SEE STOP PRESS! RESIDENTS PARKING PERMIT SCHEME QUASHED – SUCCESS AT LAST!!!
November has been a rewarding and interesting month, in particular because several matters on which I have worked very hard for a long time have finally come to completion, or at least moved in that direction!
Tuesday 6th: The morning post brought me a letter from a local Welwyn company, thanking me for my help in obtaining compensation for damage caused by Serco vehicles. It was a good start to the week and I was delighted to know that my involvement in the case had helped to produce a satisfactory result.
Wednesday 7th: I spent some time today preparing a letter to add to an Appeal by a local resident against a Planning decision that had been passed to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. I spoke to the officers there on the telephone and found them to be very helpful. When the case had been refused by WHBC, I was not informed due to a breakdown for several days of their computer system. This had resulted in a backlog of work and the notification to me had been missed. This meant that I in turn missed the date by which I could comment on the decision. However, when the circumstances were explained to Bristol, they accepted my late submission of support.
Thursday 8th: At 10.30am I went to visit a house in Ayot Green where the residents had asked me to call round to see the property. Their architect was also there and explained the problems they were having in relation to the planning application to repair and extend what was in effect a practically derelict house, needing a great deal of work. The problem was its location, in the Green Belt, which meant that all kinds of regulations were in force. Their first application had been refused and they were now working on revised plans. They will let me know when they are ready and when the new application is going to be submitted.
At 7.20pm I attended a Planning Control Committee meeting at Campus West. Several varied and interesting applications came up for discussion by the Committee and it was actually a most enjoyable meeting.
Saturday 10th: In the morning there was the Christmas Market at Hatfield House, in aid of the Isabel Hospice and the Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives. This is always an excellent event, held in the refurbished Riding School. In the evening I attended a Quiz and Dinner held by the Mixed Group, who do wonderful work for the less fortunate members of the Borough. I made up a team with fellow Independent-Liberal Democrat Group colleague, Malcolm Cowan and his wife, together with 5 others. There were almost 200 people present and the event was extremely well supported by members of the Council as well as Mixed Group volunteers and friends. Our team came 3rd and we felt justifiably pleased with ourselves at our respectable result!
Sunday 11th: Up at 6.00am to drive my partner, George, to Whitehall where he was taking part with his old Navy comrades in the Remembrance Day March Past. I then drove back to Welwyn in time for the parade and Remembrance Day Service at the village memorial at 10.45am. Sadly, my rushing about, and then standing still in what was incredibly hot sunshine, caused me to feel very faint. I managed to hide my discomfort until the parade had moved on and then was driven home by Cllr Storer and his wife. I am extremely grateful to them for their support as there was no way I could have made it.
The next 3 days were taken up with personal health matters, including an MRI scan.
Thursday 15th: A day of catching up with paperwork and answering the many emails that had accumulated over the few days that I was out of action. That evening there was a Member Development event at Campus West giving an overview of the significant changes to the welfare benefit system over the last 18 months and the changes that are planned over the next 2 years.
Friday 16th: More correspondence and follow up on outstanding matters.
Saturday 17th: 10.00am Surgery at St Mary’s Church Hall, Welwyn. A resident of Elmoor Avenue, who had written to me during the week, came in to discuss the problems of obstructive parking in his road with Cllr Mandy Perkins and myself. Herts County Cllr Richard Smith also joined us for part of the discussion. Several points were raised and Cllr Perkins undertook to explore the possibility with Parking Services of introducing parking limitations in the affected areas, e.g. 2 hour morning restrictions. In the evening I attended the 60th birthday party of a fellow councillor.
Sunday 18th: Following the invitation to all councillors to attend the Exhibition Preview of Toula Mavridou-Messer’s work at Mill Green Museum, I took myself along at 2.30pm to take a look. She is a celebrity producer turned photographer, and I was most impressed with the bold and iconic images in her photography, which concentrated on New York, New Mexico… New World! Her techniques are unusual and the results are visually very exciting. If anyone is interested in you can look at some of her work online and I look forward to seeing her exhibition in display in the Maynard Gallery, hopefully sometime next year.
Monday 19th: 7.30pm full Council Meeting at Campus West.
Tuesday 20th: There are several roundabouts leading to Welwyn and, on every one, there were wooden posts with signs advertising fireworks for sale at the Bell pub in Codicote. As they had not been removed after 5th November, I had telephoned , on the 10th, to ask The Bell to arrange to collect their signs. This had not happened so, risking life and limb in some instances, I ventured onto the roundabouts and picked up the 6 signs. I then took them to The Bell and asked them not to repeat the exercise next year. There was no apology for not removing them, and a determination to do the same again in future. I am hoping that Herts County Council, Highways Department, will put some legislation in motion before then to prevent our green areas becoming littered with scruffy makeshift advertising signs.
Wednesday 21st: Admin work in the morning.
Thursay 22nd: Called in to the Council Offices, Campus East, in the morning to follow up on some outstanding matters with officers. Then attended the mandatory training session at Campus West – “Dignity and Respect through Tough Times. “ This was actually an extremely interesting and worthwhile experience; very thought-provoking. It involved working in groups with other councillors and WHBC employees, together with 3 professional actors and a group leader. It certainly made me look at situations from far more perspectives than I had thought possible and to consider the opposing viewpoints very thoroughly. I would love to attend another session.
Friday 23rd: I attended the Poppy Appeal Dance held by the Royal British Legion, held to raise funds for the Poppy Appeal. Sadly, seasonal illness caused several last-minute cancellations, but the event was still pretty well attended and a very enjoyable evening was had by all.
Sunday 25th: With my partner, who is a Water Rat, and a group of friends, I attended the Annual Ball of The Grand Order of Water Rats, held at Frimley Green. The event was attended by approximately 700 people and King Rat, Joe Pasquale, hosted a fabulous evening and cabaret. Lots of show biz personalities were there and substantial funds were raised for good causes. Got to bed around 3.30am!
Monday 26th: I was to have attended a Governors Meeting in Hitchin at 2.30pm and a Parish Council Meeting at 7.30pm. However, our partying the day before left me in no state to work and I had to concede that I’m not as young as I used to be to cope with such late nights!
Wednesday 28th: Had a phone call from a resident who was having problems with his home that he felt were not being dealt with satisfactorily by the Community Housing Trust. After a few discussions with staff at the CHT, I managed to set up a site visit, together with an Inspector, to see what can be done to help.
Thursday 29th: At 10.15am I attended a one-to-one Skills Training Discussion with a WHBC Officer at Campus East. This was helpful and constructive and I look forward to some further training on the aspects of my work that need more input and knowledge. I was also able to share some of my skills which we hope will be useful in future to WHBC. I then visited other officers in Campus East to follow up on some outstanding planning matters. I have to say that I find the Council staff very helpful in every respect, which makes what I try to do all the more enjoyable and productive.
At 7.30pm I attended the Cabinet Housing and Planning Panel meeting in Campus West, at which the long awaited result of the proposals for a Residents Parking Permit Scheme in Prospect Place and Hertford Road were discussed. After the presentation of a petition from over 50 residents on 18th July, WHBC had proceeded regardless with their plan to introduce a RPPS in the village, despite the fact that the vast majority of residents in the immediate vicinity were vehemently opposed to it. I liaised with residents, taking full note of their concerns and those of the Welwyn businesses in the area. Even with a mere handful of requests for a RPPS (6 I am told), and over 130 individual written objections, WHBC Parking Services continued with the official consultation (I dread to think how much of our Council Tax was wasted in this exercise, probably £2,000-£4,000!) Fortunately for all concerned, common sense finally prevailed and the recommendation from the officers was that the proposal should not go ahead. SUCCESS AT LAST! So many months; so much time; mine; the residents and the WHBC officers! I expressed my concern at the time and money expended to the CHPP committee, and asked that appropriate discussions be held if any further plans are proposed for Welwyn, before embarking on a similar project. In response to my query as to whether there were any plans in the pipeline for any similar proposals , I was assured that there were not. So the residents of Welwyn can rest easy for the time being!
After the meeting, I went upstairs to the Maynard Gallery and attended the Private View of the Welwyn Photographic Society. The photographs were amazing, absolutely fantastic, and it was so nice to see such a wealth of local talent on display.
It has been a successful month. And another important project is about to be closed in December.
My promise when I was elected was to share important information about what WHBC’s plans were for the village; to try to help residents and, if I could not do so, to explain why not. So far I am happy to report that I am keeping to my promise!
My December update will come out after Christmas, so may I take this opportunity to send my very best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to all who take the trouble to read my website. Your interest is deeply appreciated.