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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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  • 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."

  • Street Light
    Article: Aug 17, 2019

    Not for the first time have the Liberal Democrat members on Hertfordshire County Council questioned the appropriateness of outsourcing so much of the council's service provision to external contractors.

    The county's experience with highway maintenance has not been happy, particularly with the simpler, more routine tasks. As contractors have adopted more rigid management practices, particularly with first-line supervisory management, these have resulted in more and more instances of inefficiencies: -

  • Environment Solar Panels
    Article: Aug 17, 2019

    Last month on 16th July, proposed by the Conservative Leader David Williams and seconded by Liberal Democrat Leader Stephen Giles-Medhurst with Labour Party support, Hertfordhire County Council unanimously passed a motion declaring a "Climate Emergency".

    The motion also called upon the Government to fund the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals as set out in the Government's own Policy Paper "A Green Future" and committed the County Council to develop and implement an overarching Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy to achieve these locally.

    The full text of the all-party motion is as follows:

    "In January 2018, HM Government published "A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment". On 12th June 2019, the Prime Minister heralded the end the UK's contribution to climate change by setting a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. At its recent conference in Bournemouth, the Local Government Association (LGA) agreed a motion that:

  • Climate Change Emergency
    Article: Jul 22, 2019

    The main item of the first Full Council since the May Local Elections was a Motion declaring a Climate Emergency in Dacorum.

    Dacorum is now committed to act significantly on the Climate; the Motion directs the Council organisation to put together a Strategy and Action Plan to reduce Carbon Dioxide generation, preserve bio-diversity, improve Air Quality and reduce plastic pollution, across all the functions of the Council, and to lead the local population in each individual doing their bit.

  • Document: Jul 15, 2019
    833.52 KiB drawing or desktop publishing document

    Liberal Democrats thank the electors for their support in the successes at town and parish level, on Dacorum Borough Council and in the European Parliament elections. They introduce their councillors in the Dacorum area of the South West Hertfordshire Constituency.

  • D 78 London Underground stock
    Article: Jul 15, 2019

    "Upcycling" - recycling by refurbishment and upgrading - comes to a railway line in the East of England Region.

    After a startup in 2012, Vivarail, brainchild of Adrian Shooter, former CEO of Chiltern Railways, has been developing ways to convert the old London Underground stock into three configurations of seating suitable for various types of operation, as well as developing new power sources.

  • Smokey Diesel
    Article: Jul 14, 2019

    In 2018 the then Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, challenged the rail industry to reduce its carbon emissions and a recent report sets out the industry's initial response in the form of an Interim Report.

    In its lack of emphasis on further electrification it does appear that the terms of reference might have been restricted by the diastrous Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling whose cancellation of several rail electrification schemes the year before led to changes to existing procurement orders for rail vehicles in favour of an increased number of hybrid locomotives. This was an inevitable consequence of the cuts to the planned electric network but it led to considerable increases in the costs of those vehicles, reduced efficiency of operating performance, higher maintenance costs for more complex equipment and timetable chaos as operators were faced with a shortage of drivers, many of whom had ended up being trained to operate what was now the wrong type of train.

Nick Hollinghurst