I now start my 2nd year as a WHBC Councillor! Going back down Memory Lane, I found myself at the County Election count at Campus West on Thursday night 2nd May. I was delighted to see that Cllr Richard Smith was returned for the Welwyn Division and, since then, has been made Chairman of Herts County Council. Results were interesting: with Conservatives maintained most of their county councillors, but with a significantly reduced majority.
I spent most of the following week catching up on outstanding matters. An important issue of replacement bollards on the corner of Mimram Place in Welwyn Village has been drawn to the attention of Herts Highways and the wheels are now turning – albeit rather slowly! The old bollards had been knocked over by traffic and not replaced; resulting in making what was already a dangerous pathway even more deadly. I shall continue to monitor the situation and progress.
Sat 11th: I attended a Concert given by The Chamber Players at St Mary’s Church, Welwyn, at which the audience were treated to an absolute feast of string quartets by Haydn, Mozart and Dvorak. Cellist, Sarah Butcher, who also organises the volunteer litter collection group in the village had been kind enough to invite me and I was thrilled that we have such fantastic talent in Welwyn and that we can look forward to more concerts from The Chamber Players in the future. The next one will be on Saturday 7th September at 7.30pm.
Tues 14th: I attended the funeral of Penny Hughes in St Mary’s Church. Penny was my neighbour, and had been a friend of my late parents for more than 20 years. When I moved to Welwyn she went out of her way to welcome me and to include me in social events until I “settled in”. She was an amazing person, who had spent most of her life doing good for the community: helping in the Isabel Hospice Shop; collecting for the British Legion; supporting many good causes and people. During the war she had played an important role in cypher decoding but rarely spoke of it. She was extremely modest; deeply loved by family and friends and will be sorely missed.
Later that day, in torrential rain, I went with members of the Planning Control Committee to a site inspection for the proposed redevelopment of the Mount Pleasant Depot in Hatfield. It was particularly cold and the visit involved walking the entire derelict site and also going to the gardens of the houses in the road below, which would inevitably be affected by whatever new development was proposed. Despite the appalling conditions, it was a most interesting visit and the committee was made aware of the needs and concerns of the residents which needed to be addressed.
Sat 18th: I held my monthly surgery at St Mary’s Church House. Only 2 residents called in this time but I am always pleased to see anyone who comes and to try to help with whatever issue they raise with me.
Mon 20th: I attended the Annual Council Meeting at which the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor were sworn in, Civic Awards were presented, and committee members were announced for the coming year. I am delighted to say that I am still on the Planning Control Committee and that, “in the interests of co-operation” Leader John Dean announced that he was standing down one of his councillors from the Licensing and Entertainment Committee and that “the other nominee” would be taking the place. That was me – but he just couldn’t bring himself to say my name! So I am now a member of two committees and start Licensing training on Monday 17th June. (Maybe I should request a new name badge: “the other nominee” !!!)
From 23rd to 26th May I was in France with the Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Association visit to Champagne-sur-Oise. We spent a short while in Paris before travelling on to the village and the weather was far worse than here! Only 6 degrees and pouring rain for two days. We had a great time and, as it was the 40th Anniversary of the Twinning of the two villages, the French organised a brilliant firework display after the dinner on the Saturday evening. It was lovely seeing old friends and meeting new ones and the entente cordiale seems stronger than ever!
Friday 31st: I received an email from a resident of Codicote Road advising me that he had been hit by a van whilst standing on the pavement outside his house, with his parents. Fortunately his injuries were only bruises and shock but the van failed to stop; ironically it was an NHS van. The incident was captured by the resident’s cameras and has been reported to the police, and was also witnessed by both parents. He feels very lucky that it was he who took the blow and not one of his parents. I reported the incident immediately to the Welwyn Hatfield Times, who covered the story in the paper. It is appalling that there are no speed control systems on the Codicote Road which has a huge volume of traffic, a lot of travelling above the speed limit on a narrow road with pavements only 3 feet wide. Because there have been no major accidents or fatalities, nothing has been done. However, there have been many “near misses” and people are terrified walking along that stretch of pathway into the village. I cannot personally see the logic in waiting until something awful happens before action is taken. Surely prevention is better than cure? If you agree, please help me to lobby for this with the local police and Herts CC Highways.
Other matters in which I have been involved this month include:
Tesco Foodbanks: I have been checking the distribution/destination of donations to our local Tesco Metro through liaison with Sharon Curtis, National Foodbank Operations Project Manager. I am pleased to report that the generous donations have gone to local people in genuine need and crisis. More information on the project is below:
Help feed people in Need
Tesco are supporting two well respected food poverty charities by holding a National Food Collection in all of their stores on the 5th and 6th July 2013. The smaller Express stores will start their collections on the 10th June by way of a Donation Station, with all food going to the Trussell Trust foodbank network or the FareShare food poverty charities. Tesco are ‘topping up’ customers donations by 30% – this is given to each foodbank by way of a ‘Donation Card’ and enables the foodbank to buy more food or supplies as required. FareShare receive a cash donation that will be used to help the charity run their operation and fund the redistribution of food to people in need.
Trussell Trust foodbanks are now providing food to over 300,000 people in crisis each year. FareShare have over 920 Community Food Members who are reporting to feed almost 44,000 people a day. Customers will be asked to donate an item of long life food to the collection which will then be passed on to the foodbanks or be redistributed to FareShare’s community members such as Emmaus, Crisis UK or to help provide meals for children’s’ breakfast clubs or a women’s refuge.
Singlers Marsh: On Wed 29th I put on my wellies and paddled down in the rain to meet and talk to the group of volunteers who, together with support from some members of the Friends of the Mimram, worked for the whole day on clearing the old Drain. The amount of work that the team carried out was truly impressive and made a dramatic difference to the area. I was honoured and fascinated to meet the “Wednesday Volunteers” and thought you might like to know more about them :
The Wednesday Volunteers are a group of about 20 experienced conservation volunteers who have been assisting a number of local authorities and ‘Friends’ groups since May 2009.
The majority of the group were volunteers with the Herts County Council, Countryside Management Service for many years on their weekly conservation tasks. Unfortunately CMS changed their volunteer activity from a Wednesday to a Tuesday and due to existing commitments many of the group were no longer able to participate. Wishing to continue this voluntary work, they formed their own group and work predominantly in Eastern and South Eastern parts of Hertfordshire. They have met every Wednesday since May 2009 with an average attendance of more than 12 volunteers, and regularly undertake tasks for The Borough of Broxbourne Council, Welwyn/Hatfield Borough Council, The Friends of the Clinton-Baker Pinetum at Bayfordbury, and Harlow Council Green Team, and occasionally for The Friends of Southern Country Park Bishops Stortford. Tasks they have undertaken include, construction of post and rail fences, stock fencing, hedge laying, general woodland clearance and management, renovation of a Victorian leat, clearance and maintenance of bridleways and footpaths (this includes revetment, construction and restoration of footbridges, installation of kissing gates and field gates, etc.), restoration and maintenance of ponds and drainage ditches.
I have been very interested in the maintenance of Welwyn’s conservation areas, in particular Singlers Marsh, which I overlook from my bedroom window. WHBC’s Landscape and Ecology Officer, Chris James, has been very helpful if providing me with up to date information on Singlers Marsh and Danesbury and I am meeting with Serco management next month to look at possible ways to improve current cutting procedures on the Marsh and elsewhere.
June promises to be a particularly busy month and I look forward to posting the next update. Meanwhile, many thanks for your support and for reading my notes, which I hope that you find to be of interest.