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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.

The Grovehill Christmas 2019 Challenge

For several years now, Alex and Julie have had this idea of putting on a Grovehill Christmas dinner at the community centre, for everyone and anyone who might be alone at this special time of year and who would relish the idea of spending it with friends. Having two young daughters however, has always made any attempt to plan such an ambitious event. a little difficult.

Well the girls are now all grown up and have flown the nest so the idea of a
Grovehill Christmas dinner is back on the table. It’s a bit too late to consider doing it for this year but having mentioned the idea to Goverdhan, 2019 looks doable.

It’s going to be a mammoth task an’ it’s going to take all year to plan so to start off with, Alex and Julie would like to know if anyone in Grovehill would want to be involved with helping out.

It’s a Christmas dinner and the idea is to have it on Christmas Day itself. Yes, that’s right. The target date is 25th December 2019 so before you get too excited, please do bear that in mind. If you have other commitments, then this might not be for you.

Alex, Julie and Goverdhan will be looking to raise funds and do deals with the likes of Tescos and other outlets (Shaun, that includes you mate). There’s going to be a lot of vegetable peeling, tables, chairs, tablecloths and cutlery that’s going to need laying out, music, washing up, driving and so on. So, if you fancy doing something
different (and a little nuts) for Christmas 2019, then please do let us know. Either contact us via the 'Contact Us' page on this website, drop in at the community centre and have a chat with Julie or just e-mail us on christmas2019@grovehill.org.uk

August isn’t normally a great month when it comes to unemployment figures. This year however, looking at the economically active population between the ages of 16
and 64, only 830 people were registered unemployed in the actual constituency of Hemel Hempstead. That's 1.5% unemployment, well below the national average.

For the group between the ages of 18 and 24, there were only 140 claimants in August. That's 35 less than the same period in the previous year.

On 6th September we reported that anxious residents had contacted Cllr. Alexander Bhinder regarding lack of notice of the consultation around the relocation of the Dacorum Athletics Track to Cupid Green. Well the matter was raised at the meeting of the Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee at The Forum on 10th October. So many residents turn up that the meeting is moved to the council chamber and still people have to stand.

Three speakers put forward points raised by many residents and the results of the consultation indicate that objections outnumbered those in favour of the relocation by an astonishing 7 to 1.

One committee member pointed out that the population sample that responded to the consultation was too small to properly reflect the views of the borough.

With so many arguments against the proposal and with so many recommendations  that would have to be made by the committee when referring the paper to cabinet, Cllr. Andrew Williams made an unprecedented announcement saying he would recommend that the item is not progressed beyond the next cabinet meeting.

The room erupted in cheer as residents couldn't believe their ears. Tonight's decision was quite unbelievable. There was talk about a long and drawn out fight. Instead, people went home thinking that perhaps DBC does listen to its residents.

Cllr. Alexander Bhinder says:

"There's a tremendous amount of pressure on local authorities from central government  to build more homes and while DBC's track record for using brown-field sites is one of the best in the country, this option is rapidly being exhausted. As such, I fully appreciate that all avenues must be considered. On this occasion however, it just wasn't right.

Another plus; I'm delighted, that this is one example of Dacorum Borough Council listening to its residents and I'm hoping that the people who took time out to attend the meeting on the 10th will spread the word."

On Friday 10th August 2018 and with only a week to go before the end of the consultation period, residents in Cupid Green contacted Cllr. Alexander Bhinder, concerned that they had not been advised of the consultation let alone the actual proposal.

Basically it has been suggested that the existing athletics track at Jarman Park be relocated to Cupid Green. A initial consultation was launched to gather residents' views. Since the matter would affect not just the residents in the proposed sites, the consultation was open to all Dacorum residents. The only problem was that as ever, very few knew about it.

Cllr. Bhinder advised residents to write to him requesting that the consultation period be extended. By the following Monday, Alex had received about sixty letters which he duly took down to The Forum.

Soon after, Alex was advised that although the consultation period would not be extended, all correspondence from residents regarding the matter would be included and hence considered.

"A lot of people aren't aware of the proposal and very few knew about the consultation. Since I have been advised that Dacorum Borough Council will still accept residents' comments despite the consultation period having passed I would urge all Dacorum residents to write in with their opinions." says Cllr. Alexander Bhinder

Looking at the proposal itself, there are several issues which should be considered:

  1. The location of the existing athletics track in Jarman Park is perfect. With buses and coaches coming in and out all the time, access is easy and doesn't affect any flow of traffic anywhere. With the retail park next door, it's very easy for youngsters to access refreshments.
  2. The proposed site at Cupid Green is large but is it actually suitable? The land slopes. This will have to be leveled. Some feel that sufficient and adequate car parking cannot e achieved.
  3. Just as residents of Redbourn Road are getting used to the Maylands Business Centre, they are potentially going to have to put up with increased noise and light pollution from the rear of their properties.
  4. Access to the site will be from the Redbourn Road. With buses and coaches regularly coming in and out of site, would the Redbourn Road simply be overwhelmed?

Councillor Alexander Bhinder"I appreciate that there is a continuing need for housing. Dacorum however, is way ahead of many surrounding areas with regards it's plans for the future and I'm sorry to say that some ideas just sound rather desperate to me. This is one of them." states Alex.

County Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe - New yellow lines in Crawley Drive

It's taken a couple of years to get these down but at last, here they are. Colette's perseverance got the lines that residents have been asking for, with a view to make the north end of Crawley Drive a little safer.

The highways team will be coming back soon to finish the job as despite ample warning, on the day that the work was booked for, several parked cars were found to be on the bend.

Henry Wells Square Make-Over 2018

Wow! Check this out. Just as we were commenting that things were looking a little shabby, our Clean Safe & Green team seem to have worked their socks off. 9th July and the big Summer clean up got under way. Today Alex and Julie met up with a couple of the Grovehill Clean Safe & Green team who were still at it.
Henry Wells Square Make-Over 2018

It's no secret that grounds maintenance has taken a big hit this year. Like so many local authorities, Dacorum Borough Council has been forced to tighten its belt and all departments are affected.
Henry Wells Square Make-Over 2018

Henry Wells Square Make-Over 2018
"We all know how difficult things are right now which makes this Summer clean particularly welcome. So many people have commented on this over the past couple of days and I think a big THANK YOU to our Green Safe & Clean team for all their hard work is well in order. It looks great, guys!" Says Cllr. Alexander Bhinder.

Food Waste Collection Trial in Grovehill 2018Alex, Julie and Goverdhan have just received an e-mail from Councillor Janice Marshall, portfolio holder for Environmental Services, staing the following:

Councillor Janice Marshall

"Just to let you know that collection of food waste from flats in selected areas in the Borough should start next month as part of a 6-month trial.  And Grovehill is one of 3 selected areas (the others being Berkhamsted and Leverstock Green).  I will send you more info soon."

This is great news for Grovehill residents living in flats and as stated by Cllr. Marshall, we'll bring you updates as they happen.

UPDATE - 20th JUNE 2018 - So less than a week later and guess who's back in Grovehill; yes, our Bulk Transfer truck friend. The trailer's different but the registration number is the same so we're thinking that it's the same driver. Perhaps he lives on Grovehill but this is still a violation of the 7.5 ton limit.

Cllr. Alexander Bhinder is quite determined to resolve this matter once and for all and after talking with the police today, received the following statement:

"We are aware of the on-going issues relating to the vehicles that are exceeding the weight restrictions on Aycliffe Drive. We have written to the companies that are responsible and we are awaiting their response."

Cllr. Bhinder's response: "Not sure why the parties behind these trucks get a warning. Last time I got done for a traffic violation, I just got done! 'Had to pay the fine and got points on my license. Bulk Transfer in particular obviously don't care a hoot. Remember, I called them last week and was told that it would get sorted. Hmm..."

Let's see how the story unfolds.

9th July 2018 - You guessed it; our friend is back. Alex telephones Bulk Transfer  from where he's just taken this picture and after informing the person he's talking to, that he intends to pass his pictures on to the police, he's told that the transport manager will call him back. At the time of writing (10:37 on 10th July 2018), no call has been received.

This vehicle was photographed last night (13th June 2018). 11:00 this morning, Alex telephoned Bulk Transfer in Watford and gave the details to ‘Tracy’.

Alex told Tracy that he didn’t actually want any action to be taken at this stage and would be happy with a reassurance from Bulk Transfer that this would not happen again. Tracy told Alex that she would adivise the appropriate people in her company and that “Hopefully it’ll be the last we see of them”.

It's been quite impossible to find anyone at the council or at the police who will deal with this matter. In the meantime, Grovehill residents simply have to endure this blatant breach of restriction while also putting up with the potential danger that these vehicles impose, particularly to cyclists.

Click here for the latest on this story.

Yes, that's right. After weeks of hard work, Grovehill Community Centre is now the first community centre in Dacorum to offer on-line booking.

At a rescent meeting of the GNA, long-standing committee member, Derek Baulch, pointed out that according to his calculations, an additional thirty-five hours of centre manager's time is required... per week!

GNA chairman Cllr. Alexander Bhinder says "Over recent years, I've seen the demands on community centre managers grow considerably. Keeping up with health and safety requirements, managing the finances, ensuring that the centre is compliant and of course the latest GDPR requirements all demand time, knowledge and skill. There's no way any community centre can actually afford the management staff it should have.  

That doesn't mean we should just give up and one solution to help make things a little easier for everyone was to develop on-line booking. I'm so pleased to have a forward-thinking committee behind me and look... here we are."

The on-line forms will be trialed for a few months while Alex makes plans to launch an on-line payment facility.

Grovehill Community Centre now accepts debit and credit cards - a first in Hemel Hempstead

Grovehill Community Centre becomes the first community centre in Hemel Hempstead to offer a debit / credit card payment option.

"It feels like it's taken forever to sort this out." says GNA chairman, Cllr. Alexander Bhinder.

Alex continues... "As the demands and expectations of community centre managers increases with things like GDPR compliance for example, I really want to try to save some time (and hence, money) on the things that should be simple and straight-forward.

Card readers used to cost hundreds of pounds a year and there was no way that smaller organisations could afford them. In the past eighteen months however, there's been a significant increase in availability of these smaller, lightweight readers and service providers that don't charge a (big) monthly fee.

I ended up going for the PayPal reader for one reason only; I had just set up a PayPal account for the GNA, so it made sense. Oh it seemed too easy. Err... yeah, right.

Julie and I have been a bit busy with setting up charity bank accounts recently, including the GNA's PayPal account. Without going into details, it's been a complete and utter nightmare. Determined to sort this out once and for all, we persevered so life's going to be a little easier at the Grovehill Community Centre from now on.

To the best of my knowledge, Grovehill Community Centre is the first community centre in Dacorum to offer a card payment facility."

Cllr. Julie Banks with Grovehill resident Joe

Joe of Wootton Drive asked Councillor Julie Banks if there was any chance that more benches for dog walkers and other people enjoying the Grovehill Playing Fields could be installed. Most council stuff take ages (hmm...) but we're pleased to report that Joe did get his benches.

The picture shows Julie (left) and a very smiley Joe (right) sitting on one of the new benches.

Inconsiderate parking in Grovehill

Pictured above are several cars parked up in Old Maple. Drivers coming out of Wootton Drive risk a collision with cars turning left into Old Maple as they are forced to drive on the other side of the road.

Okay, so parking has become a problem everywhere. I don't mean everywhere in Grovehill. I mean everywhere nationally. Various councils including DBC, have had verge-hardening schemes for some years. While such schemes have helped in some areas, it's very difficult to keep up. Children live at home with parents a lot longer now-a-days, due to higher property prices. We're all expected to travel to work and quite honestly, estates that were designed fifty or sixty years ago, simply can't cope with the increased demand for parking. Garages that were built in the sixties and seventies weren't designed for modern cars and are often just too small.

BUT... does this mean that we drivers have no option other than to be stupid, selfish and inconsiderate?!?!? I'd like to think not.

There have been reports of cars being parked across driveways preventing the car on the driveway from exiting. We've even heard of an ambulance being seriously delayed in attending an emergency due to inconsiderate parking. It's not at all uncommon to find cars and vans parked in the central driveway of Henry Wells Square forcing others to drive around them, despite the fact that there may be many vacant parking spaces. What the hell?!?!?

Yes, it's difficult. Yes, we'd all like to park outside (or as close to) our home, as possible. But things have changed and we all need to be aware of the consequences of mindless parking.

ENFORCEMENT IS INEVITABLY TARGETED AT AN INCONSIDERATE FEW
AND YET IT USUALLY AFFECTS ALL OF US

7.5 ton limit in GrovehillAs you enter Grovehill, you may notice a sign which reminds HGV drivers that there's a 7.5t weight limit for vehicles in Grovehill. Regrettably, that is sometimes ignored resulting in large lorries parked up over night in Aycliffe Drive.

"So what's the problem?" I hear you ask. well, there are two issues; the first is that large vehicles parked up like that can cause obstruction and limited visibility to those leaving Hunting Gate and Marlborough Rise. Secondly, the wear on our roads is considerable. These are big trucks! There's also a third issue; why bother having a weight limit at all if it just gets ignored?

We need to stop this so If anyone spots a lorry that's blatantly over the weight limit and parked up on any Grovehill road, please don't hesitate to call 101 and report it to the police.