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."
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."
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.
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