This update is produced on 14th April due to the fact that I will be busy with my campaign for re-election. I have therefore included commitments for the rest of April and May that are already in my diary.
There have been no new major issues over the past two months and I have continued to monitor progress on the matters of concern that I raised in my January/February update.
I dealt with some “missed bin” issues – in particular the frustration experienced by residents of the London Road area who have their bins emptied just after dawn. Because there were some early morning frosts, some bin lids were frozen – so SERCO do not empty them. These weren’t heavy frosts and a sharp tap on the lids should have been enough to release them. However, the response to my complaint from WHBC’s Community and Environment Services Manager was, in my view, ludicrous:
“Serco have advised that last Tuesday, 12 bins were reported as frozen and therefore not collected. The tracker from the collection vehicle also shows that Serco collected brown bins from Becket Gardens just before 7am, which does tie in with a frozen bin lid, based on the weather conditions last week.
Whilst I understand that this is a frustration for the resident, our policy has always been quite clear on this one and has not changed. Crews do not have to empty the bin if it is frozen, too heavy/over compacted or contaminated. It really isn’t in the crews’ interest not to collect or falsify these reports as they are required to fill in more paperwork when they don’t empty a bin. In addition, we cannot expect them to compromise their health & safety by trying to unjam bins/ bin lids etc.”
Like many of my generation, I remember the days when dustmen walked through or round the house to the back garden, lifted up a heavy metal bin and carried it back, lifted it up and emptied it into the rubbish truck, and then carried the bin back to the garden!
Whilst I appreciate that “times have changed” I totally fail to see how giving a sharp upwards tap, perhaps using a piece of wood, to a frozen bin lid to unjam it can “compromise the health and safety” of the crew member! The poor residents who get the dawn collections can have their bins left for weeks without being emptied in the winter if the mornings are frosty – and I find this totally unsatisfactory as a service. This is an issue I will certainly pursue if I am still a councillor next winter!
Planning and Enforcement
I have tried to assist with queries that residents have raised on planning matters and there are some ongoing issues with breaking of planning conditions that are being followed up.
Councillor activities for March and April to date have been:
03 Development Management Committee
07 Special Council Meeting to confirm the Budget
08 As a member of the Cross Party Accommodation Group, I cast my vote for one of the chairs proposed for the new Council Chamber.
19 Councillors Surgery at St Mary’s Church, Welwyn
19 Royal British Legion 90th Anniversary Dinner in Welwyn Garden City
22 Meeting at Affinity Water (AW) with representatives from AW, the Environment Agency (EA), Herts County Council, Welwyn Parish Council and myself. In depth discussion of current studies in relation to The Mimram, Singlers Marsh, flooding, AW pumping stations and the proposed cessation of abstraction. Informative and very constructive meeting. Results will follow at the end of the year.
23 Highways Liaison Meeting with Herts County Council. Again, useful and informative. Considerable discussion of problems at Junction 6 and the A1(M) and it is proposed that traffic signals will be trialled on the Northbound route to see if this can ease congestion and “cut-throughs”. Repair schedules were discussed to roads and potholes and we were advised of the proposed improvements to street lighting that are currently being installed.
31 Reception at the White Hart, Welwyn. This pub/restaurant is under new management and has been refurbished throughout. I was invited to the Official Launch and was delighted to meet James Bainbridge and his brother Tom, who many may know from The Tilbury in Datchworth. They have done a splendid job with the new look and menu and I wish them every success in their Welwyn venture.
31 I went directly to a Development Management Committee Meeting from the White Hart Launch; it turned out to be rather a long evening!
05 I went to WHBC Campus East to register my Nomination Papers to stand in the forthcoming elections on May 5th.
05 Meeting with fellow Hatfield Independent Councillor, Caron Juggins and former conservative councillor, Stan Tunstall, who has now officially joined the Independent Group.
06 I gave a talk to “The Unstable Lads”, a local group of mostly retired businessmen. They meet twice monthly at The White Horse on a Wednesday morning and invite a variety of speakers to these occasions. I was honoured to be asked to talk to them and to meet such interesting people from a wide variety of professions.
12 In my role as Leader of the Independent Group, I attended a meeting of the Welwyn Hatfield Borough, Town and Parish Councils Meeting, chaired by the Leader, Cllr John Dean. These meetings are held about once every 18 months and this was the first that I had attended. I found it interesting and useful to meet with Town and Parish Councillors and to hear their issues and viewpoints. On the whole, it was a good meeting, but I did feel that some Parish and Town councillors were dissatisfied with the answers they received from the Leader in response to some queries raised.
16 APRIL Councillors Surgery at St Mary’s, Welwyn. Please come if you have any issues or matters you would like to discuss. This will be my last Surgery before the Local Elections.
18 Full Council Meeting
20 Cross Party Accommodation Group Meeting
21 Beacon-Lighting Ceremony to commemorate the Queen’s 90th Birthday at Campus West
28 Development Management Committee Meeting
29 Talk to the Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Association (WAFTA) at their Wine Tasting Event
05 LOCAL ELECTIONS DAY. Visit to Polling Stations throughout the Welwyn West ward during the day.
05 Reception, including supper, bowls and quiz for visitors from France at Whitehill Centre given by Welwyn Parish Council and the Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Association
05 Campus West for Election Results throughout the night
06 Dinner with French visitors
07 WAFTA dinner & dance event for the French visitors and WAFTA members.
23 ANNUAL COUNCIL MEETING – at which I will be either a re-elected councillor for Welwyn West, or a guest!
Depending on the results of the Local Elections, this may (or hopefully may not!) be my last Website post.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for following my activities over the past 4 years, and for your support. I hope very much to be able to continue working for Welwyn West residents as a councillor – a role which I have been passionate about and have enjoyed tremendously.
Cllr Sandra Kyriakides
Welwyn West Ward
Tel: 07802 725423