My councillor activities and actions in June 2012
The first two days of June were taken up with business problems and neighbourhood disputes, as reported last month and the weekend was filled with Diamond Jubilee events, despite the very wet and windy weather.
I attended the lighting of the Welwyn Garden City Jubilee Beacon at Campus West, which was followed by a small reception, hosted by the Mayor, Cllr Helen Bromley. The event was well attended and there was a great atmosphere, with lots of flag-waving. When Her Majesty the Queen lit the last beacon at Buckingham Palace, the group watched the occasion on the TV screen in Campus West and sang the National Anthem. It was very moving.
Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th
I saw me checking up on the facts of a neighbourhood dispute; then meeting with my website designer. I also liaised with the police just in time to prevent a horse being left in a field just off the A414!
I attended the Cabinet Planning and Housing Committee Meeting as there were proposals in respect of WELWYN VILLAGE “NO WAITING AT ANY TIME” IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS. Most of the proposals were for places where this regulation already exists.
I had discussed the proposals for LOCKLEYS DRIVE and SCHOOL LANE with the Welwyn Parish Council and there were no objections to these. However, in respect of HERTFORD ROAD, I stressed that it should be clear that the proposal for Residents Only Parking bays will only be relevant after the ‘design stage’ or ‘consultation’ has been completed with the residents of the surrounding area. I spoke for myself, the majority of Welwyn residents and The Welwyn Parish Council in saying that we are totally against “Residents Only” permit holders parking schemes ANYWHERE in the village. It is therefore understood that the remainder of the lay-by will remain unchanged from the current “no restriction” status.
I went on to point out that the major part of Welwyn Village is a Conservation Area and that there is current legislation in respect of yellow lines. I requested therefore that ALL yellow lines in the Conservation Area should be in primrose yellow and only 50mm wide and that the old yellow lines, if being refreshed, should be removed and repainted. There are currently several areas where the lines are too wide and the wrong yellow!
On Friday 8th
I spent the morning preparing material concerning ON-STREET PARKING IN WELWYN VILLAGE; an issue which was raised by residents and businesses during my election canvass. The background to this is lengthy: Two years ago, a petition was signed by 659 residents and businesses, asking for the current 60 minutes parking time to be increased to 90 minutes. This went through the consultation process and went before the WHBC Cabinet in November 2010. An announcement appeared in the press that implementation was scheduled to take place in February 2012, but I was told that as “an objection” had been received by WHBC it was decided to put the proposal on hold whilst other proposals concerning the village car parks were being looked at.
Following my resurrection of this outstanding matter, Cllr Mandy Perkins and Parking Services arranged to hold a consultation meeting 21st June and a letter was sent to all Welwyn businesses by Parking Services inviting them to attend. As the letter stressed only the possible negative aspects of an increase from 60 to 90 minutes, I decided to visit every business in Welwyn village, giving them the opportunity to look at the pros as well as the cons and to fill in a form indicating their preference, which I would pass to WHBC on their behalf in the event that they could not attend the meeting.
The view of WHBC Parking Services Department is that an increase from 60 to 90 minutes would reduce the amount of parking spaces available in the village by one-third. However, this theory may not actually hold up in practice and those wishing to shop quickly are unlikely to leave their vehicles parked for 90 minutes. Whereas, those who wish to go to a restaurant, hairdresser, dentist, or doctor’s appointment can only do so if they can get this done in 60 minutes. Our small village, with its few shops all needing trade, must benefit from having a parking provision that allows people freedom to use facilities and to shop at leisure. What should also be borne in mind are elderly residents who drive rather than walk into the village and who perhaps cannot walk quickly. The standardisation of on-street parking time would decrease the pressure on the central village car park and would be of no benefit to all-day parking commuters, provided the wardens regularly target those who go over the time limit!
On 18th/19th/20th June, I collected the rest of the forms from Welwyn businesses. The response was 99% in favour of 90minutes on-street parking. See the June 21st entry below to find out what happened next on this issue.
My second Surgery was held on Saturday 9th June and it was a great pleasure to see the two residents who stopped by. I dashed away from this to attend the Mayor’s Charity Brunch in Ayot Green. This was very successful, most enjoyable and well-attended and I hope it raised considerable funds towards her chosen charities.
Throughout the following week, I pressed on with my visits to every business in Welwyn, all 75 of them, and was glad to have the help of Vernonne Allan and Will Davis on a couple of days. It was a great opportunity to meet the proprietors and to introduce myself and I was amazed at the depth and variety of business that is carried out in Welwyn village.
I had a very useful meeting with Cllr Bob McKay of Welwyn Parish Council, discussing all aspects of parking in Welwyn.
That evening, clad in a high-visibility “Observer” vest, I went out on a 4 hour Ride-Along duty with PC Ben Satchfield on his usual round of possible trouble spots, public houses, playgrounds, woods, throughout the whole Welwyn beat: sometimes in the police car; sometimes on foot.
From neighbourhood disputes to vehicles causing an obstruction, dog attacks to a broken down vehicle on a busy junction with two babies on board, PC Satchfield took it all in his stride. The tour of duty also took in local playing fields and chatting to youngsters; checking up on illegally parked vehicles and generally providing a competent, friendly and visible police presence. I was deeply impressed at the way PC Satchfield handled every situation. He showed maturity, fairness and sensitivity, as well as common sense in all his dealings with the public. The evening was a great success as far as I was concerned and I was grateful for the opportunity to have such a one-on-one insight into police work.
Friday 15th June
I received a phone call from a desperate mother, saying how dangerous it was to walk home with her children on London Road at school times and asking for help. So at 2.50pm I went to take a look. In jeans and jumper, I looked like any other granny waiting to pick up a child and I stood happily at various points of the road, with my camera, without drawing much attention to myself. What I witnessed was extremely worrying: With the unbroken line of parked cars between The Crescent and St Mary’s entrance it is absolutely impossible to have a clear view of oncoming traffic from either direction. This resulted in cars racing down on the wrong side, hoping they’d got enough room to get through. Both directions did this! Often at the same time! I saw one slight collision – the cars bumped each other’s sides, but neither one stopped. They were too fast for me to photograph! Several cars almost collided head on. On the Tenterfield Nursery side, cars would mount the pavement to pass the cars with which they had almost collided. I saw the most selfish, thoughtless and discourteous driving that I have witnessed outside London!
Children are walked along that stretch of road and it is an absolute miracle that no-one has been injured yet. I passed a full report to the police, who were there in force the following week. The matter is now being looked into officially and solutions are being sought with police and Herts County Council co-operation. I was able to report back to the concerned residents that something is now in the pipeline, though it will of course take some time to implement.
17th to 24th June: THE WELWYN FESTIVAL –
I attended as many events as possible throughout the week and am always thrilled and amazed at the way the community comes together to celebrate this fabulous occasion. A few pictures are posted below.
On 21st June:
12.30pm I had a meeting with PC Satchfield concerning London Road.
6.00pm: I attended the meeting, called by Vikki Hatfield of WHBC Parking Services and Cllr Mandy Perkins, at which only 4 businesses were represented, along with some members of the Welwyn Parish Council and Cllr Richard Smith of Herts County Council. I spoke on behalf of the wishes of the people to whom I had spoken and put across my own opinions on the proposal. I was advised that my business survey could not be accepted as it had not been carried out by Parking Services and that another consultation would therefore be sent out asking businesses to vote. It was also decided that a consultation letter be sent to Welwyn residents. I quite understand that, on legal grounds, my survey could not be accepted – what a pity, it would have saved the Welwyn ratepayer a lot of money! I understand that a consultation costs in the region of £4,000!
7.30pm: I attended a Planning Control Committee meeting at Campus West.
Friday 22nd June:
I attended the official opening by Grant Shapps MP of the new Play Area in Ottway Walk, Welwyn for over-8’s. It is a fantastic playground and the funds were raised by the incredible efforts of local parents. They must be justifiably very proud of what they have managed to achieve.
Saturday 23rd June:
I went to the Gilbert & Sullivan performance at St Mary’s Church. It was part of the Welwyn Festival and was in aid of the Acorn Playgroup & Pre-School. It was a most enjoyable evening and the performance was excellent.
On Monday 25th June:
I attended the Armed Forces Day Flag Raising Ceremony at Campus East, followed by a lunch at Campus West. It was so nice to chat to so many members of the British Legion who came.
Tuesday 26th June:
I attended meetings at WHBC with Parking Services and Corporate Property officers to discuss matters relating to Welwyn.
I attended the Memorial Service at St Mary’s for Gillian Lenox-Smith who died on 16th June. Gill was a talented pianist, teacher and compiler of crosswords, as well as a great supporter of the British Red Cross and the Conservative Party. She will be sorely missed by her friends and family.
And so June drew to a close. It was a full and varied month which gave me the opportunity to meet many residents and business proprietors. I am enjoying my activities as a Councillor for Welwyn West and look forward to a busy summer!