Dear Residents and followers of my website,
Since joining the Conservative Group in May, I have been busier than ever. I have found that I still work very much as before, but with access to more information and support, which has been very helpful.
The transition from working totally as an Independent to becoming part of a large group has been difficult, but I have been impressed with the depth and thoroughness of discussion over all issues and the fact that I am completely at liberty to air my views to the group – whether in agreement or not!
I continue to serve on the Development Management Committee, the Licensing Sub-Committee, the Cross Party Accommodation Group and, since May, the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee. I am also undertaking training for the Hackney Carriage Committee so that I may be available to substitute if and when required. During the past 3 months I have attended committee meetings on all of these, together with Group meetings, so life has become even busier.
On 19th May, I attended a Dementia Awareness training session offered by WHBC and have become a “Dementia Friend”. This proved to be both educational and important as more and more members of our community are affected by some form of Dementia and understanding the disease is really helpful in dealing with those who have to live with it. Research states that 1 in 14 people over 65 will develop some form of Dementia, and that 1 in 3 of us will develop it at some stage during our lifetime. Understanding the illness and its effects is therefore vitally important.
St Mary’s Vicar, the Rev. David Munchen, set off on Wednesday 27th May to cycle to Champagne sur Oise to join up with the bi-annual visit of the Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Association (29-31 May). David arrived on time and his cycling effort helped to fundraise for St Mary’s and WAFTA.
On 6th June I enjoyed a simply wonderful Organ Recital by Paul Griffiths, FRCO FRAes ARCM LRAM, at St Mary’s Church, Welwyn. It was so good, accompanied by a screened view of his stockinged feet on the pedals, that members of the audience were literally on the edge of their seats throughout. The evening passed far too quickly and I do hope he gives another recital in the not too distant future. Definitely an event not to be missed!
At my Councillor Surgery on 13th June a resident complained about overgrown trees in his road. I looked at these on 15th June and spoke with the officers at WHBC to ask whether there could be any reduction. It was felt that the trees were not over large and there were no plans to reduce them at this time. I hope this may be reviewed again next year.
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Annual Lecture at the University of Hertfordshire on 16th June was interesting and enlightening. I spoke with him, and the Chief Constable, about my concerns over reduced community policing and hope that the raised awareness will eventually produce some results – their budget and staff levels permitting.
The Welwyn Festival Street Market on Saturday 20th June was very successful with a great turnout and more stalls than ever this year. It is such a wonderful village event and it always gives me such pleasure to see the support given by local residents and visitors to the annual festivities.
The Welwyn Roman Baths Roman Day on Sunday 21st June was great fun, especially for children (including my grandson!). There was the opportunity to sample Roman Food; wear Roman clothes; and dig for archeological finds, among the many activities on offer. The Baths are a great tourist asset to the village and are really well managed and presented. If you’ve not visited yet, I highly recommend it!
On 22nd June I visited Pearce’s Recycling Centre in St Albans. This was absolutely fascinating (even if rather noisy and smelly!) but the immensity of the problem of sorting and reusing such vast quantities of waste material on a daily basis was a very educational experience. In Hertfordshire we don’t do too badly in our recycling, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Having always rinsed out cans and bottles along with my washing up, before putting them in the appropriate bin, I was amazed to find that I am practically alone in doing so! The food waste contamination on these items accounts for the smell and makes the sorting pretty unpleasant for those who operate the sorting process. It also makes the bins dirtier and smelly, so it makes so much more sense to do that!
Armed Forces Day on Monday 22nd June was well attended by Councillors, Members of the Royal British Legion and local school pupils and was a very pleasant occasion, followed by a buffet lunch at the Royal Naval Association Club.
After a 10 day holiday break, I returned in time to attend the Ayot Horticultural Show on Saturday 11th July, followed by a Moroccan-themed dinner dance. It was an excellent event, wonderfully well organised, and I welcomed the opportunity to meet members of Welwyn West Ward whom I don’t come into contact with so frequently.
The Highways Liaison Meeting held on Monday 13th July proved to be very interesting and, having been shown all the new and improved motorway lighting that is being installed, I have found myself looking at motorway lights ever since! There was much discussion on plans for the A1(M) corridor proposed improvements and the implications of new building on access routes. An in-depth study is being carried out and I look forward to further updates.
Councillors Surgery on Saturday 18th July brought forth several issues from local residents, all of which have been dealt with as satisfactorily as possible. I have also found that, as I am now in the same group as the other Welwyn West Councillor, that our working relationship is more effective; which was one of my objectives when making the change in my status in May.
Mill Green Vintage Day on Sunday 19th July was tremendous fun and extremely well attended. The weather was glorious, and the event was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who attended.
My meeting with the Chairman of Welwyn Parish Council on Tuesday 4th August was to discuss local problems with recent youth anti-social behaviour and crime. I am currently liaising with the ASB team at
WHBC, and the Police, together with Welwyn East and West Councillors and Welwyn Parish Council in an effort to get appropriate procedures in place asap.
On Wednesday 5th August I took part in a Development Management Committee site visit to a property in the Green Belt . Despite glorious weather all day, the heavens opened for the half-hour that we were there and stopped as we left! I believe there is a name for this Law!
There has been an ongoing issue in Welwyn of street trading and inconsiderate parking which came to a head this summer. I received so many complaints from residents that I subsequently passed these on to WHBC and the matter was taken up by the relevant departments. The actions they have taken seem to have brought about some improvement so far. The issue of long-term on street parking by some shop/business owners (despite the fact that Whitehill Car Park is free and available, as well as having CCTV security surveillance) has being targeted by increased Parking Control Officer activity and it appears easier to find parking on the main village streets than before. Hopefully, this is not just due to less people and school holidays and is a genuine effort by those concerned to help improve parking availability in the village.
Fly-tipping has also been a problem and I urge anyone who witnesses this taking place to contact your local councillor or WHBC environment services with as much information about the perpetrators as possible. The latest two episodes of this (on Digswell Hill and Ayot St Peter) are in hand.
Youth Crime: Groups of young people have been causing problems both with graffiti and general anti-social behaviour. Some of this has been petty, nevertheless causing distress to elderly individual residents. Unfortunately, other incidents do not appear to be down to “school holiday boredom” but, in some cases, deliberate and brought about persistently by the same individuals. The police and street wardens, with whom I am in regular liaison, are currently “on the case”.
The “Clock” roundabout and congestion problems during rush hours continue to be a major concern to motorists and residents. Highways have been looking at ways to improve the situation and, although the suggestion of short-term traffic lights during peak periods on one road entering the roundabout, this does not seem to have been considered a favourable solution. There is regular liaison with County Cllr Richard Smith on this issue and feedback from Highways is awaited. The situation will obviously be affected by traffic using the new development when it is finished at the end of the summer.
797 Bus: Despite persistent requests from councillors, our MP, the Parish Council and residents, UNO who now run this service are unwilling to agree to the 4 minute diversion for the route to run through Welwyn. They state that this would be prohibitively expensive for them to operate – even though residents would accept even only 2 buses a day via Welwyn. We are still trying to persuade them to run a trial service and I will keep you updated.
I will be producing updates quarterly from now on and hope you will continue to follow your councillor’s activities with interest! Please do not hesitate to contact me if there are any issues with which I can be of assistance; or just drop in to the monthly surgery at St Mary’s Church, to meet me.
Surgery dates: Saturdays 10:00am-10:45am August 15, September 19, October 17, November 21.