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The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

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  • Electric Fire Engine (e1Group, Cumnock, Scotland)
    Article: Sep 24, 2021
    Tory-run Hertfordshire County Council has missed the opportunity of a significant cut to their carbon emissions. The authority has announced that although it is changing the fuel used by its fire engines and other fire service vehicles it is not to switching them to electric power.

    The change is only from diesel to "gas-to-liquid" (GTL) fuel, which the council says is cheaper than switching to electric vehicles. This will cut NOx emissions and PM2.5 particle emissions but there will only be a small reductionsof CO2 emissions, since GTL is derived from natural gas and still a fossil fuel.

  • Votes per Seat 2019 ERS (Electoral Reform Society)
    Article: Aug 15, 2021

    "They won't like it up 'em, Mr Mainwaring!" "What's that, Jones?" "Voting Reform, Sir. They won't like it one little bit!"

    While tidying up recently I came across a copy of moderngov an occasional publication published by HM Government. It was dated September 2011 and the three main party leaders had been given a couple of pages each.

    I thought David Cameron's contribution was very revealing. There he was, pleased and proud with what he felt was his "victory" in 2010 and with his position as UK PM.

    So what was he so proud of?

    Well, getting the deficit down (the "piggy bank" theory of economics) and getting more people into work.

    Yes, that latter is very important to Tories! As long as they can keep wages down, but maximise the number of people going to work, then everyone will be working flat out just to get by, and no-one will have the time to get involved in politics and make trouble.

    Then the usual things: Cutting corporation tax to help businessmen and freezing council tax so councillors have to focus on the bare minimum of services. Converting more schools to academies to bring them under direct government control and out of councillors' hands.

    Yes, there were some good things in there: Triple Lock on pensions (a Lib Dem idea and now scrapped), increasing foreign aid (now cut back again) and "helping families" - but all that happened there was that the Sure Start programme of Families Centres (Labour's flagship project from 1998) was "de-ring fenced" so the funding given to councils could be used for other things and a slow and steady decline set in, which still continues.

    Cameron summed it up in his own words as follows, "We've got to build a more sustainable economy, with new businesses, different industries taking roots, growth and jobs spread across the country."

    But that was all about business for his Tory chums, nothing about you and me.

    No word there about "families", "education", "health", "NHS", "environment", "mental health services", "climate change", "benefits", "public transport" or "communities" or "reducing inequalities".

    Actually, "society" was mentioned - apparently it was broken - and "an erosion of responsibility" and "a complete moral collapse". So there you have it. Perhaps you and me get mentioned after all - as the people who are responsible for all the bad things.

    It turns out, and this is very revealing, that what he mentioned first and what he felt was his greatest achievement was the Tory "victory in the AV campaign". They avoided the "real danger of a disastrous electoral system" and he rejoiced in having kicked electoral reform out of the public debate "for good".

    So it's not snakes, or rats or spiders - the Tories' biggest fear is Electoral Reform!

    So we must be doing the right thing to be pursuing it. We must continue pushing for electoral reform until we get it. But he was wrong too. It hasn't been kicked out - it's still in the public debate. And now we know that electoral reform must be the top priority for all people and parties that favour political progress and social change.

  • East West Rail Bridge at Launton ()
    Article: Aug 8, 2021

    The Climate Emergency is upon us. It'll get worse still before it gets better. The top priority for every individual & government is to work hard to slow it down & turn it around. If we don't start making some serious political and life-style changes then at best our great grandchildren will face horrible conditions - and at worst they mightn't be there at all.

    At a personal level, we have to try to limit our travel especially using fossil fuel powered vehicles. At a political level we need to limit air travel and accept that publicly supported road and rail transport must be appropriately provided.

    And we must do similarly dramatic things in every other field of activity that generates carbon dioxide, heating, manufacturing, food production, materials uses - as well as recycling elements, metals, compounds, chemicals.

  • House Building
    Article: Aug 4, 2021
    By Dacorum Lib Dems Press Office

    Dacorum Borough Council is in the middle of the process of drawing up a new Local Development Plan. As things stand at the moment Tring is facing a 55% increase in the number of local houses. Berkhamsted faces a 23% increase.

    Since the plans were put out to local consultation (a so-called Regulation 18 Consultation) back in February, Liberal Democrats have been protesting both about the massive housing numbers being imposed on the Borough by the Tory Government and the imbalanced way the Borough is proposing to allocate the new developments.

    The Regulation 18 Consultation stage is the only opportunity residents have to comment on a plan that will direct the pattern of local development for the next 15 years.

    At a recent committee meeting the Liberal Democrats pushed for a delay in moving on to the next stage in the planning process. That would have been the Regulation 19 Publication where new local plan, possibly after some changes by the planning officers, is submitted (as are any comments) to the Planning Inspectorate.

    Any public comments at this stage can only be with respect to issues of process, e.g. 'Tests of Soundness' and legal compliance. After this stage, the Draft Local Plan goes directly to the Secretary of State.

  • Tring from Draft Local Plan doc
    Article: Aug 4, 2021
    By HHLD Press Office

    Dacorum Lib Dems secure prudent delay to progress of controversial Local Plan, and more scrutiny, but Conservatives block efforts to consider another public consultation

    Over the winter, Dacorum ran a public consultation (known as a Regulation 18) on its draft Local Plan, provoking considerable opposition. It was very controversial, due not only to the content of the Plan, but also to the fact that the consultation was being conducted during a lockdown - when many people were unaware of it. The Lib Dems in Hemel, along with Residents Associations, Town and Parish Councils, local environmental groups, and most of Berkhamsted and Tring (set to increase in size by 55% according to the Plan!) objected strenuously to the draft plan.

  • environment
    Article: Jul 19, 2021

    "The Conservatives are failing to protect nature", Sarah Olney MP

    The Liberal Democrats HAVE proposed changes to the Environment Bill to protect green spaces and wildlife.

    The Conservatives' Environment Bill will fail to protect British nature and our beautiful landscapes.

    We are already living in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Our waterways are in a poor condition with just 14% in good condition. More than 40% of native species are in decline.

  • Wendover Canal near Wendover (Wendover Arm Trust)
    Article: Jul 18, 2021

    The 7-mile Wendover Arm Canal which feeds into the Grand Union Canal at Bulbourne, near Tring was originally constructed in 1799. It had the dual purpose of bringing water from springs near Wendover to feed the main canal system between London and the Midlands, as well as providing a transport connection to Tring and to Wendover.

    As such, at various times, it carried coal to three gas works, sent straw to London and received horse manure from London to improve the productivity of the local agriculture. It also brought wheat and other cereals to Heygates Flour Mills at New Mill in Tring and took away the resulting flour. Nearby there was a boat repair business which became Bushells Brothers boatbuilding business in 1875 and which operated until 1952.

    Unfortunately the stretch of the canal arm closest to Wendover developed leaks continuously and no satisfactory solution could be found, leading to the stoppage of navigation at Little Tring in 1904 and for several miles a pipe was laid beneath the canal bed to enable the crucial flow of water to continue replenishing the reservoirs that are essential to the national system.

    However, the Wendover Arm Trust (WAT) was formed in February 1989 as a voluntary body to promote the restoration of the Wendover Canal. Then, nearly 25 years later, the Canal and Rivers Trust/Glândwr Cymru (CaRT) was established on 12th July, 2012, and all British Waterways' assets, liabilities and responsibilities in England and Wales were transferred to them. At the same time, CaRT took over the Waterways Trust, a pre-existing charity previously affiliated to British Waterways with similar aims to CaRT.

  • Drain and Gravel 1
    Article: Jul 12, 2021

    "Dacorum Borough and Herts County both need to work together to solve blocked drain problems," says Lib Dem Councillor, Nick Hollinghurst who represents Tring West & Rural on DBC.

    He explains, "District and Borough Councils both have a shared responsibility to keep the highway and the gutters free from loose debris, grit, mud and litter.

    "The County Council has responsibility to keep the highway well drained and clear from flooding.

    "However under every drain is a large gulley or silt trap - and if the gutters and the highway are not kept clear, then silt, mud and litter will either block the top of the drain or get washed down and trapped in the gulleys.

    "This quickly fills up and then they are blocked, the outflow pipework is also blocked and the blockage then hardens.

    "Once this has happened, the gulleys have to be expensively dug out by hand.

    "Both authorities need to do their jobs to keep the drains free and the highways clear.

    "In particular Dacorum Borough Council needs to do better in keeping roadways outside Hemel Hempstead clear!

    "Although large brush sweeping machines are deployed across Hemel hempstead and seem to do a good job there, in rural areas and in the market towns older, smaller machines are failing to do the job.

    "The picture shows an extensive bank of gravel and silt at the A41 roundabout to the east of Tring - a spot known for a long time as a site where drains frequently block and rain water floods right across the A4251. The drain is barely visible.

    "The second picture shows the drain has been dug out, but the county sub-contractors who did that, just left the gravel and silt still heaped in the gutters waiting to washed in at the next thunderstorm - to fill the gulley and block the drain all over again!

    "County sub-contractors should be given instructions to completely remedy such situations by removing all adjacent gravel, and Dacorum Borough Council should keep all gutters in Tring and Berkhamsted well swept and clear - and both councils should co-operate with each other to get the work done properly!"

  • Unpaid Carers 2
    Article: Jul 9, 2021
    "The other day, I spent some time meeting with a wonderful group of unpaid carers", Ed Davey - Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jun 11, 2021

    "People looking after their loved ones too often feel forgotten," said Ed.

    "The other day, I spent some time meeting with a wonderful group of unpaid carers.

    "We had been brought together by Carers UK and a number of other carers' organisations as part of Carers Week, so they could share their experiences directly with me and we could discuss what changes might make their lives better.

  • Massive Pothole
    Article: Jul 8, 2021

    As a former Herts county councillor, Nick Hollinghurst, was interested in the recent report on potholes in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette - a never ending problem it seems.

    There is, of course, one simple action we can all take to motivate the County Council to repair potholes faster - and that is to use the online HCC Highway Fault Reporting System!

    The County Council has an inspection rota for roads, according to their importance and use - every 3months, every 6 months or annually. As long as they work their rota and stick to their schedule, then they have a statutory defence in law against negligence - and your claim for damages caused by road defects will automatically fail.

    Unless… unless the pothole or other highway defect is serious, i.e. more than 50mm deep, and it has been reported.

    In this case the County Council is expected to take action within a "reasonable time", which is taken to be a working week. To be fair to HCC they try to take action within 24 hours of the reported serious defect being reported, though sometimes the "action" can just be putting out a warning cone or two.

    But the point is this. If we all report the defects, this will increase the pressure to get the problems sorted out.

    If you don't report them then you are relying on HCC to work its way round its inspection rota and a possibly serious hazard may be putting road users at risk for longer than is necessary. You or someone else may then suffer damage or injury.

    So go to https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk and you should find the "Report a road or pavement fault" box on the right hand side of the screen. Follow the menu and report the fault.

    Don't leave it to others and don't leave it to chance.

Nick Hollinghurst