Covid – 19 in Broxbrourne – Residents of EN10 please get tested

As you may have heard, the South African variant of Covid-19 has been found in Broxbourne.

Please visit one of the mobile testing sites at either the Broxbourne Lido site or Paradise Wildlife park, or order a home test kit.

More information can be found by following the link below, to Broxbourne council’s website.

https://www.broxbourne.gov.uk/news/article/116/10-000-residents-in-broxbourne-urged-to-get-tested-amid-isolated-cases-of-new-covid-19-variant

If you need assistance, please feel free to email us at contact@broxlibdems.org.uk and a local volunteer will get in touch.

Stay safe

Don’t Let Children Go Hungry in Hertfordshire

Stephen Giles Medhurst

At last Tuesday’s (October 20th) Herts County Council Meeting, the Conservative- run Council rejected a LibDem motion, which was supported by Labour, to call on the government to support Marcus Rashford’s call for free school meals during school holidays.

Later in the week the government similarly rejected that move for England. Shocking given Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are!

Following this is it was great to see so many businesses and voluntary groups stepping up and offering meals and support so that children do not go hungry. A number of education authorities such as Essex County Council have stepped up to the mark and agreed to provide and support such meals.

With 19,820 children entitled to free school meals in Hertfordshire it is only the county council, as the education authority, that can ensure every child and family in need can be reached.

We called on the Conservative administration to step in and so far they have refused. To force them to listen and act the Liberal Democrat opposition have called an Extraordinary County Council Meeting (we wait for Tory Chair to agree a date which is required to by next week) to consider the following motion.

“In light of the government’s decision not to provide support for continued free school meals for those in receipt of these during the school holidays this Council commits to such provision through its facilities with or without the support of community groups up to and including the Easter holidays in 2021.”

The Labour group on the county council backs our move.

There is also now no a non-political petition calling for that on the county petition site: its here https://democracy.hertfordshire.gov.uk/mgEPetitionListDisplay.aspx?bcr=1

No child, whatever their situation should be forced to go hungry over the school holidays, let alone during a global pandemic. Let us not forget that 32% of families have lost income during this pandemic. Other education authorities have stepped in to help and we need Hertfordshire to do likewise. The Conservative Deputy Leader is as saying they provided additional support to more than 3,500 children and young people and some grants to families in need. That is not good enough.

I urge your readers to sign the non-political petition asap and to lobby Conservative county Councillors and to support opposition ones. We need to make our views known loud and clear that no child shall go hungry, if the government refuses to act then we must and indeed can

A post by Stephen Giles Medhurst Liberal Democrat Leader of the opposition on Hertfordshire County Council

Sir Charles Walker MP on the Corona Virus Pandemic

Speaking on Radio 4 recently Sir Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, said that the threat of the virus had been overplayed. According to Sir Charles “The Government can’t  stop elderly dying” because the fact is people in their 80’s and 90’s die”, instead, “our focus should be on protecting them, not limiting the life chances of young people and people of middle age who are responsible for running and owning businesses”.
The government’s scientific advisors are not so complacent, they describe the virus as a “very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences”. The last time that the virus ran out of control in March,  the strategy of isolating the vulnerable failed with tragic consequences. Despite the efforts of dedicated staff, an estimated 22,000 care home residents died across the country. Even elderly and vulnerable people living alone need regular contact for care and services.
The Government needs to learn lessons from South Korea and Taiwan where effective Track and Trace Systems, combined with  short sharp national lockdowns, have succeeded in driving the virus out and preventing young and old from catching it.
A policy of trying to open up the economy whilst isolating the old and vulnerable is inhumane and doomed to failure.
A post by David Payne, Lib Dem campaigner

Our reaction to BLM protestors being racially abused in Hoddesdon

We are outraged and saddened by the racist abuse targeted at Black Lives Matter protesters in Hoddesdon in recent days, and shared on social media. These racist views do not represent the wider Broxbourne community, which we know to be stronger for its diversity. Racism should have no place in our society.

The murder of George Floyd is a disgraceful injustice and a tragedy. Now rightly we are reflecting on the scale of racism within our own society as well. With inequality in housing, health, opportunities and incomes, there are numerous hardships which disproportionately affect black communities, and which the UK Government should be working at a pace to address. Not least, in the last week, evidence has shown how BAME communities have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. The health and economic inequalities that have led to this need to urgently be addressed to protect lives going forward.

At this time it’s particularly important to be responsible if protesting and follow social-distancing. We are heartened to see that Black Lives Matter protesters in Hoddesdon were following this guidance, and hope any further protests can continue peacefully and safely.

Broxbourne is not a place for hatred.  We express our heartfelt solidarity with the Black Lives Matters protestors who had to experience this racism first hand. We should do everything we can to educate ourselves, our children and our communities, and to consign such views as a part of history.

Broxbourne Liberal Democrats

#BlackLivesMatter

Deaths in Herts Care Homes a Mounting Concern

Although there are 235 deaths listing COVID 19 registered in Hertfordshire between 10th April and 15th May according the Office of National Statistics, Herts Liberal Democrats have calculated that as many as 500 deaths are likely to have occurred according to figures that the County Council has collected from care homes. The Liberal Democrats have also raised concerns that a far higher number of deaths have occurred in care homes in Watford and Hertsmere than in other districts.

Adult Care Health Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, County Cllr Ron Tindall added.  “We are concerned that the policy choices by Government, which may well have contributed to deaths, through the discharge of COVID positive patients to care home settings which could not cope with the infection control. County council staff have also confirmed that due to the lack of testing they cannot be certain that asymptomatic patients were not admitted to care homes without proper isolation measures. ”

County Councillor Ron Tindall
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Public Health and Prevention, and Adult Care & Health

“Hertfordshire Council officers have confirmed that the NHS discharged COVID positive patients to care home settings where ‘isolation’ is possible, but evidence that care homes were unable to adequately isolate discharged residents is building, suggesting that such discharges may have led to care home outbreaks and unnecessary and preventable deaths.” said Cllr Ron Tindall.

“I and my colleagues are concerned as we are across the country that the government acted too late and without taking on board the concerns of those in the care sector. This whole process needs a review and investigation once the COVID 19 crisis is under control. Lessons must be learned. It does on the face it seem that in the desperate rush to free up beds in hospitals,  patients who may have had COVID 19 were discharged to care homes with no testing and inadequate infection control. “

“The County Council itself purchased 250 care places to help with this at some considerable cost. It does seem that at the last minute the government panicked instead of fully planning. Hence we have the rush build of the Nightingale Hospital that was never really used. Instead, the elderly and vulnerable were shoved into a care home setting, where due to no fault of their own, they just could not manage. We have all heard of the shortages of PPE and vital equipment in our care homes.”

“Guidance from Government on care home visits and how to treat those who had been in contact with COVID positive patients was not modified until 13th March, leading to very significant risk of transmission in care home settings. Further changes have improved the situation but until the government has introduced a comprehensive testing regime, discharge outcomes cannot be certain.”

“From the information and reports we have seen lead us to believe hundreds of deaths may have occurred in care homes in our County which may have been preventable.   It was clearly wrong to accept any hospital discharges to care homes until we were certain they the patient was COVID free and had not been in contact with a COVID positive person for 7 days prior.  We have asked that the County Council officers to refuse to accept any further discharges to care home settings unless this assurance is given.  Whilst we are pleased that the death rate is now dropping in our view it is clear some mistakes were made here led by the national instruction to clear hospital beds. We also want to know why there is a difference in death rates in our districts which may well be linked to this or to locations being nearer to London.  Changes throughout the NHS and Care sector are needed now.”

“We raised concerns back in April about discharges into care home settings. We weren’t alone.  Without the assurances, that rightly families need, the risk is simply too great, it needs to stop now,” demanded Cllr Ron Tindall for the Liberal Democrats.

Making Space for Active Travel: County lacks a clear focus and ambition

County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Highways & Environment

“Must do better and be more pro-active” was the message from opposition Liberal Democrat councillors at County Hall to the four pilot schemes announced by the County Council that they brought in last weekend to encourage active travel and support for social distancing as more retail premises open.

Levels of walking and cycling have increased dramatically across the UK during the lock down.  The Government recently announced a package of £250m of support to councils for changes as more people begin travelling to work again and there is an easing of restrictions, while capacity on public transport is still significantly reduced due to the ongoing need for social distancing.

The health evidence indicates a significant link between Covid-19
recovery and physical fitness. The health benefits of choosing more active travel options are even more important than ever, as are the reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality.

The four new schemes in Watford High Street, Hertford Fore Street, Borehamwood Shenley Road and Bishop Stortford Town Centre were introduced from this Saturday aiming to reduce motorised traffic and allow for better social distancing whilst encouraging cyclists.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader and Highways Spokesperson, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said. “I welcome these initial moves and it’s great the county is doing something but they seem to lack ambition.  I know county officers have been working on up to 16 schemes. However none of these have been discussed with elected county councillors first, not even those for the areas these schemes cover.  At the last minute in my own area that covers Watford High Street I got hold of the plans and had to point
out errors and omissions so changes and additions had to be made as they had not used my local knowledge. Not consulting local councillors is unacceptable.”

“The Liberal Democrats fully support more improvements and changes to support active travel by walking and cycling. We have raised this at every county budget in the last 10 years with the need to invest more in footway improvements, tackle neglected cycle routes and bring in lower speed limits on residential side roads”.

“The COVID crisis could lead to a social and health change but
only if we move quickly and act now.  At the start of the lock down I and my colleagues highlighted, yet again, that many designated cycle routes and overgrown footways that needed cutting back. In most cases the county has done nothing. It’s normally the excuse of no money or “it does not meet our criteria for action”. I’ve been told where there is a verge next to an overgrown path people should walk or cycle on that instead! This is unacceptable. All to often we have cycle lanes and routes incomplete or end at a road junction with nowhere to go. The result is
they cannot be used.”

“It’s time to ignore the county rule book and improve our footways and cycle routes that currently hinder people in keeping to social distancing rules!”

With fewer people using buses at present we need to look at what
temporary changes to routes and bus stops could be made to better allow for social distancing in town centres. We need to look at what would be cycle commuter routes into our key areas to encourage people not back to their cars but on a cycle. We need to make those routes happen over the Summer. We must look at places like Watford that now has a cycle hire scheme to get similar in place in other key centres like Stevenage, St Albans, Hemel.” said Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst.

The Liberal Democrats said they would have a five point plan to meet the governments and health and social distancing objectives.

1. Prioritise maintenance/repairs of existing cycle and pedestrian
routes including cutting back overgrown vegetation and trees, repairing crossing points that are damaged or flood and installing new dropped kerbs in high pedestrian footfall areas.
2. Investigate, install and complete existing cycle routes and introduce at least temporary ones that assist commuter cycling.
3. Give greater priority to pedestrians at traffic lights and crossing
points – to prevent bunching and assist slow walkers.
4. Move quickly to introduce a 20 mph zone and limits as the norm for residential roads in Herts towns.
5.Consult and involve local county councillors for their ideas for their communities.

“It’s time to think positively, to think green and promote a heathy
safer environment, let’s do it.” said Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst