County Councillor Mark Watkin, Lib Dem spokesperson for Children's Services, has raised concerns about the Government's £3 million under funding of Herts County's high needs services for children with special needs.
Cllr Watkin said, "Hertfordshire receives the 4th lowest funding based on its population of any of the 160 English local authorities. Compared to the average local authority, this means each year it receives £3million less to fund its crucially needed SEND services including its special schools, its advisory services, its school-based special resources and funding for children to receive specialist support.
The Liberal Democrat motion calling on Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) to take action to end Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), was debated and agreed at Cabinet Panel for Adult Care, Health and Wellbeing on Wednesday 8 December despite an attempt by leading Tories to weaken the message.
The Lib Dem motion seeks a number of actions to end the 'epidemic' of male violence against women and girls, in support of a call from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services for 'fundamental cross-system change'. Key amongst the requested actions is that the Leader of the Council calls on the Home Secretary and Prime Minister to declare Misogyny to be a Hate Crime and for Hertfordshire Police to record it as such. It also calls upon the Leader to ask the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable for Hertfordshire what steps they are taking to review internal safeguarding and vetting procedures following the sentencing of a serving police officer on 30 September 2021.
Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats have hit out at County Council claims that their roads are in "Good Shape".
In March this year, the Lib Dems hit out as over 60 road resurfacing reconstruction schemes were cut from works due by the County Council.
The ruling Conservatives cut road improvement schemes (mainly on secondary side roads across Herts) and reduced the budget for such schemes by £2m in the next year and in each of the following three years, cutting £8m in total from the planned £37m spend up to 2025 - a cut of 22%.
Now the County Council has released figures showing that the number of such side roads in Hertfordshire that are in need of repair has nearly doubled since last year - increasing from 7% to 12%.
County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst (Lib Dem Group Leader and Highways Spokesperson) said:
"The Conservatives claimed that our side roads had improved over recent years and said they did not need to spend this money as the roads were in such good condition. Residents knew this was not true and the facts now show that!"
"This is a kick in the teeth, not just for motorists but also for cyclists. The impact that will be felt by cyclists is particularly disappointing given that the County should be encouraging residents to change to more sustainable forms of transport"
The Liberal Democrats had proposed to restore this budget cut and increase spending on pavement repairs. They were voted down.
At the Hertfordshire County Council Cabinet Panel for Resources and Performance on 1 December it
was revealed that a further £46m of slippage in the capital budget occurred in the second quarter of
the financial year. Added to the slippage of £89m in the first quarter, this amounts to £135m in six
months and represents 37% of the capital budget for 2021/22 agreed in February 2021.
Herts Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst has warned of a chasm between cities/towns and rural areas in the
availability of electric vehicle charging points, as new figures show that drivers in county areas have one charging point every 16 miles,
compared to one for every mile in London.
New analysis from the County Councils Network (CCN) shows that there are more publicly available charging points in London - 7,865 - compared to the entirety of England's counties, which are home to almost half of the country's population.
With 7,781 public charging points in total in the 36 county areas the CCN represents, this means the average distance between chargers is 16 miles in those places. They are lagging well behind London, which has a charger for every mile on average, and England's largest eight cities, which have a six-mile distance between chargers.
"It is clear that this makes it more difficult to drive an electric vehicle in England's counties compared to cities and towns, which could
put people off switching from petrol and diesel. Just 35% of electric vehicles are registered in county areas, despite them being home to half of the country's population. Emissions have decreased slower in England'scounties since 2005, compared to every other part of the country", said Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst.
"What makes it worse is that the Herts County Tories are vetoing on-road charging points except in exceptional circumstances. Their policy says they will only be agreed as an "exception" and they have already rejected installing lamp-post chargers in Watford. This affects both towns and villages and the suggestion that they may just be installed at car parks and supermarkets is not sustainable. Many villages have no-off road car parks expect perhaps if they have a public house and in towns you might have to walk ten minutes to a car park. The failure of the county council to provide the investment, or to allow the district councils to do so, will undermine the government's net-zero by 2050 target. They also say having good access to charging points is vital especially for visitors." said Cllr Giles-Medhurst.
Only 21,925 chargers have been installed in England as of last month. This is a long way off the government's target of 150,000 a year and 1.5 million charging points by 2030.
The Liberal Democrats have pointed out that unlike Tory-run Surrey County Council which is set to install 80 residential on-street fast charging points across four towns, Herts has no such plans.
"Failure of the county council to provide this infrastructure will undermine the government's net-zero by 2050 target. Emissions have decreased slower in England's counties since 2005, compared to every other part of the country, " said Cllr Giles-Medhurst.
Prior to Thursday's meeting, members of the Children and Young People's Cabinet Panel were shocked to receive a damning survey from 170 members of the SEND National Crisis Hertfordshire revealing the failure of the Conservative run County Council's SEND service to provide support for them, communicate with them, and oversee the assistance their children desperately need. The comments from the parents highlighted the drastic impact that these failings are having on them and their children. It was equally damning that the Chair dismissed this report as representing the views of only 170 families out of 7000, and officers were unable to clarify the true state of workload pressures their teams have to work under.
Liberal Democrat councillors were shocked and disappointed that their proposals to strengthen the Domestic Abuse motion were blocked by the Conservatives at the Full Council meeting of Hertfordshire County Council on 19 October.
The Liberal Democrat proposals include Hertfordshire Police recording crimes which are motivated by sex or gender following the example set successfully by Nottinghamshire Police in 2016 and followed since by 10 other police forces; that the Council seeks funding from the government to support survivors and victims through the Spending Review; and that the backlog of domestic abuse court cases be addressed with urgency.
The Conservative County Council has refused to support the installation of on-street electric vehicle charging points across Hertfordshire.
Liberal Democrat councillors tried to get the council to agree to allow their installation in residential streets which lack off road parking using, where feasible, existing street furniture. They were voted down by the ruling Conservatives who said they would only support installation in very restricted circumstances.
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