I feel very privileged that the Liberal Democrat members in Sopwell and Verulam have asked me to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for St Albans South in the Herts county council elections on May 2nd. Having narrowly missed being elected to Parliament, I will be honoured to serve at least part of the constituency in public office, if I am fortunate enough to be elected.
I increasingly think the split between county and district councils is confusing to everyone.
But in short the county is the one that deals with education (though not totally), roads and pavements (could do much, much better!), highways generally, adult and social care (a huge human and financial challenge here with strong links to health issues), and child protection.
It also has responsibility for waste disposal – and the knotty arguments about incineration! – and for public transport (though not all of it). And it has additional responsibilities for economic development including such things as broadband in rural areas.
I’m sure I’ve left something out of that list! But crucially for St Albans South, Herts County Council also has the key land ownership in the site where Helioslough wants to build its wholly inappropriate lorry terminal. I’ve fought tooth and nail against this appalling proposal in every possible forum and look forward to having an inside track at County Hall.
I hope that I can bring something to the table both from my past experience as a senior manager at BT and then at Transport for London, and from my current involvement in the local voluntary sector. I will certainly bring a passion for the division I hope to represent.
When I moved into St Albans more than 30 years ago, it was into a garden flat in Sopwell ward. It was on the crest of Old London Road with the Abbey dominating the skyline. This was my first step on the property ladder, I commuted in and out of London on the smelly diesels of the old ‘Bed-Pan line’ (though they generally had seats) and I’m almost embarrassed to admit how little I paid for the flat. Different times!
I was married in the division – at my parish church which just happened to be the Abbey. My boys were baptised at St Bart’s church on Vesta Avenue.
Later we lived on Watling Street in the Verulam half of the division.
I can confidently say that over the course of more than 30 years I have knocked at every single door in both halves of the division, and I must have spoken to most local residents, not least in the last few months! Many are now friends.
I am fortunate enough to have a brilliant team of Liberal Democrat district councillors in the shape of David Poor and Fred Wartenberg, while it is an honour to be following in the steps of Martin Frearson. I was campaign manager for Martin when he first stood for the council in Verulam in the early 1980s, and we have been friends ever since. He has been a great public servant for St Albans and I hope that he and Sue enjoy proper retirement in a world away from committees and meetings.
I look forward to meeting up with as many more local residents as I can between now and May 2nd. There will be the usual blizzard of leaflets.
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