is nothing to make her bring her family to Stanborough - how sad is that? We remember when it was heaving with visitors from a wide area" he added.


Take the first step

Nigel Quinton backs Welwyn and Hatfield's community pharmacies

Nigela Quinton and Pharmacist Sarah GaynorNigel Quinton, the Liberal Democrats candidate for Welwyn and Hatfield, pledged his support for Johns and Kelynack Pharmacy and other pharmacies in Welwyn and Hatfield following an election campaign visit.

Nigel met pharmacist Sarah Gaynor and her team to see how community pharmacies are easing the pressure on the NHS by freeing up time for GPs and Accident and Emergency departments. Johns and Kelynack Pharmacy provides advice and support for local patients to help them to get the most benefit from their medicines and to lead healthy lives. It also offers services for people with long-term conditions, including ordering repeat prescriptions, medication reviews and free medicine deliveries.

Nigel said: "I'm proud to be backing pharmacies like Johns and Kelynack in this election. The people of Welwyn and Hatfield deserve the best NHS healthcare and we can only fix the problems we face with the pressure on the NHS by making the most of community pharmacy. Our manifesto says that we will ensure that any changes to the way pharmacies are funded do not leave local areas without reasonable access to a community pharmacist."

Sarah said: "Community pharmacy is a great and accessible way to find healthcare advice and support. We are the experts on the use of medicines and should be the first port of call if you are feeling unwell."

Local pharmacists and their teams are a key part of your neighbourhood health service. Community pharmacies provide a range of NHS services, ensure people can get face-to-face care without an appointment and take pressure off GPs and hospitals.

With consistent support from government, community pharmacists can do much more to:

  • Take pressure off GPs and hospitals
  • Make access to NHS care more convenient
  • Help people with long-term conditions
  • Promote public health services
  • Get better value from medicines
  • Save the NHS money

That is why we are asking candidates in the coming General Election to show their support for pharmacy.



£56 million investment in Hertfordshire schools

The Liberal Democrats have announced they will invest £55.8 million more in schools and colleges in Hertfordshire over the next parliament as local schools face serious cuts under Conservative plans.

The funding would reverse cuts to frontline school and college budgets, protect per pupil funding in real terms and ensure no school loses out from changes to funding arrangements.

£6.3 million of the £56 million funding would be spent on protecting the Pupil Premium, introduced by the Liberal Democrats to help the most disadvantaged children.

Nigel Quinton, LibDem Parliamentary Candidate in Welwyn Hatfield, said:

"In what is fast becoming a local and indeed national scandal, Headteachers across our area are being driven to write to parents alerting them to the state of school funding.

"We have seen letters from at least four of our local secondary schools pointing out that they simply won't be able to continue to offer the level of support for pupils that they would like. They report a 35-45% cut per pupil since 2012, despite costs rising due to unwanted changes in the courses for GCSE and A-levels forced on them by Mr Gove.

"Under the Conservatives, funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation, while billions of pounds are being spent on divisive plans to expand grammars and free schools.

"This extra £56M of funding in Hertfordshire would ensure no school and no child loses out."

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

"A landslide for the Conservatives would allow Theresa May to take parents across the country for granted and cut our schools to the bone.

"We will reverse crippling Conservative cuts to school budgets and invest to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.

"Vote for the Liberal Democrats and you can change Britain's future."


Lib Dems penny for NHS would raise £126.6million extra for Hertfordshire

The Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign.

The tax would raise an additional £126.6million for Hertforedshire, with £82million for the NHS and £44.6million for social care each year.

This is the party's flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats manifesto will also set out a 'five-point recovery plan' for NHS and social care services in their manifesto.

At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra 1p in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, an ITV poll found last October (link).

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Nigel Quinton said:

"Having attended today my first briefing as a new County Councillor it is clear just how much the additional funding for social care especially is needed. Right now in Hertfordshire we are seeing urgent operations being cancelled and the elderly being denied the care they need, and beds being blocked due to the lack of community and social care available.

"The Liberal Democrats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all, especially those who can afford it most, need to chip in a little more.

"A penny in the pound would allow us to invest in improving local NHS services and ensuring the elderly receive the care they deserve.

"This Conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded - and while the crisis gets worse they just don't seem to care.

"We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more, without giving it the resources to do so."

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:

"The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.

"A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.

"But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that's why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term."


Lib Dems to give £770 boost to 17,170 pensioners in Welwyn Hatfield

17,170 pensioners living in Welwyn Hatfield will receive at least an extra £772 per year under Liberal Democrat manifesto plans to protect the 'triple lock' for state pensions.

Thanks to the triple lock guarantee, secured by the Liberal Democrats when they were in government, the basic state pension has risen in each year by whichever is the higher of earnings, prices or a rate of 2.5%. However, the Conservatives have refused to guarantee whether the triple lock will continue, raising fears it could be scrapped.

The Liberal Democrats have committed today to keeping the triple lock, meaning the state pension would be worth at least £137.15 a week by 2021, up from £122.30 in 2017, or an extra £772 a year.

This would be paid for in part by restricting perks such as the winter fuel allowance so they are no longer paid to the wealthiest pensioners.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Nigel Quinton said:

"Protecting the triple lock will mean an extra £772 a year by 2021 for the 17,170 people receiving the state pension in this constituency.

"The Liberal Democrats are making a clear commitment to older people in Welwyn Hatfield, unlike the Conservatives who have repeatedly refused to give this guarantee.

"The triple lock has succeeded in lifting thousands of pensioners out of poverty, but many are still struggling to get by.

"An important test of a civilised society is the way in which it cares for the elderly. This commitment will ensure older people are able to meet their basic needs and that their living standards will be protected, especially with prices set to rise in the coming years."


Great result for Welwyn Hatfield Lib Dems

Another fantastic Election Day for Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats saw them gain a third County seat, come within 50 votes of smashing the Conservative grip on Panshanger Ward in the By-Election, and beat Labour into third place overall, both in number of seats and in the popular vote.

Victorious Hertfordshire County Council Lib Dems Barbara Gibson, Paul Zukowskyj and Nigel Quinton


Another office to become housing - without planning consent

54 flats are to be created from an office building in the middle of the Peartree industrial area under the government's controversial policy of allowing conversion of offices without consent. Meanwhile the council does nothing to stop it.

Lib Dem councillor Rachel Basch, who sits on the council's Development Management committee objects.

"WGC of all places is supposed to be planned, with different zones for housing, offices, industrial etc. This flies in the face of that. I am not able to see the detail such as what it will look like, because it is thought to have deemed consent to convert. Nor am I or any other councillor allowed to comment, such as only planning 21 parking spaces for 54 flats. It is a totally unsuitable place for families, next to a warehouse and a plant hire company, for example, with no play or amenity space.

"And there will be no money towards education, traffic infrastructure, leisure or anything else. A licence to print money. And if it keeps going on, the council will have to create new employment areas in the Green Belt to make up for those lost in the town - what a nonsense" she says.

Yet the council could pass what is called an "Article 4" direction so that in future, consent would be needed from the council. "Yet again, they talk but don't act. The idea has been kicking around for several years - what we need is action now" says Rachel.


Local schools face staff cuts

In what is fast becoming a local and indeed national scandal, Headteachers across our area are being driven to write to parents alerting them to the state of school funding.

We have seen letters from at least four of our local secondary schools pointing out that they simply won't be able to continue to offer the level of support for pupils that they would like.

They report a 35-45% cut per pupil since 2012, despite costs rising due to unwanted changes in the courses for GCSE and A-levels forced on them by Mr Gove.

There is no doubt that, unless the Government increases funding, schools will face no choice but to reduce staff, and to increase class sizes - at a time when we all know we face a skills crisis in this country.

Nigel Quinton with copies of letters from three local headteachers
Nigel Quinton with copies of letters from three local headteachers


Take the first step

Lib Dem candidate Nigel Quinton welcomes chance to fight for a better Britain

Nigel Quinton - Candidate for Welwyn HatfieldAs previously announced last September, Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats have local campaigner Nigel Quinton as the Liberal Democrat candidate for a snap general election. Now that Mrs May has announced her intention to hold an election on 8th June, and it looks as if Labour's turkeys will vote for Christmas, Nigel has this to say:

"First we have to call out the supreme cynicism of Mrs May calling this election now, driven entirely by considerations of party advantage. No commentator thinks that any of her stated reasons stand serious examination, and the hypocrisy of the woman who claimed to support Remain last year and is now wanting to fight as the Brexit champion is outrageous.

"However, as the fastest growing political party in the country, the Liberal Democrats welcome the challenge of campaigning against this government of unnecessary austerity who do not care for the disadvantaged or even the 'just about managing', but care only about securing political power at all costs.

"We need a government that works with the EU to secure the best possible solution, that reflects the desire of many in this country for a different relationship, but maintains membership of the Single Market, maintains membership of Euratom, the Erasmus educational links, Europol, and other European institutions that the government has no mandate to rip us apart from."

Nigel has a strong record of fighting for local people having served as a local Borough Councillor and he has campaigned on a number of local issues, including taking on a leading role in the Hospital SOS campaign as well as being involved in the fight against the Hatfield Incinerator.

The Liberal Democrats are in buoyant mood following a run of consistent by-election successes across the country. Membership has doubled since 2015 and now stands just below 90,000.

Read more about the Liberal Democrat vision for Britain...


Local Plan Forced Through by Tory Majority

Local Conservatives voted en masse to support the submission of their flawed Local Plan to Government inspectors at last week's Council Meeting. All opposition Councillors, Labour and LibDem, opposed the action, citing continued dissatisfaction with the lack of vision, and the lack of proper consultation by the Conservative elite.

Two questions from residents were heard, one from Will Davis of Panshanger People noting the huge number of submissions to the consultations that have been ignored by the Council, and one from Tom Darwall-Smith about the lack of due process in respect of the Symondshyde proposal. Both were treated to dismissive comments by the Executive Member Cllr Mandy Perkins that failed to answer the substantive points raised.

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Malcolm Cowan highlighted the lack of consideration of any alternatives by the Council, especially the proposal 10 years ago that we work with other Planning Authorities to build a new garden city in the north of Hertfordshire - "of course now they say there is insufficient time to do this, but what have they been doing for the last decade?" said Malcolm.

Commenting after the meeting Parliamentary candidate Nigel Quinton said:

"What I found most galling was the statement by one of the Tory Councillors that this was a challenge they did not want to have, that difficult decisions were required. What a terrible admission of failure!

"Having the opportunity to shape the future of our area is a privilege that many of us would love to lead. Sadly leadership in this sorry process has been totally lacking - just bullying by the Tory elite who have no time for anyone else's point of view.

"By failing to consult, to listen, to cooperate, and by relying completely on the developers and landowners to shape the alternatives, they have brought forward a plan that risks swamping our existing towns, whilst doing nothing for local infrastructure or preserving our environment.

"If they don't have the stomach for this they should resign and let someone else take over."


Campus West losses probe without the people who highlighted it

Welwyn Hatfield council have finally started a probe into the losses at Campus West, highlighted by the Liberal Democrats at budget time - but guess what, everyone but the Liberal Democrats are invited.

"One of our councillors asked if there was to be any investigation into the losses, and was told one had been set up, but hey guess what, we are not invited" said group leader Malcolm Cowan. They even had the cheek to call it "all-party' when it is just Tory and Labour."

LibDems spotlighted the continuing £200,000 per year loss at Humphreys café, and a further unallocated loss of around £1m.

"One might imagine they want to avoid further embarrassment by keeping us out. Just not good enough" added Malcolm. "A bit like putting on Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark".


Pressure from Libdems leads to increase Affordable Homes on Shredded Wheat site

Libdems vow to hold the Council and Spenhill to account on Phase 2

Nigel Quinton and Malcolm Cowan in front of Shredded Wheat development siteLast Thursday, 30th April, Welwyn Hatfield Council gave approval to Spenhill (the property arm of Tesco) to develop the old Shredded Wheat site next to the train station. In many ways this is a cause for celebration - the scheme is for high quality urban architecture in a strategic position in the town centre that will provide 850 new homes and will extend the retail and evening economies into Peartree Ward. The developer will also fund £4M of highways work and £3.5M towards educational needs, mostly towards a new, larger, Peartree School, which we very much welcome.

However, in one very important respect the scheme is hopelessly deficient. Only 50 of the 850 homes (less than 6%) are to be affordable homes, despite the Council's own policy that at least 30% of homes in this development should be affordable. That it was as many as 50 is only because pressure in the past week from our comments in the press has forced the issue. Only in the eleventh hour, on the day before approval, was the number of affordable homes increased from 35 to 50.

The developer was allowed to get away with this by convincing the Council that the scheme was 'not viable' if affordable housing was included. The committee accepted the advice of officers on this point, despite it being pointed out that the advice from the Council's own advisors, Colliers International, was that the scheme was viable with or without affordable housing. In fact the scheme is forecast to generate profits of at least £86M, and probably a lot more.

Nigel Quinton, who is standing for election in the County Division that includes the site, and who spoke to the committee last night to stress the case for more affordable housing, had this to say:

"Whilst I very much want this development to go ahead, it absolutely has to include 30% affordable homes, and I am disappointed that the Council has given in on this point when the case on viability has not been made. The additional 15 affordable homes announced at the meeting are welcome, but are not enough.

"The silver lining, and one that the Council and committee are clearly clinging to, is that the scheme has two phases, the first is for 350 homes, the second for 500, and Spenhill still need final approval for the second. At that stage they have to demonstrate the lack of viability all over again. If they cannot, then we believe that they would have to make the affordable component up to the full 30% of the total.

"We intend to make sure Spenhill, and the Council, do not shun their responsibility to provide the affordable homes our town so desperately needs.

"There are other issues that we will continue to press the Council to address - the lack of communication with Network Rail about the rail bridge and the potential impact of the new restaurants and bars on the remainder of the Town Centre economy. Also, while we welcome the inclusion of some community and leisure facilities in the scheme it is some way short of the Swimming Pool we had campaigned for and which was included in the Planning Guidance and which the Town still lacks - this site has the capacity to deliver huge profits for the developer, and the Council should be ensuring a greater amount of benefit to the community."


Terms of Shredded Wheat site deal come under fire

Shredded Wheat Factory WGCLeading Liberal Democrats are asking whether our Council was lost in action during the negotiations of the "deal" to develop the Shredded Wheat site.

Shockingly, despite a projected £86M profit, developers Spenhill are being told they only have to provide 35 units of affordable housing - just 4% of the total 850 being built. It is the stated policy of the Council that 30% of all new homes should be affordable. And the profits could well be much higher as the Council has failed to scrutinise the cost estimates.

"This has been a matter of contention between Spenhill and the council for a long period, but clearly the council has blinked first" said Cllr Malcolm Cowan, the Libdem group leader and councillor for Peartree Ward. "To lose up to 300 social homes is a major loss that cannot be put right later. The council's advisors have said the development is expected to yield at least £86 million profit overall, a huge sum. We suspect/believe that profits will be far greater, and the council's own report says the costs quoted appear high. The project should be contributing far more to our local economy."

The £2.4m contribution to a new Peartree school on a new site is again far short of what the county council need and will add to pressure on council tax bills. The NHS advice that the new housing will generate additional costs to the local NHS of £2.6M per year, but the developer are only offering a paltry sum of £450,000 towards health projects that are already completed or under way, so nothing for new services.

"There is also no guarantee that the footbridge to the rail station will be upgraded, which we have campaigned about for as long as I can remember. Spenhill are allocating £150,000 to this work, but there does not appear to be any agreement with Network Rail, who own the bridge, to actually carry out the work and in the timeframe needed."

Nigel Quinton, LibDem parliamentary candidate, says "We welcome the proposed development in its concept, and there is no doubt that it will enhance the town centre. But, there is also no doubt in my mind that the developer is taking our Council for a ride. It should be bringing forward a scheme in partnership with a social landlord or housing association and make a far greater financial contribution to the health services and other infrastructure required."

"Many will ask why it has taken the developer and the Council so long to bring this forward when the masterplanning for this site was done when I was a councillor 10 years ago. Those of you with long memories might recall that the masterplan included a swimming pool as part of the leisure facilities, a need which Sport England have also raised in their comments on the plan - WGC remains one of the largest towns in South East England without its own pool."


Take the first step