The Project Manager Reports – Banking in the Village

The outside the bank photo shows L – R :  Cllr Tony Kingsbury (Leader Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council), Sandra Kyriakides (Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group), Grant Shapps MP, Jane Carr (St Mary’s Church), Delene Miller (Welwyn Post Office)

The outside the bank photo shows L – R :  Cllr Tony Kingsbury (Leader Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council), Sandra Kyriakides (Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group), Grant Shapps MP, Jane Carr (St Mary’s Church), Delene Miller (Welwyn Post Office)

PRESS RELEASE                                      09 March 2019

WELWYN TO LOSE ITS ONLY BANK AT THE END OF MARCH

Barclays Bank’s scheduled closure will go ahead on 29th March.  This is despite the Petition co-ordinated by Christina Raven, bearing 1184 signatures, which asks that the bank should stay open for a few more years.

At a meeting with Barclays on Friday 8th March, Grant Shapps MP presented the petition on behalf of the community to Donna Hagan-Grenfell, Community Banking Director.  Also present were Cllr Tony Kingsbury, Leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Sandra Kyriakides for the Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group, Jane Carr for St Mary’s Church and Delene Miller, proprietor of Welwyn’s Post Office.  Lisa Webb, Barclays Community Relations Officer and Dean Body, Director of Business Banking at Welwyn Garden City were also present.

Grant Shapps spelled out the major issues that the closure of the Bank will create.   These are of great concern to the local community and Mr Shapps asked that Barclays find ways to help the community in the short-term, until long-term solutions are implemented.

Sandra Kyriakides pointed out that the nearest banks to Welwyn are either 4 miles away in Welwyn Garden City or 5 miles away in Stevenage.  This can involve half a day on buses for the elderly and less able, for whom Barclays in Welwyn has been a lifeline for so many years.  She also said that the defibrillator needs to be as near to its current location as possible as this is the part of the village with the highest footfall.  She raised the concern of businesses that operate mainly on a cash basis and the problems they will have.

Dona Hagan expressed a willingness to help on behalf of Barclays.  She was unable to give definitive answers at the meeting but will be seeking approval for the suggestions made and will report back to those present at the meeting as soon as possible.

The meeting was very positive.  Agreement, in principle, was reached for the following:

  1. The ATM machine is to be relocated to a suitable site within Welwyn Village and will be paid for and maintained by Barclays, provided they can do this without incurring a rental charge.  Barclays will endeavour to keep the current machine operational until then.  Grant Shapps stressed that there must be no break in availability of cash provision.
  • The Defibrillator can remain on the wall of the Barclays Bank building until approval for the new site is finalised and Barclays will continue to supply the electrical connection.  This could take some months.   Barclays has agreed to cover the cost of moving and reinstalling the defibrillator.
  •  A Banking Assistance service will be provided by Barclays for as long as is appropriate to those who need help with online banking procedures.  This will be of particular benefit to the older members of the community who are less mobile or unsure of technology.  St Mary’s Church has offered space in Church House to run these sessions on Tuesday mornings when Community Café meets.
  • Businesses that are Barclays customers are invited to contact Dean Body at Welwyn Garden City to discuss arrangements that may be possible for provision and collection of cash, called “Business Collect”.  Dona Hagan also agreed to investigate the possibility of providing this service to the Charity Shop and Church.

Although Barclays’ decision is irreversible and the loss of the bank will be difficult for Welwyn, they are at least listening to the problems that losing the bank will cause to the village and seem to be willing to help.

Our thanks to Grant Shapps MP for his support and to Christina Raven for all her work putting together the Petition, which Barclays say they will acknowledge.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group


The Project Manager Reports – Welwyn’s Heritage Trail

The following report was drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

THE WELWYN HERITAGE TRAIL

Welwyn’s Heritage Trail was established a few years ago by the Welwyn Archaelogical Society with Lottery Funding.  Sadly, the website has not functioned for some time due to a loss of management, and lack of funding.

Through our active involvement with the Welwyn Parish Council’s Community Engagement Committee, WPAG has stepped in to manage this Project, aided by a generous donation of funds from the Welwyn Parish Plan Group. The aim is to restore this valuable guide to Welwyn’s heritage.

As a result, WPAG is currently working with volunteer local IT designers with the purpose of restoring the Welwyn Heritage Trail early in 2019.

The Danesbury Victorian Fernery and grotto

The Van Gogh Bust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opportunity will be taken to add two more sites to Welwyn’s Heritage Trail, to inform visitors and direct them to their location.

Sandra Kyriakides – Project Manager

The Project Manager Reports – Van Gogh – a Project Update

The following report was posted by Sandra Kyriakides

VAN GOGH PROJECT

You will all be aware of the role of WPAG in bringing the Van Gogh bust to the village. (See  the earlier post)

The sculptor, Anthony Padgett, has since suggested that the places that receive one of his Van Gogh bust donations (including Welwyn) might like to form a link with one another.

We have therefore been in communication with the Municipal Council of Arles, (Van Gogh’s home town in France) who have voted to accept Anthony’s kind offer.  They have been reminded of our (Welwyn) bust and suggested they might consider forming a cultural link with Welwyn in relation to our shared interest and history with Van Gogh.

The President of the Van Gogh Association, Vincent Ramon has written confirming that they would very much like to do this.

Anthony Padgett’s latest installation of Van Gogh sculpture work was unveiled in Brixton on 17th November.   (See The Art Newspaper)

The story of the project and photos of the bust of Vincent Van Gogh was in the national press Sunday Telegraph (a big half page photo) on 25th November.  It gives some excellent publicity for the Van Gogh Walk and the sculpture – and marked the event on a national level.  Welwyn was mentioned.

WPAG will be liaising with administrators at all sites with a view to establishing a link between all of them and ourselves.

The whole project is quite exciting and there will be a Tate Britain exhibition of Van Gogh’s work in March 2019.   We are in contact with Martin Bailey, the curator, to explore the possibility of including a reference to the Welwyn connection.

 

The Project Manager Reports – the poor State of our Local Pavements/Pathways

The following Report was drafted by Sandra Kyriakides

CONDITION OF LOCAL PAVEMENTS/PATHWAYS

WPAG is conducting a survey of local pavements and pathways that are in bad or poor condition.

If you know of any problem locations – please tell us.

Input from you is vital so, if there are any in your area, please email the location details to ku.gr1553377543o.gap1553377543w@reg1553377543anamt1553377543cejor1553377543p1553377543

We will record all reported details in our dossier, and WPAG will then raise the matter with those responsible for their maintenance.

 

The Project Manager Reports – Singlers Marsh Litter Bin Replacement

Local walkers in July/August noticed that the large litter bin which used to be next to the seat on Singlers Marsh, had disappeared!  It had been vandalised and believed to have been thrown into the River. Without a vigorous WPAG approach to the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, on behalf of  local residents and visitors alike, it is quite likely that nothing would have been done to replace it in a very long time.

There is a small litter bin attached to the fence by the exit gate onto Fulling Mill Lane, but this frequently gets overloaded, and it would seem that apart from litter, it is also being used by dog walkers to deposit dog poo bags.

Disgusting as this might be, it is perhaps not surprising as Singlers Marsh is clearly in need of dog poo bins too, and the Friends of Singlers Marsh volunteer group have been pressing the responsible Borough Council Officers to take a look at the site.

The WPAG were able to help by pushing hard to demand a timescale to resolve these issues, and local Borough Councillor Tony Kingsbury, who is Executive member for Housing and Community, responded.

We are pleased to report that a replacement waste bin has now been installed.

So what about dog poo bins? What about errant dog owners?

The case is still open.

 

London Luton Airport – Expansion Consultation

Luton Airport is planning a major expansion.

A Consultation Paper did not reach the Welwyn Parish Council (WPC) until 25th June 2018 with responses required by 31st August, leaving precious little time to study the associated papers and to respond.

As WPAG are co-opted members of the WPC Planning Committee we have been invited to contribute to their response.

However, the dates of scheduled WPC meetings puts pressure on the time left to respond, and the WPAG Committee will therefore prepare a separate WPAG group response.

The Consultation Documents

To read the Main Consultation Paper go to Consultation Paper and for a Summary go to Consultation Summary. Other associated documents include the Feedback Form

These are weighty papers and the WPC Briefing Paper (copied below), is recommended reading for its comparative brevity.

Individual WPAG members who would like to add thoughts and comments, are encouraged to respond directly to the Consultation.

Briefing Paper for the Welwyn Parish Council Planning Committee

The following Briefing Paper has been prepared by Cllr Bill Morris, Chair of WPC and is reproduced here as it provides a very helpful guide which will be of help to WPAG members.

Background

WPC first became aware of this consultation at their 25th June meeting.  Luton Borough Council (whose company – London Luton Airport Limited – own the airport) are consulting with those whose opinions they seek and who may be affected, about their proposals to expand the airport further and a series of public meetings has been drawn up.  The consultation runs until 31 August, with a series of 17 consultation events taking place in and around Luton between 9 July and 4 August. At these events everyone will have the opportunity to view the plans, speak to members of the expert project team, and provide feedback.  The meeting for our locality was to be held on 10 July at Oaklands College WGC from 1400 to 2000.  Given the lack of open advertisement or direct contact and our late discovery of the event, no WPC representative could attend.  Other venues and times are given on their website and members may wish to attend a more remote event.

The website contains a lot of information including proposals, consultation format and a response booklet:  https:/www.luton.gov.uk/news/Pages/Consultation-gets-under-way-on-potential-expansion-of-London-Luton-Airport.aspx

Given that much of the village, Digswell and Oaklands are under the flight paths, many residents (assuming they were aware) may have concerns.  In addition to the obvious air and noise pollution issues, there are also infrastructure questions concerning travelling both to and from the airport and the airport layout itself, when such an expansion is being considered.The Planning & Licensing Committee is invited to consider the issue and this outline reply, with regard to submission to WPC at their July meeting.  The consultation ends on 31 August, with a further round in 2019.

Proposals

Luton Airport is growing faster than predicted and is now the fifth busiest airport in the UK. At its current rate of growth, Luton is forecast to reach its existing permitted capacity of 18 million passengers per annum (mppa) in 2021.  The Council believe it may be possible to handle up to 36-38 mppa (i.e. doubling the throughput.  The major reasons for doing this, as given by the Council are:

  • There is an opportunity for Luton to play a substantially greater role in the UK aviation market, notwithstanding the proposal for a third runway at Heathrow and the proposed expansion at Stansted. (“Why not us”?)
  • Initial estimates are than there could be an increase of up to 800 new jobs for each additional million passengers per year travelling through Luton and an annual boost to the regional economy of £76m. (“Let’s see the calculations and if Herts and a village such as ours really benefits”)
  • The contribution of an expanded Luton to Beds, Bucks and Herts could reach up to £2.6bn and support up to 42,000 jobs. (as per previous statement).

Essentially this all boils down to developing the site to be able to handle a doubling in passenger numbers and presumably in aircraft numbers (large jets are the most significant, the extensive and lucrative private jet market is important but insignificant in these terms.)  This in turn means expansion or re-arranging of: runway(s), terminal building(s), aircraft hangers (servicing/repairs etc.), inter-communication within the airport and passenger transport infrastructure outside the airport and beyond.

[1] Prepared by Bill Morris, Chair WPC, following a request from Colin Hukin, Chair P&L Committee.  The author has lived in Welwyn (near QVM Hospital) for over 32 years, has flown in and out of Luton Airport on business and pleasure all of that time and still continues to do so for pleasure, twice a year.  His home is also under the westbound landing flight path.

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.