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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

  • Schools ()
    Article: May 29, 2020

    Liberal Democrats on Hertfordshire County Council are calling for stronger guidance to help schools decide how and when to re-open.

    Because of the continuing failure to provide adequate testing arrangements, the Government has no scientific basis on which to tell Primary Schools that they should reopen on 1st June.

    Each and every school has been forced to carry out its own risk assessment in deciding when it will be appropriate to reopen.

    This must be based on the physical limitations of the school buildings, the number of staff who are able and prepared to come back to their classrooms, and most importantly the number of parents willing to send their children to school.

    The County Council has to make it clearer to every school that it should feel under no pressure to open unless all these conditions are met.

    County Councillor Mark Watkin, Lib Dem Opposition Spokesperson for Education comments: "There has never been a more important time for the County Council to give strong and clear guidance to schools and support them in whatever decision they take. Every day that our schools stay closed, our children's education suffers. It is imperative that the Government introduces reliable testing systems as soon as possible so that Heads and Boards of Governors have reliable information on which to base their decision.

    We also want to see more evidence that the County Council is actively helping schools to ensure that as much as possible is done to provide education for the pupils, and especially for those in danger of slipping behind due to prolonged absence from school."

  • The Lib Dems will improve our NHS and social care
    Article: May 29, 2020

    Although there are 235 deaths listing COVID 19 registered in Hertfordshire between 10th April and 15th May according the Office of National Statistics, Herts Liberal Democrats have calculated that as many as 500 deaths are likely to have occurred according to figures that the County Council has collected from care homes. The Liberal Democrats have also raised concerns that a far higher number of deaths have occurred in care homes in Watford and Hertsmere than in other districts.

  • 710 TfL Aventra
    Article: May 27, 2020

    As Hertfordshire commuters using the West Anglia rail route between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt start going back to work, they will find new trains awaiting them.

    Transport for London (TfL) had originally ordered 45 Aventura trains from Bombardier in 2015 for expected delivery in 2018 but extensive software problems around multiple unit working delayed the £260 million contract.

  • Bike Highway Cambridge
    Article: May 27, 2020

    Hertfordshire County Council Lib Dems welcome moves to make space on our roads for active travel but add, "So far the County is lacking a clear focus with its plans and not enough ambition to ensure lasting benefit."

    "Must do better and be more pro-active" was the message from opposition Liberal Democrat councillors at County Hall to the four pilot schemes announced by the County Council that they brought in last weekend to encourage active travel and support for social distancing as more retail premises open.

    Levels of walking and cycling have increased dramatically across the UK during the lock down. The Government recently announced a package of £250m of support to councils for changes as more people begin travelling to work again and there is an easing of restrictions, while capacity on public transport is still significantly reduced due to the ongoing need for social distancing.

    The health evidence indicates a significant link between Covid-19 recovery and physical fitness. The health benefits of choosing more active travel options are even more important than ever, as are the reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality.

    The four new schemes in Watford High Street, Hertford Fore Street, Borehamwood Shenley Road and Bishop Stortford Town Centre were introduced from this Saturday aiming to reduce motorised traffic and allow for better social distancing whilst encouraging cyclists.

    Liberal Democrat Group Leader and Highways Spokesperson, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said. "I welcome these initial moves and it's great the county is doing something - but they seem to lack ambition. I know county officers have been working on up to 16 schemes. However none of these have been discussed with elected county councillors first, not even those for the areas these schemes cover. At the last minute in my own area that covers Watford High Street I got hold of the plans and had to point out errors and omissions so changes and additions had to be made as they had not used my local knowledge. Not consulting local councillors is unacceptable."

    "The Liberal Democrats fully support more improvements and changes to support active travel by walking and cycling. We have raised this at every county budget in the last 10 years with the need to invest more in footway improvements, tackle neglected cycle routes and bring in lower speed limits on residential side roads".

    "The COVID crisis could lead to a social and health change but only if we move quickly and act now. At the start of the lock down I and my colleagues highlighted, yet again, that many designated cycle routes and overgrown footways that needed cutting back. In most cases the county has done nothing. It's normally the excuse of no money or "it does not meet our criteria for action". I've been told where there is a verge next to an overgrown path people should walk or cycle on that instead! This is unacceptable. All too often we have cycle lanes and routes incomplete or end at a road junction with nowhere to go. The result is
    they cannot be used."

    "It's time to ignore the county rule book and improve our footways and cycle routes that currently hinder people in keeping to social distancing rules!"

    With fewer people using buses at present we need to look at what temporary changes to routes and bus stops could be made to better allow for social distancing in town centres. We need to look at what would be cycle commuter routes into our key areas to encourage people not back to their cars but on a cycle. We need to make those routes happen over the Summer. We must look at places like Watford that now has a cycle hire scheme to get similar in place in other key centres like Stevenage, St Albans, Hemel." said Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst.

    The Liberal Democrats said they would have a five point plan to meet the governments and health and social distancing objectives.

    1. Prioritise maintenance/repairs of existing cycle and pedestrian
    routes including cutting back overgrown vegetation and trees, repairing crossing points that are damaged or flood and installing new dropped kerbs in high pedestrian footfall areas.
    2. Investigate, install and complete existing cycle routes and introduce at least temporary ones that assist commuter cycling.
    3. Give greater priority to pedestrians at traffic lights and crossing
    points - to prevent bunching and assist slow walkers.
    4. Move quickly to introduce a 20 mph zone and limits as the norm for residential roads in Herts towns.
    5.Consult and involve local county councillors for their ideas for their communities.

    "It's time to think positively, to think green and promote a heathy safer environment, let's do it." said Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst

    Councillor Nick Hollinghurst, Herts County Councillor for Tring and the Villages added, "I feel that the ideal to aim for is for permanent segregated off-road cycleways. I hope that at least some of the schemes will evolve into something like that. We have an early example of this in Tring, of course, between the town and the railway station. Tring does have an advantage however in that we have a number of wide highways - especially the A4251 which used to be an old drove road - along which segregated cycleways could be easily accommodated and constructed. The newer, planned towns within the county have even more scope for such a transformation - or, in the case of Stevenage, a revival."

    "We all have an opportunity now to re-establish cycling as normal and socially accepted way of transport for a full range of purposes and demographics - safe family-friendly recreation as well as commuting to/and from the train station or bus stop or as a form of keeping fit."

    "I very much welcome, therefore, the council's sudden enthusiasm for cycling as well as that of the officers and my colleagues."

  • Vestager and Breton
    Article: May 21, 2020

    As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe earlier this year, many governments adopted extraordinary measures to contain the virus. These measures had an effect on many sectors and industries, including tourism and travel industry which was severely impacted by the closure of borders.

    But now, governments across Europe have presented their strategies to exit lockdowns and lift some of the implemented restrictions. In this context, on 13 May, European Commission Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton presented a package with guidelines and recommendations to safely resume travel and reboot Europe's tourism industry while respecting the necessary health precautions.

  • Chris Side
    Article: May 21, 2020
    It is with great sadness that I pass on this news from his wife, Sarah.
    Chris's passing was peaceful, for which we are all thankful, and he died at home early in the morning of the 19th May - on his 73rd birthday. I am so sad to have lost such a good friend.
    He was such a quiet, thoughtful, brave and caring man and a very good doctor. I often think that I'm probably only here now because he picked up my hypertension 30+ years ago. And I reminded him of that more than once.
  • VE75 Rosemarie
    Article: May 12, 2020

    A thoughtful meal - as befits such an occasion - of salmon salad with some excellent Italian champagne. Note I carefully used a lower case "c"!

    I opened a bottle of 2007 Franciacorta Brut Satèn from Ferghettina near Adro in Brescia, Lombardy. Delicious. It was certainly more "satèn" than "brut"!

  • Norwich Victoria new sidings (Greater Anglia)
    Article: May 3, 2020

    It's important that travellers return to public tranport post-covid. There may well be fewer journeys made, but it would be an environmental tragedy if passengers went back to private motor car journeys with a lone driver.

    Meanwhile, despite the pandemic, rail repairs and infrastructure projects are still carrying on and being completed, even though slowed down by the need for social distancing.

    One such improvement was finished at the beginning of March in Norwich, with four new sidings being completed at Norwich Victoria to enable four new 12-carriage trains to be stabled.

    The Wensum Sidings - also in Norwich - have also been recommissioned and the redevelopment of the adjacent Crown Point train maintenance depot will proceed as and when current retrictions are removed.

    This and other improvements at Stratford and Chingford will gradually enable a planned replacement of old trains on the Anglia network with 169 new modern carriages and motor units resulting from a £1.4 billion investment.

  • Berkhamsted Canal, Moor and Station
    Article: May 3, 2020

    Berkhamsted Town Council is now run by the Liberal Democrats with Green Party support.

    In setting this years Town Council budget for 2020/21, the Lib Dem Group took the prudent decision to cover all usual costs and expenses, but then went on to support several key town projects and to improve security by part-funding a PCSO for two years.

  • Track Replacement Network Rail (Network Rail)
    Article: Apr 9, 2020
    Working with social distancing requirements and with some operatives ill or self-isolating will obviously reduce efficiency and slow work down, but with timetable reductions and fewer trains running important work can still proceed - and of course fewer passengers are suffering disrupted journeys.

    Staff on nationally critical routes, such as the West Coast and Chiltern main lines, are keeping essential supplies and key workers moving during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nick Hollinghurst