Liberal Democrat Views by Mione Goldspink, November 2022.
The spectacle of national politics and the astonishing events at Westminster have overshadowed all political gatherings and conversations for the last month. We have now witnessed a mixture of farce and tragedy and I am seriously worried about the future of our Country. At a time when inflation is high, and we are all facing a Cost-of-Living crisis it has seemed a reckless gamble to be producing a Budget that would benefit only the richest people in society whilst doing nothing to help the least well off. However, at the time of writing there has been a series of dramatic U-turns and virtually all the proposed, un-costed tax cuts have been abolished. But the damage has been done and many people now face enormous rises in the costs of their mortgages and our international reputation as a good place to invest has been seriously damaged.
This irresponsible farce has done nothing to help the ordinary citizen. We are facing a Cost-of-Living Emergency. The Citizen's Advice service is helping all that it can, as is the Bishop's Stortford Food Bank based at the Methodist Church. Many places will be offering "Warm Spaces" where people can go and sit in the warmth and maybe have a hot drink. It is good that the Apton Centre, which normally serves the needs of the older members of the community, has had its future secured. The public response to their fund-raising appeal was an amazing £75,000 raised in less than a week! So older people will continue to have a warm and welcoming space to visit.
The District Council has some information about help which is available to people as they struggle with the Cost-of-Living crisis, but, if you cannot access the web site, you can go in person to the Council Offices in Bridge Street on a Wednesday, between 10-12noon and 2.0-4.0pm to ask for advice. Similarly, Citizen's Advice offers face-to-face consultations for those who find on-line working difficult, at a Contact Centre on a Tuesday, from 12noon -2.0pm at the Methodist Church, South Street.
I was very pleased to see that the County Council has a free Tree Planting Scheme which everyone can join. 100,000 tiny trees will be given away over the next four years. Anyone who would like to plant a tree (in a suitable place) can apply on line www. hertfordshire.gov.uk/yourtree It is a first come, first served scheme, and the trees will be available from December. What a lovely idea.
What excellent news about the Grange Paddocks Sports and Leisure Centre - the building has just been announced as the regional winner in a construction industry competition. We are very fortunate to have such an excellent building in Bishop's Stortford. However, we are not so fortunate in respect of another community facility - the URC former Church Hall in Water Lane. The Church sold this Hall to the District Council so as to raise funds for its proposed extension to the Church. The District Council is now contemplating demolishing the Hall. The Hall seats 200 people and is much used. It has been registered as a Valuable Community Asset, and a campaign group has been set up to try and save it. I think this Group is well worth supporting.
East Herts District Councillor
Lib-Dem Group Leader, EHDC.