Herts Ad Comment: Do our councillors know best?

Herts Advertiser comment

Herts Advertiser comment - Credit: Archant

A massive quarry scheme, dwarfing even the much-loathed Park Street rail freight proposal, is set to rip the heart out of the Green Belt around Smallford.

The Herts Advertiser has been following Brett Aggregates’ plans to remove eight million tonnes of sand and gravel from the former Hatfield Aerodrome site ever since it was announced, yet once again the county council has ignored the views of local residents and steamed ahead with the proposals. No change there then.

But how can you blame them, when St Albans council has proved completely nonchalant about a project which will have a disastrous impact on this part of the district for the next 30 years? The lack of any objection from the district is shocking - quite why our council isn’t jumping up and down about this beggars belief, but then so much that happens behind the scenes at the Civic Centre does these days.

Where is the representation for local residents? Where is the realisation that there isn’t the infrastructure to support a project of this scale? How will this scheme fit in with the Local Plan if it ever materialises? So many questions which nobody seems prepared to answer.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Harpenden, alarm bells are ringing about the consequences of a proposed new arts and leisure centre in Rothamsted Park, and suggestions of another level to Amenbury Lane car park.

As you might expect, neighbours are hopping mad about having their vistas ruined by a multi-storey car park, coupled with the inevitable congestion which a scheme of this nature will create.

They claim their views are not being listened to, and that may well be the case, with the district council insisting there has been largely positive feedback on the proposals, which will only serve to benefit the town.

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Do you ever get the impression that once somebody in authority has made a decision, then come hell or high water it’s going to reach fruition, no matter what objections there are from sections of the community?

Local democracy seems something of a misnomer for what is happening in our council chambers these days, as there are increasingly fewer examples of people power prevailing in the face of corporations and a general attitude of ‘we know best’ from politicians.

There isn’t even the support for local businesses which we would hope for, as evidenced by the massive 27 per cent hike in business rates faced by local pubs, which could see them have to pay an extra £27,000 a year from April. Why hasn’t the district council put its foot down over these demands or offered any sort of discounts before the need for a grass roots campaign by publicans?

Is there any wonder that voting turnouts are in decline, when those people we have chosen to represent us are either invisible in between elections, or choose to follow their own agendas instead of those of the people who put them in power?

Ultimately this sorry state of affairs is unlikely to change as long as we continue giving these people our mandate. Remember that next time there is an election...