NOTE: In 2009, the BSCF also floated an idea for joining Essex, given the woeful planning decisions taken and threatened by both East Herts District Council and Herts County Council. See The Case for Joining Essex.
Bishop's Stortford town councillors are considering a split from East Herts District Council.
A special committee will explore the options of becoming a unitary, district or borough council after a motion put forward by Conservative councillor Tim Page won support.
He told the Observer the case for devolving greater powers to communities was partly in response to growing dissatisfaction over decisions being taken outside the town.
Despite being the largest town in the district, he said Stortford was not represented on EHDC’s executive committee and many residents were unhappy with major planning applications, such as Henderson’s £105m Old River Lane development, being decided by councillors who represent other areas.
Cllr Page, who sits on both the town and district councils, said: “As a responsible and accountable local leadership group, I feel we need to examine whether Bishop’s Stortford, on its own, can provide residents better value for money and more influential determination of local issues.”
He added: “We might decide that the best option is staying with East Herts, but it’s up to us as elected local representatives to do our homework and see whether any benefits could arise from a change.”
A separate task and finish group is to be set up to examine the possibility of electing a council leader.
Cllr John Wyllie, who put forward the proposal at last Monday’s town council meeting, said: “A lot of other councils, such as Hertford, have that system already. It would mean the mayor becomes the ceremonial head rather than a political figure with his or her own agenda.”
In the light of proposed major developments in the Hertfordshire towns of Bishop's Stortford and Hitchin, English Heritage has produced an Urban Panel Review Paper. Click the links to see a summary and the complete Review Paper.
At the Currey Award for 2010, the BSCF gave a special mention to Stortford in Bloom.
Stortford in Bloom was an idea suggested 20 years ago by the then mayor Ralph Gilbert. Since then, it has flourished over the years just like its hanging baskets and planters.
In recognition of their sterling efforts, the BSCF presented Stortford In Bloom with a special award in 2010 but because this ceremony took place in the autumn, the picture shoot was postponed until the summer this year (2011).
In the picture, Les Hutchins (left) and Fred Strong (both from Stortford in Bloom) are seen with the special Currey Award.
In a victory for localism and local democracy, David Wildsmith, the Public Inquiry Inspector has decided that the main Inquiry will be held in Bishop's Stortford instead of Hertford.
At the Bishop's Stortford Carnival held on 18 June, the BSCF raffled a hamper of wine and a "Name the Bear" competition to raise money for the Stop Schools Move Fund. This was very successful and together with other fund raising events we managed to collect about £322, which we very much appreciate and would like to thank all the people who contributed.
The winning raffle tickets for the wine hamper and the "Name the Bear" competition were drawn by Mayor Allen Burlton on Monday the 4th of July at the Town Council Chambers.
The wine hamper was won by Maggie Eccleston from Bishop's Stortford. The "Name the Bear" competition was won by Julie Pagram from Sawbridgeworth. The BSCF would like to congratulate both winners and thank them for their support.
For photos from the Carnival, click the picture below:
To see the petition and all the signatories, see: Stop the Schools' Move to Whittington Way
We have received a total of 436 signatures and this result allows the BSCF to speak at the Herts County Council meeting on Tuesday 19 July. This will provide an excellent opportunity for the BSCF to present its case on the schools' move to an audience of councillors.
The inspector hearing the appeals will be conducting a pre-inquiry meeting in the Charis Centre on Friday, 1 July starting at 10.00 am. One matter to be decided at this meeting is whether the public inquiry should be held in Hertford or Bishop's Stortford.
If you can, please attend this meeting to demonstrate to the inspector that there is huge local interest in this matter. This is the Inspector's Agenda.
A Public Inquiry is to be held in September 2011 to finally decide whether or not the schools move to Whittington Way can go ahead.
We need the support of the public to engage legal counsel to present the case against this move.
If you would like to help stop the schools move, PLEASE DONATE to the Stop Schools Move Fund.
The two schools, together with Herts County Council, have appealed to the government for a final decision on the proposed relocation plans. This is despite the overwheming majority of people, backed by East Herts District Council, having made it clear on several occasions that these proposals are not wanted and are not in the best interests of the residents of Bishop's Stortford. See this story from the Herts and Essex Observer: Appeal expected over Stortford super-school plan.
Bishop's Stortford is united this week with the formation of a "super-alliance" of residents, retailers and business people determined to forge a brighter future for the town – and avert an "imminent catastrophe".
The team is captained by Coopers of Stortford boss Neil Cooper, and backing his first goal of blocking Henderson Global Investments' £105m plan for a shopping centre, parking, flats, a hotel and cinema at the Causeway are civic federation chairman Richard Hannah, chamber of commerce chief Mike Allen and North Street traders activist Karen Burton of Karen's Cakes.
They decided to work together as it became clear that they shared the same aims and aspirations for Stortford. They set out their manifesto – "to protect the historic character and market town ethos and to promote the growth of both new and existing businesses" – for the Observer.
Their message was emphatic: "The aim of the super-alliance is to improve the road and parking infrastructure in the town, thus encouraging a better shopping experience for residents and visitors and, at the same time ,encourage new retailers to Bishop's Stortford. We want to make Bishop's Stortford a first-choice destination shopping experience.
"The alliance believes that this can only be achieved by a proper co-ordinated approach to development of the north and south end of the town, which addresses both business and retail requirements, impact on overall traffic flow and parking issues, instead of the piecemeal approach which has so far blighted the town."
The three organisations believe blocking Henderson's scheme is crucial to their aims. While they recognise that some development on the key town centre site is now inevitable, they are adamant the proposals on the table at East Herts District Council cannot be allowed and want a positive alternative put forward.
"This development would have catastrophic consequences for the roads and parking in the town centre, affecting retailers and shoppers alike in Bishop's Stortford – both during and after the construction phase," they said.
The team pointed out that Stortford's shops had only just recovered from the toll on trade caused by construction at Jackson Square and said fundamental problems faced by commerce and the community at large must be addressed before any further development was allowed.
They are now planning a series of high-level meetings with MP Mark Prisk and East Herts District Council to push home their argument. They want support from residents as they launch a petition in shops around town.
A full meeting of the Town Council's Planning Committee was held at the Rhodes Centre, Bishops Stortford on Tuesday 4 January 2011. The main planning application for consideration was Henderson Global Investors' Old River Lane development plans for a new shopping complex on the site of the Waitrose car park. Following statements from the BSCF, the Chamber of Commerce and the Bishop's Stortford Labour Party, the planning committee voted against the plans. The ten reasons given included loss of views within the heart of the conservation area, the proposed development not having been adopted in the local plan, traffic congestion and lack of parking. The final decision will be taken by East Herts District Council later in the year.
The Herts and Essex Observer has this story: Town council says no to £105m Stortford redevelopment.
We think the scheme should be assessed against the policies in the adopted local plan, the Town Council's plan for Bishop's Stortford and the Civic Federation's People's Vision.