Mione Goldspink's article for the flyer, April 2019
By Mione Goldspink in Bishop's Stortford Flyer
Local Matters with Mione Goldspink April 2019
I am writing this piece in the middle of March, just before the Annual Town Meeting. All residents have the opportunity to attend and to question our Town Councillors about problems and general situations in the Town. These meetings are usually poorly attended, and I wonder why. I suspect it is because people have lost all faith in the political system, and they take the view that there is really no point in attending, because it will not make even one jot of difference. Politicians will do whatever they like. The Tories control all three Councils, and there is virtually no opposition at Town or District
I understand this disillusioned point of view and it saddens me greatly. I strongly support the idea of democracy and I do believe that politicians have a duty to listen to their constituents and to take account of all their ideas.
I have been out canvassing recently and have been shocked, but not surprised, by the number of people who are most unhappy about the way in which our Councils have been acting. The District Council has given itself Planning Permission to build a 6-storey car park at Northgate End, in spite of massive public objections and valid planning policy reasons against it. There are serious worries about the traffic congestion that this car park will cause, quite apart from the damaging impact on the Conservation Area. All traffic using this car park will have to negotiate two roundabouts: either going in or coming out. The Causeway will have to cope with these cars going to and fro as well as the usual through traffic. I noticed that no Conservative Councillor was prepared to voice these concerns or to speak against this Car Park at the vital meeting.
The District Council is expected to grant Planning Permission for 750 new homes to be built on the land south of Wittington Way. (I am writing this before the crucial meeting) 1500 letters of objection have been sent to the Council, and 100's of residents marched in protest last week. The Local Plan says that all new developments should be sustainable, but I cannot see how this particular site can ever achieve that status - especially as County Highways calculates that with all the new development across the County, traffic volumes on all our roads will increase by 20%.
To add insult to injury, the Planning Meeting to make the decision on this huge development is to be held in Hertford, in the Council Chamber, with only 27 seats for members of the public. Larger venues exist in Bishop's Stortford - surely it would have been much more democratic to have held the meeting in one of those ?
Liberal Democrat Candidates for the forthcoming local elections are campaigning for "Better Consultation between Councils and residents", and for Councils to listen. We would like to break the Tory stranglehold and give you better democracy.
Please vote Liberal Democrat on 2nd May.
Chairman, Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats