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.

 

 

The Project Manager Reports -The Local Plan Threatens

LOCAL PLAN UPDATE:

 

The latest edition of the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Newsletter is now available.

Note that the current assessment of housing needs is now 16000, i.e. 3500 more than when the Plan was submitted!

WHBC will be looking at what bits of Green Belt they can now build on.

We need to object to any further development in the villages in the Northern part of the Borough – we are pretty much at capacity with what is already planned.

The Borough Council should be asked to look again at the huge amounts of space around Cuffley and Brookmans Park where development would be more suitable, nearer to London and transport links, and with the possibility to provide suitable infrastructure.

In Welwyn, our roads just cannot take any more traffic!  Our schools cannot take any more children; our doctors’ surgeries are full and the Lister Hospital A & E is running almost at capacity.   That is just the tip of the iceberg.

The local election has left the same group in control of WHBC, albeit only just.   They are responsible for the current situation and for finding solutions.  We will need to keep a very close eye on their proposals.

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager

Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

 

May 2018

 

The Project Manager Reports – Parking and Road Works update

From the Project Manager

UPDATE ON PARKING ISSUES:

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.

ROADWORKS

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.

Sandra Kyriakides

PROJECT MANAGER, WELWYN PLANNING AND AMENITY GROUP

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Tel : 07802 725423

Herts. Police & Crime Commissioner – WPAG Response to the Proposed Policing Precept 2018 Increase

Precept Consultation
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.

Carl Storer

Chairman, Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

Sandra Kyriakides

Project Manager, Welwyn Planning & Amenity Group

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