Friday 1st – Wednesday 6th: A lot of work following up on issues raised in October concerning housing problems and bin collections, in between attending physiotherapy sessions at hospital.
Thursday 7th: Attended the Development Committee meeting at 7.30pm.
Friday 8th: A morning of checking on emails and replies and then a rare free afternoon for myself!
Saturday 9th: I attended a book sale in aid of Amnesty International held in Mill Lane, Welwyn. This was well supported by village residents and raised a very respectable sum for the charity.
Sunday 10th: After driving my partner into London to march with his fellow ex-naval servicemen in Whitehall, I returned to Welwyn by 10.30am to attend the Remembrance Sunday commemoration in the village and the service in St Mary’s afterwards. We were blessed with a crisp, dry and sunny day and I am always moved by the fantastic support this occasion receives from Welwyn residents.
Monday 11th: At the request of the residents, I visited a CHT property in Welwyn, where an appointment with a housing inspector had been arranged. On arrival at 3.30pm, I discovered that the inspector had called at 2.15pm and left a card through the door. This was especially annoying as I had changed another appointment to make myself available, and the residents had taken leave from work in order to be present at the time arranged. It wasn’t good enough.
I dealt with correspondence throughout the week on local issues. I also followed up on the missed housing inspection issue.
Friday 15th: On a freezing afternoon, I attended the official opening of the Acorn Preschool and Playgroup which is now well established in the Whitehill Car Park. I was delighted to be there with fellow local Parish and County Councillors and our MP, Grant Shapps, who cut the ribbon. Acorn has received an “Outstanding” category Ofsted report and is a great asset to the village community.
Saturday 16th: I held a surgery at St Mary’s Church House.
Monday 18th – Friday 23rd: mostly dealing with local and council matters by telephone and email and there was a follow-up meeting at the CHT property with the Housing Inspector and Maintenance Supervisor. I found this to be quite intimidating for the tenant and was glad to have been present. The inspector acknowledged that there was a problem and that the residents were doing all in their power to cope with the damp and mould. Some of the statements and comments made however left me amazed – including saying that breathing and perspiration cause damp problems in housing! How does anyone live in accommodation and not breathe or perspire? I will be following up on this.
Monday 25th: In the afternoon I attended a Governors’ Meeting of Benslow ILS in Hitchin, a charity and in the evening I attended a meeting of the Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Association.
Tuesday 26th: I was due to attend a Licensing Hearing but, due to an administrative mix up, was not advised of the venue in time.
Wednesday 27th: I attended a meeting with the representatives of the company who are developing the Frythe site in Welwyn. In wellies and warm clothes, we walked the site and inspected the progress to date. The slightly revised plans looked good and Cllr Perkins and I were impressed with what we were shown. The development promises to be quite beautiful and should prove to be an asset to the village and its economy.
Thursday 28th: Following an exchange of emails concerning the CHT property in Welwyn with the damp and mould problems, I sent a long email to the officers and the head of CHT as I was very concerned at some inaccuracies in the report of the visit by the inspector.
I also raised another issue concerning a property that is empty and has been left unattended, awaiting repairs. The house appears derelict, overgrown garden and is a bad advertisement in a Borough that is desperately short of housing with a long waiting list.
Monday 2nd December: Follow up on problems in Church Street recycling and regular bin collections. Meeting with SERCO management requested and awaiting response.
Wednesday 4th: The Licensing Meeting scheduled for today was cancelled.
Thursday 5th: Development Management Committee Meeting at Campus West – the last one of the year in those premises, due to the redevelopment of the building. It was a very lively meeting with a large number of WGC residents in attendance as the application for the new rear extension to Campus East was on the Agenda. I spoke out against the application – pointing out that the success of garden cities is due to the style and continuity of design which has made them the most popular places to live in the UK. I also said that if 1500 people had signed a petition and 170+ objections had been received, then surely the council should take this into consideration and try to find a design that would be more acceptable. Although one other councillor stood up for residents also, the rest of the committee voted the application through and the recommendation was passed. I think it is a great shame that councils should so blatantly ignore the wishes of those who pay for their employment!
Friday 6th: I gave a 75-minute talk to a local Wine Society group in WGC. This was following a request received almost a year ago and fortunately seems to have been received with interest! They very kindly gave me a payment which has been passed on as a donation to my chosen charity.
Monday 9th: Difficult time as my partner’s mother, aged almost 99, and in an excellent care home, became ill and was not responding to medication. In the evening I attended a meeting of the Welwyn Parish Council to discuss specific parking problems in Welwyn. The village has become a victim of its own success, with its vibrant night time economy, excellent restaurants and pubs. However the increase in volume of incoming vehicles, together with the fact that The Wellington restaurant restricted the access to its car park, has made a huge difference to the delicate parking balance.
Tuesday 10th: At 11.00am I held a meeting with an area manager of SERCO and colleague, together with Lorraine Davis of WHBC. A representative of the residents association of the properties affected by the recent unacceptable service was also present. The meeting was positive and useful and SERCO have promised to put right all damage caused and to try to ensure collections would not be missed in future. Fingers crossed on that one!
Wednesday 11th: I attended a lunch of one of the Welwyn book groups at St Mary’s Church. It was an extremely pleasant event and I am delighted and privileged to live in such a proactive community.
Thursday 12th: I went to my physiotherapy session at a London hospital in the morning; babysat my grandson in the afternoon and much later on, learned that my partner’s mother had passed away at 9.00pm.
Monday 16th: Welwyn Parish Council held its annual Christmas Reception in the evening. The event was well supported and it was a good opportunity to thank those who have done so much for the village.
Tuesday 17th: I pursued the question of a specific housing problem with the CHT. On Friday 20th I learned that they find themselves unable to further assist the tenants at this time in any meaningful way. This is despite evidence of ongoing damp and mould and ill health of parents and child. I realise we have a serious housing shortage, but that doesn’t help those who genuinely need assistance and it only goes to show how the lack of new build over the past decade, combined with the increase in population, is causing such hardship. I feel powerless and frustrated, despite trying my best to help.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to continue with anything other than urgent Council matters due to the difficulties of arranging a funeral over the Christmas period. My next newsletter will combine January and February and will hopefully have more interesting content.
I would like to thank everyone who has been following my website during the year and to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and health and happiness in 2014.
With best wishes,
Cllr Sandra Kyriakides
Welwyn West Ward