Mon 3rd: A bright and early start on Singlers Marsh for the scheduled visit of the Minister for Fisheries and the Natural Environment at 8.30am.
The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, together with the Environment Agency, hosted a visit by Minister for Fisheries and the Natural Environment Richard Benyon, and Ofwat Chairman Jonson Cox, to Singlers Marsh in Welwyn. HMWT has recently carried out work at the site as part of the Beane & Mimram Catchment Management Plan, funded by Natural England. The event was attended by the Friends of the Mimram and the River Beane Restoration Association as well as local councillors, residents and Affinity water.
The purpose of the event was for Mr Benyon to launch the nationwide rollout of the Catchment Based Approach – which the Beane & Mimram Partnership has piloted so successfully.
Hertfordshire Living Rivers Officer, Charlie Bell, gave a short speech describing the work of the Beane and Mimram partnership over the past year. The VIPs then donned waders for a spot of river-dipping, and the ‘catch of the day’ was examined. Singlers Marsh volunteers also demonstrated the invaluable work they do on the site.
Local and national media were there and the event was also covered by BBC London, all raising the profile of the partnership and our valuable rivers.
I personally spoke at length with the Minister, the Chairman of Ofwat and the senior representative of Affinity Water, to stress the importance of preserving the rare Mimram Chalk Stream as part of Britain’s heritage, and the need to reduce the abstraction from this river.
Much time was spent during the rest of the week on local matters and paperwork.
Tuesday 4th: I went to the War Memorial opposite Hatfield Station to lay some flowers and a card for the family of the young drummer, Lee Rigby, who was so tragically murdered.
Saturday 8th: My surgery was held a week early and subsequently had no visitors as I suspect very few people realised that the date had been moved to accommodate arrangements for the Welwyn Festival!
Monday 10th: I attended a board meeting at Benslow ILS in Hitchin, a charity of which I am a Governor and on Thursday 13th I had the great pleasure to be a guest at the Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival Fundraising Concert, both as a Governor of Benslow and as a local Councillor. It was a truly wonderful concert, held in the Marble Room and hosted by Lord Salisbury and presented by Sean Rafferty. The programme was excellent, featuring the Navarra Quartet, Ruby Hughes, David Wright and artistic director Guy Johnston.
Sunday 16th: Another day full of activity. In the afternoon I went to Panshanger Airfield for the De Havilland Day event. This was well attended with several very interesting old planes and the opportunity to hear a lecture on the creation and history of the Mosquito fighter plane. Panshanger Aerodrome is steeped in history, having played a vital part in World War II as a decoy airfield to protect the production at Hatfield. It is, in my opinion, a local heritage location that should be retained if at all possible, despite the need to use land for building purposes in line with current core strategy.
In the evening, I went to the wonderful scratch choir performance at St Mary’s Church of “Almost the Last Night of the Proms” conducted by Derek Harrison. The profits from the evening were divided between the Church Fabric Fund and the Welwyn Festival charities. It was a simply marvellous occasion and we were blessed with glorious weather for drinks in the grounds of the church during the interval. The organisation by Jane Carr was, as ever, exemplary and the event ran like clockwork.
Monday 17th: Up very early to be in London for a 9.30am start at The Institute of Licensing “Hearings for All Parties 2013” training seminar. This was a whole day of learning about licensing proceedings and law! My brain hurt by the end of it, but the barrister running the course was excellent and made the whole experience extremely interesting. I certainly know a lot more than I did and, after one or two observational hearings, I will be ready to take part in my new role on the Licensing and Entertainment Committee.
Wednesday 18th: I heard from the resident who had been hit by a vehicle whilst standing outside his house on the Codicote Road last month that, to date, no police follow up or action had been taken. I telephoned the office of Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd, to find that he was on holiday and that the office was short-staffed! I then wrote to him, voicing my concerns and asking for a report as to why nothing had happened. By the end of June, I had received no acknowledgement or reply! Our MP, Grant Shapps, is aware of this and has kindly offered to help. We will be liaising on further action to try to make the Codicote Road safer.
Thursday 20th: Planning Control Committee – now with a new name: Development Management Committee, was at 7.30pm and I just made it in time after my grandson-sitting stint in London beforehand! It was a lively evening with the follow up to the application development of the Mount Pleasant Depot in Hatfield. Several amendments had been made to the original proposal to take account of the needs and concerns of the local residents. Although they fell short of meeting the wishes of two properties, there was considerable improvement and effort had obviously been made by the developers. The application was approved by the committee and I look forward to seeing the finished site development in due course.
Friday 21st: I met with Serco’s Area Manager, and Debbie Watts of WHBC, at Singlers Marsh at 11.30am. We were joined by two of the volunteers who regularly give up their time to work on maintenance of the Marsh and keep an eye on it. We walked the whole area and I explained to Serco’s Manager, Peter, just what was required and how Serco’s maintenance crews had not been doing an adequate job for some time, resulting in the major growth and take-over of nettles throughout. I felt sure that the problem was poor communication because, if the teams hadn’t been told exactly what was needed, they would just carry on as before. I also stressed the importance of continuity and that where possible the same crews should do the work. He was extremely accommodating and helpful. He saw the problem and said that action would be taken on Monday and that the area would be cleared properly in time for the Welwyn Fun Day on the 29th.
Saturday 22nd: The Welwyn Festival started with the lively Street Market and, despite the pouring rain, there was a great turn out to support it. My family came up for the day and my grandson loved climbing on the Fire Engine, as did all the children!
Members of the Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Association were there in force, celebrating their 40th Anniversary, along with numerous stalls, plants, music, food, and even a large sow and her piglets alongside The Wellington!
Sunday 23rd: I visited Francoise Austin’s beautiful garden on the Danesbury Estate which was opened through the National Gardens Scheme to raise funds for Macmillan.
and went on to visit other gardens that were open as part of the Welwyn Festival throughout the week. It was really interesting and lovely to meet up and chat with people at each garden – indeed every one turned into a Garden Party!
Monday 24th: Rather a busy day! Serco’s 4 teams arrived early on Singlers Marsh, as promised. I went down to check on progress and went again early afternoon and was much impressed by the work that had taken place. I stressed the importance of not mowing over litter, in particular glass and cans, and asked for extra care to be taken. The result was impressive – the marsh hasn’t looked as good in a long time – and I hope they can keep up the new standard.
At 11.30am I joined the Deputy Mayor and other councillors, together with members of the Royal British Legion, Royal Naval Association and students from local schools, at the Flag Raising Ceremony at Campus East to commemorate Armed Forces Day (29th June).
I visited 2 gardens in the early evening and then attended the Welwyn Parish Council Meeting. I think it is very important to keep in close contact with the Parish Councillors and to be of assistance to them in any way that I can. I also helps to keep me updated on plans for the village that I wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.
Tuesday 25th: I managed to sprain my ankle in a rabbit hole at Mill Green – so activities ground to a halt for a bit!
Friday 28th: Despite the rain, I popped into a garden in Norman Road which was absolutely delightful, and learned of another local problem which I hope to take up next month!
Saturday 29th: The penultimate day of the Welwyn Festival, which started with the parade through the village. Children (and many adults) wore fancy dress in French theme and the glorious weather added to the success of what was a fabulous afternoon. Pictures below say more than my words!
Later that evening, I attended the local Royal Naval Association and Royal British Legion buffet dance in Welwyn Garden City, for Armed Forces Day.