Nick Hollinghurst

Liberal Democracy – equal opportunity for all, freedom within a fair society, security in a greener world

Hertfordshire Plans to Reduce Obesity

August 31st, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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ObesityCounty and Unitary Authorities now have responsibility for implementing public health measures.

In response to its new duty, Hertfordshire County Council’s Health & Wellbeing Board has devised a strategy to encourage the maintenanceof a “healthy weight” at all stages of life. This can be checked simply and easily by a rough estimate called the BMI (“Body Mass Index”) which can be calculated from a person’s weight in kilogrammes multiplied by the square of their height in metres. People are advised to keep their BMI between 18 and 25, though persons of S Asian or Chinese origin (who are at greater risk of Type 2 Diabetes) are advised to keep their BMI between 18 and 23.

It is important to maintain a healthy weight throughout life and for a mother-to-be  to be overweight or obese when entering pregnancy is a risk factor for childhood obesity in her baby.

In Hertfordshire, among reception year children (4 – 6 years old), 13% are overweight and 7% obese. This is slightly better than the average figures for England. Though they remain better than the England average, the figures do deteriorate as our children get older and in Hertfordshire, among Year 6 children (10 – 11 years old)  14% are overweight and 11% are obese.

Sadly, 80% of children who are obese between the times when they are 10 to 14 years old go on to become obese adults.

In later life obesity becomes a health risk for a number of diseases such as:

  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Certain Cancers

There are also links (though not necessarily either causes or effects) between obesity and bullying, low self-esteem, poorer mental health and fewer opportunities to work.

Action planned to address the problems of being overweight or obese includes

  • Raising awareness of the need not to be overweight or obese when entering pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding support from health visitors and via the Childrens Centres
  • Ensuring all schools have an active travel plan (i.e. which includes cycling and walking)
  • Ensuring that both children and adults have the cooking skills to prepare healthy meals
  • Promoting a more physically active life style for all age groups
  • Working with planners to provide more open spaces and facilities for walking and cycling
  • Promoting encouragement to healthy eating in schools and in the workplace
  • Raising awareness and understanding  of the causes of obesity.

We all have a part to play here – but we’ll feel all the better for it!

Protecting the NHS Budget

August 30th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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nhs doctorLiberal Democrats will protect the National Health Service budget in the next Parliament. 

Under plans announced in the party’s manifesto, NHS spending will rise by at least the rate of inflation over the next Parliament.

As well as protecting the NHS budget, Liberal Democrats will also pool health and social care budgets. This would help make care more tailored towards individual patients and reduce inefficiencies.

This follows the announcement of a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment to establish a mental health research fund worth £50m per year by 2020. 

Liberal Democrat Health Minister, Norman Lamb  said:  “The NHS was a Liberal idea and we are proud to be committed to protecting funding over the next Parliament.

“In this parliament the Government has had to make difficult decisions to cut the deficit and build a stronger economy. We have protected the NHS and Liberal Democrats will continue to protect the NHS budget from cuts in the next parliament.

“We are clear that a crucial part of building a fairer society, where there is opportunity for everyone, is ensuring that once the deficit is eliminated public services are protected.

“Labour have said that this is irresponsible, and in Wales they have cut the NHS budget by 8%. They are wrong and will be judged on this record.”

Gamnel, Tringford Road, Tring – Verge Hardening

August 29th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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Tring Town Cllr Georgina Haynes at Gamnel Green

Tring Town Cllr Georgina Haynes at Gamnel Green

Three years ago Dacorum Borough Council announced a “Verge Hardening” Scheme to convert certain stretches of grass verge and parts of utility greens to extra car parking.

Hardening the verge is a means to protect, or restore, the appearance of unsightly vehicle damaged verges. Hardening part of a utility green, if it is large enough, can achieve the same effect. Both can make significant contributions to difficult parking situations.

The parking situation in at Gamnel, off Tringford Road by the New Mill Roundabout, has been difficult for a long time. Dacorum Borough councillor for the area, Nick Hollinghurst, said, “My thanks go especially Tring Town Cllr Georgina Haynes who lives right on the spot, as well as to those other local residents who have taken time and trouble over the years to organise petitions, contact the council, take photographs and generally kept in touch with both me and the Borough about this issue.

Community involvement like this helps greatly in persuading the council officers to take action. Now, after several years, there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

18 problem parking sites in Tring were originally suggested by Cllr Hollinghurst as part of his submission 3 years ago. Out of a list of 120 sites across the borough, DBC drew up a shortlist of only 20, none of which were in Tring.

DBC has now gained experience in carrying out this type of work and have revisited the original list. They have drawn up a new priority list of 50 more sites for work to be carried out during the current 2014/15 financial year.

Nick is delighted to be able to say this new list includes four of the Tring sites originally put forward – one of which is Gamnel, Tring which is scored at number 12 out of the total of 50. The next stage should be a formal consultation by DBC with the neighbouring residents.

He said “I’m not sure how many additional parking spaces we’ll get, but I would hope we would get at least 6, with the remaining green space protected from further damage by some posts. We’re all very pleased that the work is now in the schedule for completion.

“It’s certainly been a long wait! Let’s hope nothing goes wrong and we get this badly needed scheme completed this financial year.”

Generating Jobs and Growth with India

August 29th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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india_businessNick Clegg is leading a trade delegation in India with more than 40 British businesses, colleges and representatives of the aerospace industry to secure the incredible opportunities on offer.

As part of his visit, Nick met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a number of issues where there is a natural partnership between the UK and India, including education, business, climate change and economic growth.

Since the new Indian Government was elected in May, they have been making plans to grow their economy.

United Biscuits and Lush are among iconic British brands that are flocking to India to take advantage of booming growth and ever increasing spending power.

Nick gave a speech at the GREAT Business Conference in New Delhi about what the UK companies can bring to India and how India’s entrepreneurs to benefit from the UK’s business environment.

Nick Clegg said:  “India’s food and drink industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in this market. I am delighted to see British companies expanding, and I am glad to see the delegation I am leading helping our great retail sector to make even greater inroads and launching iconic brands globally.”

With India also boosting its education sector, Nick announced a new exchange programme which will see thousands of young people from the UK travel to India to work and study.

The new British Council Scheme will unlock opportunities for many British students whose experience of living and working in India will help equip them for jobs in the global marketplace.

Hertfordshire Constabulary Launch ‘Best Use of Stop and Search’

August 28th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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HertsConstabFurther to our coverage on this site of the draft  Lib Dem 2015 Manifesto proposal of 13 August to review Police Stop and Search methods, it appears the Lib Dems are not the only ones who feel a review is needed.

Hertfordshire Constabulary have launched two key elements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme,  recently headlined by Home Secretary Theresa May  (August 26).

While stop and search is undoubtedly an important police power, when it is misused it can be counter-productive. It can be an enormous waste of police time and, when innocent people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is hugely damaging to the relationship between the police and public.

This voluntary scheme, is designed to contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, deliver better and more intelligence-led stop and search, and improve stop-to-arrest ratios. It will also provide the public with further information on the outcome of searches.

Hertfordshire Constabulary will:

  • Increase transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome
  • Restrict the use of Section 60 “no suspicion” powers. Already used only when necessary, under this scheme, the chief officer must make the decision whether to authorise the use of such powers. In cases where the chief officer anticipates serious violence, that officer must reasonably believe that violence “will” rather than “may” take place, as it stands now.

By November, Hertfordshire Constabulary will fully comply with the scheme by:

  • giving members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice
  • introducing a community complaints trigger.

All 43 police forces in England and Wales have signed up to the scheme but only 24, including Hertfordshire Constabulary, will implement the additional data recording and “no-suspicion” measures, reforming their use of stop and search powers.  The additional information which forces will capture as a result of the Scheme will be published on their website in due course.

Hertfordshire’s Chief Constable Andy Bliss said: “The Constabulary is fully committed to the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and supportive of what it seeks to achieve.”

Chief Executive of the College of Policing, Chief Constable Alex Marshall said “There are many areas of good practice where stop and search has reduced, the quality of encounter has gone up and arrest ratios increased.  The College will be sharing that across the country so that we see the changes needed to ensure that the communities we serve have confidence in their police officers to use these important powers proportionately, effectively and fairly.”

Insofar as it requires the use of camera’s to record each incident, The Lib Dem proposal goes further and introduce additional safeguards.

Closing Loopholes in Zero Hours Exclusivity Ban

August 28th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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VCableSpeakingLiberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable is calling on business, unions and individuals to help identify and close potential loopholes in plans to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

Exclusivity clauses prevent workers on zero hours contracts from taking work elsewhere even when their employer provides no work.

The government is launching a consultation to find out whether a minority of unscrupulous employers may attempt to circumvent the ban by offering contracts which could guarantee just one hour of work.

The consultation is asking for people to submit their views on how to prevent this from happening. It also suggests options that workers could use to seek justice if they are treated unfairly by their employer because they found work elsewhere whilst on a zero hour contract.

The consultation follows the announcement in June 2014 that the government would ban the use of exclusivity clauses.

Vince Cable  said:  “We are tightening the screws on rogue employers who try to abuse workers on zero hours contracts. We are looking closely at any potential loopholes that could arise from a ban, to ensure that these are closed off and no one can get round the new law. We are also ensuring there is access to justice for workers treated unfairly.

“The evidence shows that the vast majority of zero hours contracts have been used responsibly by many businesses for many years, but unfortunately we know that some abuse does take place. This is why we are bringing in new laws to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, which currently stop employees getting other jobs if they need to top up their income.”

Hertfordshire Street Lighting Changes Will Reduce Pollution and Save Money

August 27th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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led streetWith the wider availability of new technology (light emitting diodes or LEDs) it is now becoming feasible to replace the county’s street lights.  By moving from the types of fluorescent lighting elements (or “lanterns” as they say in the trade) currently used, we will benefit from lower energy costs, greater reliability, simpler administration and more flexible control.

Obviously there is a significant cost associated with this changeover, so it will be brought in over a number of years.  However, most of the present lights are of a type which will in any case, need to be replaced by 2017 and manufacture of these is winding down.

Recent changes to Part-Night Lighting (PNL) have been hampered by the supply of control units that were subject to design and/or manufacturing faults.  These defective units were the responsibility of the council’s previous contractor, Amey Lafarge. In March 2012, failures at the time of the clock-change led to the replacing 47,000 control units at their expense. However further failures took place in March 2013 and March 2014 and the manufacturer has now given up trying to get it right and no longer produces the units!

Consequently a simpler control unit is being fitted as further failures are discovered, though these have the minor disadvantage of being unresponsive to the clock change.  They will switch off from midnight to 5am in the winter but 1am to 6am in the summer.  Outside of these times they will be lit when the sky is dark.

The PNL policy was reviewed by the council but as both road accidents and crime are continuing to fall, it was decided to continue the policy without significant change apart from a) a relaxation to lighting isolated footpaths throughout the night; and b) the timing that results from the new, simpler controllers as these are fitted.

The good news is that the county is to phase out the conventional lanterns and will replace them with new LED lighting units.

These have the following advantages:

  • The units are cheaper, are more efficient and use less energy and so produce less CO2
  • Accurate metering of the power actually used (at the moment this is estimated)
  • Longer lasting – 22 to 45 years depending on use
  • They can be controlled individually from a central control, lighting can be varied as appropriate and faults detected remotely
  • The light will be closer to whitelight.

LED technology will be introduced first on A roads.  This starts with Stevenage and thereafter in order: Watford; N Herts; St Albans; E Herts; Dacorum; Broxbourne; Welwyn & Hatfield; Three Rivers; Hertsmere.

The payback time for this exercise will be 8 years and from then on there will be annual savings £800,000.

So, the past may have been orange – but the future will be bright, white and cheap!

Lets hope it works this time!

Friends Life Tour of Britain Racing through Dacorum on Friday, 12 September

August 26th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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tob_2014_overview1-map blog

 

After the recent buzz of the Tour de France visiting British roads, Dacorum is preparing for its turn to play host to a major cycling event this September.

 

The prestigious Friends Life Tour of Britain will be coming through Dacorum on Friday, 12 September and  a range of activities to get the whole community involved are planned.

In the coming weeks leading up to the race more details of what will be happening on race day will be available on the official Tour website www.tourofbritain.co.uk  as well as www.dacorum.gov.uk/tourofbritain

To help promote the event and create a festive atmosphere, the following have been planned  in Dacorum:

Trade, Food and Craft Fair - A trade, food and craft fair is being organised in Gadebridge Park, and are encouraging local businesses to get involved, join in the celebrations and take advantage of promotional opportunities and the sheer number of potential visitors expected by SweetSpot, the official tour organisers. SweetSpot predict the event will see crowds in the region of 15,000 coming to enjoy the race finish.  Pitches are available, for details of cost, size and times, please contact [email protected]

As well as the trade fair, there will be food and drink concessions, fair rides, cycle activities for all the family and big screens to make sure nobody misses the finish line action.

School Cycling Competitions - Dacorum, in partnership with Go-Ride British Cycling Team, have invited local schools to take part in cycling competitions. Each rider will receive an award and goodie bag and the top three teams will win Bronze, Silver and Gold medals.

Sponsorship Opportunities - As this national event has a worldwide audience it is an opportunity for local businesses to support the race and be a part of something special. There are a limited number of sponsorship/VIP packages still available. Businesses will need to be quick in order to take advantage of this, as very few packages remain. Contact [email protected] for more information.

Dacorum Resident, Sharon Bowles, Appointed to Board of London Stock Exchange

August 25th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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SharonBowlesJean-ClaudeTrichetBlogSmallCongratulations to Dacorum resident and former Liberal Democrat MEP,  Sharon Bowles, on her appointment on 15th August, 2014, as a non-executive director on the board of London Stock Exchange Group.

The London Stock Exchange is a major component of the City of London, the world’s most important financial centre. More euros are traded on the London currency market than in the rest of Europe combined and more US dollars are traded in London than in New York.

In 2012 Sharon Bowles was shortlisted for the post of Governor of the Bank of England, her candidature at the time having been supported by the Stock Exchange.

Until retiring as  an MEP in May 2014 (she did not stand for re-election) Sharon Bowles was the  Chair of the European Parliament’s Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee, succeeding the Socialist MEP Pervenche Berès in 2009.

In that role Sharon Bowles was instrumental in pushing through the European legislation that has introduced the cap on bankers’ bonuses.

However, she said in an interview to the BBC on 6th March, 2014, that she is now not seeking to change the bonus cap legislation, but acknowledges that “what angers a lot of people is that the overall sum, no matter what it is called, is too big. And to be honest there is nothing you can do about that unless there is rehabilitation of banking in general back to the ranks of the normal.”

“I think the nature of banking will change: it is going to be harder for the banks to be able to engage in risky structures,” she said, citing Vince Cable’s plans to separate risky investment banking from high street operations. “These are the fundamental reforms that matter”, she argued.

In answer to the interviewer’s final question she replied: “What is going to make our banks change the most? It will be when we finally get round to changing their boards so that they have the kind of diversity that one expects, and a diversity of views. If you look at the top of banking, it is still a world of grey men.”

The picture shows the then Chief Executive of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, congratulating Sharon in 2009 on her appointment as Chair of the EP’s Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee.

“Get In, Go Far” – Vince Cable Launches New Apprenticeship Campaign

August 25th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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APPRENTICE job blogLiberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable  has launched a new campaign to encourage more young people to take up apprenticeships.

The “Get In, Go Far” campaign is being supported by a number of employers across the country and coincides with the introduction of 40 new employer-designed apprenticeships in sectors including engineering, hospitality and the legal profession.

To mark the launch of the campaign, Vince visited ITV studios in Leeds to meet TV production apprentices. Vince said: “For too long there has been a divide between university and vocational education which has been damaging for both employers and young people. Placing university degrees and apprenticeships on an equal footing will help to break down barriers and better meet the needs of business.

“Since I became Secretary of State we have expanded apprenticeship numbers greatly, particularly higher apprenticeships. The reforms to apprenticeships enable employers to design and deliver apprenticeships that meet their needs, giving young people valuable qualifications and helping them to build successful careers from television production to advanced manufacturing.”

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