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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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  • Primary School
    Article: Aug 29, 2019

    While Local Planning Authorities - usually District or Borough Councils - up and down the UK are being required to plan for drastically increased housing numbers to 2036, Hertfordshire education planners, who work on tighter timeframes and use birth numbers as reported by the NHS, do not foresee any drastic changes in primary school numbers in the immediate future.

    The Published Admission Numbers (PANs) for primary schools for 2020/21, which were recently consulted on, show hardly any changes. Only 5 changes were originally proposed. One was an increase at Edwinstree (Voluntary Controlled) Middle School near Buntingford. The other four were all reductions at (a) Margaret Wix Primary, St Albans (from 60 to 30); (b) Holywell JMI, Watford (from 90 to 60); (c) Shepherd JMI and Nursery, Rickmansworth (from 60 to 30) and (d) Jenyns First School, Braughing (from 21 to 15)

    However the situation is complicated by a high proportion of schools (including primary schools) being either Academies or controlled by Multi-Academy Trusts or Free Schools. Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) was a Local Education Authority until 2010 when these were abolished. With regard to education HCC then became a "Local Authority with Educational Responsibilities" since it is still resposible for community schools (i.e. not "academies" or "free"), for the provision of Special Educational Needs (which is grossly under-resourced everywhere) and it remains the "educator of last resource" with a legal responsibility to ensure every child in the county does actually receive an education.

    Some primary schools of local significance, with their current PANs and the PANs for 2020/21 are:

    Abbots Langley, Abbotts Langley; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Tanners Wood JMI, Abbotts Langley; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Aldbury CoE Primary, Aldbury; 2019 PAN 15, 2020 PAN 15
    Bridgewater Primary, Berkhamsted; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Greenway Primary, Berkhamsted; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Swing Gate Lane Infants & Nursery; Berkhamsted; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Westfield Primary & Nursery, Berkhamsted; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Boxmoor Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Chorleywood Primary, Chorleywood; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    The Russell, Chorleywood; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Harvey Road Primary, Croxley; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Little Green Junior, Croxley; 2019 PAN 90, 2020 PAN 90
    Malvern Way Infant & Nursery, Croxley; 2019 PAN 90, 2020 PAN 90
    York Mead Primary, Croxley; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Gaddesden Row JMI, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 8, 2020 PAN 8
    Aycliffe Drive Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 45, 2020 PAN 45
    Belswains Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Brockswood Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Chaulden Infant & Nursery, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 50, 2020 PAN 50
    Gade Valley JMI & Nursery, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Galley Hill Primary & Nursery, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    George Street Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Hobbs Hill Wood Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Hobletts Manor Junior, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Hobletts Manor Infant & Nursery, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Holtsmere End Infant & Nursery, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Holtsmere End Junior, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Maple Grove Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Micklem Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Pixies Hill JMI, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    The Reddings Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    South Hill Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Tudor JMI, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Two Waters Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Yew Tree Primary, Hemel Hempstead; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Kings Langley Primary, Kings Langley; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Shepherd JMI & Nursery, Rickmansworth; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 30
    Arnett Hills JMI, Rickmansworth; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Maple Cross JMI, Rickmansworth; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Rickmansworth Park JMI, Rickmansworth; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Sarratt CoE Voluntary Controlled, Sarratt; 2019 PAN 26, 2020 PAN 26
    Margaret Wix Primary, St Albans; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 30
    Dundale Primary & Nursery, Tring; 2019 PAN 30, 2020 PAN 30
    Goldfield Infant & Nursery, Tring; 2019 PAN 60, 2020 PAN 60
    Holywell JMI, Watford; 2019 PAN 90, 2020 PAN 60

  • Floella Benjamin at the Early Years report launch
    Article: Aug 26, 2019

    At the Hertfordshire County Council Meeting of 27th November 2018, Liberal Democrat Member Nigel Qinton, County Councillor for Handside & Peartree proposed the following motion, which was duly seconded by the the Conservative Member, Terry Douris, the County Councillor for Bridgewater and the HCC Executive Member for Education, Libraries and Localism:

    "This Council notes that £1.8 million per year of funding for maintained nursery schools, of which there are 14 in Hertfordshire, currently has no guarantee from HM Government after March 2020. These schools provide an essential bedrock of under-fives education across the County. Without this funding they might not survive in their current form.

    This Council asks that the Leader of the Council and the Executive Member for Education, Libraries and Localism write to the Secretary of State for Education and the Minister for Early Years Education to request that a commitment is given as soon as possible to the continuation of the £1.8M funding beyond 2020, rather than await next year's spending review.

    This Council also asks all Hertfordshire MPs to join the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Nursery Schools, who are lobbying for this commitment."

  • EU citizens deserve indefinite leave to remain graphic
    Article: Aug 25, 2019

    At the Hertfordshire County Council Meeting on 27th November 2018, the following motion was proposed by Chris White the County Councillor for St Albans Central and (since May 2019) Leader of St Albans & City Council and Councillor for Clarence Ward and duly seconded by Barbara Gibson, the County Councillor for Haldens and (since May 2019) one of the seven East of England MEPs.

    "This Council welcomes the recent Government clarification that in next May's local elections outside London EU citizens will retain their right to both stand and vote for next May's local elections and any EU citizens elected in May will be able to retain their seats for the duration of their term of office.

    However this Council is concerned that following next spring, like everything else to do with Brexit, their rights are completely unclear. Therefore Council calls on Her Majesty's Government to issue urgent clarification as to the long term future of EU Citizens who have been resident here prior to 29th March 2019.

    This Council believes that EU citizens who demonstrate their commitment to the UK by representing residents on local Councils deserve better than this and that the Government must make it clear that, with or without a deal EU citizens who are long-term resident in the UK and Hertfordshire will always be allowed to stand in Council elections."

    The motion was CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

    However the situation regarding non-UK EU citizens resident in the UK is still, after 3 years and 3 months, not clear.

  • Peoples Vote March, London, March 23rd 2019
    Article: Aug 25, 2019

    As far back as November 2018, the Liberal Democrats on Hertfordshire County Council raised the economic danger of any form of Brexit for people and businesses in our county.

    Referring to a paper from the Hertfodshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Steven Jarvis, the County Councillor for Royston West & Rural and North Herts District Councillor for Weston and Sandon proposed and Chris White, the County Councillor for St Albans Central and (since May 2019) Leader of St Albans & City Council and Councillor for Clarence Ward seconded the following motion:

    "This Council notes the recent research document from the Local Enterprise Partnership regarding the potential effect of Brexit on Hertfordshire which states that 50,000-75,000 jobs in Hertfordshire could be at risk from Brexit. It also notes that has been a drop in the numbers of National Insurance Registrations being made by EU citizens in Herts (from 10,400 in March 2016 to 7,469 in March 2018).

    Furthermore Council notes that every district of Hertfordshire will be hit by a either a hard or soft Brexit with reduced growth (Gross Value Added) of between -3.4 % and -2.4% with Watford and East Herts most affected by a hard Brexit.

    Given these findings this Council resolves to request HM Government to agree to a "People's Vote" on the any final deal with an option to remain in the EU and so agrees to write to all of Hertfordshire MPs to that effect."

    The motion was lost with 15 Liberal Democrats councillors voting in favour, 43 Conservatives voting against and 9 Labour abstaining.

  • EU Funded Electric Charging
    Article: Aug 22, 2019

    At the Hertfordhire County Council Meeting on the 16th July, 2019, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, who represents Central Watford & Oxhey and is the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Herts County Council submitted the following written question to Cllr Bibby, the Executive Member for Highways and the Environment:

    "Given the expected and continued high growth of EV (electric vehicles) there is recognition that highway authorities should facilitate the infrastructure and charging platforms required for these. The Mayor of London has an EV infrastructure delivery plan. Given the above will the Executive Member now consider and bring forward to a future panel meeting a report on how the county, as the Highway Authority, can assist and enable, especially in new developments, on-road highways charging points and plan a futureproofed sustainable environment in conjunction with the districts and boroughs?"

    Cllr Bibby replied:

    "A strategy to help guide the County Council and the District and Boroughs is in development and has been supported by several round table officer discussions with the Districts and Boroughs to help shape the work. I will bring a report to a future Panel advising how we will support a sustainable collaborative approach to on-road EV charging.
    The work is seeking to:

    1. Review the trends and a range of forecast for uptake, vehicle sales, new models coming onto the market by vehicle type
    2. Review of where the market is heading in the short, medium and long term - future charge point technologies (types, charging rates, layouts/formats etc), charging locations (identify if there is a push by the large providers to develop dedicated charging stations) and availability/accessibility of charge facilities for residents - Hertfordshire and adjacent area specific - national overview
    3. Review how local authorities can manage risk associated with installation, operation and maintenance of on-street and off-street charging equipment. How can local authorities protect themselves against rapidly evolving EV charging technology and not be left with responsibility to remove/uninstall outdated technology.
    4. Identify (based on readily available data) an approximate proportion of residents reliant on on-street parking in Hertfordshire (as granular as possible)
    5. Develop local uptake forecast rates by vehicle type/locations, including existing requests
    6. Recommendations on how to promote/facilitate EV uptake amongst those reliant on on-street parking
    7. Review how a model based on centralised rapid charging hubs including destination charging, similar to the current 'filling station' model, might meet the long-term charging needs of Hertfordshire.

    This will need to consider the impact of any new charging infrastructure on the capacity of electricity network.

    Outcome - from this work/evidence we want to present options and a preferred scenarios to define our position for on-street charging infrastructure and form the basis to identify our role to overcome the barriers to EV adoption in the county. There is an option to take it to a Member Advisory Group in advance of Panel after the commissioned work is complete and provides an evidence base."

  • Wild Flowers by Highway. (Bumblebee Conservation Trust)
    Article: Aug 21, 2019

    At the Hertfordshire County Council Meeting on 16th July County Councillor, Steve Jarvis, who represents Royston West & Rural - and is also the North Herts District Councillor for Weston & Sandon - proposed a motion calling on HCC to bring forward proposals to manage highway maintenance in ways that improve bio-diversity.

    His motion was seconded by County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, who represents Central Watford & Oxhey and is the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Herts County Council.

  • North Herts Logo
    Article: Aug 21, 2019

    At the end of May 2019, North Herts Liberal Democrat councillors agreed an administrative arrangement with the Labour Party to run North Herts District Council over the succeeding twelve months.

    This arrangement will allow them to pursue the agenda they campaigned on during the 2019 District Council Elections and deliver positive changes for residents.

  • Much Ado 1
    Article: Aug 19, 2019

    Two weeks ago - and in view of the weather is was a good job it hadn't been the week before - saw the finale of 'Drama Impact's' Summer Tour with a light-hearted and frolicsome production of "Much Ado About Nothing".

    Thanks to the energy and talent of Actor-Manager and Producer/Director all combined in the person of David Houston -who doth bestride this world like a Colossus - an appreciative audience in Tring enjoyed a Sunday afternoon matinée performance of what is thought to be Shakespeare's most popular comedy.

    Warm, sunny and not too windy - like the acting itself - the weather was just right and the setting likewise. The stars shone - David Houston as Benedick and Joanna Nevin as Beatrice - and the equally talented supporting cast of 7 played the remaining 12 characters with skill and gusto in the quick-change manner of this witty and complex comedy.

    The play was preceded by an explanation of the historical context, examples of Elizabethan diction and general verbal naughtiness and a demonstration of the simpler moves of sword play. It was well done and much appreciated though I'm not sure I managed to retain all the intricacy of the frankly bonkers plot.

    Then into the play itself, well paced and somewhat edited, but thoroughly enjoyed by all and nicely timed to the afternoon.

    Thank you 'Drama Impact', cast and technicians and of course, David Houston.

    The pix show the pre-finale scene, the curtain call (sans curtain!) and a rollicking dance by way of a sort of encore.

  • Local Authority Work
    Article: Aug 18, 2019

    The Liberal Democrat Group on Herts County Council is active in leading on matters of general concern as well as specific local problems.

    At the Meeting of 16th July they were able to ensure that the delays and uncertainty regarding the Authority's funding for 2020/21 were debated. But preparation is usually the key to success and by engaging constructively in dialogue with the Conservative Majority Group beforehand the two parties were able to agree a motion which both could support.

    A jointly supported motion focussing in a dispassionate way on the real problems and dangers for the delivery of services to the people of Hertfordshire always carries more weight with Whitehall than a one-sided political protest.

    The following motion proposed by Cllr Paul Zukowskyj and duly seconded by Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, who accepted an amendment by Cllrs Ralph Sangster and David Williams, and the amended motion as set out below was CARRIED:

    "Hertfordshire County Council notes that:

    a) The Financial Outlook Report, presented to all cabinet panels, sets out the challenging financial position that the Council faces due to continuing uncertainty about the future level and sources of funding for services for the people of Hertfordshire at a time when demographic change is increasing demand for these services

    b) The scope for further savings without seriously impacting services provided to the people of Hertfordshire is limited

    c) The uncertainty about future funding caused by the delay in the government's spending review and fair funding review, a lack of clarity about the future allowed level of council tax rises and a continued failure to publish the Adult Social Care Green Paper is adversely impacting the Council's budget

    This Council welcomes the decision at Resources & Performance Cabinet Panel that the Chairman of the Panel write to all Hertfordshire MPs setting out these concerns and challenges, and believes all means possible should be taken to bring these issues to the attention of Government.

    The Council therefore requests that the Leader of the Council in his new role as Chairman of the County Councils Network ensures that the CCN's advocacy, including meeting with Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government ministers, reflects the Council's concerns over the challenges this Council faces in delivering adequate services with the current level of funding and also explains how the ongoing uncertainty over local government funding is causing even more difficulty in the budget setting process.

    This Council believes that the vital services delivered by local government should be properly resourced by a combination of locally and nationally raised funds, with clarity on funding levels set on a rolling basis over a four-year period."

  • Royston Cycle Bridge
    Article: Aug 18, 2019

    At the Herts County Council Meeting on 16th July, Mr S Czarnawski-Iliev, a member of the public and a resident of Royston, asked Cllr T Douris, Executive Member for Education, Libraries and Localism the following question:

    "Would the Councillor lend his support in principle to the provision of a safe pedestrian/cycle route to enable Royston teenagers to have safe, cheap and independent transport for accessing education, leisure, parttime employment, friends, family and all the things that make up normal life, but might happen to be a mile or two over the county border?"

    Cllr Douris replied:

    "Thank you for your question which I note is similar in vein to that asked by Mr Nash to my colleague Councillor Derrick Ashley. I am also aware of questions posed by Mr Meadows and Mr Taylor at the November 2018 Council meeting.

    "From an educational perspective, we would always encourage pupils of all ages to walk or cycle to school, where it is safe for them to do so. Indeed, we regularly review opportunities to create or enhance safe routes to schools within Hertfordshire recognising the health, environmental and financial benefits of walking and cycling in keeping with the Local Transport Plan 4 ambitions.

    We want our young people to be able to engage in local leisure activities.

    I believe that we are all of a similar view that such a route would be of benefit and indeed I am aware that Councillor Ashley wrote on 19th June this year to the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Authority and to the Leader of the Combined Authority requesting their support for a cycle link over the A505 thus providing a continuous route and it is my understanding that we have had positive responses from Cambridgeshire.

    Indeed, North Herts District Council and Herts County Council have been working with the local Parish Council and reviewing planning applications to secure developer contributions and other potential funding where appropriate. Herts County Council is also working on proposals as part of the North Central Growth & Transport Plan to help routes connect to the bridge and consider the wider cycle infrastructure in the town."

    Mr R Nash, another member of the public and resident of Royston, asked Cllr Derek Ashley, Executive Member for Growth, Infrastructure, Planning and the Economy, the following question:

    "Could Councillor Ashley please give us an update on work within the Council on the planned pedestrian and cycle bridge over the A505 north of Royston - particularly with reference to the Council's recent application to the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership for funding for the bridge and also engagement with officers from Cambridge County Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership on their Melbourn Greenways proposal?"

    Cllr Ashley replied:

    "Thank you for your question. First of all I apologise if the answer overlaps some of the answer to the previous question because of course they are related to the same topic. Just to repeat my colleagues report, I did write to Mayor James Palmer (Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority), Cllr Steve Count (Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Combined Authority Board Member), and Cllr Lewis Herbert (Leader, Cambridge City Council, Greater Cambridge Partnership Board Chairman) who are the key decision makers in the Cambridge & Peterborough Combined Authority and also members of Cambridge County Council and City Council.

    Prior to the development of the Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership there was an understanding between Hers County Council and Cambs County Council that the project to deliver the Cycle Link and Bridge over the A505 completing the route from Cambridge via Melbourne to Royston would be developed jointly, to help link communities to key services and employment areas - as per the Melbourn Greenway Review Report which says 'the Melbourn to Royston route is partly in Hertfordshire and is dependent for its success on a new bridge over the A505 on the edge of Royston'. This clearly recognises the need for co-operation between the authorities to bring forward the project.

    As part of this commitment Herts County Council took a lead role in producing the feasibility study for the bridge with a commitment to maintaining the bridge once constructed. It was agreed that the construction of the route connections and bridge itself should be the joint responsibility of both authorities to fund and deliver. It was understood that there was agreement in principal that the Local Enterprise Partnerships for both areas were supportive of the project. Herts County Council sought funding to support the scheme, submitting a Local Enterprise Partnership bid in the November 2018 Open Call which unfortunately was unsuccessful due to match funding not being secured and concern over delivery timescales.

    North Herts District Council and Herts County Council have been working with the local Parish Council and reviewing planning applications to secure developer contributions and other potential funding where appropriate. Herts County Council are also working on proposals as part of the North Central Growth and Transport Plan to help routes connect to the bridge and consider the wider cycle infrastructure in the town.

    Following an officers' meeting towards the end of 2018, Herts County Council were informed that whilst the Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership still have similar aspirations to Herts County Council in implementing the project, support from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority remained unclear and no decision had been made on committing funding to support the project.

    Hertfordshire remains keen to work with the Partnership to promote the project and I have asked officers to re-establish links with the Project leads in the Partnership as the bridge is a vital component of the overall Cambridge, Melbourn and Royston Route. Unfortunately, I understand that the last two meetings have been cancelled. However, a new date for July has been proposed and I hope that it can be achieved to help discussions recommence. We hope that Cambridgeshire County Council and the Combined Authority recognise the value to South Cambridgeshire residents of a sustainable link to the employment opportunities offered by Royston; people do travel in from that route."

    Mr R Nash then asked Cllr Ashley a supplementary question:

    "I wondered if Councillor Ashley was aware of the latest accident on the A505/A10 roundabout, involving a cyclist a couple of weeks ago. Fire, ambulance and police were in attendance. Luckily, no serious injury; but just to underline the importance of trying to get this key bit of infrastructure in place."

    Cllr Ashley replied:

    "Thank you very much, I was aware of this accident and it just highlights the importance of trying to make progress and complete this project. I think it is very important that we keep up our dialogue with Cambridgeshire, and we are working closely with local Elected Members just across the border to try and bring this to fruition. Hopefully we can make some progress soon."

    Nick Hollinghurst, Herts County Councillor for Tring & the Villages commented later:

    "The LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) are mainly made up of business representatives and have huge sums of government money at their disposal. Unfortunately, apart from a minority of local authoritee appointees, there is little or no democratic oversight of their decision-making. My firm view is that this is a serious defect of the system and the LEPs are neglecting some of the smaller schemes like this bridge, which are so important to local communities."

Nick Hollinghurst