Positive campaigning in Welwyn Hatfield

SIR – The letter last week from Labour’s spokesman regarding the issue of incinerators was very disappointing. Rather than work towards a shared goal of defeating the incinerator plan for New Barnfield, he has instead decided to turn a united front into a party political battle.

But given Labour’s history on our QE2 Hospital, perhaps local residents should be less surprised by that tactic.

So just to set the record straight.

I am absolutely 100 per cent opposed to an incinerator being built at any location in Welwyn Hatfield which might have a negative impact on my residents.

What’s more, I was the very first person to raise the alarm about New Barnfield, highlighting the issue early on by accepting a petition containing 80 signatures from people living in Millwards, Far End and other nearby streets – nearly a year before any mention of this issue appeared on the Labour spokesman’s website.

Since then I’ve gone on to launch the Save New Barnfield website at www.SaveNewBarnfield.com – which has already collected 1,000 signatures online and more offline, I have written to all firms involved in bidding to build an energy-from-waste plant (twice) and have even been involved in the production of Save New Barnfield wristbands which are available for sale to help support the campaign (see website).

I always think we are stronger as an area when we fight common causes together and I very much welcomed Labour’s arrival to the campaign one year in, but when it comes to campaigning on this or any other issue I have a simple piece of advice for everyone standing for public office.

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People in Welwyn Hatfield go out and vote in numbers far above the national average (70% of people voted here at the last general election), because we spend our time telling people what we will do rather than knocking chunks out of our opponents.

If the Labour candidate wants to fight a negative campaign where he seriously and deliberately attempts to misrepresent the views of others then he is free to do so.

I’ll continue to focus on Welwyn Hatfield’s real priorities like battling against the incinerator, trying to get a new town centre for Hatfield despite this record recession and most important of all, fighting for what will remain of our hospital after the devastating decisions which will see A&E, maternity, elderly care, paediatrics and all operations close at the QE2.

I will be pleased to leave it to the electorate to have the final say on whether positive or negative campaigning wins the day.

Grant Shapps MP.