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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.

Recent updates

  • Light at the End of the Tunnel
    Article: Aug 30, 2020

    Nick Hollinghurst has just returned from a 4-day self-imposed media blackout to discover the Liberal Democrats have a new Leader.

    "And about time too!" he remarked. "Once again we were asked to chose between two first-class candidates, though this time noticeably different emphases and attitudes emerged. The election process was fair and thorough - and it certainly gave the two candidates sufficient time to set out their views and programmes."

    "At times, though, it seemed never-ending and it has taken us nearly 8 months to get to this point. There was even some talk of prolonging the whole thing by another whole year, such was the rumour. However, I'm sure many people are grateful that we now have a resolution and, for once, a decisive result."

    "However," he added, "it is to be hoped that due consideration will be given to the views expressed by the unsuccessful candidate, since these are legitimate proposals which have the support of a significant minority of our members."

  • First Tomatoes 2020
    Article: Aug 26, 2020

    The climate seems to be changing more and more under the influence of global heating. Some crops have done well, such as our red currants and gooseberries. Others seem less productive e.g. the potatoes.

    The tomatoes, however, are looking good, if the first ones off the plant are anything to go by. Of course being in the greenhouse, which is something of a semi-controlled environment, they have been well looked after and we ensured that they got enough water during the dry spells.

    Reports of the cereal harvest in East Anglia don't sound very encouraging though. It's all very well for people to laugh off global heating, but they really should stop and think for a bit about where food comes from. ( Hint. "supermarkets" is not the answer - nor is "Ocado" )

    I hope the mini-boom in allotment demand is maintained. If you try to grow some food for yourself you will be surprised how difficult it actually is. Now that makes you think. But it's good, healthy exercise, very satisfying and rewarding - not just in terms of food which tastes so much better than stuff that is flown in, but also in terms of what you learn, a sense of achievement and insight into the natural world with a glimpse into what our place in it really is.

  • Document: Aug 26, 2020
    19.67 KiB document

    Cllr Nick Hollinghurst's Response to Dacorum Borough Council's consultation on their Draft Strategic Design Guide. This is a Supplementary Planning Document which will form part of the evolving Local Plan for strategic housing in the Borough.

  • Planning Permission Granted
    Article: Aug 25, 2020


    Did you know that there are over a million homes in the UK where planning permission has been granted - but the houses have never been built! It works out that over the last 10 years 40% of the houses with planning permissions just remained as open fields or vacant plots or otherwise unused land.

    This was certainly a surprise to me - and this is happening more and more. Did you know that the rate at which planning permission for homes is being granted has nearly doubled between 2012/13 and 2019/20.

    And did you know that local councils grant planning permission for homes 90% of the time?

    Could it be that some companies and people are just trying to increase the value of their land by getting planning permission (maybe to sell it on and make a large profit) without any real intention of actually building anything? I don't know.

    So what are the reasons why the houses are not being built?

  • Brook Street Traffic
    Article: Aug 23, 2020
    Did you know that there are:
    33.6 million people with driving licences in the UK?
    31.7 million cars
    4.1 million vans
    35.8 million cars and vans in total.

    So that means that everyone could be driving at the same time. What a traffic jam that would be!
    But hey, don't worry - these vehicles are not really used that much.

    In fact 96% of the time the cars and vans are parked somewhere. They are only actually being driven for 4% of the time. This is equivalent to 58 minutes per day and they travel only about 21 miles per day on average.

  • Snowdon Railway Diesel Hybrid
    Article: Aug 22, 2020

    Yes, it's certainly true - hybrid traction is getting everywhere now!

    The latest news is that Snowdon Mountain Railway's owners, Heritage Great Britain, have decided to replace their diesel locomotives with two diesel hybrids specially made for them by Clayton Equipment Ltd to run on the UK's only rack and pinion railway.

    The railway will be saving fuel as well as noise and pollution with the new diesel engines which comply to Euro 5 standards and are more efficient than locomotives they are replacing. They will also be able to recover much of the energy used to go uphill by using the electric motors to act as brakes as they descend, recharging the batteries at the same time. This will substantially reduce the railway's carbon dioxide emissions while enabling more passengers to be carried.

    For railway locomotives with the space and the sturdiness to carry lead-acid batteries, diesel hybrids are clearly the way to go if high speed is not a requirement.

  • Bristol Traffic (UWE)
    Article: Aug 21, 2020

    I wonder how many people have heard of Donald Sidney Appleyard (born London, 1928 - died Athens, 1982)? An English-American who studied first architecture and later urban planning at MIT, where he taught for 6 years before moving to Berkeley He worked on neighbourhood design in Berkeley and Athens and citywide planning in San Francisco and Ciudad Guayana. He lectured at over forty universities and acted in a professional capacity in architecture and planning in the United Kingdom, Italy and the United States. Sadly and ironically he died in Athens as a consequence of a traffic accident when he was struck and knocked down by a drunk, speeding driver.

  • Healthy Start (NHS)
    Article: Aug 19, 2020

    Towards the end of last year a report on smoking in pregnancy was presented to the County's Public Health Cabinet Panel by Herfordshire's Director of Public Health. Encouraging changes in behaviour to improve public health is a difficult and sensitive process. An authoritarian approach or attitudes by professionals that come across as scolding or blaming are counter productive and worse than useless. People engaging in behaviour that is risky - to themselves or to others - must be treated with the respect that is due to everyone. That means trusting the individual and focussing on the problem - her addiction to nicotine - and providing sympathetic help to escape from the situation.

    Smoking is the single most important risk factor for an adverse outcome in pregnancy that can be quickly removed by a behavioural change. In Hertfordshire in 2018/19, 6% of pregnant women smoked to the end of their pregnancy. This compares with a figure of 10% for all England. Unfortunately pregnancy smoking showed a rise in Hertfordshire in Q1 2019/20, especially in the East & North Herts CCCG area where it reached 9%.

    This is serious, especially for the child, its perinatal and lifetime health and its opportunities and life chances.

    The consequences of smoking in pregnancy include:

  • Night Flight Noise (Guardian/Steve Parsons/PA)
    Article: Aug 16, 2020

    What with traffic being less and flight almost stopped because of covid-19 restrictions many people are now getting a better night's sleep. And this is a good thing too - because sleep disturbance or insufficient sleep has a series of adverse health consequences.

    It's now been known for decades that the modern way of life disturbs natural sleep rythms and interferes with the biological clocks ion our metabolisms that have evolved over millions of years - literally from the time that life began - and it's the higher mamals e.g. us that find sleep disturbance most damaging.

    A study around involving nearly 5,000 people living in noise hotspots close to 6 major European airports, including Heathrow, for over 5 years found a 14% increase in the risk of high blood pressure for every 10 dB increase in nighttime noise. There was no correlation with daytime noise. (reported in Guardian 13/02/2008)

    And it's not just the noise itself, but the way it disturbs sleep even if it doesn't wake you up.

    This adverse effect of night-time noise was confirmed 5 years later by a similar study involving 1,500 near Heathrow, which also detected an adverse effects with daytime noise. For night-time noise the overall increased risk of hospital admission for stroke was increase by 29%, for coronary heart disease by 12% and for cardiovascular disease by 9%. For day-time noise the corresponding figures were 23%, 11% and 14%. These effects were stronger in the case of persons with South Asian ethnicity.

    Other sources of noise were studied and, as measured by subjective reports of annoyance, aircraft noise was more annoying than noise from road traffic or from rail which in turn led to comparatively higher effects from aircraft noise. (reported in Guardian 09/10/2013)

    Noise is associated with activation of the sympathetic nervous system and so it would not be surprising for it to be associated with other health problems and last year an analysis of many different but similar scientific published papers (a meta-analysis) covering nearly half a million individuals found a 6% increase in the risk of Type 2 diabetes following only a 3 dB increase in noise exposure, regardless of source. Within the data, however, a stronger effect was observed with aircraft noise than with road or rail noise.

  • Bletchley Flyover Rebuild (Network Rail)
    Article: Aug 14, 2020

    The long-awaited project to restore rail connections between Oxford and Cambridge and then on to the East Coast has been underway for some years and is now moving slowly through the next phase. This will bring the prospect of an easy public transport route for residents in Berkhamsted, Northchurch and Tring to either Oxford or Cambridge within sight. By using a regular bus to Aylesbury and then accessing rail services over rebuilt lines passengers could then reach Winslow, Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Bedford. Alternatively they could travel by train to Bletchley as usual and with one change reach Bicester, Oxford and beyond or Bedford via the Marston Vale Line.

    In time the third phase will be built along a completely new line to Cambridge and the east coast towns.

    A major obstacle is however the Bletchley Rail Flyover (dating from 1959) which takes trains across the West Coast Main Line for onward travel to Beford and Cambridge. This has now reached a critical phase since, with the remainder being refurbished, 14 flyover arches will need to be replaced on a different alignment and a new high level platform built at Bletchley.

    Three of the largest cranes in the UK have been required to work together to move the huge concrete spans, fitting them to the new realigned piers. This work is still in progress and has required the closure of Buckingham Road for much of July and until 30th August.

    Meanwhile clearance work is taking place between Bletchley and Aylesbury Vale Parkway as well as down to Bicester going west.

Nick Hollinghurst