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Goverdhan was out litter picking yesterday and Alex couldn't be outdone, so set off to do Aycliffe Drive at 7:00 this morning (Sunday 20th March 2022).

About a bag and half was collected, the vast majority of which was confectionary wrappers from 'kiddie' chocolate bars and sweets and cans and bottles of fizzy drink, from the hedge which boundaries Aycliffe Drive Primary School.

With hardly any litter here during periods of (relatively) recent lockdowns, when schools were closed, one could easily conclude that it's the children who drop the litter as they're taken to  or from school.

The awful amount of litter along this hedge and surrounding areas, can be seen as a reflection of the school and respective parents, both of which are disappointing. There was a time when Aycliffe Drive pupils went out regularly picking litter. It would seem that this exercise which can potentially teach young children the benefits of being tidy, is no longer practised.

Parents of Grovehill kids and all Grovehill schools please take note. It literally doesn't look good!


UPDATE - 28th March 2022

Alex had to pop out this morning. Drive up Aycliffe Drive was upsetting and disappointing. He only litter picked here, a few days ago.

"After I cleaned up the mess, I thought I'd pop into the school and mention what I do on a regular basis. There was a sign on the gate asking visitors to wear a mask. I'd left mine in the car, duh. On the way back to car, I actually thought that what with rising COVID infections, perhaps the last place I want to be is in a school, so I decided to skip on that idea."

Some may have received an information pack from Luton Rising, the owners of Luton Airport, regarding expansion plans and a public consultation.
 
On this side of Hemel Hempstead as well as other parts of Dacorum, aircraft noise has been an issue for many, many years and most of us don’t want the situation to get worse.
 
The motorway between our M1 junction (junction 8) and Milton Keynes, seem continually to be worked on and no doubt, any expansion to Luton Airport will involve some motorway works.
 
One argument is for expansion is employment and indeed employment opportunities can't be ignored. On the other hand, how many Dacorum residents are directly or even indirectly employed by Luton Airport?
 
Increasing the economy of the area” Hmm… Luton District Council receives a substantial sum from the airport, not just in taxes. Always thought to be some kind of compensation, the arrangement is quite formal. So much so, that Luton District Council was in trouble when the pandemic started, due to loss of this income from the airport. Surrounding boroughs and districts don’t receive anything. Why should Dacorum residents agree or even support something that adversely affects them and for which another area is receiving income?
 
We therefore strongly urge all residents to have their say, voice their concerns and participate in the consultation.
 

MORE INFORMATION

This is yet another airport expansion proposal and consultation – but this one is really important since it’s the biggest yet. Luton Borough Council own the Airport using the company of London Luton Airport ltd - now rebranded “Luton Rising” – who are consulting between now and April 4th on further massive expansion, to go from 18 to 32 million passengers a year; which would involve building a second Terminal, more car parks and more airport stands on the open green space of Wigmore Park, flying up to 80,000 more planes a year over this area, and an additional 50,000 more passenger journeys a day on local roads and rail.
 
The noise-reduction commitments made in the previous expansion (2013) to get from 9 to 18 million passengers have not of course been delivered, which is why the Airport broke its noise planning limits in 2017-2019. COVID has of course knocked things back, and coupled with the increasing urgency of tackling the Climate Crisis it may be that people do decide to fly more responsibly and the demand for significant further expansion may not materialise in the timeframe expected.
 
Following the consultation, Luton Rising the company which owns the Airport for Luton borough Council, will have to apply to the National Planning Inspectorate for a Development Consent Order, such is the magnitude of what is being proposed. There is an online virtual exhibition, plus in-person exhibition events. The timetable for these, along with other details, can be found at https://lutonrising.org.uk/consultation/.

They argue that this will be good for the economy of the whole region Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, but the reality is that the main beneficiary is Luton Borough Council who own the Airport and have made the decisions on the planning expansion such as the latest granting of allowing the Airport to breach the conditions of the last expansion PA in 2013.

They did not deliver on their promises then and they cannot deliver on their promises of noise mitigation, climate change or increased ground traffic environmental pollution now. Airlines are not required to deliver quieter planes and the existing quieter planes the A320 and the A321 which are gradually being introduced have been shown to be little or no quieter.  Passengers are expected to use public transport but the majority of passengers do not come from London but the counties that surround Luton, and the Airport has just built big new car parks.

The Development Consent Order for massive expansion of Luton Airport is being fronted by Luton Rising – the new name for the same old company LLAL which owns the Airport for Luton Council.

Luton Councillors are trying to get a DCO (Development Consent Order) for massive further expansion of the airport, which would have huge environmental impacts on the entire area. Do you really want up to 80,000 more planes a year, increased carbon emissions from the aircraft and from 50,000 more passenger journeys a day, incessant noise and clogged up roads and rail services? Particularly when the airport broke its commitment to control noise during the current expansion, thanks to ‘mismanagement’ perhaps induced by financial incentivisation from – the Council!

They’re consulting on the DCO plans between now and 4th April. A polished PR website has been set up with plenty of spin about ‘our airport’, ‘our community’, ‘our planet’ which tries to sugar-coat a plan which would almost double the airport’s capacity yet again, wreak noise blight and additional pollution on communities all around, and worsen the climate crisis which the Council has vowed to tackle. And in doing all this, Luton Rising has spent over £340 million of public money which it could have invested in diversifying the local economy to face the future’s challenges, rather than burning it to pursue on the kerosene-fuelled obsessions of the past.

LADACAN represents people in communities all around Luton Airport who believe this essentially rural area would be blighted if further massive expansion of the Airport went ahead.

Environmental impacts

The impacts on quality of life in the entire local area if this proposal succeeds would be:

  • 60% more flights overall, with many compressed into the very early morning and late evening by the low-cost airlines which favour Luton – so 70% more flights at night(11pm to 7am) and 50% more during the day
  • A significant increase in the noise footprintwhich badly impacts communities all around the Airport, with no mitigation: the latest planes sound just as loud, and promised airspace modernisation is still a decade away
  • Up to 40,000 additional passenger journeys each dayby car to and from the Airport on local roads (not just the M1, but the A505 and the Lower Luton Road), as well as many more rail users
  • 60% increase in carbon emissions from the flights, at a crucial time when the impacts of Climate Change are now obvious – and aviation emissions are three times more damaging due to contrails and high altitude pollutants
  • Impacts on health and well-beingdue to noise disturbance at night and early in the morning, and noise impacts on schools which affect learning
  • reduction in Air Qualityat and around the airfield due to the increased numbers of cars and aircraft, as well as the particulates from kerosene aircraft fuel and from aircraft brakes and tyres
  • Loss of valuable habitat– Wigmore Park, a County Wildlife Site and Asset of Community Value due to its wild orchids and ancient hedgerows, as well as a vital buffer between local housing and the airfield, will be concreted over to build Terminal 2, more aircraft stands and massive car parks.

NOTE: The average short-haul flight emits between 13 and 20 tonnes of CO2.


UPDATE - 23rd February 2022

PROPOSED MOTION TO FULL COUNCIL
23rd February 2022
Proposed by Cllr. Jane Timmis

I move that Dacorum Borough Council strongly opposes Luton Airport’s further planned expansion, from 18 million passengers per annum to 32 million passengers per annum by 2040, with the resulting negative impacts of increased noise, emissions and surface transport. This disproportionately impacts the Watling Ward villages in Dacorum, and more widely our Borough and much of Hertfordshire.  Given National Climate Change goals, air travel awareness, and noise and environmental pollution levels, it cannot be justified. This cannot go unchallenged and so Dacorum Borough Council will therefore commit to oppose the expansion of the airport at every opportunity.

Cllr. Jane Timmis (Dacorum Borough)
Cllr. Jane Timmis (Watling ward, Borough of Dacorum)

The motion was carried.

 

On Thursday 6th January, Julie, Alex and Goverdhan, had an on-line meeting with DBC officers, other officials and residents, to discuss the planned development at Laidon Square.

The meeting went well over the allocated hour but was most constructive with councillors only supporting residents' concerns.

The plan is for thirty-two affordable dwellings, comprising flats and houses, with the promise that they will be for local (Dacorum) residents only.

Situated at the very top of Marchmont Fields, the development is NOT part of LA-1 but will be part of the emergency access to the LA-1 site.

Residents and councillors continually made reference to the dire parking situation in Leven Way, Laidon Square and Lomond Road, expressing concern that the development may lead to even more problems. An on-going issue, Julie, Goverdhan and Alex fully supported residents, requesting that the matter be addressed in some way.

Other concerns included the removal of trees, the safety of children playing in the roads, privacy from adjacent buildings, the view over Marchmont Fields and even potential anti-social behaviour from mopeds and motorbikes.

We can’t stop development. That is a cold fact but working together as we've done before in other parts of the ward, perhaps we stand a good chance of getting the best all-round deal.” Says Alex.

It’s a particular plus that the ‘developer’ is the local authority and therefore has an obvious duty of care to residents. In the meeting, it seemed that DBC officers were quite attentive and appeared to be taking notes all the time.

Julie commented...

"This is one of the most beautiful views in Hemel Hempstead and we need to do what we can, to ensure that it's not completely taken away."

Councillors had another meeting with officers on Friday 14th January when they were presented with clarification on some points that were raised at the previous meeting as well as a FAQ which will be published soon.

Julie, Alex and Goverdhan were promised that more meetings would be arranged  with residents, to discuss issues and progress.

Although not directly affected, one Piccotts End resident was most concerned about the entire development of Marchmont Fields. Alex volunteered his contact details and will be meeting up with the resident to discuss further.

This morning (17th January), Julie, Goverdhan and Alex, met up with a DBC officer to discuss potential 'verge hardening' in the area.

Four or five locations have been identified with those closest to the development site, now being given priority. We've been told that the next stage will involve highways engineers coming out to conduct surveys and then as is always done with verge hardening schemes, a consultation with residents will soon follow.

It is of course in everyone's interest that the Laidon Square development ticks as many boxes as possible, so we'll do our best to keep you informed. 🙂

Everyone knows that drugs are not a Grovehill problem but something that adversely affects people across the world. In recent times, many dopeheads (cannabis users) have become quite brazen and are quite unphased by potential consequence of smoking cannabis in the open, in populated areas, with members of the public passing by.

If the stuff didn't stink so bad, most of us wouldn't probably notice but the truth is that the heavy, long lingering smell of weed has now become quite anti-social.

Before lock-down, Alex has seen dopeheads smoking their stuff in the open while having a pint at Jarman Park. Restaurant owners and staff simply don't seem to mind!

Very recently, it's become a thing to get stoned in our subways. With close proximity to residential housing, the horrible smell of weed has led some residents to complain that doors and windows need to be kept shut and that they can't even keep their kids in their own gardens!

We're aware that some people have been busted but we need more done about this very anti-social problem.

We're also aware that people smoking cannabis in their own property, is now rapidly becoming an equally anti-social thing for neighbours and we're trying to suss out just what to do about it.

In the meantime, we suggest that if you know that the dopeheads are occupying a council property, that you contact Dacorum Borough Council. If the residency is private, you should still contact DBC (anti-social behaviour team) but please also report the incident to the police on 101.

Like al Grovehill residents, we want to do something about this before it seriously gets out of hand, so perhaps the more of us that complain, the quicker something will be done. Alex has already contacted our Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, expressing concern.


UPDATE - 24th January 2022

On 20th January, I received an e-mail from David Lloyd's office, advising that the matter had been passed on to the local Chief Inspector and would be investigated.

David has never let us down, so I'm hopeful that something will be done about this.

Alex spotted this late this morning and has already reported it.

"What is the matter with people? Selfish, inconsiderate, thoughtless and above all dirty people who don't give a damn about anything or anyone." says Alex. 🙁

UPDATE - 23rd November 2021

Updates on stories are usually made days, weeks or months, after the post was published, not hours! Alex drove past the location of the fly tip at about 2:30 and noticed that the rubbish had already been cleared. Another big THANK YOU to our Gren Safe & Clean team! 😀

It's been an issue for many years and residents don't want to wait for a fatality until something's done.

So, in response to residents' concerns, Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, has deployed a mobile speed trap for a second consecutive month, here in Grovehill. Pictured is the police van parked up on Washington Avenue earlier this afternoon (12th November). Last month a similar van was on St. Agnells Lane.

It's a shame that we have to resort to such measures but on the other hand, residents are reassured that someone is listening to them.

Over the past couple of years, many have brought to our attention, the 'Highway Maintenance' vehicles that are sometimes parked up on Aycliffe Drive.

Alex, Julie, Goverdhan and Colette are trying hard to sort this out. It seems that the driver doesn't give a monkeys about the 7.5t weight limit on Grovehill. Neither does he or she care about obstructing the cycle lane!

Pictured below is another Highway Maintenance vehicle that's regularly parked up in Crawley Drive.

You'll notice that this one is obstructing the public footpath.

Grovehill Councillors Facebook group launches today

With a view to keep Grovehill and Piccotts End residents updated with the latest news in and around the ward, your three borough councillors, Goverdhan Silwal, Julie Banks and Alexander Bhinder and your county councillor, Colette Wyatt-Lowe, have today launched a Facebook page and group.

Julie Banks comments;

"It's been a tough eighteen months for all of us. We've tried several times to get our In Touch out to residents but between us, we've agreed that delivering, just wouldn't have been appropriate.

Staying in touch with our community, isn't just important, it's the most vital part of being a councillor, an elected representative of that community.

While we plan to get back to delivering In Touches soon, we're hopeful that the new Facebook page and the group will go a long way to maintaining that special bond between us."

If you live or work in Grovehill or Piccotts End and feel that joining a community group aimed at improving the area is your thing, then please check out your councillors' Facebook page here and perhaps you'd like to join their Facebook group here.

Fly Tipping The Dee (2021.09.27)

As if we haven't got enough on our plates at the moment, there are those sections of the community that, well... aren't part of the community! Who the hell does this kind of stuff.

Anyway, thanks to a concerned and consciences resident, the fly tip was reported to Alex who was able to immediately attend, take pictures and notify the Dacorum Borough Council.

Your councillors can't be everywhere all the time so this kind of reporting greatly helps keep Grovehill tidy. It's such a shame that we can't do the same about the perpetrators of such unacceptable acts.

If you spot fly tipping, please consider reporting it directly, here: https://www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/environment-street-care/clean-safe-green/flytipping

 

Congratulations to Colette Waytt-Lowe for winning the Hemel Hempstead North-East seat in the 2021 County elections.

CANDIDATE
PARTY
VOTES
PERCENTAGE
Colette Wyatt-Lowe
Conservative
1657
60%
Saba Poursaeedi
Labour
597
22%
Neil Kennedy
Liberal Democrats
280
10%
Paul Standford
Green Party
222
8%

Turnout was 27%

Our congratulations also to David Lloyd who has been re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire.

Tree saved in Claymore on International Earth Day

Mid afternoon and Alex received a call from a very concerned resident in Claymore. Hertfordshire County Council contractors had been busy verge hardening to make more room for cars and were about to take down a chestnut tree, when they were confronted by Angeline. After expressing her concern, the team agreed to leave, presumably to wait to see what would happen.

Your local councillors have been wanting to get verge hardening done in a specific part of Claymore, for some time. Residents have been keen for a solution that would alleviate the car parking problem but unfortunately, Claymore has been pushed down on the list… until now, that is.

The original plan would have made many more parking bays but will have meant that an old chestnut tree would have had to be taken down.

As is common practice prior to verge hardening commencing, residents were contacted by DBC asking for their opinions and comments. The tree was mentioned but it would seem that it got overlooked.

Angelin telephoned Alex who decided to pop over and have a look at what was going on.

Alex could see that the land around the tree had been damaged by service vehicles but noted that it didn’t really have to be taken all the way back to the tree.

After a couple of calls, it was confirmed that the project would be put on hold and an alternative solution would be found, thereby saving the much loved chestnut tree.

“I’ve said before that we can’t be everywhere all the time and I’m grateful that Angelin called me straight-away. To be honest, I told her that I couldn’t make any promises but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with a specific council officer who returned my call, although he was on holiday. He contacted Hertfordshire County Council and managed to stop the works while things are re-planned. This was great result for Earth Day!”

Back in April 2019, Goverdhan, Julie and Alex highlighted issues with the road off Stevenage Rise, running in between the community centre and the youth centre, to the back of the shops at Henry Wells Square.

Stevenage Rise in need of urgent attention

Well today residents contacted local councillors, delighted that the road is now being resurfaced. Thanks, Colette! 🙂

Resurfacing Stevenage Rise. Thanks, Colette!

Dacorum Borough Elections - 2nd May 2019

6th May 2021 will see elections for County Councillors and Police & Crime Commissioners, in some areas.

County elections were supposed to have taken place last May but with so much uncertainty over just how the COVI-19 pandemic will play out, things got postponed. Indeed many don't feel it appropriate that they should go ahead this year but we are where we are.

Dacorum Borough Council is doing all it can to ensure that polling stations are going to be COVID safe and a lot that normally occurs on polling day simply won't!

As an example, the count won't begin for at least two days while ballot papers are left in 'quarantine'.

On the hand, we can't wait forever and things seem a little more hopeful now than they did this time last year.

One last thing...

!!! DON'T FORGET TO BRING YOUR OWN PEN !!!

Cllr. Bhinder gets the jab

Late last Friday afternoon, Alex received a text from his surgery informing him that he can book in on-line to have his first vaccination dose. The earliest appointment was for 7:30 pm on the following Monday and he took it.

On Monday afternoon, he received another text informing him that he could come anytime between 4:00 and 7:00. He replied saying that he would be at the Maxted Road Vaccination Centre for 6:30.

"This is an amazing program. The speed of the roll-out is just remarkable. I'm quite aware that there's a lot of opinions about the vaccine but I'd rathe take my chances with this thing rather than with COVID-19." says Alex.

"As soon as I pulled into the carpark, everyone was just so polite and helpful. There were lots of staff ready to help and a doctor even took the picture above. You have to bear in mind that some of these people have been here for hours.

I was at the centre for about twenty-five minutes, fifteen of which were spent just sitting down in recovery after the jab. 

I was warned that I might experience headaches, nausea and a little temperature, over the next couple of days, all of which I kind of would expect anyway."

Alex's message is clear and he urges anyone and everyone who gets the call, to take it up.

Stay safe, everyone.


UPDATE - 13th November 2021

I had my second jab a while back now and have my booster tomorrow. Saw this on Facebook recently and thought it was quite apt:

I'm fully vaccinated and, no, I don't know what's in it - neither this vaccine, the ones I had as a child, nor in the Big Mac, or hot dogs, or other treatments, whether it's for cancer, AIDS, the one for polyarthritis, or vaccines for infants or children.

I also don't know what's in Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, or other meds, it just cures my headaches & my pains.

I don't know what's in the ink for tattoos, vaping, Botox and fillers, or every ingredient in my soap or shampoo or even deodorants. I don’t know the long-term effect of mobile phone use or whether or not that restaurant I just ate at REALLY used clean foods and washed their hands.

In short...

There's a lot of things I don't know and never will…

I just know one thing: life is short, very short, and I still want to do something other than just going to work every day or staying locked in my home. I still want to travel and hug people without fear and find a little feeling of life "before".

As a child and as an adult I've been vaccinated for mumps, measles, polio, chickenpox, and quite a few others; my parents and I trusted the science and never had to suffer through or transmit any of the said diseases and,

I'm vaccinated, not to please the government but:

  • To not die from Covid-19.
  • To NOT clutter a hospital bed if I get sick.
  • To hug my loved ones
  • To Not have to do PCR or antigenic tests to go to a restaurant, go on holidays, and many more things to come.
  • To live my life.
  • To see and hug my family and friends
  • For Covid-19 to be an old memory.
  • To protect us.

Dacorum Local Plan Consultation 2020-2021

At the full council meeting at the beginning of December 2020, there was considerable concern expressed by members as well as the public, regarding the launch of the public consultation on the Dacorum Local Plan.

Being in the middle of a pandemic and hence the inability for the council to provide walk-in public exhibitions at community centres for example, the timing of the launch was criticised. It was also pointed out that the pandemic is providing a considerable distraction to thousands of residents and perhaps a public consultation would be the last thing on peoples' minds.

Cllr. Andrew Williams responded, standing by the consultation launch schedule and requesting that as many people take part as possible. His argument was that by gathering the views of residents, such data could be used to provide evidence not to develop to the extent that the government is demanding.

Appreciating the leader of the council's argument, it is paramount that as many residents take part in tis public consultation on the Dacorum local plan, as possible. Hence, if you want to have your say, please start here:

https://www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/planning-development/planning-strategic-planning/new-single-local-plan

In your response, you may like to consider the following:

  • Infrastructure
  • Roads and transport
  • Loss of green belt
  • Flood risk

New on-line track 'n' trace system at the Grovehill Community Centre
New on-line track 'n' trace system at the Grovehill Community Centre.

As of 18th September 2020, The Grovehill Community Centre and the Grovehill Youth Centre, will have posters displaying a QR code. Once easily and conveniently scanned with a mobile phone, visitors are taken to an on-line form which can be completed.

The main advantage of this system, is that no one has to touch a pen! It's also much faster than having to fill in a paper form although the latter will remain available.

UPDATE 22nd September - Things are moving fast and businesses have to be on the ball. As of 24th September, all businesses will have to use the official NHS COVID-19 QR code and log-in. The Grovehill Community Centre and the Grovehill Youth Centre will have official NHS posters replacing the GNA's own posters by this date.

IMPORTANT: The NHS log-in system requires visitors to have the NHS COVID-19 app installed on their mobile phone. The Android version of the app can be downloaded here and the IOS version can be downloaded here.

Original Plan of Grovehill

Just before the local college was closed down to be moved to a brand new site, one of Alex's friends uncovered what looked like aged tracing paper. On closer inspection, this old piece of tracing paper revealed plans of Grovehill. The date can't be easily made out other than a word which looks like it could be 'January' and a year that's either 1960 or 1968. We think it reads '1968' as 1960 seems a bit early.

Alex was able to scan the huge document at very high resolution but only in monochrome (black and white) but is going to try to get it scanned professionally in colour which may help expose more detail.

If you're interested in checking this out, please feel free to download a pdf version of Grovehill Estate Plan here. Be warned; it's 10 MB.

Derek Baulch R.I.P 2020.05.14

It is with deep regret that we inform you of the passing away of Derek Baulch, yesterday on 14th May 2020.

Derek had lived in Marlborough Rise, Grovehill since the early seventies and was well known by so many residents. His commitment to his community was inspiring and he was the kind of guy who always put others first. In fact on 1st October 2019, we posted an article here, when he was awarded the Three Counties Radio Peoples Award for his relentless volunteering work at the Dens Food Bank on the Paradise Park estate. Modest as ever, Derek was insistent that the award wasn't actually for him but for all the volunteers at Dens.

Always smiling and often laughing, Derek had a great sense of humour and was fun to be around. With a unique way of being direct but diplomatic (and always very polite), at the same time, he was respected by all who worked with him. A long-standing member of the Grovehill Neighbourhood Association, he was a library of knowledge, especially about all things Grovehill.

Derek's humility was witnessed by many, when it was recently proposed and agreed by the GNA committee, that the newest hall at the Grovehill Community Centre be named after him; the Derek Baulch Hall. He just didn't know what all the fuss was about!

A lovely person in every way, his presence will be sorely missed. Our thoughts go out to his family at this very sad time.

The Starlink invasion

Earlier this month, some may have been alerted to the launch of a bunch of satellites by the American SpaceX company, owned by Amazon founder, Elon Musk. The idea behind the 'StarLink' satellites which will soon number to over 12,000 (yes, that's right... 12,000) is to improve global Internet coverage.

With a low earth orbit (LEO) of about 340 miles, the StarLink satellites are clearly visible and can be seen with the naked eye, as they follow each other across the night sky.

Astronomers both armature and professional, have been very critical of the night sky invasion and sky watchers are concerned that the natural beauty of the heavens, may never be the same again.

So what price are we prepared to pay for high-speed and reliable Internet access and mobile telecoms? Is this just too much or a taste of things to come? We've already reported on the recent erection of 5G masts in Grovehill, a subject which will remain open for debate for some time.

April Showers in Grovehill 2020
April showers in Grovehill 2020 - a real rainbow to say THANK YOU 🙂

A month into lock-down and we're all amazed and grateful for what so many people are doing, particularly front-line workers such as doctors, nurses, police but also postmen, milkmen, all those people that work in our local convenience stores and so many more. Thank you!

New 5G Masts in Grovehill

Over the past couple of weeks, it’s been difficult to ignore the new telecoms masts that have appeared in Aycliffe Drive. These are for the up-and-coming 5G network which is being rolled out across the country. Unfortunately many people aren’t too impressed with their sudden appearance, not just in Grovehill but over the entire UK. In fact, due to the timing, they’re even being blamed for ‘spreading’ COVID-19! Yes, that’s right. In some parts of the UK and Europe, these masts have been attacked by ignorant people with nothing else to do.

While rumours circulate, here's something to consider; the part of the electromagnetic spectrum used for mobile telecommunications falls in the category of non-ionized radiation, unlike for example, ultra-violet light (from the sun), which is in the ionizing category and which is harmful to human (and other) DNA.

Top of 5G Mast in Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead

The media only refers to ‘radiation’ and doesn’t distinguish between what comes out of a light bulb and what is still coming out of Chernobyl. The same media is of course, very articulate when it comes to reporting about food!

So they’re not dangerous, then? Well, who knows. We're not experts and searching for information on-line, yields many articles suggesting strong scientific evidence against 5G but there's also a community that believes 5G is perfectly safe. Some may recall that we went through the same thing with 4G and 3G and that many years ago, links were proposed between certain tumours and excessive use of mobile phones held close to the side of the head or kept in a breast pocket.

Suspicion and conspiracy theories flourish when things seem somewhat cloak 'n' naggerish and perhaps the public wouldn't be so concerned if things were a little more out in the open with regards their erection. It does seem strange how these masts have popped up so quickly and during a period of national lock-down. Appreciating that these things are months and sometimes years in the planning, it might all just be coincidence but it does feel weird.

A word from Councillor Bhinder:

While I have a scientific background, there's no way I have the knowledge or experience to comment on the potential environmental impact of 5G. I am concerned however, at the speed and lack of information regarding the erection of the new masts.

Councillors receive weekly updates on all planning applications in the borough but annoyingly, things like these masts aren’t included so we’re as surprised as everyone else  to see them suddenly pop up like this. 

What is of concern and something I’ll be looking into, is that we’ve been led to believe that the various telecoms companies are supposed to be working together. Hence, one mast can serve several providers. If that’s the case, then why have we now got three masts in Aycliffe Drive, all within a stone’s throw of each other?

DON'T LET SELFISHNESS AND GREED
SPREAD FASTER THAN COVID-19
STOP panic buying!!!!

What on earth is happening?!?!?!? Have people gone nuts? What’s happened to common sense? Have we become a nation of idiots?

It’s 12th March 2020 and for the past couple of weeks, there have been a few instances of what is known as corona virus or COVID-19, in the UK.

Is British society really so fickle that at times like these, we act like lemmings? Selfish, greedy people buying up anything and everything with complete disregard for the elderly and vulnerable in our society.

What's happening is quite unprecedented but there's no need what so ever to panic, let alone panic buy. At a time like this, we all need topull together, think of others and not just ourselves. There are people out there, people in our community, who can't buy hundreds of toilet rolls or bottles of sanitiser, as if there's any need to do so! Stupid, selfish panic buying just increases pressure on the supply chain and makes life difficult for everyone.

Cold, windy and wet, 12th December 2019 saw no break in the grim weather we’ve been having over recent weeks, yesterday being one of a handful of exceptions. Despite the miserable weather however, residents came out in force, to cast their votes in one of the most important elections we’ve seen in decades.

Sir Mike Penning wins general election 2019 for Conservatives in Hemel Hempstead

Here are the 2019 general election results for the constituency of Hemel Hempstead:

PARTY
VOTES
PERCENTAGE
Conservative
28968
56.50
Labour
14405
28.10
Lib Dem
06317
12.32
Green
01581
03.08
TOTAL
51271

Percentage turnout: 69.53%

CONGRATULATIONS TO SIR MIKE PENNING

Comparing these results with the results of the general election of 2017, it's quite clear that while the Conservative vote did increase slightly, Labour lost many votes this time around to the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party with the former more than doubling their share. The overall turnout was about the same.

PARTY
VOTES
PERCENTAGE
Conservative
28735
54.96
Labour
19290
36.90
Lib Dem
03233
06.18
Green
01024
01.96
TOTAL
52282

Percentage turnout: 70.47%

Pathway in Wootton Drive finally sorted

One afternoon in November, Alex came home only to be confronted by a really upset neighbour. Joe Scibetta told Alex that another person had slipped and fallen on the path that connects Wootton Drive to the playing fields.

There are actually two paths from Wootton Drive that go down to the playing fields. The one in question here, is roughly in the middle of Wootton Drive and is only half tarmac covered, the rest is basically mud. The second path is nearer the top of Wootton Drive, past Putters Croft.

Anyway, Alex explained that the dodgy path had come up before but that he couldn't remember why it wasn't done.

To cut a long story short, the path comes under both Dacorum Borough Counciland Hertfordshire County Council jurisdictions. This makes things potentially quite complicated.

Anyway, Alex said that he'd look into the matter again and really try this time, to get it fixed. In the meantime, Joe decided to organise a petition asking Wootton Drive residents to come together and provide evidence that a solid path is what people wanted.

It took a couple of weeks but Alex was eventually reassured by DBC officers that the path would be made safe. By this time, Joe's petition had gained over two-hundred signatures!

Well today is 12th December 2019 and we're delighted to report that the section of the path that leaves the original tarmac has now been black shingled all the way to the field. We're hoping that this will provide considerably more sure-footing than the previous mud-slide.

Hedge row between Crawley Drive and Link Road

In September we reported that residents in Crawley Drive had approached local councillors asking if it was possible to leave the hedge row that separates Crawley Drive and Link Road, to grow. Apart from hiding the traffic, it was thought that the environment would allow wildlife to flourish.

Alex and Julie in particular thought that this was a great idea and that it would be relatively easy to get Dacorum Borough Council to leave the hedge row to do its own thing.

Unfortunately that wasn't the case. Alex and residents were shocked on 12th November when they saw a tractor driving up Link Road, cutting the hedge right back. Alex approached DBC for an explanation and to discuss a way forward.

On 9th December, Alex met council officers at the site. Some issues were highlighted such as traffic visibility of road signs and the fact that the hedge could not be allowed to grow into the road.

After some discussion, it was agreed that DBC would indeed allow the hedge to grow so as to at least obscure the traffic along Link Road. There would have to be some thinning so that the Green Safe and Clean team could access the hedge up to the actual fence, allowing maintenance from the Crawley Drive side of the hedge.

It was also agreed that the grass close to the hedge would be allowed to grow and that wild flowers would be encouraged to take.

Residents had also asked if it was possible to plant trees on the green. The land however, doesn't actually belong to DBC and comes under Hertfordshire County Council. This makes management and decision making a little more complicated. Dacorum Borough Council however, is committed to tree planting, something that again, Julie and Alex very much support.

"This is a great space and with resident support, it would be quite foolish not to take advantage of the opportunity here." Says Alex.

Julie is looking into Section 106 money; funds given to the community by developers. Residents themselves have even offered to help contribute financially.

"I'm sure we're going to get trees here. We just need to work out how we're actually going to do it. Maintenance and light need to be considered but at £350 each, I think it's quite doable." Continues Alex.

 

LA-1 Public Consultation 2019

Some households in Grovehill, specifically those that'll be directly affected by the proposed LA-1 development at the top of Marchmont Fields, will have or will shortly be receiving  a letter from Dacorum Borough Council requesting comments and opinions.

If you do have something to say, please don't be subjective. There's no point for example, expressing concern about the view from your house or the potential devaluation of your property.

Alex, Julie and Goverdhan are very concerned about access and the effect that any access will have on the flow of traffic on the Link Road, for example. If traffic is slowed down, will Grovehill become another pollution hot-spot in the town?

Between three hundred and fifty and four hundred homes will be a considerable addition to Grovehill. We want to see proper infrastructure and careful consideration given to utilities, education and health facilities as well as transport, car parking. Unfortunately the latter is no longer grounds to object, despite the fact that car parking is a major issue in towns and villages across the country.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION

It's absolutely vital that any comments be returned to
Dacorum Borough Council by 17th December 2019.

Happy Diwali 2019Wish you all a very Happy Diwali 

Diwali is one of Hindu's biggest festivals. The word Diwali means rows of lighted lamps. It's a festival of lights and Hindus celebrate it with joy. During this festival, people light up their houses and shops with Diyas (Small cup-shaped oil lamp made of baked clay).

The festival is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for a variety of reasons, although the main theme which runs throughout is the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.

Henry Wells Square Resurfacing 2019Well, not quite but the resurfacing work of the square started today.

Last year we told residents that the 2019 budget included funds to resurface Henry Wells Square and that the work would commence later this year. Well. here you are!

Many people won't know that while most roads come under the jurisdiction of Hertfordshire County Council, Henry Wells Square falls firmly with Dacorum Borough Council's remit. DBC's responsibility begins 5 meters into the square. That's why Alex, Julie and Goverdhan have to contact Herts Highways when it comes to pot holes at the egress of the square. Very confusing and unbelievably bureaucratic but there you go.

The plan to do the work has tried to accommodate residents visiting the square and is being done in two parts, thereby allowing cars to park up on the side that isn't full of tar ripping up and laying vehicles.

Henry Wells Square Resurfacing 2019

Harvey inspires us all to keep Grovehill tidy

Many will already know about young Harvey who is determined to keep Grovehill clean and tidy. Pictured above (third in from left in front row), Harvey has inspired many from all over Hemel Hempstead, to join him on his litter-picking ventures across the ward.

With the first litter blitz on 21st September 2019, the group now meets regularly at the Grovehill Youth Centre. Indeed, the second blitz on Saturday 28th September, saw even more followers than the first!

Pictured below is the litter that the team collected on it's first litter picking blitz on 21st September 2019.

Results of first litter blitz in Grovehill

Goverdhan, Julie and Alex are particularly delighted to see so many young people from all over, joining Harvey to help keep Grovehill clean and tidy.

The project however, does cost and the group is constantly looking for sponsorship and donations. In fact, Alex will be approaching Dacorum Borough Council with a view to muster some financial support.

If you’d like to get involved, the group meets every Saturday morning at 9:30 at the Grovehill Youth Centre. Alternatively, you could follow Harvey on Facebook, here or just search for 'The Boy - Keeping Grovehill Tidy'

 

BBC 3CR Peoples Award 2019 - Overall Winner - Derek BaulchOn the evening of Wednesday 25th September 2019, local Grovehill resident, Derek Baulch was awarded the Overall Winner, BBC Three Counties Peoples Award for his relentless work at the Dens Food Bank on the Paradise Park in Hemel Hempstead.

BBC 3CR Peoples Award 2019 - Overall Winner - Derek BaulchPictured above with some of his co-volunteers, Derek says that the award really goes to the whole team. Such humility is obviously one of the reasons he was nominated in the first place!

Derek pays tribute to the other fifty or so people who were nominated with him and was pleased to know that so many people are doing good things in the area, for no reward.

Well done, Derek.

THE LATEST ON HOSPITAL PROVISION
IN WEST HERTFORDSHIRE

New Hospital Campaign 2019

Local health bosses are pushing for most investment in decrepit and crumbling Watford Hospital, a decision that will affect you, your children and your children’s children. They’ll do very little at St. Albans City Hospital and Hemel Hempstead will just become a medical centre.

RESIDENTS HAVE HAD ENOUGH

Over the years, the West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) and Herts Valleys Clinical
Commissioning Group (CCG), have consistently ignored the voices of thousands of
residents demanding robust and future-proof hospital provision across West Hertfordshire. In fact, there’s been no public consultation about this for many years.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH

The New Hospital Campaign is mounting a legal challenge to get them to put a
new A+E hospital on a clear site, that is easy to reach for everyone, back on the agenda.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Legal action will need to be paid for. We need to raise about £20,000.
Since this affects all residents of West Hertfordshire, we’re asking everyone who lives in
the area to consider donating to this cause. At the moment, we have two methods by which you can donate; please either visit our crowd funding page here:

crowdfunder.co.uk/new-hospital-campaign

Or transfer directly to our bank account which has been specifically set up for this:

NAME:DHAG-New Hospital Campaign
SORT CODE:30-80-49
ACCOUNT NUMBER:34945668

Hedgerow between Welwyn Court and Link RoadIn the Spring, Alex, Julie and Goverdhan received several enquiries from residents commenting on the long grass around Grovehill and questioning why grass cutting hadn't started. The truth is that Dacorum Borough Council is trying to save a little money in these challenging times.

It's now September and the tables have turned. Your councillors are now hearing from residents who are quite pleased with the way the area has been maintained this year.

A few weeks ago however, Alex received a request from a resident in Welwyn Court asking if the hedgerow between the Welwyn Court green and the Link Road could be left uncut, thereby providing some more 'green' and potentially reducing the noise from the road. Soon after, Julie also received a similar request froma  resident in Crawley drive.

Julie and Alex immediately followed up these residents' requests and have received a statement back from Dacorum Borough Council.

It transpires that the council maintain the hedge from the Welwyn Court side as the cost of installing traffic management to cut the hedge from the road side is prohibitive. DBC is saying that the hedge will grow between 3 ft and 5 ft per year and while the residents' request seems initially attractive, it may prove a little impractical.

Alex has now requested exact figures on just how long it would take to cut the hedge from the road side and hence, how much it would cost.

Alex has also put forward residents' proposal to look into sponsoring tree planting in the area. If the hedge has to be cut regularly, then perhaps more trees would suffice.

We've received comments from residents of Stevenage Rise and users of the Grovehill Youth Centre who are quite perplexed at the appearance  of a shipping container in the Grovehill Youth Centre car park.

Cllr. Julie Banks has been dealing with DBC to find out more and to try to get the container removed. The latest is that the 'owner' has been found and has been given notice.

We've heard rumours that this person is also using the car park as his own 'garage' and is apparently fixing cars! Seriously?!?!?!?

LATEST - 21st SEPTEMBER 2019

At last! Not encountering this kind of issue too often, Dacorum Borough Council officers encouraged the person behind the organisation of the shipping container to  well, sort it out and it wasn't too long before the container was gone.

Mid afternoon 30th May, Alex receives a call from a concerned resident as, what looked like garden waste , had been strewn across the garage block at the top of Craigavon Road. With complete and utter disregard to residents, specifically garage owners, several garages weren’t even accessible, forcing residents to clear up a lot of the rubbish themselves.

Many thanks to residents who reported the incident, took details of the perpetrators and who helped clear the area, to DBC enforcement officer, ‘Chris’ for attending the scene so quickly and to the occupier of the garage in question for supplying details of the couple of guys he’d paid to clear his garage and who not only created the mess but also stole some of his tools and equipment.

Above is a snap taken as the fly-tippers as they make their exit. The number plate of the truck is LR53 YCB.

The perpetrators are described as two young white males with English accents, of slim build, medium height and with short cut hair.

Two young women apparently joined them arriving in a Vauxhall (Omega size) car.

PLEASE DO NOT PAY ANYONE TO CLEAR YOUR RUBBISH
WITHOUT CHECKING THEIR CREDENTIALS FIRST

Election 2019 Conservative win for Grovehill

ELECTION 2019 RESULTS FOR GROVEHILL

PARTY
VOTES
PERCENTAGE
Conservative
2421
53.6
Labour
0920
20.3
Lib Dem
0433
09.6
UKIP
0504
11.2
Green
0241
05.3
TOTAL
4519

Turnout = 29%.

Winning an election is a humbling experience at the best of times. People voting for you to represent their community is a very unique thing. With the current political climate and so many people feeling fed up and quite despondent at what’s going on nationally, it’s incredibly reassuring that the same people put their community first and thought carefully about voting in the recent local elections, here in Grovehill.

Alex says "I enter my fourth term with an overwhelming sense of humility and hope that Julie, Goverdhan and I have the strength to carry on delivering for Grovehill.

In 2015, we had a national election at the same time as local elections. The percentage Conservative vote in Grovehill then was 53.8%. The turn out was just over 60% compared to about 29% this time around. To retain such a close percentage share of the vote at a time when anything to do with politics makes most of us cringe, is truly remarkable and we sincerely thank residents for their support.

Julie says “We consistently heard the same comments of frustration and annoyance while we canvassed during the weeks leading up to the election and this time around we can only be particularly grateful to Grovehill residents for their continued support and for focusing locally rather than being distracted by the national picture.

Goverdhan says "We're delighted that yet again, we have the confidence of our community and we can't wait to get stuck back into things.”

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had some amazing feedback from residents. With many expressing satisfaction with what we’re doing in Grovehill, we also have a long list of ward issues to pick up on and some excellent ideas. Many thanks to one resident of Marlborough Rise for example, for suggesting the erection of an acoustic wall between the Marlborough Rise estate and the Link Road. This one’s quite ambitious but we’ll certainly be following it up."

A final word from Alex... "Westminster and the press need to stop reinforcing the lines that divide us as a nation. In fact we all need to stop referring to each other as remainers and leavers, left-wing, right-wing and so on. It's old hat and people have had enough. While canvassing, we met residents of various political persuasions but there's one thing we all have in common and that's a desire to bring the nation together again. 

With both main parties taking such a hammering, with the message being quite clear, let's hope that Mrs. May and Mr. Corbyn have the wisdom to act on the frustration of the nation."

The table below shows results of the local election for Grovehill in 2015.

PARTY
VOTES
PERCENTAGE
Conservative
4102
53.8
Labour
1642
21.6
Lib Dem
0461
06.0
UKIP
0996
13.1
Green
0417
05.5
TOTAL
7617

Turnout = 60.39%. Joint national and local elections may be responsible for higher turnout.

IMPORTANT: The figure in the tables above showing the total number of votes is NOT the number of people who voted.

Remember that Grovehill is a 3-councillor ward which means that in a local election, each voter can vote for up to three candidates. Most voters did indeed vote for three candidates but some voted for only one or two.

For election results on the rest of Dacorum, please click here.

Dacorum Civic Centre - apocalypse nowHemel Hempstead has had a nice, new, shiny council home (The Forum), for well over two years, now. So why on earth do residents of Hemel Hempstead have to put up with having to look at something that resembles a scene from some post-apocalyptic horror film, as they drive past the old Civic Centre site along the Leighton Buzzard Road?

Dacorum Civic Centre - apocalypse nowWell, things didn't go quite according to plan. At the bottom of the building are two sub stations; one electrical and one for water and at a cost of some £300,000 just to decommission them, Dacorum Borough Council is treading carefully.

The sub-stations were supposed to be decommissioned in June 2019 but we have recently learnt that the schedule has been moved back to the end of the year.

We're in the process of getting details so please do check in again soon.

LATEST - AUGUST 2019

Yay!!!! Residents will have noticed that half of the remains of the old Civic Centre have now disappeared. This still leaves the other half and I'm afraid that we haven't got any more to report as yet other than we're still looking towards the end of the year before the whole lot's gone.

Residents in Grovehill are still being plagued by selfish, inconsiderate idiot bike riders who have about as much regard for the law and other people as a potato.

Above is a snap of one guy who was caught on camera at 15:56 on Easter Monday in Grovehill Playing Fields. Someone must know this bloke. That someone probably doesn't know what he's up to and the danger he's imposing not just on himself but other people and children who are enjoying the park. Either way, if you know this numpty, please either let us know or let the police know via 101.

Hemel Hempstead drivers (and their passengers, I guess) who had to use the Leighton Buzzard Road over the Easter weekend were baffled by the traffic control opposite Gadebridge Park. Was it just us or can anyone else notice the severe lack of road works, hedge trimming, tree felling or any other activity?

"If Herts Highways was responsible for this, I'd love to hear the reasons behind it. They know I'm not their biggest fan!" Says Alex.

Thursday 11th April; Alex, Julie and Goverdhan were out meeting with residents. Julie received a call from a resident in Marlborough Rise concerned about a fly-tip in that road. Alex and Goverdhan attended within a few minutes and couldn’t believe what they saw.

This was blatantly an office clear-out with filing cabinets, server cabinets, mains distribution and networking cables not just on the pavement but in the road.

The incident was immediately reported and a massive THANK YOU to the police for clearing the road and Craig Thorpe and his team at the Cupid Green depot of Dacorum Borough Council for getting this cleared up so quickly.

In fact it wasn’t just your councillors who called this in but another resident called the police after noting the registration number of the white box van that was parked up in the area and which is believed to have been carrying all this stuff before it was dumped. So while no evidence was found in amongst the dumped items, the police and DBC do have a lead.

In the meantime... If anyone recognises this stuff or has any information regarding the origin of it or even the perpetrators who dumped it, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you’d prefer to remain anonymous, then we’ll respect that.

If you’re not sure about a vehicle parked up near you, then just report it to the police on 101. Of course it would be helpful if you could provide a description and a registration number.

We’ve dealt with a few fly-tips over the years but I’ve never seen anything like this. We understand that it happened between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon which is particularly concerning as the people who did obviously aren’t too concerned about being noticed. The fact that no evidence pertaining to the origins of the items was found, suggests that the perpetrators are quite aware that DBC does go through a fly-tip looking for clues as to its origin.

We’d ask that all residents report any suspicious vehicles or activity, immediately.” Says Alex.

It’s such a shame that there are people out there that demonstrate such complete and utter disregard for the environment and other residents. Together however, we can beat them.

Alf Davidson with wife, MaggsAt 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday 9th April 2019, our dear friend and colleague,  Alf Davison, longtime caretaker of the Grovehill Community Centre, passed away at Watford General Hospital, following a severe stroke.

Our hearts go out and we offer our deepest condolences to his wife, Maggs and their family.

Alf was born in Durham on 4th March 1951 and had worked as the caretaker at the Grovehill Community Centre since 22nd August 2003.

Alf was one of that rare breed of dependable and friendly people who make places like the Grovehill Community Centre not just functional but very welcoming at the same time. A hard worker with a great sense of humour that brightened everyone's day, Alf is going to be sorely missed by staff and visitors alike.

R.I.P. Alf Davison.

change of host for gerovehill.org.uk

Many regular Internet surfers will be familiar with the 'Not Secure' message that pops up when visiting a hhtp website. So on 29th March 2019, Alex decided to install SSL certificates on the Grovehill website, thereby converting it from http to https. This would give visitors to the site a little more confidence in its authenticity and would be required when the on-line shop goes live.

Aaaanway... after doing the necessary, not only did the website disappear but Alex also lost access to the back-end and wasn't able to access the site for administrative purposes.

After contacting support and being told that there was an incompatibility issue with the website's theme (template design), he decided to move it to another host, one that he's familiar with and which hosts a lot of other sites that he has charge over.

Well, the transfer was supposed to take between twenty-four and forty eight hours suffice to say that the whole process took just under eleven days.

"I'm so not impressed by the service I received by JustHost and decided to move a couple of other sites I had with them over to 1&1 Ionos. Luckily I was able back up grovehill.org.uk and make a temporary redirection to a sub domain I made at woodhallfarm.org.uk. Things weren't right but while the transfer was in progress, residents were still able to access the site and even contact us and make bookings.

My sincere apologies to residents for any inconvenience. If I'd had known..." says Alex

Dacorum Borough Elections - 2nd May 2019

Polling stations will be open between 7:00 a.m. and 10: p.m. on Thursday 2nd May 2019.

Let's face it, politically, things are really broken, here in the UK at the moment. While the main parties deal with their respective internal battles and no common ground being found over Brexit, people are becoming increasingly despondent and quite fed up with our 'leaders' and the entire political regime, as other important matters are being pushed aside. As a result, many are wondering whether their vote is actually worth anything. Indeed the whole Brexit thing has forced serious questions over the very foundations of our democracy, whatever way you voted back in 2016.

The only thing we all agree on is that the nation is divided. Any impetus to unit the British people however, must now come from the top, from our leaders. Perhaps they should start by working with the media and refraining from grouping the nation into leavers and remainers.

Well, local councillors can't really do much about the big picture and it's upsetting that the parties they belong to, are indeed so broken and the system is in such disarray. Having said that, voters should consider that a non-vote with the intention to protest against what's going on, is potentially going to lead to the compromise of management of local issues. Dare it be said but let's not cut our noses off to spite our faces!

So, if you're still up for it, here's how it all works...

Politics isn’t a compulsory subject at school but at least now with the Internet, it’s a bit easier to suss out how it all works and what it’s about. I think if it was compulsory, it might be one of those lessons during which we’d all choose to dream about what we’re going to be doing at the weekend! Yeah, it can be a bit boring… until it affects us directly, that is and then we tend to moan about certain decisions (and the people who make those decisions) that can have such an impact on our day-to-day lives.

Okay, so here’s a quick run-down: Fundamentally, there are three levels of government; national, county and district. Some districts are boroughs or cities. If you live in a village, you might have a fourth level, the parish council.

Members of each level can be elected every four years although it’s rarely the same four years, if you know what I mean. This year for example, in some areas in the UK, it’s the turn of residents to elect representatives for their district and borough councils but not for county or national government. 2021 for example, will be election year for county.

Each district or borough is divided into wards, like Grovehill and there are a fixed number of representatives based on population, per ward. With over 8,000 people in the ward, Grovehill is a 3-seat ward (three councillors at borough level).

You may have heard of boundaries being moved on occasion and some are under the impression that this is done to favour a particular party, perhaps the majority party at the time . In fact, boundaries are controlled by the Boundary Commission for (in our case) England and has nothing to do with any one political party.

Candidates are usually members of a single political party although that doesn’t have to be the case. Anyone can stand as an independent candidate. The advantage of being a member of a political party however, is that as a candidate, you get support. The advantages of being a member of the leading political party, the party with the greatest number of seats, are that you have more of say in local affairs and again, you get a lot more support to get things done in your patch, be it a ward, a village or a constituency.

So, on 2nd May, residents across the Borough of Dacorum have the opportunity to vote for whom they’d like to represent them at council. As mentioned, Grovehill is a 3-councillor ward which means that residents in Grovehill can vote for up to three candidates. It makes sense to vote for candidates who perhaps you know have worked closely together and who have a track record of resolving issues in the area and dealing with residents’ individual matters.

After many years and after a big push from manager Julie Banks, the Grovehill Neighbourhood Association unanimously agreed that it was about time the community centre be fitted with a new alarm system replacing the very antiquated system that actually had not worked for several years!

Many thanks to Brent Maritz and Alex Whitby from local company, Security Solutions UK, for their hard work over the past few days.

Dacorum Borough Council has received an application to build on the land known as LA-1 which is situated at the top of Marchmont Fields.

Reference:4/00045/19/MOA
Application Received:Wed 09 Jan 2019
Address:Land at Marchmont Farm (adj. Link Road), Piccotts End Lane, Hemel Hempstead.
Proposal:Outline planning application to include up to 350 dwellings (C3), land for five gypsy and traveller pitches, vehicular access from the A4147, public open space including extension to Margaret Lloyd Park and associated landscaping, infrastructure and drainage. Details approval is sought for access arrangement from the A4147 only, with all other matters reserved.

Alex says: “The first Core Strategy document I saw back in 2008 quoted 290 dwellings for LA-1. This application is for 350 dwellings, more than 20% of the original figure. While I appreciate the need for more housing in the area, I’m concerned that figures keep on changing and only seem to go in one direction.

In over a decade, I feel that the social environment has changed considerably and with it, the requirement for the gypsy and traveller pitches should now perhaps be questioned. On top of that and despite numerous requests, no one has been able to offer me information pertaining to an example anywhere else in the country, where this type of development has proved successful. As such, I and my co-councillors, Julie and Goverdhan, will not be supporting the inclusion of gypsy and traveller pitches on the LA-1 site.”

Alex, Julie and Goverdhan are also insistent that the Grovehill Future Neighbourhood Plan be integral to any review process. On-line, we notice that the application includes two and three-story properties Yet the neighbourhood plan
mentions that no dwellings should exceed two-stories.

Dacorum Borough Council has an excellent track record of using so called brown-field sites (sites that have been previously built on) for future developments. Demands are such however, that local authorities are being forced to
consider all options. Unfortunately some of those options may compromise the beautiful open space that we’re all used to.

!!! IMPORTANT !!! - We urge all residents to voice their comments via the DBC website. Please don’t be complacent about this. Oh and one more thing; try to be objective and more pragmatic with your comments. With the criteria for what will be seriously considered, seemingly changing all the time, I’m not sure if subjective comments will be duly noted.

The planning application summary on DBC's website can be found here.

Mesco Express Henry Wells Square, GrovehillMany years ago, the area behind Tesco Express up on Henry Wells Square was not just a constant eyesore but a fire hazard and a source of litter, especially during periods of high winds.

Despite numerous attempts to resolve the matter amicably with Tesco Express, Alex took advice from Mike Penning and reluctantly requested that Dacorum Borough council begin proceedings against Tesco Express.

Miraculously, the matter was sorted out the day before the hearing and subsequently the courtyard outside the community centre had a long period of being clean and tidy.

mesco-xpress, henry wells square, grovehill 2019Over the past couple of years though, things have slipped back to the bad old days. Alex has had several meetings with the management of our Tesco Express and is getting quite fed up with listening to excuses like “clear things with head office” and “no room to manoeuvre and store rubbish inside the building”.

The situation is getting worse with complaints coming in from residents and even other shop keepers on the square.

Our Tesco Express is a much appreciated convenience right in the middle of Grovehill but why can’t they operate with a little more consideration for the environment and the community?” Asks Alex.

I really don’t want to go down the same road as I did a couple of years ago. It’s insane to consider the resources that are involved on both side but it looks like Tesco Express might leave me no choice.

Planned to extend from Piccots End, around the back of Grovehill, Woodhall Farm and on to Leverstock Green, Hemel Garden Commmunities will also border the new Business Enterprise Park, an extension to the Maylands Industrial Estate. The development which will deliver approximately 10,000 homes (and as many jobs) will take up a lot of Dacorum's housing quota but will be shared with St. Albans.

More information can be found here.