Battle lines drawn ahead of Welwyn Hatfield Council elections
PUBLISHED: 11:00 14 April 2018
Leaders of the main political parties have made their pitches ahead of next month’s borough council elections.
Welwyn Hatfield Council is currently made up of 25 Conservatives, 16 Labour and four Liberal Democrats, and there are also three vacant seats.
One is in Hatfield Villages after Lynne Sparks passed away, while the other two are in Northaw and Cuffley, and Welham Green and Hatfield South, after Irene Dean and Tom Bailey resigned.
The May 3 poll will see the councillor in each of the 16 wards who got the fewest votes last time up for re-election.
A Tory representative currently occupies 11 of the 16 seats available, and a council spokeswoman said that a three-seat swing could see the Conservative Party lose its overall majority.
However, the local authority’s deputy leader Mandy Perkins has trumpeted a “time of great change” for the Conservative Party, and warned against a Labour-Lib Dem coalition leading to “out-of-control spending and sky-rocketing council taxes”.
She told the WHT: “We are coming up to a time of great change for Welwyn Hatfield Conservatives with our current leader, councillor John Dean, set to retire in May.
“We have taken this opportunity to bring in a fresh generation of diverse candidates, who will bring a new broom to old issues, whilst maintaining a responsible approach to our borough’s finances.
“In the coming year we are looking forward to continuing the work of councillor Dean and his cabinet, with the redevelopments of Hatfield town centre and High View as key priorities.
“We are also determined to deliver a solution on Splashlands and monitor the adoption of the Local Plan in Welwyn Hatfield.
“There is a clear choice this May between the security and responsibility of a Conservative-controlled council preparing for the future, or a hard-left Labour Party, supported by the Liberal Democrats, taking us back to the days of out-of-control spending and sky-rocketing council taxes.”
But Labour’s leader Kieran Thorpe attacked the Tories for slashing public services “beyond breaking point”, and promised a Labour-run council would rebuild them and provide value for money.
He said: “This election gives you the chance to change Welwyn Hatfield. Council tax has increased again while services are cut beyond breaking point.
“Astonishingly they managed to find enough money to award themselves with a 68 per cent pay increase. After 16 years this Conservative council is out of control, and out of ideas.
“They know time’s up, and that’s why they post absurd nonsense through your letter box – ignoring the reality that you can see all over Welwyn Hatfield.
“The truth is, as Labour have shown with Hatfield Town Council, things can be different without costing more.
“A Labour borough council will from day one start to rebuild public services and provide you with value for money.
“For a council that stops dithering and starts delivering, vote Labour on May 3.”
Lib Dem leader Malcolm Cowan outlined a string of priorities for his party’s candidates, including a free and separate food waste collection service to reverse “environmental damage” caused by the Tories’ brown bin tax.
He added: “We will work towards a long-term solution to the parking nightmare on our residential streets, with a joined-up approach that includes enforcement against antisocial parking and creating more parking spaces for residents.
“We would work to ensure that the Local Plan reflects local priorities, not those of the government or developers.
“And we will fight tooth and nail to preserve our Green Belt and provide the affordable homes that are needed.
“We will call for a review of the council’s housing policy and provision for the homeless, including ensuring that Welwyn Hatfield has a year-round night shelter. It is tragic that it has already closed.
“We will prioritise tackling antisocial and criminal behaviour, not only through partnering with the police, but with a prevention approach that puts more resource into youth programmes.”
Several candidates are also standing as Independents, including Melvyn Jones, Carol Beckerman, George Sanders, Susan Storer, Jon Beckerman, Carl Storer and Sandra Kyriakides.
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