A Dedicated Local Campaigner
"Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet" (Alice Walker)
These are some local campaigns that I have been involved in recently in Kenilworth and our town. I have really enjoyed meeting some dedicated and passionate local people along the way. Borehamwood is a wonderful place to live, but it could be so much better.
SAVE THE ANCIENT ELY GARDENS OAKS
Over In Ely Gardens, two beloved ancient oak trees face being chopped down by the gung-ho council based on scant evidence that they were damaging properties, contained in a report that they tried to cover up. Wildlife including bats, squirrels and birds are also threatened and the proposal exposes the council’s hypocrisy given its climate emergency policy. In response, neighbours have united to organise a fantastic campaign to defend the oaks, including protests, media exposure and a 500-strong petition.
I and Labour have stood shoulder to shoulder with the residents throughout. Working with Cllr Rebecca Butler, I have helped advise the neighbours on their campaign, helped them organise a large protest and I also submitted a Freedom of Information request to obtain the secret survey report. The release of the survey has revealed the Council’s flawed decision-making process and has opened up the possibility that the trees may be saved. We support the residents’ demand that the felling of the trees be suspended.
MANOR WAY PARKING
Parking by non-residents of Manor Way is continuing to prevent residents parking outside their homes. I have been supporting neighbours in their campaign for a free residents' parking scheme and am working with them to resolve the issue.
But Joyce Langridge who organised a petition told us: “In June I took a petition to Hertsmere Borough Council Offices on behalf of the residents. We never received any response, although communication with Mayor Cllr Plancey seemed initially helpful.”
I will also deliver a public question about this on behalf of the residents at the next Hertsmere Borough Council meeting on 22nd January in support of their campaign. Labour has pressed the council for a response but has so far not heard anything back.
WELL END NATURE SPOT SAVED!
Over in Well End, a developer who purchased common land from the council has distressed neighbours and killed off wildlife having hacked down trees and hedges at the corner of Potters Lane, which he mistakenly believed he could build housing on. Aside from leaving behind an unsightly mess in one of Borehamwood’s most picturesque areas, the uprooting of trees and plants has meant rainwater can no longer be absorbed and to water streaming down Well End Road.
In autumn 2019 organised a 330-strong petition to Hertsmere Borough Council to support the residents. It demands that the site be designated a Conservation Area so as to protect its biodiversity, as well as an end to council land being sold to property speculators. In the end our campaign was successful as the developer retreated and has put the land up for auction.
ALDENHAM RESERVOIR PODLAND DEVELOPMENT DEFEATED
Liberty Lake Leisure’s planned to build 50 tourist chalets along Aldenham Reservoir's South East bank. That would have ruined local's country park experience, obscured the view of the lake, closed the Sailing Club and reaped environmental disaster locally. Labour has consistently opposed such developments, spearheaded and I exposed the fictitious threat to the integrity of the dam wall, that the owners had claimed required millions of pounds to replace, using funds from the development.
I raised an FOI request which revealed that the dam is actually in perfectly good shape, undermining the owners' argument that the development was needed to fund repairs. The Council Planning Officers then rejected the proposals in January 2020. Shortly after this, the Reservoir owners withdrew their planning application.
NO FAITH IN OUR COUNCIL
l Coordinated the No Faith in Our Council protest against the Tory council’s Elstree Studios expenses scandal, cuts to local health and transport, and plans to decimate our Green Belt in September 2019. I also delivered a public question on the failed Container Homes project at the Council meeting.