"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and
open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values
of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall
be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Ball games consultation under way
Harlow Council is to start a two-month consultation with local residents on its policy for ball games in the town.
The council's Environment & Community Committee has agreed to start work on adopting bye-laws which would prevent the playing of ball games and skateboarding in shopping areas, shopping hatches and garage areas. Meanwhile, local people will be consulted on their views on the playing of ball games in the rest of the town. Liberal Democrat councillor and committee member Lorna Spenceley said:
"This proposal strikes the right balance, between addressing immediately the problem of ball games in inappropriate places like shopping precincts and garage areas, while opening up a discussion with residents who will have different views on where else ball games are appropriate.The consultation exercise planned by the council will include a meeting of the Communities of Interest Forum, and a public meeting on Tuesday 28 November.
End in sight for dumped shopping trolleys
The end could be in sight for the menace of dumped shopping trolleys in Harlow's estates and green spaces.
Liberal Democrat councillors Eleanor Macy and Lorna Spenceley, along with other members of Harlow Council's Environment & Community Committee, have decided to start consultations with supermarkets and other affected people to introduce a new scheme for dealing with abandoned trolleys.
Under these proposals, the council would collect dumped trolleys and notify the supermarkets to whom they belonged. The supermarkets would then be charged to collect their trolleys or for the council to dispose of them. The suggested cost is £70 per trolley.
Town Park: new vision gets thumbs-up
Liberal Democrat councillors Eleanor Macy and Lorna Spenceley have given their backing to an exciting new vision for the Town Park.
The vision, which includes a lake at the centre of the park, a move for Pets' Corner to a new location in the park which will enable it to expand, and improved opportunities for events, was agreed unanimously by Harlow Council's Environment & Community Committee. It follows extensive consultation over the past two years, including a user survey, consultation event, roadshows, displays, a questionnaire at the Town Show, and proposals from students at Harvard University in America.
The cost of the proposals will be more than £10 million, but the project can be spread over several years, with different parts within the overall scheme happening as money becomes available.
The council's Green Spaces Working Party has been asked to recommend a detailed plan for putting the vision into practice, for the Environment & Community Committee to consider at its next meeting on Tuesday 5 December.
Compensation to Essex police falls £70,000 short
The Home Office has announced that it will repay only £100,000 of the £169,870 the Essex police force claims it spent preparing for the proposed merger with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire forces which was abandoned by the Government in July.
Commenting on the shortfall, local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"This is a slap in the face for Harlow taxpayers and the Essex police. £170,000 has been spent in Essex on this harebrained scheme, and now the local police force is not getting anywhere near the compensation it deserves for the unnecessary disruption inflicted on it by the Labour Government.The cost of preparation across the country for the Government's abandoned mergers was £6.5 million - of which the Home Office intends to repay only £4 million.
Carbon emissions in Harlow are unsustainable
Dramatic new figures revealed by the Liberal Democrats show that Harlow is doing better than the country as a whole in keeping down emissions of the gases that cause climate change, but is still emitting 2.7 times as much carbon dioxide as the global average.
As part of the Liberal Democrat campaign for a green tax switch - taxing pollution not people - local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington has published figures showing the carbon emissions per head of population in the town, and how this compares to the national and global averages. Cllr Millington said:
"With a population of nearly 78,000, Harlow is emitting over 519,000 tonnes of carbon each year on the latest official figures. This puts us at 6.7 tonnes of carbon per person per year - 28 per cent less than the UK average of 9.3 tonnes per person, but still far higher than the global average of around 2.5 tonnes per person.
Monday, October 30, 2006
New council committee
Harlow Council's Constitution Committee, chaired by Netteswell Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Jackson, has recommended that the Council set up a new Audit & Improvement Committee. The proposed new committee will improve the way information about the council's performance is reported to councillors.
The Constitution Committee has also recommended merging the Scrutiny Committee and the Call-In Committee into one single committee.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Tories reluctant to commit to action on climate change
The green credentials of Conservatives in Essex were found wanting today after they initially refused to accept a motion calling on Essex County Council to sign the Nottingham Declaration, which commits the council to action on climate change. The Tories also failed to commit to publishing an action plan, within a year, stating their proposals for dealing with climate change and cutting CO2 emissions.
The motion's proposer, county councillor Mike Mackrory, Liberal Democrats deputy leader, said:
"It is no longer acceptable for the Conservatives at Essex County Council to talk the talk but delay in making a real commitment to tackle climate change. The Conservatives must realise that being environmentally conscious means taking real action to achieve real goals; it is not just about giving pretty speeches with all the right buzz words that make them feel good about themselves but achieve nothing.Local authorities have a crucial role to play in taking direct local action on climate change and The Nottingham Declaration provides a framework for councils to make a practical commitment. To date about 140 local authorities around the UK have signed the Declaration.
After the debate the Conservatives conceded that they would sign the Declaration in the future. The Liberal Democrats will keep the pressure on until they do.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Rubbish and recycling
Liberal Democrat councillor Eleanor Macy and I have taken the opportunity of a visit to Grosvenor Waste Management in Crayford. Grosvenor is the company that receives the recyclable rubbish collected from Harlow residents through the fortnightly kerbside collections, and we're here to see what happens after it's collected.
We're kitted out, not only in hard hat and yellow jacket, but also steel capped boots and plastic goggles. There are forklift trucks everywhere, and huge amounts of machinery which separates the different types of recyclable. A large drum like a tumble dryer spins the rubbish round for 15 minutes - bottles and cans fall through holes in the bottom, while large pieces of paper stick to the sides. There's a series of conveyor belts, and strong magnets which pick up the steel cans off the belts. Each type of recyclable material finally ends up in its own area. There's very little sorting by hand - only one upstairs room with men picking plastic wrapping out of the waste paper stream and dumping it in bins.
The main 'spanners in the works' when it comes to the waste that comes into Grosvenor are very wet paper (which reduces the overall quality of the paper that's salvaged) and textiles - a lot of old clothing, cloths and shoes end up in the recyclable stream when they shouldn't. That's particularly annoying, because taxpayers pay to get it collected, taken to Crayford, sorted, and then taken to landfill and dumped after all.
A number of Harlow residents have said they don't believe the rubbish they put out for recycling is actually recycled, because it's all mixed together. When such a lot of investment has gone into a facility that can separate out all our recyclables automatically, and make it easy for us to recycle, it's a shame that not everyone is yet involved. It would be wonderful if everyone could be given a visit to Grosvenor, to see for themselves what's happening and how much of our rubbish is being kept away from landfill.