The Project Manager Reports – Crime and Public Safety Update

The following Report was prepared by Sandra Kyriakides, WPAG Project Manager and former Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councillor.

There have been incidents of car vandalism as well as two recent burglaries on Welwyn High Street over the past month.

The police are aware and I have asked for a meeting with our local community police team leader to discuss policing in the area in general.  I will report back as and when I have any further information on this.

The police have reverted to the earlier method of policing, with designated officers to ward areas and, when I know who ours is, I will pass this information on to you.

In the meantime, please do all you can to ensure your personal safety and that of your property.  Have good lighting, keep windows and doors locked. Keep an eye open for anything or anyone suspicious and if in doubt, report to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.   If you have not already done so, join Neighbourhood Watch and receive OWL (Online Watch Link) messages that keep you informed about crimes or antisocial activities in your area. This is the season where there is likely to be an increase in opportunist crime, so please be aware and vigilant.

The Project Manager Reports – Re-Cycling U-Turn

The following Report was prepared by Sandra Kyriakides, WPAG Project Manager and former Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councillor.

As most of you reading this report will now be aware, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has made a dramatic U-turn on the ruling about food waste going into Brown Bins.

In the interest of clarity, I am letting you know that all your food waste can now go into your Brown Bin; either wrapped in a paper bag or loose.  WHBC are also looking into the possibility of accepting the biodegradable plastic recycling bags but this has yet to be confirmed, so please do not use them until an official announcement is made.

For those who do not subscribe to the paid-for Brown Bin collection service, and do not have facilities to home compost, I am sorry to say that you will need to continue to dispose of your food waste in your black bin.  This goes to landfill, is expensive and is environmentally and ecologically unfriendly.  However, WHBC still do not have funding in place or plans to introduce a food waste collection service before 2020, so we have no choice but to go along with this, unsatisfactory as it is.

The Project Manager Reports – Local Plans should be Appropriate

The following was written by Sandra Kyriakides and published in the Welwyn Hatfield Times on August 9th 2017 p.22 under the headline ‘How many houses needed after Brexit?’

Sir,

I was deeply concerned to learn that the Planning Inspector has claimed that WHBC’s Local Plan “falls far short of meeting the identified housing need”.  I am the first to criticise the Borough Council for many things that it does but the plan it has submitted is already way in excess of what the Borough’s residents feel the area can sustain.

Central Government seems to have no awareness of the fact, or chooses to ignore, that we in Welwyn Hatfield have major traffic problems, inadequate medical provision, not enough schools and definitely not enough infrastructure to cope with the 12,000 homes that WHBC has put into the plan – let alone one or two thousand more.  Is the Inspector totally oblivious of the fact that there is only one proper hospital, which constantly works to capacity?  There are no provisions for another one.

Where are all the people in these homes going to work and how are they going to commute?  We have appalling links to London; the A1(M) is blocked with accidents on a daily basis; the M25 is one of the world’s slowest ring roads; the only bus to London (797) was stopped two years ago and other bus services have been drastically reduced.  As for the trains: mostly unreliable and pretty appalling and Govia’s plans for the future do not make encouraging reading.  Parking anywhere is more and more difficult – especially at train stations, not to mention the exorbitant cost.

So what does the Inspectorate want to achieve?  Cram more and more homes into the area regardless of the fact that the facilities are just not there to support them?

The “elephant in the room” that no-one mentions is Brexit!  How can anyone accurately “assess” future housing requirements when no-one knows how Brexit will affect this?  The OANs (objectively assessed needs) were calculated before the Brexit vote!  There will certainly be a slow-down in residents coming from Europe, and many currently here may decide to return home or relocate due to changes in workplace.

Central Government should take stock of the situation and see how it develops.  It should build new towns with good transport links to major cities and stop forcing local councils to ruin beautiful areas by cramming housing into every nook and cranny regardless of consequences.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager, Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

Former WHBC Councillor (Independent) for Welwyn West

The Project Manager Reports – Anti-Social Behaviour in the Village

The following Report was prepared by Sandra Kyriakides, WPAG Project Manager and former Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councillor.

ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

The meeting held at Welwyn Civic Centre on Wednesday 8th March provided the impressive number of local residents and businesses who attended the opportunity to express their concerns to members of the Police, Fire Service and Borough Council officers.

The issues raised were primarily those of public safety and the wish for more visual police presence in the area, particularly at times when incidents are more prevalent. The concerns were duly noted and taken on board.

There has been a slight increase of police car patrols through the village and there would appear to have been a corresponding decrease in the kind of anti-social behaviour that was taking place.

Please be aware of anything untoward and be sure to report it immediately to 101.  As I said last time, we need to keep the police aware of any concerns in the village and, “if it isn’t reported, it didn’t happen” so be sure to pick up the phone!

The Project Manager Reports – Risks of Flooding after Abstraction Ends?

The following Report was prepared by Sandra Kyriakides, WPAG Project Manager and former Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councillor.

As you may know, Affinity Water will cease abstraction from the River Mimram this April and the Fulling Mill Pumping Stations will close.  This came about through pressure to preserve the rare chalk aquifer stream that is the Mimram, together with the fact that the Affinity licenses were due to expire.  It was not in the water company’s interest to reduce or partially abstract water and their need was greatest at a time when most damage by abstraction would be caused to the river, i.e. summertime.

During my time as a Borough Councillor, and since, I have been deeply concerned that WHBC appeared to have no contingency plan for what may happen after the closure, particularly with regard to flood risk.

Because of that, I have continued to liaise closely with the Environment Agency, Affinity Water, Herts County Council and Welwyn Parish Council to raise awareness of the need to do extensive risk assessments before the planned closure date.

I am very pleased to be able to report that the outcome of this has been to find what appears to be a workable and satisfactory solution.

The update received from the Environment Agency about Affinity Water and the Environment Agency’s plans for the abstraction from the chalk aquifer near Welwyn Village confirms that Affinity Water plan to cease abstraction at the start of April 2017.

They have worked together to come up with an interim solution to address flood risk concerns when the abstraction is ceased and have confirmed that they have an agreement in principle to keep the pumping station in operational condition after the abstraction reduction.

In order to maintain operability of the pumping station, a regular small abstraction will be necessary. This regular small abstraction is planned to begin in May 2017. This means that the EA will have the option to instruct Affinity Water to increase pumping if required for flood risk mitigation.

It is important to note that this option won’t remove the risk of flooding, but aims to keep the same level of flood risk as before the change.  In other words, the River may still flood on occasion as it has in the past, but the cessation of abstraction will not cause additional flooding.

The EA promises to continue to improve the accuracy of their flood risk modelling and to investigate alternative options to manage flood risk in the Mimram catchment. This work aims to provide a permanent way of mitigating any potential increase in flood risk, enabling the EA to fulfil the longer term ambition of permanently closing the pumping station.

Residents living near to Singlers Marsh should have no longer have cause to worry as the modelling does appear to have been both thorough and extensive.

Reducing abstraction in April 2017 is one year earlier than originally planned. This is possible because of the excellent work Affinity Water have done to put the required infrastructure in place one year early.

Due to the recent long spell of dry weather, groundwater levels are below normal for the time of year. It is therefore good that the reduction is happening this year to help protect the river if the dry weather continues over the summer.  It can take a while, however, for groundwater levels to recover so we may not see a significant improvement in the short term depending on weather conditions.  Forecasts indicate that it is unlikely that the Mimram will experience sustained high flows this year, and it is far more likely that there will be very low flows.

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: ku.gr1511032238o.gap1511032238w@reg1511032238anamt1511032238cejor1511032238p1511032238

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.