Chairman defends Welwyn Parish Council over recent criticisms and ‘verbal abuse’

Welwyn High Street

Welwyn High Street - Credit: Archant

The Welwyn Parish Council chairman has defended the council’s work in an open letter about recent issues regarding the village.

The Digswell Viaduct. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

The Digswell Viaduct. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin - Credit: Charlotte McLaughlin

Councillor Marj Otty, chairman to the Welwyn Parish Council has addressed issues such as the barriers on Welwyn High Street and the land by Digswell Viaduct.

Talking about the issue of the barriers on Welwyn High Street she said: “Late on the Friday afternoon of May 22, before the preparations and erection of the barriers in Welwyn High Street, the clerk for Welwyn Parish Council (WPC) was told of the decision by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).

“There had been no consultation with Welwyn Parish Council, as the elected representatives, and too late for Welwyn Parish Councillors to give their views or indeed to ask the residents themselves. The reason given was to enable pedestrians to social distance.

“Those who live in Welwyn and use the High Street were obviously in a far better position than HCC to know the problems this would cause for residents and businesses. Welwyn Parish Councillors have written a strongly worded letter to HCC expressing their concerns about the lack of consultation. Not only have the barriers remained but plans were made for more permanent ones until after the Junction 7 A1(M) Smart Motorway work was completed. We are now informed that the work on A1(M )has been deferred for four or five years. At our council meeting on Monday, July 27 we were promised a meeting with officers at HCC and will be arranging this.”

Welwyn High Street is currently running as a one way system. Picture: Colin Johnson

Welwyn High Street is currently running as a one way system. Picture: Colin Johnson - Credit: Colin Johnson

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On the issue of the land for sale by the Digswell Viaduct, Cllr Otty said: “Over recent weeks we learned that residents of Digswell had grave concerns about land that had been sold near the viaduct. WPC arranged a meeting with the head of planning for Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. The meeting was positive and we found the officer and Welwyn Hatfield borough councillors very helpful. This meeting was instrumental in the Article 4 decision.

“These are just two of the many issues your Welwyn Parish Councillors have been involved with over recent weeks. WPC represents not only the village but Oaklands, Mardley Heath and Digswell. The parish is a large area with different issues.

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“For those who accuse us of not communicating may I suggest you look at our notice boards, website, read the quarterly newsletter sent to all residents in the parish or arrange a meeting with a WPC councillor using the contact information available from our parish council offices, newsletters or website (”

Cllr Marj also mentioned the difficulties that everyone, including WPC staff have been through recently.

She added: “The last five months have been difficult for everyone and more difficult for some. Aggression and criticism that is misinformed and divisive doesn’t help. In my experience kindness and consideration goes a long way.

“Finally, I was appalled to be told that members of WPC staff have been the victims of verbal abuse. Our staff have worked beyond the line of duty throughout the pandemic. Do not take your frustrations out on them, they are doing their job not making the decisions.”

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