It is a case of deja vu – waiting for the next boot to fall or in Hertford’s case, waiting for the gates to open.
This Road Traffic Order has been affixed to the notice board at the southern end of Bull Plain for a number of weeks.
What it says is that gates will be installed at either end of Maidenhead Street and only open before 9.30am and 5.30pm to allow free movement of pedestrians. So far no gates have materialised.
The notice goes on to say that the RTO will come into force on 13th May and that traffic will only be able to access Maidenhead Street from Salisbury Square .
To underline the reversal of traffic flow there are two ‘No Entry’ signs at the western end of Maidenhead Street. However if you are driving from Mill Bridge they are not highly visible. I would have thought that extra signage before Maidenhead Street saying ‘no left turn’ would be appropriate along with a similar sign ‘no right turn’ from Parliament Square.
Last Tuesday (21 May) travelling on the 390 bus to Stevenage we were delayed by a forty foot pantechnicon travelling through Fore Street from Parliament Square. The lorry then turned left along Maidenhead Street despite the large warning sign in place to prevent such access. When we finally made Mill Bridge ourselves that lorry was blocking Maidenhead Street.
So what you might say. But it was 11.15am and traffic is apparently banned from Maidenhead Street after 9.30am.
That was bad enough but on our return at 2.30pm a delivery van turned into Maidenhead Street from the wrong end.
So, where are the gates that are meant to prevent this.
What I have yet to discover is exactly who is responsible for opening and closing these gates? And then ensuring that no-one or vehicle is locked inside. Answers on a postcard please.
Today there were two vehicles parked close to Honey Lane at 1.00pm.
I have no words left to say on the state of Bircherley Green. Why was the application not heard last night (22 May) by the Development Management Committee. Another three weeks at least (next scheduled meeting 19 June) will elapse and in the meantime time will stand still and nothing will happen in Hertford.
I could not blame Diageo, Wrenbridge, Premier Inns or Whitbread if they all walked away and left Hertford to its own devices. They won’t; but would East Herts Council really care if they did?
I failed to get elected to Hertford Town Council for the Bengeo Ward. I would like to thank the other 258 electors who did vote for me.
I would also like to thank all those people who took time to read my election manifesto page which showed a healthy amount of hits according to my web logs. I must also thank the Hertfordshire Mercury for their coverage of my ‘Independence For Folly Island’ Campaign. This was the first time in 19 years that I have appeared in print wearing a collar and tie and not my usual ‘smart but casual look’.
Here is the full result for Bengeo:
Peter Alan RUFFLES
Linda Elisabeth RADFORD
Veronica Elizabeth FRASER
John William WIGGETT
Tracy Kim Martin TURNER
John David BARBER
It is not surprising given the percentage of voters living in Bengeo proper and the successful campaign resulting in the Secretary of State agreeing with the Government Inspector that planning permission be refused for a quarry to extract gravel. It is good to see that the Green Party came a very creditable second to the evergreen Cllr Peter Ruffles.
So why did I bother to stand for election. Often sanitised for TV is this:
It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in. Lyndon Johnson, as quoted in The New York Times (31 October 1971).
For the best part of nineteen years it has been me pissing in.
Then in 2015 we lostZach our three year grandson to brain cancer. I could not go on bashing my head against the establishment’s brick wall and I withdrew from all my involvement in the town. I did not understand how the life of an innocent young boy could be so cruelly ended and I cannot understand it now, almost four years on. This blog has been my way of clearing my head of all the stuff that has happened in those nineteen years, most of which I do understand, but not necessarily agree with.
In the space of the last three months I have lost three good friends who I met as drinking partners in the White Horse when I first moved to Hertford in 1980.
I know that this is the order of things as your grow older but even though you expect death and other losses to increase with your own age it does not make it any easier to bear.
Despite my well known eccentric and often bizarre take on Hertford’s political and social life I have worked closely with most of the past Mayors on various projects. Councillors too (all Conservative); and although I have never hidden the fact that my political leanings are well left of centre it has not stopped us becoming good friends. Some have died, some moved away and others retired from the fray.
The same with Officers from Hertfordshire Highways with whom I argued at the Hertford Transport Forum but shared a convivial drink in the pub afterwards. The Mercury always came to me for news and never gave me a bad press and Hertbeat fm (now Bobfm) were a constant voice at the other end of the phone for quotes and an interview of what was happening in town.
I worked very closely officers from the Police Community Teams on Town Watch and Pub Watch and they too have moved on to pastures new and hopefully greener.
I could go on but you will appreciate the network that I had built up that had slowly dissolved for many reasons by about 2009. I could spend a day walking the streets talking to traders and passing their views back to Councils, all of which were ignored.
It made the job of Town Centre Manager always pleasant when you knew you had the trust of the community at large but the town centre is not the same any more as anyone reading these blogs will know.
Some may consider my election manifesto a trifle flippant if not bordering on the completely daft but to explain.
Folly Island is a Local Conservation Area; one designed to protect and enhance. Next time you walk over Folly Bridge you will notice the damaged brickwork in places where it has only just been repaired from previous incidents of being hit by vehicles that have got lost down Bull Plain.
As past Chairman of the Folly Island Residents Association and as Town Centre Manager I have argued at the Hertford Transport Forum (which does not now exist) for more to be done to prevent forty foot pantechnicons and ‘the big six-wheeler, scarlet-painted, diesel engine, ninety-seven horsepower omnibus’ (see Flanders & Swann) from being able to travel further than Salisbury Square. In other words large delivery lorries and the lesser-spotted and increasingly rare species the single decker bus.
I, my predecessors and current committee have argued for larger and more visible signage in the town centre to prevent these vehicles who have no business here accessing the Island. Nothing has ever been done.
If you cannot prevent such vehicles from driving through Folly Island then it is only right that they are liable to pay for any damage to fabric of the bridge and the local streets.
The idea of a large treadmill to power free electricity for Folly Island owes everything toScreaming Lord Sutch and the first election manifesto of the Official Monster Raving Looney Party.
On the other hand the idea of a tunnel under the Lea is a result of my wife’s manager at W H Smith offering to make her journey to work easier beneath the canal and the barges. I pointed out to him that these craft are houseboats and it is the Lea Navigation and not a canal.
Part Two of this post will look at the improvements to Maidenhead Street and beyond and ask the question: who is going to be responsible for opening and locking the gates at either end of Maidenhead Street to protect the pedestrianisation between 9.30am and 5.30pm?