Nick Hollinghurst

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

Liberal Democrat Berkhamsted Town Councillor’s Bid to Bring Kingshill Safety Scheme Forward.

July 24th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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KingshillJctnCroppedIn a letter to the Editor of the Berkhamsted Gazette Liberal Democrat Berkhamsted Town Councillor Garrick Stevens has outlined the plans that he and fellow Town Councillor Danny Bonnett have put forward to Berkhamsted Town Council.

He writes: 

Dear Sir

Your report [Gazette 9th July 2013] of the Town Council’s meeting that discussed the proposal to partner the County Council to fund the planned lights controlled crossing at the junction of Kings Road and Shootersway was somewhat misleading. I’d like to set the record straight.

The junction has long been regarded as a traffic congestion and safety hotspot: the new 2 tier school arrangements with more younger children needing to use the crossing, has heightened safety concerns that merit a sound long term solution. Although the junction work is identified in the 2013 Urban Transport Plan, a senior officer from County Highways said, at the recent meeting where the plan for the Taylor Wimpey development was rejected, that the improvements could be delayed – possibly beyond 10 years as there is no funding currently available, or anticipated, for the foreseeable period for the project. The interim solution of a ‘lollipop person’ at the junction is recognised as not being ideal for the long term.

We now have it on record that the Town Council has the legal power to raise funds to pay for Highways works. As a safeguard against frivolous applications there are procedures to be followed before any long term borrowing can be authorised – in this case by the Minister at the Dept. of Local Government.

Secondly, the County and Borough Councils have squirrelled away developer contributions for highways improvements which could be used on projects in Berkhamsted. We will learn more when a joint meeting is held. But residents will recall that the County set aside £90,000 to pay for the abandoned Parking Zone fiasco – hopefully they still have it in the bank.

If there is truly not enough funds available from the County/Borough to complete this project within a relatively short period of time, we are left with the options of either doing nothing to make the junction better for drivers and safer for our children, or persuading your Town Councillors to take the lead to pay for the shortfall.

The key number your reporter left out of the report [but included in the discussion paper available from the Town Clerk] is that a loan of as much as £300,000 repaid over 15 years [to the government, much like a mortgage], is a cost of £3.23 per year from each of the 8,000 or so properties in Berkhamsted. Higher Banded properties might pay around £5 per year. Some people pay far more for a round of drinks or golf.

We regularly hear complaints about the overloaded infrastructure in Berkhamsted, not least by residents who most use these roads. My colleague Cllr Bonnett has bravely shown that there is a potential solution – but the solution, and the responsibility for implementing it, and it lies in the hands of our residents and Town Councillors.

Yours etc

[Cllr] Garrick Stevens

The loan to enable the badly needed highways improvements to be brought in now – rather in 10 years time – can be safely raised from the Public Works Loan Board and will cost a trivial sum of money per property per year. Meanwhile several dozen school children are put at risk daily at the awkward and dangerous road crossing and traffic is held up morning and evening at rush hours.

Cllrs Stevens and Bonnett have shown it can be done. Mothers and motorists know it should be done. Now the other Berkhamsted Town councillors should get on and do it – or be prepared to answer accusations that they are putting children’s lives at risk for no good reason.

Tring Summer Celebrations

July 23rd, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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carnival Tring blogThe Tring Carnival on 12 July was a great success.

With better weather this year than the nearly total wash-out of 2013, everyone had a great time.  Over 100 stalls showcased clubs and charities, provided a chance to buy souvenirs, novelties, interesting food and drinks – and some of the tastiest lamb burgers you could ever ask for!

The arena was busy and filled all day with demonstrations, competitions, fun and games with the Beer Tent doing a roaring trade as usual.

Transport past and present was exhibited – as our picture of a steam lorry testifies – and transport future was represented by David Barnett of Miswell Lane, Tring introducing his range of electric bikes to a waiting world.  See www.tringmotion.co.uk 

Investing in Green Energy

July 23rd, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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solar_power BLOGEd Davey, Lib Dem Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change  writes in LibDem Voice “I have published the Government’s first ever Energy Investment Report.

“It shows how Liberal Democrats in Government have delivered on jobs and investment in energy – particularly green energy – and shows the plan we now have for this to continue for decades to come.

“Let me be clear – investment in the energy sector has not been a ‘nice to have’.  We inherited a legacy of energy underinvestment from Labour and we’ve spent the last four years turning this around.   The sheer scale of the investment has already been huge: between 2010 and 2013 we’ve secured £45 billion of investment in electricity generation and networks alone.  The UK’s future energy infrastructure investment is larger than transport, communications and water spending combined.

“While I’m sure you’ll be interested in reading every word of the entire report, you may want to start with what we’ve achieved on renewable electricity.

“A few facts:

  • Since 2010, an average £7 billion a year has been invested in renewable energy.  This compares to £3 billion a year in the previous parliament.
  • Electricity generation from renewable sources has doubled since 2010 and now supplies 15% of the UK’s electricity.
  • Earlier this year, eight renewable energy projects got contracts providing up to £12 billion of private sector investment and up to 8,000 jobs
  • The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and we have more than any other country.  This supports up to 18,000 jobs.  By 2020 we could see offshore wind powering almost 7 million homes.
  • Onshore wind has attracted £7.6 billion of investment between 2010 and 2013 and supports 17,000 jobs.
  • Solar PV attracted £6.4 billion of private investment between 2010 and 2013.

“While these facts speak for themselves, we can’t be complacent.   We’ve put in place the necessary reforms and now Ernst & Young rank the UK as one of the best places in the world for renewables investment.  But we know that there are threats from the right, particularly on onshore wind, and from the Labour Party with their energy price freeze policy.  Their policy not only threatens the competition to the Big 6 that we’ve encouraged, but also investors who currently see the UK as a great place to invest.

“Be in no doubt.  The Lib Dems have the strongest green energy record of any political party and Britain is now on track to beat our renewable electricity targets for 2020.”

Tories Accused of Misleading Residents As New Figures Show Over 800,000 Bus Journeys Could Be Cut!

July 22nd, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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387 004 blogHertfordshire’s ruling Conservatives have been accused of misleading residents over plans to reduce bus services in the evenings and at weekends.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, and Highways Spokesperson, County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst (Central Watford and Oxhey) has found out that instead of the 200,000 passenger journeys being cut due to the Tories suggested cuts to evening and Sunday services, the real figure will actually be closer to 809,000 passenger journeys.

Stephen said, “When the proposal first came out I asked for details of who would be affected by what route and what the county subsidies were. I have had to chase several times for this and now after the Consultation process has started with, in my mind, flawed data, the Council has had to admit that the number of people affected by this cut is 4 times as many as they first told us, with some 809,00 journeys actually facing the cut. This is scandalous, the Tories run the council and they should be checking what they are proposing, tens of thousands of residents will be affected and no longer able to use buses if these cuts go ahead.

“We were told, and the consultation document also claims that bus subsidies range from ‘10p to over £9 per individual journey’. Yet on the figures I have unearthed the highest subsidy on any of the routes being cut is £4.19 !. Yet again they Tories have not done their homework and are misleading people.” said the Lib Dem Leader.

“They have not thought through this and its effect on residents. Liberal Democrats have launched petitions county-wide opposing these cuts. You can sign it at : signme.org.uk/985. They are also urging residents to fill in the consultation and reject the proposed cuts at : consult.hertsdirect.org/bus-services/

” The Conservatives run the Council and often, in my view, ignore the consultation and just carry on regardless.  We need a massive response with the petition and consultation to reject these unfair cuts that hit the least able and mobile in our community. ” concluded Cllr Giles-Medhurst.

Liberal Democrats to Support New Rules to Provide Greater Choice of Retirement Pensions

July 21st, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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Pensions blogNew rules which would provide greater choice and more innovative pensions products, are expected to be announced this week.

The Coalition Government wants to encourage pension providers to develop new retirement income products that are tailored to the needs of the individual consumer and which offer more choice, freedom and flexibility.

The government is expected to publish its response to the consultation ‘Freedom and Choice in Pensions’ this week.

As part of its response the Coalition is expected to announce changes to the tax rules that govern the pension products firms can sell.

It is expected that the Coalition will announce the following intentions:

  • To allow people to receive varying levels of income throughout the lifetime of their annuity.
  • To allow lump sums to be taken from lifetime annuities where specified and agreed with circumstances – for example if care needs arise – providing certainty that the person’s income is flexible enough to meet sudden costs.
  • To change the rules regarding payments from annuities after death – so that people can buy products which will guarantee some of their income is returned to their family if they die.

This Weekend…

July 18th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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 19 July – 10:00 – 13:00 GOSH Charity Golf Coaching event

Every year Dave Marsden holds a charity golf coaching event at Berkhamsted Golf Driving range (Spring Garden Lane, off Shootersway HP4 3GY) where 100% of the donations go to Great Ormond Street Hospital. To book either the junior coaching or adult coaching please visit my website www.davemgolf.com
Childrens’ Event (Ages 5-15)      Admission charges:  no charge just donations on the day

Places on these lessons need to be booked in advance on website: www.davemgolf.com
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19 July – 13:00 – 23:00 Dacorum Folk Fest

A day of celebration throughout The Old Town Hall culminating in a headline concert in the main theatre. There will be arts and crafts stalls and free activities in the Arches Enclosure including Morris dancing, a local under 10 yrs ceilidh group, face painting, a folk singaround and an exciting choice of three ‘turn up and join in on the day’ session workshops for bluesy slide guitar, folk fans and acoustic guitar. Folkstock are presenting a selection of emerging stars from the acoustic folk and roots scene in an afternoon showcase followed by fantastic performances in the Acoustic Showcase Special. There really is something here for everyone! This event will be part of a day long celebration of the Old Town development works with food, drink, stalls and entertainment throughout the High Street. For more details and a timetable of events please visit www.oldtownhall.co.uk.

www.oldtownhall.co.uk
Admission charges:  Each showcase £5 Showcase pass for both £8 Evening headline concert £12, £10 concession Full Festival passport £17, £15 concessions
The Old Town Hall, High Street Hemel Hempstead HP1 3AE
Box Office telephone:  01442 228091
Email:  [email protected]
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19 July –  13:00 – 18:00  The Old Town Street Festival

Old Town High Street, Hemel Hempstead HP1 3AE – The Old Town High Street Festival on Saturday 19 July between 1pm and 6pm and see the improvements for yourself. Enjoy the music, stalls and entertainment for all the family along with performances, activities and workshops in the Old Town Hall’s Folk Fest. There will be something for all ages to enjoy as we celebrate the start of a new era for the High Street.

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20 July – 15:00 – 17:30 Abbots Langley Orchestra Summer Afternoon Concert

St Lawrence Church - High Street, Abbots Langley WD5 0AS

Wagner – Tristan and Isolde: Prelude to Act 3 Dvorak – Violin Concerto, op 53 Schubert – Symphony No. 4, “Tragic” Vaughan Williams – Prelude founded on the Welsh hymn tune “Rhosymedre This Summer afternoon concert features up and coming Irish violinist Ciaran McCabe.Exciting music in the wonderful historic setting of St Lawrence Church, complete with refreshments including Pimms.

Admission charges: £8 at the door. Children FREE
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Herts Liberal Democrats Demand Action on Highways Safety

July 18th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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roadwork signHerts County Council is to review its highways faults inspection regime following pressure from the Liberal Democrat Group Leader and Deputy Leader.

Lib Dem Group Leader, County Councillor (Watford: Central & Oxhey), Stephen Giles-Medhurst said “There are grave concerns regarding our Highways safety and the regime in place to ensure it.  The findings in the case of Curtis v HCC, where Mr Curtis was seriously injured because the highways inspection regime failed to spot a serious pothole and fix it. This shows that the County’s inspection regime is not fit for pressure and needs a review.

“We should be taking urgent action to protect cyclists and other road users from serious Highways faults, as well as the Authority needing to take action to prevent further legal claims against it.”

At last week’s Highways Panel, officers defended the current inspection regime implying, despite the court case result, that nothing was wrong and said they would not review for at least 18 months.

“I am thus pleased that at Full Council, the whole council accepted this was not good enough and backed my motion for a review – and I hope changes the inspection regime to within 6 months.”

Tring Lib Dem County Councillor Nick Hollinghurst also spoke at the Council meeting. He said that the judgement also called into question a Highways Authority’s statutory defence against negligent maintenance. This concerned the inspection  frequency, which the Highways Act leaves for the Authority to determine in the light of the actual use and amount of traffic on the highway in question.

He said, “In practice road use and the amount of traffic can change. A formerly quiet road, which has become heavily used over time, can often be left with an annual inspection period decided upon decades ago. Unless the county reviews and updates these inspection periods a court may decide they are unreasonable in the light of current road use. This would deprive the County of its statutory defence, thus exposing it to successful claims.”

HCC Conservatives: Unrepentant over Millions of Pounds of Taxpayers Money Down the Drain

July 18th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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Paul Zukowskyj and Sandy Walkington with supporters marking New Barnfield plans being turned down

Paul Zukowskyj and Sandy Walkington with supporters marking New Barnfield plans being turned down

At Tuesday’s meeting of Hertfordshire County Council the Liberal Democrats demanded an apology for the money wasted in the New Barnfield waste fiasco.

Despite admitting the loss of “a few million”, top Tory councillors remain unrepentant at millions of pounds of taxpayers money being wasted on the controversial, unpopular and now rejected New Barnfield plan for a massive waste disposal incinerator in the Green Belt, next to a housing estate and with inadequate road access.

Lib Dem County Councillor Hatfield South, Paul Zukowskyj who proposed the motion commented, “HCC Conservatives need to apologise for not listening to the six thousand people who objected to this plan back in 2007, and all the local taxpayers who have had to foot a bill of millions and millions of pounds as the council tried to defend the indefensible.

“The meeting saw the usual suspects trying to defend this disastrous plan while the Conservative back benches remained sullen and unrepentant throughout.”

County Councillor St Albans South, Sandy Walkington also commented saying “We now need to develop a sensible and environmentally responsible alternative to deal with our household waste. To add insult to injury as well as wasting millions of pounds, we now seem to be told that there is no plan B”

At the end of a heated discussion Conservatives refused to apologise or reflect on how they could learn from this sorry catalogue of events.

Herts CC – Bus Services Face £880,000 of Cuts

July 17th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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387 004 blogAt Tuesday’s meeting of Herts County Council, the Liberal Democrat group fought to save local bus services from swingeing cuts planned by local Conservative politicians.

Lib Dem County Councillor, Stephen Giles-Medhurst (Watford: Central & Oxhey) said “We need full and detailed information to make sense of these budget cuts and what they will mean. The proposals to cut all services on non-commercial routes on Sundays and after 6.30 pm on any day will have wide-reaching implications.

“It might be that there are other options we could consult on, such as fare changes, rather than these massive cuts affecting 200,000 passengers a year on 39 different routes.”

St Albans County Councillor Sandy Walkington commented “This will impact not only young people and the elderly, but also commuters who rely on bus services to and from train stations and who will often get back from London well after 6.30 pm. Together with the removal of any support for services on Sunday, these cuts place a curfew on some of our residents”

Sadly the Conservatives forced through a motion that totally ignored the practical reality of what these cuts will mean for those not served by commercial bus routes.

Eight Acres, Tring – Verge Hardening

July 16th, 2014 by nickhollinghurst
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Nick Hollinghurst with Tring Town Councillor Georgina Haynes

Nick Hollinghurst with Tring Town Councillor Georgina Haynes

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

Hardening the verge is a means to protect, or restore, the appearance of unsightly vehicle damaged verges.

The parking situation in Eight Acres has been difficult for a long time. Dacorum Borough councillor for the area, Nick Hollinghurst, said, “My thanks go to those local residents who have taken time and trouble over the years to organise petitions, 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 Eight Acres which is scaled at number 46 out of the total of 50.

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.”

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