BSCF reaction to closure of East Herts District Council's offices in Bishop's Stortford
Letter to the Herts and Essex Observer
Herts & Essex Observer,
12 North Street,
|16 March 2009|
Reference: Causeway Site, Bishop's Stortford
I refer to your article on the close down of EHDC offices at the Causeway Site on the 12th of March and I wish to make the following comments on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation.
Bishop's Stortford has been the fastest growing town in East Herts and now has nearly 30% of the district’s population – nearly 50% more than Hertford, the next largest town. During the time that this growth has occurred, there has been a wholesale removal of public services from Bishop's Stortford.
Public Health and Community Affairs
- Closure of the Herts and Essex Hospital as a full service hospital and its replacement by a district treatment centre.
- Relocation of the Herts and Essex Hospital metal health unit to Hertford
- Merger of the Royston, Buntingford and Bishop's Stortford Primary Care Trust (based in Bishop's Stortford) with the East and North Herts Primary Care Trust (based in St Albans).
- The reduction in the EHDC contribution to the Citizens Advice Bureau was very damaging and disastrous in these times of economic distress.
- Closure of the Bishop's Stortford Job Centre and its relocation to Hertford
Law and Order
- Closure of the Bishop's Stortford Magistrate’s Court with cases now being heard in Hertford.
- Reduced opening hours of Bishop's Stortford Police station.
- Referral of all calls to the police to a control centre in Welwyn Garden City.
- Under provision of secondary school places.
- Attempt to meet the need by building on the last remaining undeveloped Green Belt site inside the by pass and pay for the move by nearly building nearly 800 unwanted houses on unsuitable sites.
- Fortunately, this was seen off by the Civic Federation, but no new plan has been produced to meet the need.
- No development proposal is unsuitable in the eyes of Herts Highways – it is simply seen as an opportunity to extract money from the developer.
- To take some recent examples, they did not object to the schools relocation proposals, the proposed hotel in South Street or the proposed back garden development in Haymeads Lane.
- This last failure was extraordinary, since the traffic problems there (still not solved) are direct result of Herts Highways withdrawing its objection at the last minute to the Herts and Essex hospital site development proposals.
- The entry and exit arrangements at the Jackson Square car park, insisted on by Herts Highways, have been a well publicised and easily avoidable fiasco.
- Even the state of our roads is deplorable.
- Our planning authority also finds it difficult to say no to development proposals in Bishop's Stortford whatever the quality.
- Over time, the appearance of the town centre has been ruined by the Leisure Centre, the Anchor Street development, the Jackson Square development and the Tanners Wharf development.
- Each new development has been more of an eyesore than its predecessor and seems to have set a building height of six stories as the norm for anything which might follow.
- The town was saddled with almost all the so called Airport related housing.
- It has also been under permanent threat to build nearing 3000 houses on the ASR’s (Areas of Special Restraint).
- The fulfilment of this threat is now becoming imminent as a result of the very stupid housing allocation system--- the more you have the more you get
- The town is faced with ever increasing allocations that are not only unsustainable, but are also productive of traffic congestion.
Now we read in the news that EHDC are planning to abandon Bishop's Stortford altogether apart from a reception centre and meeting room and decamp to Hertford. In spirit the county and district councils abandoned our town years ago so this latest plan will simply bring appearances into line with reality.
We are being governed by far away people who know little about our town and care even less, except for the money we contribute through taxes. To show just how heedless they are, their suggestion for the site they are abandoning is another shopping centre and multi storey car park. Haven't they noticed the chronic traffic congestion in the town, the empty stores in our main shopping street or the new flats which they approved going straight into moth balls? The last thing the town centre needs is more of the same.
We have got to the point where the local authorities who are elected to represent our interests appear to be incapable of doing anything except trashing the town and relocating their own staff as far away as possible. We think the time may have come to look over the border to Essex and Uttlesford to see whether a transfer to their local control might serve the town's interests better.
To summarise we shall be asking all our residents associations to consult their members about whether they would support a campaign for Bishop's Stortford to abandon Herts County Council and EHDC control, since long ago they abandoned us.
Richard Hannah, BSCF Chairman