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  • Article: Sep 22, 2021

    Liberal Democrat Councillors have successfully persuaded the ruling Conservatives at Herts County Council to give a commitment to replacing thousands of trees that have been removed from highways.

    In a report, the Council's Highways and Transport Panel revealed that 4,494 trees had been removed from highways in the period 2018- 2021 but only 1,040 had been planted meaning a deficit of 3,455.

    Following pressure from the Liberal Democrats the Conservatives agreed to replace as many of the lost trees as possible where the location is suitable.

    Cllr John Hale, who pressed for the need to replace highways' trees said, "A large number of trees have been removed and very few have been replaced. I am pleased that the council has now agreed that more should be done to replace trees along our roads. Trees serve an important environmental purpose and should be replaced whenever possible."

    Group Leader, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said, "Urban street trees improve the street scene and contribute significantly towards reducing Co2 emissions in key pedestrian areas."

  • Article: Sep 17, 2021
    Herts County Council has refused to consider remarking any pedestrian crossings in Rainbow colours as a way of supporting and highlighting the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community in Herts.

    Opposition Liberal Democrat Councillors had proposed that the council follow the example of other Highways Authorities that have introduced 'Rainbow' or 'Progress Pride' crossings as a permanent way to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities and diversity.

    'Progress Pride' crossings with rainbow colours and chevrons show respect for trans and non-binary people, people of colour and those living with HIV/AIDS. It would show our respect for the diversity of Hertfordshire, claimed Cllr Sara Bedford in a motion she submitted to the Council.

    Rainbow crossings have been introduced in several authorities in the UK in recent years however Conservative run Hertfordshire County Council has now rejected the idea.

    In a report to the Highways and Transport Panel, officers confirmed that Rainbow Crossings are legal, but indicated that they had not discussed with councils who had introduced them to see how this was done.

    Liberal Democrat Leader, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, who is also Deputy Leader of Three Rivers Council which is introducing a Rainbow crossing on its own land said, " The officer approach was disappointing. They refused to discuss the matter with councils that have successfully introduced these as part of renewing normal crossings. They had the information from Three Rivers that it could cost as little as £1,300 per crossing. It is unfortunate that the opportunity to show wider support for our diverse community in this way was rejected by the Conservatives."

    However Liberal Democrat councillors won a concession from the ruling Tories when they agreed that the Rainbow displays and the Pride Flag could be included in any subway refurbishment if supported by the local community.

    Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said, "It's a step in the right direction, but I had wanted more. We will be pushing this forward and holding the Tories to their words that they will not veto this if the opportunity arises."
  • The Dais at DBC 15th Sept 2021 - captioned
    Article: Sep 16, 2021
    Last Wednesday night it finally became much easier to see what Dacorum is doing and how local decision-making works.

    After some years of campaigning by Lib Dems, Dacorum took a step into the open by streaming "Full Council", 15th September 2021, live on YouTube.

    The two-hour evening meeting saw brief verbal reports from the Deputy Leader of the Council and six Cabinet Portfolios, each followed by 10 minutes of questioning, with the other 43 Councillors asking pairs of "question and follow-up" to the Cabinet.

    Then came the main event, with a debate opened by Lib Dem Co-Deputy Leader Cllr Adrian England, centred on the forthcoming Climate Conference COP26 and a proposal that Dacorum write to Ministers, to ask that Central Govt acts urgently on workforce shortages and scaling-up of plans for insulating more homes. Conservatives supported the Motion and Cabinet Portfolio-holder for Environment Cllr Graham Barrett seconded, so, unusually, there was unanimous agreement - important given the urgency and importance of the issue.
  • 20's Plenty
    Article: Sep 15, 2021

    Opposition Liberal Democrat Councillors have hit out at an over complex set of rules that the Conservative administration agreed at Tuesday's Highways and Transport meeting. There will now be significant delays bringing in any new 20 mph speed zones.

    From now on, any areas that residents want considered for a 20mph speed limit will need to be assessed against a Speed Management Strategy, a Place and Movement Matrix, have on-site visits and maybe speed checks before the consultation stage can even begin.

    At the meeting, under questioning from Lib Dem Group Leader Stephen Giles-Medhurst, officers admitted that the process will mean that the earliest any new 20mph restrictions can now be implemented will likely be the end of 2022 or early 2023.

    The Liberal Democrats proposed an alternative approach, backed by Hertfordshire's 20's Plenty Campaign group, to adopt a default Speed Management Strategy of a 20 mph limit on side roads. They argued this would support the government's objective of sustainable travel by making roads safer for walkers and cyclists.

    Their proposal was voted down by the Conservatives.

    Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said, "Only a very small percentage of Herts roads are 20 mph despite campaigns from residents for many more. With just 953 20mph roads in Herts, many schools still have 30mph roads outside them. We have one the lowest numbers of 20mph roads in the country with Kent CC having over 2,300.