The last four months have been busy!
MEETINGS AND COMMITTEES: Throughout the period, I attended numerous committee meetings for Hackney Carriage, Development Management, Cross Party Accommodation Group, Environment Overview and Scrutiny, Full Council, and Conservative Group.
SURGERIES: Were held on 19 September, 17 October, 21 November. I was unable to be present on 17 October as I was away in Manchester.
Saturday 5 September: Tour of new developments in the Borough, including two social housing blocks, organised by Planning Department. The quality of the build was impressive as well as really nice designs. It was surprising that so few other councillors bothered to attend as seeing what WHBC is doing in the Borough should be part of being a Member. I was glad that I went it was most enjoyable and informative.
17 September: Priority Settings Meeting with the Hertfordshire Constabulary. Again, only a few councillors were present, but those of us there discussed matters important to our respective wards. I had particular concerns about a recent spate of youth vandalism in two areas of Welwyn and was given assurance that the issue would be dealt with. I have followed up on the problems, which do currently seem to be under control.
23 September: I attended a Chairmanship Training course and honed the skills that I already had from my life before becoming a councillor. Unfortunately, I will never get to use them as I am no longer a member of the dominant group!
Sunday 27 September: Conservative Group “Away Day” which involved most (but not all) of the Group councillors and Leader discussing group policy and brainstorming ways to bring more income into the Borough coffers. It was an interesting, if uninspiring, day.
29 September: A very useful on site meeting with WHBC Officer Debbie Watts and Serco Manager Pete Ruddick and one of our valuable local volunteers. We discussed the ongoing maintenance of Singlers Marsh, with particular respect to the way in which the grass is cut and the nettle growth. Since then the cutting has been excellent and we hope very much that this standard will be maintained.
1 October: Query over roofing and other repairs to homes of residents in social housing on Stuart Road. Outstanding repairs were not completed on schedule, causing distress to residents and some leakage of water into property. I chased this issue vigorously with the CHT for several weeks – eventually reaching a satisfactory conclusion.
20 October: I attended a reception to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Welwyn Hatfield Womens Refuge, which has provided specialist domestic violence support services to women and children in the Borough since 1990. This was a very special and emotional occasion and I am proud that WHBC gives WHWR its full support.
31 October: I called in on a local Book and Bake sale in support of Amnesty International. Run by Vernonne Allan in Mill Lane, this was an excellent combination of a wonderful selection of books and the most delicious cakes; combined with great company of the supporters who were there.
3 November: Visit to County Hall to tour Archives and the integrated Transport Control Centre in Hertford. This was so very interesting and, for anyone who hasn’t been, it really is worth a visit. The Archives in particular have ancient and fascinating manuscripts, letters from Noel Coward and a document that predates the Magna Carta. The original maps of our area are amazing – it was all just countryside only a century ago. The Control Centre was equally inspiring and it was fascinating to see the traffic on familiar routes and how traffic lights can be controlled to assist with problems, as well as liaison with other services as situations arise. These vital services go on, night and day, and most of us don’t even think about them – I didn’t!
7 November: I attended a Quiz Night in support of the Mixed Group. A great evening was had by all and the event added to the much needed funding for the wonderful work Sean Cox is doing for the elderly and lonely in Welwyn Hatfield.
8 November: The Remembrance Sunday Parade through Welwyn Village and the service in St Mary’s Church afterwards was as special as it is every year. I am always moved by the wonderful turn out of residents from Welwyn and the respect and good behaviour shown by all the children who attend. Again, we should be extremely proud of what we have in this village. I know that I am.
10 November: Member Development Training on the topic of Vehicle Safety, particularly in relation to the pros and cons of age-related issues for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles. This session was illuminating to say the very least. Wear and tear on vehicles in relation to mileage covered is something that I had never previously pondered. It was a serious eye-opener and I am pleased to report that WHBC takes the issue of public safety extremely seriously and is very thorough in its testing and provision of licenses.
17 November: Mental Health and Wellbeing Course. Three hour training session by an MHFA accredited trainer. This gave an informative and useful insight into discrimination and issues relating to mental health.
27 November: Official opening of the Welwyn Garden City Campus of Oaklands College. I was so impressed by the facilities on offer at the new Learning and Engineering Resource Centres and, having been a member of the committee to which the original planning application was presented, I was absolutely thrilled to see the final outcome in operation.
1st December: I was honoured to be asked to draw the winning ticket of the Quilt Raffle for Macmillan Cancer Support. The event was held in the Welwyn Parish Council Offices, kindly hosted by Cllr Bill Morris, and also attended by County Cllr Richard Smith. Macmillan helps so many people in the Borough and we were pleased to do anything we could to assist.
On the same evening I was delighted to attend the Village Christmas Lights switching on ceremony at St Mary’s Church in Welwyn. This was organised by Welwyn Parish Council and I was delighted to learn that so many local businesses, have made donations towards the cost this year. Last year I recall writing an article in desperation to the Welwyn Hatfield Times – concerned that the village would have no lights as WPC had no budget for it. Netherdown came to the rescue with a very generous donation, which also provided a tree for the churchyard and lighting. This year, once again, Netherdown provided the Christmas tree and Linden Homes, who are the developers on the Frythe site, have also supported the lighting project.
On Christmas Day, I will have the privilege of helping out at the Mixed Group Christmas Lunch and look forward to hopefully being useful! I am taking full advantage of the opportunity that I am free to do so this year as my family are away.
I send you all my very best wishes for Christmas and for a healthy and happy 2016. Please continue to contact me with any issues you may have or help you may need – I will do everything in my power to assist and, if unable to do so, I will at least let you know why I can’t.
I will be updating my website monthly from now on, so please do visit again soon.
Councillor Sandra Kyriakides
– your Independent Councillor
Working for local residents and the community of
Welwyn West Ward