Conservative County Councillors have once again voted against providing meal vouchers during the holidays for children who get free school meals during term time. In response to a Liberal Democrat motion calling for this to be done, the council's Resources Panel was told by council officers that the extension of the government's Household Support Fund would probably allow this to happen, subject to confirming the rules of the fund. Lib Dem County Councillor Steve Jarvis proposed that the panel should support this, assuming it was confirmed to be allowed.
Herts County Council has been awarded nearly £6 million pounds to introduce 27 electric buses in Stevenage - which is good news - but this is much less than some other councils who made more ambitious bids. In comparison Oxfordshire County Council successfully bid for £32 million for 159 electric buses from the same government fund.
Not content with failing to centrally fund social care forcing local authorities to raise council tax again, a new report now identifies the Tories latest blunder which could put the survival of Care Homes into question. The all party County Council Network report has confirmed that the Government has seriously underestimated the costs of adult social care charging reforms.
Liberal Democrats have exposed a claim by Herts County Council about cutting the council's carbon emissions which is completely untrue. The council has delivered copies of its "Your Hertfordshire" magazine to every house in the county including the claim that by switching the fuel used by the Fire Service to a type known as GTL (Gas-To-Liquid) it will save 90% of previous carbon emissions. The council has now admitted that this is untrue.
Hidden inside yesterday's announcement of Hertfordshire Secondary Transfer Allocation are some alarming figures which show that across the County 778 children were not allocated any of their four chosen schools and in Watford alone 174 children will be going to schools they did not want to attend. Hemel Hempstead children fared little better with 41 allocated a non-ranked school. For other areas parents may have to travel miles because their local school has a faith restricting admissions policy.
The Liberal Democrat alternative budget was proposed at the meeting of the Full Council at Hertfordshire County Council on 22 February 2022. Key proposals to address the cost-of-living crisis and rising inequality including £4.2m for extending Free School Meals to cover holidays; a £15 subsidy for school uniform per child eligible for Free School Meals; and an additional £6m to increase the number of qualified school nurses by 40 over the next four years, were voted down by the Conservative administration.
At the Budget Meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday 22 February, Liberal Democrats on Hertfordshire County Council proposed that £4.2m of the unplanned extra £6.2m received from Council Tax collection should be spent to fund free school meals during the school holidays for children of the recipients of Universal Credit. The Liberal Democrats argued that the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis had impacted most on the poorest in society and that this expected windfall should go towards funding those most in need and ensuring children do not go without a meal during the school holidays.
Liberal Democrats at Hertfordshire County Council have highlighted concerns that the new Corporate Plan fails to address issues of fairness, inequality or the detrimental impact of the cost of living crisis on Hertfordshire's residents. Hertfordshire County Council's new Corporate Plan was presented to the Resources and Performance Cabinet Panel on Friday 10 February by the Leader, Councillor Richard Roberts. Liberal Democrat members welcomed the inclusion in the Corporate Plan aspirations for a Greener and Healthier Hertfordshire and the commitment to tackle climate change through the Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy. However, they raised significant concerns over the absence of any commitment to a Fairer Hertfordshire or policies to reduce inequality.
Liberal Democrats at Herts County Council have scored a success in getting the council to improve its plans for dealing with the climate emergency. Lib Dem Environment spokesperson Councillor Steve Jarvis put down a motion calling for the council to improve its plans in the light of COP26, including setting clear targets for cutting emissions, requiring developments on council land to be zero carbon and making sure that road building plans do not undermine the council's bid for a net-zero carbon county. At a meeting of the council's environment panel this week it was agreed that the "Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy" would be reviewed taking these things into account.
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