Cllr Mione Goldspink's article for "The Flyer", March 2022

15 Mar 2022

Liberal Democrat Views by Mione Goldspink, March, 2022

The District Council is drawing up its proposals for its Budget and next year's Council Tax, which will be debated at Full Council on 1st March. Councillors have been informed that serious savings are required in order to balance the books. So, we are all considering the figures very carefully. Liberal Democrats think that every effort should be made to protect the residents as much as possible. We recognise that many people are being hit very hard by the rise in the cost of living and that an increase in Council Tax will add to their difficulties. For this reason, the Liberal Democrats will vote against the Conservatives' proposal of a £5 increase for a Band D property and will call for a smaller rise of only £2.50 instead.

The Town Council has also been discussing its finances. It is in the fortunate position of holding good receipts from the sale of some allotment land to the County Council for the site of the new school at St. Michael's Hurst. I understand that South Mill Arts (SMA) may be asking for a Grant from the Town Council for an ambitious and practical Upgrading Project. SMA has a proven track record of attracting over 130,000 visitors per year for the wide variety of shows, films, entertainments, and community activities which it provides. It clearly has the support of the people of Bishop's Stortford. I wish it well for the future.

As well as housing the Town's Theatre, South Mill Arts (SMA) also houses the Town's Tapestry. This hand-stitched masterpiece depicts the history of the Town. Pictures representing the panels of the Tapestry can now be seen on the outside wall of Marks and Spencer. They brighten up the little alleyway between South Street and Jackson Square car park in a lovely, imaginative way. Perhaps sight of them will encourage even more people to visit SMA to see the "real thing".

We are fortunate in having many attractive sights and buildings in our Town, and the Civic Federation is always on the lookout for new or refurbished buildings. It looks for ones which show excellent architectural design and construction. This year it found 7 contenders for its Currey Award. The winner was 11a Windhill (Bushell House)- which previously looked like 3 garages, and is now an elegant family home. The runner up was its neighbour, 11 Windhill, which has been given a charming face-lift. It is a real pleasure just to stand and look at these buildings.

There are other sights which provoke divided opinions, and one such is the possibility of a Solar Farm at Wickham Hall Farm on the outskirts of town. 280 acres could be covered in solar panels, providing energy to power 15,000 homes. Bishop's Stortford Town Council has raised no objection to the Planning Application, but Albury Parish Council has objected. East Herts will make the decision. I agree with Bishop's Stortford Town Council. We need to take serious steps to combat the Climate Emergency and we need to use renewable energy whenever we can. It is highly regrettable that the Council cannot insist on solar panels on all new buildings, but the Local Plan (approved by the Conservatives) has no teeth, and permits encouragement only.

Mione Goldspink


East Herts District Councillor

Lib-Dem Group Leader, EHDC.