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Latest NewsPosted by Cathy Wed, July 16, 2014 12:03:58





On July 15th there was a meeting of the full council of Herts County Council.

Councillor Paul Zukowskyj (Lib/Dem, Hatfield South) proposed a motion on New Barnfield, but the Conservative ruling group voted against it. Excellent speeches were made in support of the motion, by Paul, by Hatfield Central councillor Maureen Cook, by London Colney councillor Dreda Gordon, and by other Labour and Lib/Dem councillors. Mark Mills-Bishop, Conservative councillor for Hatfield villages, did not speak and voted against the motion. The motion was lost 28 for and 41 against.

The motion noted the decision of the Inspector and Sec of State to reject planning permission for an incinerator at New Barnfield. It asked for a fundamental review of waste management in Herts with proper consultation of residents. It asked for an apology to council-tax payers that so much money has been spent pursuing the project and by local councils on legal representation. It asked that responses to future consultations are not ignored. It asked that the Inspector’s comments on the local community’s frustration and disillusionment with planning processes be addressed properly. Lastly it asked that in future the county council should make significant decisions themselves, rather than leaving them to private companies.

Paul Zukowskyj spoke of HCC not listening to the responses to the many consultations, nor to the Conservative councils who were opposed. He said they should not let the £ signs obscure what is right, and should take responsibility for decisions instead of farming them out to Veolia. In summing-up he said that the savings that HCC claim for the incinerator plan can’t be scrutinised as they won’t supply the figures. He said the Inspector’s decision was not just on the Green Belt issue, but also on other harm, including impact on heritage, footpaths and other amenities, and the school. On the accusation of “political posturing” made by the Conservatives, Paul pointed out that a leaflet distributed by Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield’s Conservative M.P., claimed the incinerator decision as a “Victory”.

Maureen Cook said that HCC should apologise for the years of distress to residents with the prospect of an incinerator on their doorstep. She questioned the process by which the library and school had been moved before planning permission was granted. She said HCC have not saved any money and we want to know exactly how much has been spent.

Dreda Gordon pointed out that the Inspector said a large incinerator building next to Southfield School would be off-putting to parents. She commented on the strains on educational funding, but HCC found £4 million to move the school to a temporary site, and the temporary building already has structural deficits.

WGC Lib/Dem councillor Malcolm Cowan asked what it would take for the ruling group to apologise, instead of which they had accused the opposition parties of “cheap political posturing”. Leon Reef (Labour) said the decision by the majority group was a bad decision and they had their heads in the sand, not listening to the consultations. Nigel Bell (Labour) pointed out the waste of the school move, and putting the children through it.

Robert Gordon, leader of the Council, said that the Veolia contract still binds the council. He said a good outcome is that Hertfordshire is now free of the need to be self-sufficient in waste provision.

Conservative Chris Hayward, speaking about Southfield School, said that the governors have asked to stay on Woods Avenue, and HCC supports this, so the officers are looking at planning issues.

It was Conservative Councillor Chris Hayward who accused the councillors who were speaking up for the residents of “cheap political posturing”. Conservative Richard Roberts, astoundingly, spoke of the ruling group’s “foresight and endurance in seeing through a long-term plan”!

Several Conservative councillors said that the Inspector’s decision was based solely on the Green Belt. This is not true, as Paul Z pointed out.

The Conservative ruling group were not apologetic for their original bad decision to build an incinerator at New Barnfield, for their ignoring of the consultations, nor for the waste of money. It may be optimistic to hope that behind the arrogant party-political bluster that some Conservative councillors showed at this meeting, they have in reality learned something, and in future may change their approach to decision-making and to their treatment of the views of residents.

In the afternoon a motion to adopt the Waste Sites Allocations Plan was carried. Inspector Freeman had approved this plan following a Hearing in Public. Paul Zukowskyj attempted to have this plan withdrawn, but its adoption was carried by a vote again on party lines, with Conservatives for and Lib/Dem and Labour opposed. Councillor Mark Mills-Bishop voted for the motion, although he represents Hatfield Villages. The plan still lists New Barnfield as one of the waste sites.

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