Local Matters with Mione Goldspink
There seems to be no end to all the different plans, consultations and schemes for Bishop's Stortford's Town Centre. The District Council employed some consultants to look at the Town Centre Planning Framework, and then the Town Council paid for another group of consultants to look, and to suggest some ways of attracting more visitors to the Town. Some of the suggestions would cost more money: £12,000 to create a Town Brand, £10,000 to promote hotel development, and £10,000 to improve access to the Flitch Way. I wonder if these would be good value for money?
Consultation seems to have come to an end with regard to the Little Hadham By-pass, as the plans were approved by County Council committee on December 21st. The By-Pass will go from a new roundabout just west of the Tesco Roundabout on the A120, and will loop north of Little Hadham, coming back onto the A120 just west of Little Hadham. So, it will do nothing to help the traffic at Standon and Puckeridge. It will only be a single carriage way, which is another disappointment. On balance, I am pleased that something will be done at last to relieve Little Hadham, but I do wish that funds could have been found to provide something better.
County Council funds are severely constrained at the moment and cuts in Government funding are causing real problems. There is a desperate need for more money for Social Services, especially to pay for care of the elderly. I do not support the Government's suggestion that Councils should be allowed to increase the level of Council Tax in order to fund social services. This would produce different amounts of money in different parts of the country, and the areas with greatest need are likely to be the poorest areas, where the receipts would be the lowest, so it would be a grossly inefficient system. It would also be an unfair system, as it would impose a disproportionate financial burden on lower-income earners. The Liberal Democrats' view is that Central Government should increase the funding to Local Government, to meet the cost of Social Care. Furthermore, there needs to be much closer working between the NHS and Social Services. Liberal Democrats are calling for cross Party talks - will the Conservatives and Labour join?
Mione Goldspink. (Chair Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats).
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