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    • Article: Aug 21, 2019
      By Liberal Democrats

      Now more than ever, people are crying out for a new vision for our country.

      They want an alternative to creeping nationalism and populism. People want a new vision for our country, and only the Liberal Democrats can supply that. That's why today, we're announcing our new Shadow Cabinet to stop Brexit.

    • SW Strawberry Tea 2019
      Article: Aug 21, 2019
      By Hilary Shibata

      The restored Victorian Chapel at the Almshouses in Saffron Walden was buzzing with lively conversation on a sunny Sunday afternoon as Lib Dem members and supporters gathered for a traditional English Strawberry Tea of home-made scones, meringues, and locally sourced strawberries.

      Mike Hibbs welcomed the many new members present. "The two great threats to all our futures are Global Heating and Brexit. We urgently need a united front - locally and nationally, to tackle these dangers. Together we can build a better future."

    • North Herts Logo
      Article: Aug 20, 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.

    • Mayor Dave Hodgson being interviewed for BBC Look East
      Article: Aug 20, 2019

      Mayor Dave Hodgson has told BBC Look East that the Government needs to show it actually cares about infrastructure by investing in critical road upgrade schemes in Bedford Borough and the wider region. In comments made during an unconventional interview while travelling along the Bedford Western Bypass, Mayor Dave outlined the reasons why the Government should invest in the dualling of the bypass and other roads schemes proposed by the England's Economic Heartland partnership, whose Strategic Transport Forum he chairs.

    • Article: Aug 20, 2019
      By Tom Brake

      With every announcement, the government is making clear that they intend to leave the EU without a deal on 31st October - and EU citizens are going to be left in the lurch.

      Over the weekend, the government announced that they intend to end Freedom of Movement on October 31st - despite promises from Theresa May's government that there would be a two-year transition period.

    • Article: Aug 19, 2019

      Bedford Borough Council is writing a new Town Centre Plan and wants to hear from you.

      Town centres across the country are changing. The internet and online shopping are permanently changing how we shop and how we use our town centre.

      But Bedford has a unique story to tell: alongside our unique and beautiful river, 62% of our local retail are independent shops- a higher percentage than Cambridge; small businesses get automatic rate relief; and last year, 77 new businesses opened in the town centre. Bedford is a place to come to shop, enjoy events, culture, heritage, our local markets and much, much more.

    • Wild Flowers by Highway. (Bumblebee Conservation Trust)
      Article: Aug 19, 2019

      At the Hertfordshire County Council Meeting on 16th July County Councillor, Steve Jarvis, who represents Royston West & Rural - and is also the North Herts District Councillor for Weston & Sandon - proposed a motion calling on HCC to bring forward proposals to manage highway maintenance in ways that improve bio-diversity.

      His motion was seconded by County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, who represents Central Watford & Oxhey and is the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Herts County Council.

    • 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."

    • Daniel-Poul ter-960x640. OGL 3 (OGL 3 public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.)
      Article: Aug 18, 2019

      Your MP's - Daniel Poulter Conservative MP for Central Suffolk & North Ipswich

      Like so many of his constituents who out of necessity have more than one job, Dr Poulter MP also has two jobs, holds up a questionable track record on tackling climate change and consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability

    • 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."