WPAG – Project Manager

I have recently been appointed Project Manager of the Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group and would like to take this opportunity to explain the function of this role:

As matters arise that are of concern to the area, they will be researched and details will be posted on the WPAG website, together with a summary of queries and/or comments received from residents which relate to specific issues.  I will also post updates giving information on progress, resolutions or the failure thereof.  I would like to encourage residents to write to me at: projectmanager@wpag.org.uk

Current issues on which the WPAG is keeping a very close eye are:

  1. Crime and Anti-social Behaviour
  2. Parking and speeding offences
  3. Singlers Marsh

 

  1. CRIME AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOURPetty crime and anti-social behaviour are steadily on the increase and can be witnessed on more or less a daily basis.  Local shops are experiencing frequent shoplifting by minors, there have been many incidences of abusive and unpleasant behaviour, particularly affecting the High Street businesses and houses in that area.  The latest dangerous craze amongst young boys is riding bicycles on one wheel up the middle of the road into oncoming traffic or pedestrians!The police have been made aware of what is going on.  They urge residents to report to 101 each and every incident that takes place, no matter how minorIf it isn’t reported, it didn’t happen!Please note:  On WEDNESDAY 8th MARCH, between 14:00 and 16:00, The Community Safety Partnership will be visiting Welwyn. (High Street Car Park, or in the Civic Centre if weather bad).  Crime advice, OWL signups and much more.  This will be an opportunity to make the police aware of local concerns and it is therefore really important that as many people as possible come to this event.NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH.

    One of the most beneficial aspects of living in Welwyn and surrounding areas has been the low crime rate.  This is mainly due to the very close-knit community spirit that exists and how people look out for their neighbours.  Maintaining this will help to ensure that Welwyn continues to be a safe and delightful place in which to live, and I would ask any residents who have not already done so to sign up to Neighbourhood Watch OWL (Online Watch Link).  This will enable you to receive online messages from the police about incidents throughout the Borough, as well as putting you in touch with local co-ordinators for your immediate area.  Feel free to contact me for more information.

  2. PARKING AND SPEEDING OFFENCES

    Illegal and inconsiderate parking is an ongoing problem, particularly during rush hour periods and school runs.  Vehicles are frequently parked on double yellow lines, on corners, on the pedestrian crossing and zigzags.  All of these offences create traffic jams and dangerous situations.  The perpetrators are breaking the law.  The Police and the Borough Council are equally responsible for enforcement but, due to staff and finance cuts, neither organisation is able to efficiently control the situation on a regular basis.Speeding and driving carelessly through the village are also a matter of concern.  Suggestions of a 20mph speed limit on some roads and slow down “smiley face” signs have been suggested by some residents as a possible solution.
  3. SINGLERS MARSH      

In April 2017, Affinity Water are scheduled to cease abstraction from the Fulling Mill Pumping Station on Singlers Marsh.  Through liaison with Affinity Water and the Environment Agency, I am able to provide residents with the following information:

EA asked their modellers to test the proposed changes in the Singlers Marsh area.  These were carried out on an early version of the model therefore the results are precautionary and will be improved with further modelling work.  A precautionary approach was also taken with how the interaction between the river and the groundwater was modelled, meaning that the EA approach will overstate the impact.  With flood modelling, they think it is always better to over-estimate rather than under-estimate and, with this precautionary approach to modelling, the EA predict that the River Mimram could see a small rise following the sustainability reduction.

The EA’s technical experts have reviewed the initial model results and, at this stage, believe that a negligible increase in flood risk is the most likely outcome but cannot prove or rule out a small effect on flood risk.

The EA are liaising with Affinity Water to provide an interim operating agreement that would mitigate the possible change in risk and are currently making very positive progress towards this.

The WPAG are keeping a close watch on developments; are in regular communication with Welwyn Parish Council and will keep residents notified of any significant information as it becomes available.

 

The Clock Roundabout and the A1(M) experiment – gridlock

The Danesbury Residents Association (DRA) continues to take the lead in trying to bring the authorities’ attention to the shambles they have created on the Clock roundabout. The DRA has been demanding action since August 2015.

The Welwyn Hatfeld Times, almost one year ago, quoted County Councillor Richard Smith and reported that the traffic light control that the DRA had called for, was at long last going to be installed.

But nothing happened, and following surveys of traffic flow and possible ANPR sites in the summer of 2016, (see The Clock Traffic Light Survey of July 2016) the DRA has been told that even more survey work would be needed before the scheme could proceed.

What scheme?

A recent exchange of emails between the DRA and County Councillor Richard Smith has revealed that, following the appointment of a new Development Manager by Hertfordshire County Council, the plan now is to upgrade the A1(M) between Junction 6 (Welwyn) and Junction 8 (Hitchin) to “Smart Motorway” status and to widen the carriageway from 2 to 3 lanes by using the hard shoulder.

Worse – the design phase of the scheme to upgrade the A1(M) is said to be ‘on schedule’, but work on the ground will not begin until 2019/20 for completion in 2021/22.

Has that news got anything to do with easing local Welwyn traffic problems with an interim measure to install a single ‘temporary’ traffic light?

Hardly.

It would therefore appear that Highways England’s highest priority is to keep the traffic flowing on the motorway and they are not in the least concerned about Welwyn village.

With no prospect of traffic light control at the roundabout, the DRA has decided to ask for  hatched ‘keep clear’ areas to be painted on the roundabout between the north end of the Welwyn bypass and the entry to the northbound A1(M) slip road. That should be a quick and relatively cheap project that should not distract the A1(M) planners too much from higher matters? If at least some drivers respect the hatched area, as some indeed do, then perhaps this will help to avoid the grid-lock which is occurring too frequently at both ends of the working day.

The DRA is pressing hard for a meeting of Senior Officers from both the Borough Council and the County Council, to meet DRA representatives at the roundabout during typical morning and evening rush hour periods to assess the problems at first hand.

But what should be done with drivers who exit the roundabout without signalling, and in so doing deny other car users the opportunity to make use of the gap that should have been created?

 

 

All Change at the Top

The USA has a new President, and the WPAG has a new Chairman.

Only time will tell if that is as far as the comparison goes!

John Roper, Chairman of WPAG for the past 5 years has retired for personal reasons, and we are very pleased to announce that ex-Borough Mayor Carl Storer, resident of Oaklands, has been elected to be our Chairman. John will continue to be our webmaster, hiding behind the title of ‘Editor’.

We also welcome on to our Committee another ex-Borough Councillor, Sandra Kyriakides, who has been given the Portfolio for managing Projects, about which we will be hearing more in due course.

Arseven Reshat Gumush was elected Treasurer following the retirement of our long-running Treasurer, Jim Evans.

We welcome them all, and the Committee already has a more vibrant feel about it.

Carl Storer is in the process of getting his feet under the table, but the Committee has renewed its determination to broaden the scope and the membership of the WPAG to include representation from all three communities, Welwyn Village, Oaklands and Mardley Heath, and Digswell.

It has long been our stated objective to invite representatives of local Residents Associations to join the WPAG Committee, and we will be renewing our efforts in that direction, as well as working to increase our membership. If you are seeking to set up a Residents Association in your area, please let the WPAG Chairman know, and we will see how we might help.

We are also very pleased to promote local organisations and amenity groups. We would like many more local groups to come forward, just as the Welwyn Allotments Association has very recently done. We are happy to promote local organisations’ activities, at no cost, and as they agree to tell us something about themselves and their activities, they are listed in the WPAG Events Calendar. Have a look – you might be surprised at what is going on, and perhaps you can get involved – volunteers are like gold-dust and are always very welcome.

And a reminder – the WPAG is a Registered Charity and we have no income other than membership subscriptions. As we automate many of our administrative functions, our main outgoings, apart from hall hire, now relate to the running and maintenance of this website.

So, if you enjoy reading this website and you are not a paid-up WPAG member, please go to the Membership page and help us. Although the Treasurer has plans to introduce a Standing order System as soon as practicable, the Membership page allows you to sign-up straight away using online payment mechanisms. Try it – it only costs £4 per annum.