Welwyn Hatfield

Liberal Democrats

















RELEASE DATE:    10 September, 2008

Embargo: None



Mobile: 0775 157 8462    Email:  p.m.zukowskyj@herts.ac.uk


LibDems call for Council Leadership to be Felled


At last week’s council meeting, Tory council leader John Dean made the outrageous statement: “I congratulate Clare (Berry, cabinet member for environment and community), for not bothering to go” to the public meeting held by Finesse Leisure about the Poplar trees at Stanborough.  Local Liberal Democrats abhor the contempt that this shows for the process of democracy and local accountability, and will be calling for both Clare Berry and John Dean to explain themselves to voters.


Lib Dem Group Leader Tony Skottowe said “Frankly I am tired of the gratuitous insults which seem to be the stock response of the Tory leadership to any suggestion that they might not be perfect.”   


Labour and Lib Dem councillors had proposed a straightforward motion calling for the council to review its communications procedures in the light of the confusion over the poplars issue.  Clare Berry herself had admitted in the WH Times that “The council has a simple choice which perhaps was not communicated ideally”. 


The motion was defeated 35 to 7.  It seems that because the Conservatives have such a large majority in the council they feel they can do what they like with no check on their behaviour.


Clare Berry also claimed that the meeting at the Lakes was hijacked by the vociferous few who were from unelected pressure groups, rubbishing the idea that the public were at all concerned at the loss of over 700 trees, a vital and beautiful feature of the town’s landscape and ecology.  Had she bothered to come to the meeting, she might have heard Henry Girling, the council’s own former arborist, saying that the trees, if pollarded, could last another twenty years, which would give time for the implementation of decent alternatives, with consultation. 


Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate Paul Zukowskyj commented: “As one of the people who attended both meetings, I feel the behaviour of the Conservative Cabinet members was appalling. They were uncouth and immature and I find it unbelievable that councillors are unable to rise above playground behaviour and name-calling when discussing an issue as important as communicating with their residents.”

Cllr Louise Lotz, who attended the public meeting and is part of the “coalition of the willing” set up as a result of the meeting commented:  “There remain serious issues to examine aside from the childish behaviour of senior council members:


·       Why have Finesse Leisure failed to manage the poplars properly? Apparently they have totally neglected these trees since they took over management at Stanborough.

·       Why did it take 2 years for the council to respond to a report classifying the trees as “dangerous”?

·       How did the council allow the same company that called for the trees to be felled to then bid for the work – and apparently be the preferred bidder?


We need answers to all these questions and we also need a proper consultation on what is to be done to replace the poplars, if indeed they do need replacing.”