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A Pre-Election Blog

Hitchin North County Councillor, Judi Billing, will be contesting the seat again in the upcoming elections in May 2017. Here, she reflects back on some of the things she and other Labour colleagues have achieved, as well as looking forward to the work still to be done.     Continue reading

Harpenden December Newsletter

Dear Members Our December meeting will be a social evening on Thursday15th , at 9 Burywick, hosted by the Lawlors. Apart from minor business this is an opportunity to meet fellow members and share your thoughts and ideas about the state of the world. Continue reading

Harpenden Newsletter November 2016

Dear Members At the October General Committee meeting we elected George Fraser to be Constituency Chair. While the Plough and Harrow is a good venue for Party meetings we will use it when expect larger attendances, so our next Branch Meeting on 10th November will be back at 21 Connaught Road.  Continue reading

Our 10 Pledges

Our 10 pledges to rebuild and transform Britain   An easy criticism of any political party is that people don’t know what they stand for. In the run-up to elections parties will publish manifestos. Often these are collections of promises and aspirations, but all too frequently they are uninspiring documents that largely go ignored by the majority of the electorate. Generally, it is left to the main stream media to explain (usually with some kind of unstated bias) what political parties believe in and want to bring about when, and if, they take office. Continue reading

Community Centres In Walsworth

It was with grave concern that I read an email from St Michael's Mount Community Centre en route to Vienna on 30 September calling an urgent meeting to discuss the community centre's future. The managing committee believed NHDC had decided to close the centre. There's not much one can do at the airport while queueing to board a flight, but I managed to get hold of officers who very quickly looked into the issue and were categoric that neither St Michael's nor Walsworth Community Centre were closing. Rather, negotiations with both about new leases subject to NHDC's Community Hall Strategy were ongoing. Continue reading

The importance of Labour Councillors

Judi Billing  - as a local District and County Councillor, and Vice Chair of the Association of Labour Councillors  shares some key points from her recent speech to annual conference Continue reading

Grammar Schools

  At a time when our NHS is under unprecedented pressure and we have a housing crisis with no sign of sensible solution how does the Prime Minister spend her summer?  Apparently in trying to re-invent Grammar Schools.  She has no electoral mandate for this – it wasn’t a manifesto pledge – and it really needs to be stopped right now. Grammar Schools provided no improvement in educational standards and only benefitted a group of children who would have thrived in any case in a good all ability comprehensive school.  But their damaging effects were devastating to the vast majority of children.  Much of primary school time was spent coaching children for the dreaded 11 plus exam which left 80% of children feeling like failures and doomed to a second rate education at secondary modern schools.  Anyone who doubts that needs to look at the statistics for attainment through the 1950ss, 1960s and 1970s.  I was a child of that era and knew from how we were organised and taught at age 7 who was expected to succeed and who was expected to fail.  There was no place for an imaginative curriculum for curious and enthusiastic learners, just endless exam practice in maths and english.  In Hitchin, the town that I represent, some parental preferences for secondary school places are stillbased on perceived notions of grammar and secondary modern schools 40 years after the reforms that gave us all ability secondary schools. As a local County Councillor it’s quite hard for me to effect or influence the decisions of MPs and ministers to resist this dreadful suggestion.  But I do call upon Hertfordshire County Council – its Leader Rob Gordon, and Education Portfolio Holder David Williams – to make it clear at once that they will resist and reject any suggestion of a return to Grammar Schools in Hertfordshire and make it clear to the Prime Minister that there is no place for divisive, unimaginative and failure inducing education in any part of Hertfordshire.

Leadership Nomination Meeting

On Thursday members from across the constituency met in the barn at the Victoria in Hitchin to nominate our candidate in the leadership election. It was a very popular event, with standing room only left. The atmosphere was extremely comradely, with all members respecting each others' views. The key theme emerging from the evening was the need to divert our energies to positive cause and unite to oppose the Tories and come together as an effective opposition.  Continue reading

Hitchin Town Hall & North Herts Museum Round-Up

I apologise for the dull title. But I have a feeling this is going to be a recurring theme over the coming weeks and months. I'll also apologise for the length of this post in advance. But there have been so many developments in the last week and a half, and there's so much conflicting information floating around. What I want to do here is report the facts. Yes, I'll give my view on matters and there will be something of a political angle. But I'll keep all of that to the end.  So, here we go... Continue reading

The most unacceptable face of capitalism ever – Hitchin Town Hall and Museum

We cannot believe the greed, incompetence and malice which continues to make it impossible for the people of North Herts to have their long awaited museum at Hitchin Town Hall. Continue reading