WE HAVE COMMITTEE VACANCIES AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Since the 1960’s, the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group Committee members have worked on behalf of the community to ensure that issues connected with Planning, Community Safety, Heritage and Environment in the Welwyn Parish are fully researched and acted upon.
The Committee has ensured that the WPAG Membership is kept fully informed on matters of importance.
The WPAG website keeps members updated with newsletters and bulletins, together with links to other Welwyn-based organisations and local events.
The Committee has remained constant for several years. The work is enjoyable and is not onerous. We meet only a few times a year. Up to two WPAG Committee members are co-opted onto each meeting of the WPC Planning and Licensing Committee, which meets once every 3 weeks and, as only two are needed at a time, we rotate our attendance according to convenience. Shared among a full committee, the duties are minimal.
Very sadly, over the past 12 months we have lost several committee members through ill-health and death. We are therefore urgently seeking four new Committee Members.
If you feel you could spare a little time to join the committee of what is a very worthwhile group, we would love to talk to you.
You would be doing something very worthwhile for your community whilst having the opportunity to get involved in helping to maintain the status quo of our beautiful village.
Residents have commented on the increased presence of parking control officers in Welwyn Village for the past couple of months.
Parking surveillance requested by Welwyn Parish Council, and organised by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, has been only 2 days a week for a long time. There has been no request for an increase in surveillance from WPC, so one may only assume that this was instigated by WHBC.
A considerable number of tickets have been issued. This in itself is not a bad thing if it discourages long-term parking on the High Street by those who could leave a car all day in Whitehill Car Park; and leaves space for residents to park during the permissible 1½ hour slot.
However, it may be that WHBC are looking again at changing Welwyn’s parking arrangements and/or introducing charges. This would be a disaster for our High Street businesses and a great inconvenience for residents and visitors, who sustain the vibrant economy of our lovely village. I will keep a close watch on the situation and will report further if there are any developments.
MEANWHILE, there have also been issues of parking tickets being issued in the Welwyn High Street car park to drivers who have parked in the narrow, undefined space at the bottom of it. Welwyn Parish Council have agreed that, although not clearly defined as a parking space, there is no reason why cars should not park there. In addition, there is no signage or marking of any kind to indicate that one should not park there. WPC feel that optimum use should be made of the car park and that the smaller space can accommodate a small car or bike without problem. THEREFORE, anyone who has been issued with a ticket for parking in that spot should definitely challenge the ticket.
PARKING AT WELWYN CIVIC CENTRE
In response to complaints from residents to Welwyn Parish Council about the lack of parking spaces at the Civic Centre for library users, WPC has decided to enforce the closure of the barrier at 23:00 nightly and, more importantly, not opening it until 09:30. They hope this element of control will reduce the number of all-day parkers/commuters and will review the situation after two months. Other options may be considered such as reserving certain spaces for Library users only and extending warden coverage to enforce.
PARKING IN LOCKLEYS DRIVE CAR PARK
The difficulty in parking in Lockleys is car park has been discussed in detail with WPC. The issue is still under debate, primarily because any change to the existing conditions would be subject to a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) and mandatory consultation; the cost of which would be approximately £10,000.
Suggestions have been to allocate half of the site for all-day parking and the other half with a time restriction, e.g. 3 hours. The WPAG will update the website as and when any decisions are made.
Starting on Monday 15th January, patch repair works commenced along the Codicote Road. This is a temporary repair and I was advised by those doing the work that the road will be closed again sometime in the summer for a complete resurface.
The Highways Group put up diversion signs taking traffic a long way round to avoid the Codicote Road. Although the diversion signs moved traffic away from Fulling Mill Lane locals, as well as trucks, vans and lorries, used Fulling Mill Lane as a cut-through resulting in traffic chaos, damage to gardens and verges, and many frayed tempers.
The episode has been brought to the attention of Herts County Council, with the request that, when the road is resurfaced in the summer, there needs to be a plan for the traffic management of Fulling Mill Lane.
PROJECT MANAGER, WELWYN PLANNING AND AMENITY GROUP
Police and Crime Commissioner
Further to your Open Letter, the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group would like to make the following comments:
Welwyn Parish is primarily a rural community, which centres round the village high street and amenities.
There are a large number of elderly residents and properties on the outer boundaries are somewhat remote from transport links. The roads are very dark at night and, with the exception of the village centre, quiet.
Over the past two or three years there has been a marked increase in petty crime and anti-social behaviour, attributable in many instances to local youths and, on occasion, to travelling community children.
For local businesses, there have been issues of shoplifting, nuisance, vandalism and harassment.
For residents, there have been issues of nuisance, vandalism (especially to vehicles), harassment, dangerous “wheelie” cycling on footpaths and against traffic, speeding at night on roads, general disturbance. For the elderly this is very frightening.
There have also been the usual burglaries and thefts from vehicles. Another issue that concerns residents is the very frequent illegal parking on the zigzags, and on the zebra crossing, outside Tesco in Welwyn Village. This takes place mostly in the evenings between 5:30 and 7:30 pm.
Residents appreciate that, in the great order of issues within the Welwyn Hatfield Borough, the above are of lesser importance to the gang, drug, knife and violent crimes that take place in other parts. They also understand that the police must give priority to these above the minor issues.
However, two years ago, you promised to increase community policing. Policing in Welwyn Village is minimal. The local PCSO has a vast area to cover; we rarely see him. Policing is, by nature of the limited resources and cuts, reactive as opposed to proactive.
Residents still reminisce to the “good old days” 3 years ago, when a local PC was regularly seen in Welwyn and was known by almost everyone. Old fashioned policing it may have been – but it worked. He knew the local youths and communicated with them. We had no noticeable anti-social behaviour, nor any of the issues that have ensued since the “Bobby was taken off the Beat”.
It is unlikely that residents would object to an increase in local taxation to cover more PCs and PCSOs, providing there was some evidence of better police support for local communities.
Some might have noticed that for the past week we have had a security issue with the website. The result was that anybody accessing it would have received a warning about the wisdom of proceeding because the problem might have been caused by an external malicious site. .
I wish to let you know that we knew about the problem right from the start, It was linked to moving across to a new Security Certificate (SSL) registration.
For those who might be interested, if you look at our URL (website name at the top of this page) you will see a green padlock and the word ‘Secure’ which signifies that this site is secure, as it always has been. You will notice that the usual HTTP:// also has an S added to it – HTTPS:// – S stands for security.
All websites you visit should have this Green Padlock and an HTTPS web address – look for it always as I believe you should be wary if you access any site that doesn’t have it.
The SSL for our site has to be renewed on an annual basis. Last week, as we moved over the certificate, our website host removed some code which caused the problems accessing the site.
We now have the issue ironed out and our new Security Licence is up and running for the coming year.
We do apologise for the alarm we might have caused our members, and we thank those who helpfully wrote to the chairman to point out that we had a problem.
The WPAG has responded to the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s invitation to send comments about his Proposals to increase the Council Tax Policing Precept for 2018 . That Response has been published separately.
It is recommended that you first understand the background to his Proposals, and you have a choice of going to his official website and reading his Open Letter or reading the letter which members of the Police OWL system (Online Watch Link) received on 22nd January 2018 which provides an excellent summary and which we have copied below for your convenience.
The following is an OWL message from the P&C Commissioner dated 22nd January 2018. It is very easy to join OWL. If you have not already done so – simply go to www.owl.co.uk
Dear Watch Member,
I hope that you have had a good start to 2018.
Before Christmas I sent a message regarding my proposals for this year’s council tax precept to be spent on policing.
The government recently gave Police and Crime Commissioners the flexibility to apply an increase equivalent to £1 a month on the average household to fund local policing. I propose to take advantage of this flexibility and raise the precept by this amount which is £12 a year.
Many of you have taken the time to share your views with me on this, for which I am grateful. With just over a week to go before I present my proposal to the Police and Crime panel, I want to give those of you who have not had a chance to share comments another opportunity to do so.
In Hertfordshire, this additional funding will be spent on protecting neighbourhood policing teams and investing in additional police officers for Hertfordshire’s specialist Operation Scorpion units to help tackle burglary, anti-social behaviour and drug-related crime.
More resources will also be placed into the Force Control Room, where 999 and 101 calls have risen dramatically since the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
There will also be more funding for crime investigation teams to make sure that victims of crime receive the best care possible.
You can read my Open Letter attached to this email, or at the website, where you can also see the press release and FAQs.
Under these proposals, Hertfordshire will continue to have one of the lowest council tax levels in the whole country. I welcome your views on this proposal – please email : or write to:
Precept Consultation Police and Crime Commissioner Harpenden Police Station
As reported separately, (see Hertfordshire’s Local Transport Plan) the WPAG has been working on the draft County Local Transport Plan with the Welwyn Parish Council Planning & Licensing Committee. The following is a copy of the separate Submission to County made by the WPAG which results from this work.
The Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group wishes to make the following comments on the Draft Local Transport Plan on behalf of Welwyn residents:
Although the Welwyn Parish has a diverse population, there are a large number of elderly/older residents, many of whom are not fully mobile. There is a dependency on the car as a mode of transport for those who are able to drive.
Likewise, schools in rural communities are not always within walking distance of homes, nor are the homes served by bus routes that provide an adequate service to meet the needs of parents and residents.
We have considerable reservations about policy 4, page 51. Assumptions are made that car usage can be reduced by introducing parking restrictions. This is all well and good for areas where the public transport system is fit for purpose; sadly in our Parish it is not, especially outside working hours and at weekends. There is no direct transport link from the village to the nearest train station. The one, extremely popular, bus route to London was withdrawn three years ago. Cuts from County Council subsidies have resulted in cuts to bus timetables. This leaves residents with no option other than the car. We have a Catch 22 situation.
In addition, a policy that restricts parking in town centres and high streets will eventually kill off the small businesses altogether. The reason that the big supermarkets are successful is because there is parking and people don’t have to struggle on buses with heavy shopping or walk long distances from bus stops. What is needed is a policy that does not discourage the use of local shops and we are strongly opposed to any increase in parking restrictions or charges.
The A1(M) has a junction leading directly into Welwyn village. This becomes a rat-run during rush hours for vehicles trying to overtake the congestion on that section of the motorway by cutting through the village and rejoining the A1(M) at the next junction. The result is total congestion during peak times and a risk of danger to pedestrians using the narrow High Street pavements.
The consistent requests to Highways from Parish, Borough and County councillors for a trial traffic lights scheme during peak times have not been granted. This issue is a continuing bone of contention for residents and we fail to understand the reasoning behind not at least running a trial.
The proposed “smart” motorway will not, in our opinion, provide a solution to or alleviate this problem. In particular, there is major congestion during peak periods in all directions from the junction 6 northbound slip road, known locally as “The Clock” roundabout. This blocks the B197 as far as Woolmer Green, the A1000 through to Digswell and the B656 as far as Codicote. Residents report that it takes longer to reach the motorway than it does to drive to London once they have joined it. A journey that should take 5 or 10 minutes can easily be 30 minutes or more.
The situation will worsen as more new builds emerge, on the edge of the Parish and in adjacent villages, with increased traffic all using the same routes to reach the Al(M). There is insufficient infrastructure to support all the local plan building projects along the A1(M) corridor and the eventual increase in traffic will exacerbate what is already a major daily issue for local residents. The Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group find the fact that this issue has not been given proper consideration to be unacceptable.
The WPAG supports the proposed development of runways at Luton and Stansted. Anything that will provide increased facilities to the local area, reducing the need for long journeys by car to other airports, can only be beneficial to the community.
Another issue that has caused concern is the frequent use of rural roads by heavy vehicles that access quarries. Although conditions were set that this should not happen, there seems to be no enforcement of the agreement. In particular, large lorries servicing the quarry at Codicote, are using the B656. This is a narrow road, with very narrow pavements and such vehicles cause both danger, noise, inconvenience and pollution to residents.
Lastly, we would raise the issue of the East-West connectivity. This is virtually non-existent and a major improvement in public transport for this corridor is long overdue.
The DTLP is, by its very nature, forced to make generalisations. However, it must be taken into account that rural concerns are very different to those of more developed areas. The differences in local transport links and facilities, together with the ability to reach nearby shopping areas and hospitals, are immense.
The lives of ordinary people are drastically affected by decisions taken by those who have no concept of the transport and commuting problems they are forced to cope with on a daily basis. Understandably, the decision-makers do not know specific areas and do not personally experience the issues raised. That is why it is vitally important that credence is given to points raised by representatives of local communities who have on-site experience.
PROJECT MANAGER, WELWYN PLANNING AND AMENITY GROUP
The Draft County Local Transport Plan was Published on 31st October 2017 for Public Consultation, and is Open until 23rd January 2018.
We recommend that you go to the Online Draft and head for the Executive Summary if you do not want to read all 115 pages.
Within the scope of our co-opted status with the Welwyn Parish Council Planning & Licensing Committee, WPAG has discussed the Draft in Committee and, as a result, will submit our views as a separate document to that being submitted by the Welwyn Parish Council.
The Friends of Panshanger Park report that extraction of gravel from Panshanger by Lafarge Tarmac finally ended on 31st December 2017, and that there is now no reason why the park should not be fully open from 1st January 2018 ..