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An online campaign has attracted over 2,000 signatures in support of keeping Hemel’s adventure playgrounds properly staffed and open.

For generations of kids the four free adventure playgrounds in Chaulden, Adeyfield and Woodhall Farm and Grove Hill have been something of a second home. A place to make friends, learn life skills and take the first steps towards independence, often when things are difficult at home.

But now the playgrounds are under threat from the same Conservative councillors who recently privatised Dacorum sports and leisure services who want to reduce staff in a way that campaigners believe will “escalate safeguarding concerns and cause chaos through the summer months”.

Simone Payne, whose late mother spent 40 years helping and supporting children through play and experiences at the playgrounds, wants her own children to have the same life chances afforded to her as a child. She is worried that cost is being put before children’s wellbeing and safety and is worried that “this is the start of a slow process towards complete closure.”

Councillors will be asked to vote on plans reduce the number of senior staff to just two managers for all four sites. The age range of the park is to change from 6-13 to 8-16 meaning that younger children who have traditionally used the playgrounds unaccompanied but under the watchful eye of experienced and trusted staff will be excluded.

“I have first-hand experience of how important this service is to the children”, says Simone. “Playgrounds are a source of community for so many children. This is a base to socialise and experience things they’d never do before.”

“That’s why I want to push the petition amount as far as possible, I’m hoping to form a team/committee after lots of offers to help.”

This is not the first time the playgrounds have been under threat and Hemel Labour campaigned against potential redundancies some years ago. If you would like to know more about the campaign or join Labour then drop us a line.

Sign the petition – support our adventure playgrounds

An online campaign has attracted over 2,000 signatures in support of keeping Hemel’s adventure playgrounds properly staffed and open. For generations of kids the four free adventure playgrounds in Chaulden,...

This year commemorates 100 years of some women first gaining the right to vote, a cause to celbrate the start of change for women's place in society. The International Womens Day theme is ‘Press for Progress’ and encourages communities to come together to press for gender parity resognising that there is still much work to be done. This event will highlight the unequal impact of cuts on women since the advent of the coalition government in 2010.

This government has failed to invest in our social infrastructure, health, housing, education and social care which we all depend on to lead healthy and secure lives. Successive budgets have failed to measure the impact these wide ranging cuts have had on women in particular and low income families generally. Women tend to earn less, have more caring responsibilities and tend to make up the majority of one parent families who have suffered the most.

We are lucky to have Labour MEP, Alex Mayer, opening the event with contributions from the WASPI campaign and local Labour party. Speakers will commence at 3.45pm and conclude at 4.30pm.

All are welcome as this is a public event. We have a children’s entertainer for the little ones from 4.30pm.

There will be stalls with information relating to local and national campaigns, including the Dacorum Hospital Action Group who tirelessly campaign for decent hospital services for Dacorum.

Come along and share your thoughts and experiences.

Press for progress - international womens day event

This year commemorates 100 years of some women first gaining the right to vote, a cause to celbrate the start of change for women's place in society. The International Womens...

In March 2009, Hemel’s Accident & Emergency department was closed, and replaced with the current Urgent Care Centre, along with what is now West Herts Medical Centre (which takes registered patients by appointment, as well as more minor walk in issues from anyone). In the last two years, we have seen the opening hours for the Urgent Care Centre reduced from 24 hours a day, to 8am-10pm. This has caused issues where many patients have had to attend Watford or Luton A&E department instead, despite it not being a life-threatening issue, as the illness or injury was not safe to wait until the next day.

Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group is now deciding how best to provide services for Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding areas in the future, in relation to both the Urgent Care Centre and the West Herts Medical Centre. The provider that runs West Herts Medical Centre has a contract that is due for renewal in October 2018, so they have decided to take a public consultation process on the options going forward.

During April-November 2016 12.5% of patients attended the Urgent Care Centre between the hours of 10pm and 8am (the hours that are no longer utilised currently). At a rate of 85 patients a day on average, this makes almost 4,000 patients every year, who needed to attend at hours that are no longer available.

For the Urgent Care Centre, they are considering three different options. The first is to keep the hours the same at 8am-10pm, because this would be easier on current staff levels, however this runs the very real risk of patients attending A&E out of hours for non-life-threatening issues. Given that Watford A&E department is already having struggles with waiting times, this is a risky strategy in my opinion.

The second option they are looking at is increasing the opening hours by two hours to become 8am-midnight. This will capture the 4.4% of patients who attended during these hours, however that still leaves a significant number of patients with having to attend A&E if they need medical care.

The last option they are looking at, is bringing back a full 24-hour service. This would obviously be best for patients in theory, however continued GP shortages could make this difficult in practice and ad hoc closures due to inability to fill shifts could cause more of an issue for patients turning up, only to find they then need to travel to go home or travel to Watford A&E.

Regarding the West Herts Medical Centre, there are two options that are being looked at. The first would be that there would be no Medical Centre in practice. The Urgent Care Centre GP’s would still take walk in patients, however the 2,000 registered patients at West Herts Medical Centre would have to register at other practices throughout the town.

I know from talking to friends and family, that a lot of these surgeries have their own difficulties getting patients appointments in a reasonable timeframe. For example, I have had a look at the online booking system for my GP surgery just now, and there are no appointments for two weeks. Now, obviously if there is an emergency, then you can call (and must wait on hold for a long time) on the day, but what constitutes an emergency for a same day appointment is very vague, and many people are not aware.

The alternate option, is to put the running of the service out for commercial, competitive procurement. The new contract would start from November 2018, and again be limited to 5 years, and a decision would need to be looked at again at the end of that time. The 2,000 patients that West Herts Medical Centre has, is quite small compared to your average GP surgery with 9,000 patients and this might make it harder to recruit and retain GP’s for the surgery.

You can have your say from now until 28th March 2018, via their survey https://www.surveygizmo.eu/s3/90065917/NHS-Herts-Valleys-CCG-consultation

There is a public consultation meeting on Wednesday 21st February from 7-9pm at the South Hill Centre, Cemetery Hill, HP1 1JF They are asking that people confirm their planned attendance if possible by email to communications.hvccg@nhs.net.  I urge people to attend to make their views known on this important issue.

Urgent Care Centre Consultation

In March 2009, Hemel’s Accident & Emergency department was closed, and replaced with the current Urgent Care Centre, along with what is now West Herts Medical Centre (which takes registered...

I was cheered to read of the opposition to the decision to rip up the contract with Dacorum Sports Trust, even if Mandi Tattershall was politer than I might have been when she asked the Council to “be brave” and think again.

Our priority, of course, must be to campaign for the Council to put the people of Dacorum first and stop the de facto privatisation of our communal sports facilities. Any “savings” to the Council will only mean a private company pushes higher fees or shorter hours onto us Dacorum residents.

However, when our voice has been heard, we need to think about how an appalling decision like this could have been made in the first place.

By my calculations there are only two places to look: either the austerity forced on councils up and down the country is to blame, and Mike Penning and David Gauke need to acknowledge that they need to “be brave” and break with their government, or the Council has such a large one-party majority that the power has clearly gone to their heads and we need much more balance on the Council so that more voices are heard.

The silence we are hearing from our local MPs, and the going to ground of many of our Councillors, shows that dealing with this issue at root is at the very least politically inconvenient. Inconvenient or not, it is time that our local politicians put policy before politics and showed some spine.

Reshuffle promotions, knighthoods, and the power of a huge council majority can easily go to people’s heads, but pride comes before a fall. Time they stuck up for local residents or else we’ll find some politicians who will.

Sportspace

I was cheered to read of the opposition to the decision to rip up the contract with Dacorum Sports Trust, even if Mandi Tattershall was politer than I might have...

I listened to the discussion on BBC Three Counties Radio last week and was appalled at the response from Andrew Williams, Leader of Dacorum Council, when challenged about the letter giving notice to homeless people in Hemel.  How cold and uncaring.

We know that Homelessness is on the rise. A recent report from the Public Accounts Committee report has found that the number of people sleeping rough has increased by 134% since 2011, with over 120,000 children now living without permanent housing.

Due to these alarming increases, the government commissioned the Homelessness Reduction Bill which received Royal Assent and therefore became an Act of Parliament in April 2017. 

The Act places greater legal obligations and further duties on local councils, housing authorities, and the emergency services to report and help all eligible victims rather than just those with a 'priority need' as was done in the past.

Dacorum Council has a duty to reach out and build up a relationship with the homeless people in Hemel not to send threatening letters and hope they leave.  

I would ask Andrew Williams to explain how the council  are implementing the new Homelessness Reduction Bill to help the homelessness in Hemel? 

 

Homelessness in Dacorum

I listened to the discussion on BBC Three Counties Radio last week and was appalled at the response from Andrew Williams, Leader of Dacorum Council, when challenged about the letter...

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