Committee Vacancies – WPAG Secretary

The Chairman published an appeal for new Committee members in January 2018, and we are delighted that several names have been submitted for consideration at the forthcoming AGM on 11th July 2018 **

But please note that of all the positions that we have to fill, the post of Secretary is probably the most critical at the present time.

If you feel you might help us by filling this role, please contact the Chairman, Carl Storer on chairman@wpag.org.uk to discuss what this job entails.

** Details of the AGM have been published in our June 2018 Newsletter.. If you have not subscribed to receive occasional online Newsletters please do so by following the Newsletters tab on the website.

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The Project Manager Reports – the Neglected Codicote Road pathway

THE CODICOTE ROAD PATHWAY

The pathway between the area alongside the Mimram from Fulling Mill Lane to the first house on the Codicote Road has suffered from total neglect over the past 2 years.  Brambles and weeds encroaching onto the path reduced the width of the walking area to just about 1 foot for pedestrians.

WPAG’s Project Manager persuaded WHBC to strim back the overgrowth in time for the Welwyn Street Market on 16th June.  The job is only partly done – the mud and ivy, together with weed roots remain embedded onto the path and hard work with a shovel is going to be the only effective solution.

WHBC have been made aware of this and we await further information/action.

The Project Manager Reports – Water Abstraction at Singlers Marsh – an Update

AFFINITY WATER ABSTRACTION FROM THE MIMRAM NEAR WELWYN VILLAGE

Background

WPAG’s Project Manager has maintained regular contact with the Environment Agency (EA) in order to keep updated on progress in relation to the Affinity Water abstraction near Welwyn Village.

The EA wrote to WPAG in March 2017, informing us about the interim operating agreement for the pumping station agreed by the EA with Affinity Water.  This agreement was to be in place while searching for a solution to any increase in flood risk caused by permanently ceasing abstraction at the pumping station.

The agreement made a provision to maintain a small constant abstraction with the option to increase abstraction back up to 2016 levels if groundwater reached a certain level (agreed at 95.8 Metres above Ordnance Datum (mAOD)).

Current Abstraction Rate

Affinity Water are not currently abstracting from this pumping station and have not done so since April 2017.  This is because abstracting at the lower rate has not been possible due to required upgrades at the pumping station.  Throughout the period since April 2017, the existing pumps have remained in place, but they have not been used because they are unsuitable for pumping at the lower rate.  The upgrade work is now close to completion and it is expected that Affinity Water will start abstracting again at the lower rate this summer.

Singlers Marsh was very wet this Spring,  this is because of persistent rainfall since the start of 2018 and the subsequent rise in groundwater levels.

 

Groundwater levels at Lilley Bottom observation borehole are currently around 95 mAOD and have been rising steadily since the start of the year.  However, given that we are at the end of the colder wetter months when groundwater recharge usually occurs, it is unlikely that groundwater levels will rise to the 95.8 mAOD trigger level in the next six months.  In most years the peak groundwater level is reached in April or May and then falls through summer and autumn.

Flood Risk Model

The EA are still working on their flood risk model for the Mimram catchment. This has taken far longer than expected due to a number of complications and resourcing issues. This work is now nearing completion and WPAG expects to receive an update later this year.

It was always anticipated that the North end of Singlers Marsh would flood during the wet months and this has not given undue cause for concern.  It will be interesting to see whether the lower rate abstraction will have any effect on the Mimram at the Southern end of Singlers Marsh.  Memories of the dried out river bed and the loss of wildlife still remain and the area is only just beginning to recover to the state it was prior to that.

Water Resources Management Plan

With regard to the Affinity Water Draft WATER Resources Management Plan 2020-2080  consultation 19 MARCH – 23 MAY/Draft BUSINESS Plan 2020-2025 Public consultation 26th APR – 25th MAY,  concern has been expressed to WPAG by wildlife society members that Affinity may be trying to renege on their agreement with the EA to reduce abstraction. This obviously relates to the wider catchment areas of the River Mimram and other chalk streams.

WPAG’s Project Manager asked the EA for comment on these concerns.  Their response was:

We have reviewed Affinity Water’s draft Water Resources Management Plan and provided our advice to the company. The plan put forward two options for the level of abstraction reductions that will be carried out between 2020 and 2025. Our understanding is that both of these options include the previously agreed abstraction reduction for the Mimram.

One of the options did include a lower level of abstraction reduction for some other rivers in the Affinity Water operating area. Our advice to the company was to go with the plan that has the previously agreed level of abstraction reduction for all rivers. The company will provide a statement of response this summer to indicate how they have taken this advice and that of other respondents to the consultation on board.

Next Step

The EA will advise WPAG when the statement from Affinity Water becomes available and further relevant information will be posted on the WPAG website in due course.

 

The Project Manager Reports – Support the Oaklands Campaign for a Playground

THE CAMPAIGN FOR A PLAYGROUND IN OAKLANDS NEEDS SUPPORT FROM LOCAL MUMS

This is a message from the Oaklands Playground Team

Calling mums of youngsters in the Oaklands area.  Vicky Turkentine is looking for support with her campaign to establish a playground in the Oaklands area.  As you know, there is nothing for young ones at present and this is a facility that is very much lacking for local residents.

Please check out her website and help her in any way you can.  She is totally dedicated to this project and has put much time and effort into researching a suitable location.

 

The Project Manager Reports – WPAG Secures the Return of Van Gogh to Welwyn

GENEROUS DONATION TO WELWYN VILLAGE OF A VAN GOGH BUST BY AWARD-WINNING SCULPTOR, ANTHONY PADGETT

The Offer – almost rejected.

Vincent Van Gogh’s sister Anna lived and worked in Welwyn, (Miss Applegarth’s School in Forge Lane) and her brother walked a 100-mile journey to visit her here in June 1876 and there are plaques in the village to commemorate that journey.

Copyright Anthony Padgett

In February 2018 year, sculptor, artist and author, Anthony Padgett wrote to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councillors, and other official organisations, generously offering a cold-cast bust of Vincent Van Gogh.to match similar offers made to other areas associated with Van Gogh’s life and travels in Belgium, France and England.

But the Welwyn Invitation almost went off the rails because Mr Padgett’s email to our local Councillors went without acknowledgement or reply!

Thankfully the Chairman of the Welwyn Garden City Society, Will Davis, recognised that the historical connection was in fact with Welwyn village and, after contacting WPAG’s Project Manager Sandra Kyriakides and receiving an emphatic assurance of our interest, he immediately gave Anthony Padgett contact details for Sandra and the Welwyn Plannng & Amenity Group.

The Sculptor and his Project

During 2017, Mr Padgett  studied the legacy of Van Gogh, then created a  sculpture and 67 oil paintings to parallel and contrast Van  Gogh’s life with his own.

The key work of the project was an award winning sculpture based on a detailed analysis of all Van Gogh’s self-portraits.  Everyone has an idea of what Van Gogh looked like although all the many images of him differ.  Anthony Padgett attempts to balance many of the different elements.  The sculpture has been praised by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam as “very remarkable indeed.”

Action This Day

Without delay, Sandra contacted Anthony Padgett to confirm Welwyn’s interest and subsequently set up liaison between him and Welwyn Parish Council Chairman, Bill Morris.

From then on, it has been “All Systems Go” and the official unveiling ceremony of the Van Gogh bust will take place on Saturday 30th June 2018

Welwyn is extremely fortunate to have such an appropriate sculpture to add to its many Heritage sites of public interest.

Unveiling Ceremony – Saturday 30th June 2018 – Bridge Cottage Surgery 

An unveiling ceremony is to take place in front of Bridge Cottage Surgery in Welwyn High Street  by Mrs Marion Brown MBE, JP, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire,

The ceremony commences at 1030 am followed by a Reception at the Civic Centre hosted by the Welwyn Parish Council.

Welwyn Parish Council – Press Release

Unveiling ceremony of the Van Gogh bust on Saturday 30th June 2018

 The ceremony for the unveiling of the Van Gogh sculpture by Mrs Marion Brown MBE JP Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire will take place on Saturday 30th June 2018.

 The ceremony will begin from at 10.30am at the ford area of the River Mimram in the High Street (in front of the Bridge Cottage Surgery opposite the High Street Car Park), where the Chairman of Welwyn Parish Council, Cllr Bill Morris, will say a few words, followed by the artist, Anthony Padgett.

The official ceremony will take place at 11am when Mrs Marion Brown will officially unveil the sculpture.

 Following the ceremony, everyone is invited to move to the Civic Centre in Prospect Place for refreshments and an opportunity to view up close a copy of the sculpture.

The sculpture has been donated by the artist Anthony Padgett who has made a number of cold-cast busts of Vincent Van Gogh which he has donated to areas associated with the artist life (including Belgium, France and England). In 1876 Van Gogh walked 100 miles from Ramsgate to Welwyn to visit his sister Anna who lived in the village.