Tipping the wink

SIR – Cllr Maxine Crawley s comments about Blackbridge Tip are na�ve and miss the point. People in Wheathampstead will recall that the tripartite agreement between LaFarge, Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans District Council was already in place

SIR - Cllr Maxine Crawley's comments about Blackbridge Tip are na�ve and miss the point.

People in Wheathampstead will recall that the tripartite agreement between LaFarge, Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans District Council was already in place last time LaFarge attempted to re-open the tip in the 1990s. In fact LaFarge had already begun construction of an access road, which is still evident today, to allow tipping lorries to access the site from Cory Wright Way.

Construction was only stopped when St Albans District Council went to the High Court to uphold the legal agreement. So Cllr Crawley should appreciate why alarm bells start ringing when not only do the County Council include Blackbridge Tip as an option for 're-restoration' (renewed waste tipping) in their waste strategy consultation while at almost the same time LaFarge bring diggers in to widen the public byway from the Codicote Road and create a lorry size turning area close to the former tip. Having the weight of the law on your side is all very well but you have to be prepared to go to court to uphold it.

Luckily St Albans District Council are prepared to uphold the agreement in court if necessary, but at the same time village residents need to be aware of what's going on. Keeping people in the dark on the basis that 'county knows best' is never a good policy. Hertfordshire County Council often doesn't 'know best', particularly when it comes to balancing the interests of one village against what suits the county council.

Which brings me on to school places. One of the reasons why Wheathampstead has such an excellent success rate, 100 per cent, in gaining places in our local schools is because people in Wheathampstead know they are entitled to a local school place. The platitudes offered by the county council each year avoid the real issue of why this happens year on year and why there is no detailed long term plan for ensuring that there are sufficient school places for all children.

The county council puts pressure on local schools to squeeze in more and more pupils but this is not the solution. And the chronic lack of strategic planning that will leave us short of 14 forms of secondary school places in the next ten years is nothing short of shameful. Cllr Crawley would do better to spend her time pressing her colleagues up at county hall to get on and sort this mess out, rather than simply following the party line.

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If Cllr Crawley thinks that I am electioneering, then I must be up for re-election every year. I must have been up for re-election when I helped to set up Wheathampstead Farmers' Market, or when I campaigned to prevent flight paths being re-directed over Wheathampstead, or when I fought to prevent the sale of Wheathampstead Development Centre. Or every year in fact when I highlight the utter folly of failing to strategically plan for enough school places.

I do not want to fight with Cllr Crawley; 'handbags at dawn' will do neither of us any good. We are both hard working councillors who work to protect and promote the interests of the villages. Alerting people to issues, like Blackbridge Tip and fighting for justice and sense over school places is part of that job and one which a great many people in Wheathampstead appreciate.

Cllr Judy Shardlow

Lib Dem St Albans District Council, Wheathampstead Ward

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