Liberal Democrat Views by Mione Goldspink, August, 2022.
There have been two important public Consultations running in East Herts recently, and I do hope that people have managed to take part. The one on the Supplementary Planning Document for the Old River Lane (ORL) site in Bishop's Stortford finished on August 2nd, and the one on proposed Car Parking charges will end on 5th August. The draft for the ORL site contains some very important statements and aspirations, and in my official response I have asked that these should definitely be retained. They included that the number of new homes should be "around 100". I will be watching closely to see that the number is not dramatically increased. Homes should be environmentally sustainable and should be sensitive to the general height of existing and adjacent buildings at 3- 4 stories. There should also be some new, high quality public spaces. How wonderful it would be if we could have a proper "Public Square". I will be watching very closely to see if this is provided.
The other Consultation, about charges for Car Parking, was trickier. I understand the wish to reduce peoples' reliance on cars. Making car parking more expensive is a means of discouraging car use - but if it goes too far and it deters too many people from coming to the Town centre, then businesses will suffer, and our Town will become less vibrant, so increasing charges must be done with care. I do not approve of abolishing the 30minute free parking slot, as I think that this is very helpful to a wide range of businesses and has a useful spin-off as hurrying customers often notice what else is on offer in the Town, and come back later for a more prolonged visit.
I am heavily involved with a Network of Support for the Ukrainian Guests(refugees) in our Town and surrounding villages. It is heart-warming that so many people are coming forward to help. However, there is a big worry about the future. It is dreadful that there seems to be no prospect of an early end to the terrible war in Ukraine. All the Refugee Guests are being incredible brave and are trying to get jobs and to settle down. But Housing is going to be a huge problem. If the Hosts/Sponsors cannot keep their Guests for more than the six months for which they are committed, will the District Council be able to find housing for the Guests? The Westminster Government has published no plans whatsoever for dealing with this situation. I and my Lib-Dem colleagues will be raising this whole matter at the Full District Council meeting on July 27th. Meanwhile, we will give as much support as we can to these lovely people, and to their Hosts.
I was interested to read in the Bishop's Stortford Independent Newspaper about a relatively new Heritage Craft Centre, where about 20 different craftspeople have studios. This is at Grandey's Place, near to the Great Hadham Country Club. They are offering guided tours on the first Wednesday of each month. I think that a visit there would be an excellent holiday outing. But, whatever you are doing this holiday season, I hope it will bring you pleasure and refreshment.
East Herts District Councillor
Lib-Dem Group Leader, EHDC.