It has been a very long time since my last post in May 2016 and I sincerely apologise for this.
However, it was very important to me to re-establish myself within the Welwyn community before writing on my website. I wanted to have something worthwhile to say and to be able to report accurately on local issues, as well as letting you know in what way I am still working for you, albeit no longer as your Borough Councillor.
During the past 10 months, I have taken on three roles:
Local co-ordinator for Welwyn Neighbourhood Watch (OWL), together with providing administrative support for Welwyn Business Watch.
Member of the Welwyn Parish Plan Group – a project-led, non-political voluntary group which works to maintain the appeal and beauty of Welwyn and Digswell, as well as setting up community projects. Two examples of this are the Community Café, which meets in St Mary’s Church House on Tuesday mornings, and financial support towards the defibrillator outside Barclays Bank, and another which is scheduled to be installed at Welwyn North Station. It keeps a watch on proposed development and the Borough Council’s Local Plan.
Project Manager for the Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group, of which I am now a Committee Member.
The Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group (WPAG) is a Registered Charity, (No. 272277), based in Welwyn. It was formed in the 1960’s as an environmental lobby group, and is managed on behalf of its members by an elected committee of volunteers. The aim of this non-political organisation is twofold: (a) to encourage and coordinate public interest in all issues concerning Planning and Amenities in and around Welwyn and (b) to provide local residents with information on The Committee has two former Borough Councillors, one as its Chairman, and a former Parish Council Chairman, all of whom provide a wealth of experience and knowledge.
Planning: Two WPAG Committee have been members co-opted onto the Welwyn Parish Council Planning & Licensing Committee. WPAG monitors all proposed Planning Applications for their potential impact on the character of Welwyn, and the amenities enjoyed by its residents, working to maintain the continuing protection of the Welwyn Conservation Area.
Amenities: The WPAG takes an active interest in all aspects of life in and around Welwyn including community services, and recreational facilities. It encourages and supports the activities of local Clubs and Societies for whom WPAG publishes their news and programmes of events to its Welwyn Calendar, thereby providing useful information for visitors to its website.
My role as Project Manager of the Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group encompasses research and co-ordination of information directly relating to local issues.
As matters arise that are of concern to the Welwyn area, details will be posted on the WPAG website, together with a summary of queries and/or comments received from residents which relate to specific issues. I will also post updates giving information on progress, resolutions or the failure thereof. I would like to encourage residents to write to me at: www.wpag.org.uk
Current issues are:
Crime and Anti-social Behaviour
Parking and speeding offences
1. CRIME AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
Petty crime and anti-social behaviour are steadily on the increase and can be witnessed on more or less a daily basis. Local shops are experiencing frequent shoplifting by minors, there have been many incidences of abusive and unpleasant behaviour, particularly affecting the High Street businesses and houses in that area. The latest dangerous craze amongst young boys is riding bicycles on one wheel up the middle of the road into oncoming traffic or pedestrians!
The police have been made aware of what is going on. They urge residents to report to 101 each and every incident that takes place, no matter how minor. If it isn’t reported, it didn’t happen!
Please note: On WEDNESDAY 8th MARCH, between 14:00 and 16:00, The Community Safety Partnership will be visiting Welwyn. (High Street Car Park, or in the Civic Centre if weather bad). Crime advice, OWL signups and much more. This will be an opportunity to make the police aware of local concerns and it is therefore really important that as many people as possible come to this event.
NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: One of the most beneficial aspects of living in Welwyn and surrounding areas has been the low crime rate. This is mainly due to the very close-knit community spirit that exists and how people look out for their neighbours. Maintaining this will help to ensure that Welwyn continues to be a safe and delightful place in which to live, and I would ask any residents who have not already done so to sign up to Neighbourhood Watch OWL (Online Watch Link). This will enable you to receive online messages from the police about incidents throughout the Borough, as well as putting you in touch with local co-ordinators for your immediate area. Feel free to contact me for more information.
2. PARKING AND SPEEDING OFFENCES
Illegal and inconsiderate parking is an ongoing problem, particularly during rush hour periods and school runs. Vehicles are frequently parked on double yellow lines, on corners, on the pedestrian crossing and zigzags. All of these offences create traffic jams and dangerous situations. The perpetrators are breaking the law. The Police and the Borough Council are equally responsible for enforcement but, due to staff and finance cuts, neither organisation is able to efficiently control the situation on a regular basis.
Speeding and driving carelessly through the village are also a matter of concern. Suggestions of a 20mph speed limit on some roads and slow down “smiley face” signs have been suggested by some residents as a possible solution.
3. SINGLERS MARSH
In April 2017, Affinity Water are scheduled to cease abstraction from the Fulling Mill Pumping Station on Singlers Marsh. Through liaison with Affinity Water and the Environment Agency, I am able to provide residents with the following information:
EA asked their modellers to test the proposed changes in the Singlers Marsh area. These were carried out on an early version of the model therefore the results are precautionary and will be improved with further modelling work. A precautionary approach was also taken with how the interaction between the river and the groundwater was modelled, meaning that the EA approach will overstate the impact. With flood modelling, they think it is always better to over-estimate rather than under-estimate and, with this precautionary approach to modelling, the EA predict that the River Mimram could see a small rise following the sustainability reduction.
The EA’s technical experts have reviewed the initial model results and, at this stage, believe that a negligible increase in flood risk is the most likely outcome but cannot prove or rule out a small effect on flood risk.
The EA are liaising with Affinity Water to provide an interim operating agreement that would mitigate the possible change in risk and are currently making very positive progress towards this.
The WPAG are keeping a close watch on developments; are in regular communication with Welwyn Parish Council and will keep residents notified of any significant information as it becomes available.
As you can see, I have been keeping myself quite busy and am totally committed to my work for the community. Please visit the WPAG website and consider joining this very worthwhile organisation. The membership is a nominal amount which covers the basic running costs of this non-profit organisation.
I hope very much that you will continue to follow me on my website and/or on the WPAG one. I will do my best to keep you informed of what is happening in our area.
Your opinions and concerns are of great interest to me, and to the WPAG, so please do not hesitate to let us know via the website.
My plan is to update information as and when necessary. If something arises that may be of interest or concern to the community, I will post this as quickly as possible, not wait for a later date to do so.
Thank you for your continued support; it has meant a great deal to me.
Four years ago, I was privileged and honoured to be voted in as the first Independent Councillor for Welwyn West. I have enjoyed the challenge of standing up for the community and solving the many problems raised by local residents.
I have achieved a great deal during my term of office (most of which is documented on this website) and I am overwhelmed and grateful for the support I have received from local residents.
There are important outstanding issues that compel me to stand again for re-election in May 2016 and I hope that voters will put their faith in me once again.
I believe I have proved that, with dedication and perseverance, an Independent Councillor can achieve a lot. I am not restricted by party allegiance and am free to always act in the very best interest of my ward and its constituents. During my term of office this has been really beneficial on several issues and is something only an Independent Councillor can offer.
Issues over parking prompted me to stand for election, so it will be no surprise that I will be monitoring any parking proposals for Welwyn by WHBC. It is highly likely that there will be future attempts to implement changes to parking that would be financially beneficial to the council, even if unhelpful or unwelcome to the community and businesses.
I currently hold a Surgery on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 10.00am to 10.45am in St Mary’s Church House. The next ones are on 19th March and 16th April. I would welcome seeing any residents who may wish to raise local issues with me, or just pop in to say ‘hello’.
Please bookmark this page and check back here for regular updates about local issues, and what I’m doing to support the residents of our beautiful and historic village.
Please email me at email@example.com to join my email list so that I can keep you informed quickly and effectively on any urgent matters that may affect residents. Alternatively sign up in the box on the right.
My intention is to make this site a useful resource for Welwyn residents, containing links and articles regarding local matters. Most importantly it will keep Welwyn residents informed about what I’m doing as your first Independent Councillor. As you may have already read in the Welwyn & Hatfield Times, my voice as a representative of our village may struggle to be heard, but rest assured, be heard it will!
Despite a fantastic personal vote of 896, I was 45 votes short of what was required to get me returned to office.
I would like to thank all the wonderful residents who have voted for me and supported me, and those who have contacted me since the election to ask me to stand again in the future. I will certainly consider it when elections come round again in 2 years’ time.
I enjoyed my four years as a Councillor for Welwyn West very much. In my opinion, no-one has a more important role than a ward councillor in being a point of liaison between a community and its council. The councillor’s job goes far beyond simple advocacy on behalf of the ward. The representation involves building relationships with individuals and groups, to inform, consult and to empower people and to help with individual issues whenever possible. This I did to the very best of my ability. My only regret is the work that I have had to leave unfinished and I hope this will be taken up and dealt with effectively by those who now represent you. Welwyn West now has three Conservative councillors, two of whom are Cabinet Members.
There are two main reasons why the Conservatives won, and an additional issue that may have had some effect:
The boundary change brought in a large Conservative party faithful block vote where all three Conservative boxes were crossed, regardless of who the candidate was.
The fact that the Liberal Democrats put up two “paper” candidates, i.e. they didn’t have a campaign, didn’t leaflet-drop or visit residents, didn’t expect to get in so didn’t even turn up on the evening of the “count”, yet took 500 votes between them. Had they not stood, several of those votes would have come to me and I would probably have still been your councillor!
The other issue, which was highlighted in the WHT this week: A conservative councillor posted an unpleasant, anonymous, message on my website which accused me of being a liar. This was 6 days before the election and anyone new who visited the site, having been prompted to do so by my leaflet, may well have wondered whether this was true and it may have affected some votes. I would like to assure you that everything on my website has been the absolute truth: honesty and integrity have been my ethos throughout the past 4 years. The message was traced back by my website provider to the IP address of the councillor who I have reported to the Electoral Commission and the Standards Board.
I will continue to be deeply involved with Welwyn activities. I will keep a close eye on what is happening locally and if things aren’t right and aren’t being dealt with properly, I will let you know through my website, or the press, as I have in the past.
I have been the “eyes and ears of Welwyn” for 4 years – it would be very difficult to stop – 4 years of documented updates are on my former website to prove it!
Please note that my website name will understandably have to change, once that has been done there will be a link to the new site here. This does achieve over 1000 visits a month and I plan to keep a website going to make sure residents can be kept informed of local developments.
I am dedicated to ensuring that all issues raised with me are addressed: in particular concerns about inappropriate development, parking issues and local crime. I will also be keeping a close watch on the outcome of the surveys undertaken by the Environment Agency to assess the potential flood risks to Singlers Marsh when Affinity cease abstraction from the River Mimram by closing the Fulling Mill pumping stations next spring.
I am passionate about Welwyn West Ward and the local community and hope to continue to work hard to deal with individual problems raised by local residents.
I do not make empty promises. I do promise to help residents to the best of my ability – and to give the reasons why if I am unable to do so.
I keep people updated regularly through my website, which I am delighted has around 1,000 visits every month. I have tried to be the “eyes and ears” of Welwyn for the past four years and have done all I can through the local press and my website to keep residents informed.
I have enjoyed talking with Oaklands and Mardley Heath residents during my canvass and hope to have the opportunity to give them the same dedication that I have shown to Welwyn and the Ayots during my term of office.
Election pamphlets circulating in the ward state that litter and fly-tipping are going to be major priorities – issues I feel should have been addressed long before the election!
I am the only Welwyn councillor, and as far as a I know the only Welwyn Hatfield councillor, to run a website with local news, information and a regularly updated log of what I’ve been doing as your councillor. Accountability and transparency are important in local government, through this website I play my part in that. You may wish to ask other prospective councillors how they communicate what they do for constituents?
Saturday 28th April:
I spent this morning in the village high street talking to residents about local issues and raising awareness of the local election next Thursday. Hearing what matters to people locally is always enlightening and informative, I had several chats with people keen to enlist my help on issues affecting them, as always I’m happy to help if I can. I’m really keen to be re-elected on Thursday so I can continue supporting residents as their councillor over the next 4 years.
One issue raised by several people was broadband access. As councillor I have been involved with securing fast broadband (fiber) into the village, liaising with BT Openreach and the council to make it happen. This is now rolling out across the Welwyn area as part of the Connected Counties project, I have put a separate section here on the website about that. Click on the graphic below to read more about it, there’s also a search function and list of postcodes in our area, as well as the dates of the phased rollout.
Sunday April 24th:
I have had an exhausting but exhilarating start to my Election Campaign! I have travelled from Ayot St Lawrence to Pottersheath Road and beyond. I thought I was fit from my exercise at the local gym, but walking more than 6 miles a day in chilly weather is quite different!
I have been warmed, encouraged and somewhat humbled by the amount of support that I have received and hope very much that this will be reflected when the election results are announced.
I really hope to be re-elected, so that I can continue working for the benefit of Welwyn West and its residents. Please read my brief update on the latest matters affecting us in Welwyn village below:
The issues that have been raised constantly, apart from fly-tipping, have actually been the responsibility of Herts County Council. These are predominantly POTHOLES, GULLEYS and FLOODING about which I shall be chasing Herts CC for action as soon as I am free to do so.
A burning issue specific to the centre of Welwyn Village is the frequent illegal parking on the crossing outside Tesco. This is a police matter and I agree with many that there should be a more permanent and regular form of enforcement.
CCTV surveillance would be really helpful but there are many hurdles to overcome:
Agreement from the Police to install one
The High Street is a Conservation Area
An official police camera would have to be visible
Any installation would require planning permission
Possible breach of privacy would need to be assessed
The list goes on; it is far from straightforward. That being said, after the elections and if still in office, I will pushing to get some positive action and suggestions for a solution from the Police.
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a few of the letters that I have received:
SERVICE ROAD REPAIRS
“Dear Councillor Kyriakides and Mr Woodhead
Just a quick message to say thank you both very much for organising and seeing to the repairs to the potholes in the service road behind Wilshere Road, Welwyn.
I would also like to express my disappointment with Councillor Perkins’ failure to reply to my emails, or ring me, when I wrote to her in February 2014 and again in December 2015. Indeed the only time Councillor Perkins became involved was after she received the petition, which lead me to think that she was trying to gain credit for what Councillor Kyriakides had already worked hard upon before the petition was sent.”
“To: Sandra Kyriakides
Subject: Re: Bin Collection problem
Dear Ms Kyriakides,
Thank you so much for all your efforts and for mirroring my sentiments.
The sad part is that their system is run by our money when we are at the bottom of their priority list.
I will from now do as you suggest.
Many thanks again.”
It was a pleasure to finally meet you yesterday evening, and on behalf of everyone here I would like to thank you for your great support for our application …and for taking the time to visit the site beforehand to see the extent of the damage! ………………………………………………………………………
Hopefully now, and as soon as we submit the relevant Conditional Information, we can finally proceed with rectifying the areas and make them safe again!
Sincerely, and with thanks!”
I am signing off for now and heading back on the campaign trail.
I would like to give particular thanks to those wonderful people who have helped me with some of the leaflet deliveries. I am not naming names, as they may not wish me to do so, but they know who they are and they are so very much appreciated.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BOUNDARIES FOR WELWYN WEST HAVE CHANGED, DUE TO THE RECENT REVIEW BY THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION. IN ADDITION TO THE ORIGINAL WARD BOUNDARY, THE AREA HAS NOW BEEN EXTENDED TO INCLUDE OAKLANDS, AS FAR AS CANONSFIELD ROAD. THE NEW DEVELOPMENTS AT WILSHERE PARK AND CLOCKHOUSE GARDENS ARE ALSO PART OF WELWYN WEST.
Below is map showing where the ward boundary now lies, extracted from the Boundary Commission’s own map, please click to enlarge it.
FOR CLARIFICATION, AS SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE ASKED ME, YES, I WILL BE STANDING AGAIN FOR ELECTION AS AN INDEPENDENT COUNCILLOR FOR WELWYN WEST IN THE FORTHCOMING MAY ELECTIONS. PLEASE READ MY UPDATED PROFILE BELOW.
As of 21st December 2015 I returned to being an Independent Councillor after only 5 months as a member of the Conservative Group. I will remain on the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council as an Independent until the forthcoming elections in May, 2016.
The reasons for this are as follows:
I am deemed to be “too independent”, “not able to put Borough matters before those of my local community and ward” and have committed the heinous crime of openly criticising the Cabinet Member for Environment for making a comment concerning Singlers Marsh when she was not privy to all the relevant facts. I am also accused of having insufficient interest in Borough affairs (strange, as I have served on Borough Committees for almost 4 years and have taken the duties extremely seriously!)
Yet another faux pas was that I acknowledged an email from a Labour supporter – apparently the only member of the Conservative Group to have done so! I always acknowledge emails – no matter who they are from.
On 14th October, I was advised of my selection to stand for Welwyn West as a Conservative Candidate next May. However, following the exchange of emails with the Cabinet Member for Environment, I was telephoned on Monday 9th November by the Conservative Agent and asked to attend a further meeting with the Selection Committee on 25th November. Then, for the serious misdemeanours listed above, I had to sit before a virtual tribunal with the Leader, John Dean, the Conservative Association Chairman, the Deputy Chairman and Conservative Agent. I eventually received a telephone call on 2nd December from the Conservative Agent, advising me that I had been deselected. This whole procedure was strung out for almost a month.
Strangely enough, I was invited to remain with the Conservative Group until next May. Although the Leader implied that this was out of “kindness and consideration”, I feel it is more likely to support the need to keep the balance of conservative member numbers up for committee membership!
Life is strange is it not? I was feeling quite uncomfortable within the group after about two months and frequently questioned to myself the wisdom of my decision to join it – which was by their invitation and not my suggestion. I did not like the fact that decisions on voting are “whipped” as I strongly uphold the belief that party politics have no place in local government and that decisions should be made for the good and benefit of the community. The more I saw of the Leadership, the less I liked. You can speak … but no-one appears to listen. The Leader sets the rules and the obedient follow; fear appears to prevail.
Several members of the Conservative Group have expressed total disbelief at what has taken place. The consensus of opinion is that the issues deserved a strong reprimand, nothing more, and certainly did not merit deselection.
However, I am pleased and relieved to be free of the Group and a Leader to whom I feel unable to give any respect or support. My priority is my dedication to working as a local councillor and the community which I am proud to serve. We all make mistakes sometimes – and I hold my hands up to having made this one! I joined the group feeling that it would help me to serve the community better. In fact it did the opposite; but I have gained valuable knowledge from the experience.
Please continue to contact me with any issues you may have or help you may need – I will do everything in my power to assist and, if unable to do so, I will at least let you know why I can’t.
Welwyn Village will have the increase in on-street parking time from 60 to 90 minutes. It was sealed on 8th August and the street signs should be changed during September. WHBC’s announcement refers back to the earlier application over a year ago, which was shelved despite the petition signed by over 500 residents asking for the change. They have given no acknowledgement to the fact that the Welwyn Independent Councillor forced this outstanding matter back onto the action list; instigated a consultation which was rejected and caused them to reconsult! The result, however, is what the village residents and businesses asked for: 90 minutes parking on the main village streets.
As a Welwyn councillor I feel well placed to bring local people with a common interest together. Representing the best interests of Welwyn residents and our cherished local environment is a real privilege. To that end, last Friday I was able to instigate a meeting between the Friends of the Mimram and our MP Grant Shapps. Grant came down to see the river first hand and hear more about the water abstraction problem from the Friends group. Both Grant and the Welwyn and Hatfield Times are supportive of the campaign to reduce the amount of water being diverted away from the river.
The WHT are sponsoring the Petition and will be running a full article and photos in this week’s edition. They will also be monitoring progress and reporting it, working together with Grant Shapps and The Friends of the Mimram. It is absolutely fantastic that our local paper is so supportive and involved.
The group’s online petition is going well, it calls for the Environment Secretary to approve the reduction in water abstraction permitted by Veolia. The Environment Agency must first approve the case for a reduction, the Friends group petition is a great way to help make that happen. You can sign the petition HERE.