Hertfordshire County Council election: Liberal Democrat plans for a ‘greener, fairer, healthier’ Hertfordshire

Manifesto outlines how Liberal Democrats would run county council before May 6

Liberal Democrats have drawn-up plans to sell-off 10 per cent of the county council’s unused sites and buildings – in a bid to raise around £140million to invest in a ‘greener, fairer, healthier’ Hertfordshire.

The plan is at the heart of the Liberal Democrat manifesto, published in advance of the county council elections, on May 6.

That manifesto is designed to show voters what a Liberal Democrat run county council in Hertfordshire would do.

Elections take place on May 6

In a bid to make the county ‘greener’, the Liberal Democrats manifesto pledges to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Their plans include increasing solar panels on county council buildings, installing solar powered lighting on selected walking and cycling routes and a £5.5m drive to plant more urban and highways trees.

They also include plans for a £2.5m fund for on-street charging points for electric vehicles, replacing council vehicles with ultra-low or zero emission vehicles at the end of their lives and introducing an electric car pool for staff.

Among their plans to make the county ‘fairer’ the Liberal Democrats say they would pay care workers a ‘real living wage’, provide free school meals to vulnerable children during school holidays and set up a £5.5m fund to tackle inequality post-Covid.

They also promise to re-purpose freed-up council office space for business start-ups, to work with district and borough councils to ensure availability of ultra-fast broadband and to make the county council more ‘open and accountable’.

Finally as part of a drive to improve health, the manifesto promises a Liberal Democrat administration would improve mental health support in schools, introduce no-idling zones around schools and make 20mph the default speed limit on residential roads.

It also commits to increasing by £8m the highways resurfacing programme and to encourage cycling and walking, for work and pleasure.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the county council Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst acknowledges that change won’t come from these policies ‘overnight’.

But he stresses that they are “costed” – with many policies being delivered, he says, within existing resources and some, such as PV battery storage, making savings for the council.

Currently the Liberal Democrats hold 18 of the 78 seats on the county council – where the ruling Conservatives have 49.

Cllr Giles-Medhurst says he will not second guess how the electorate will vote on May 6 – but he acknowledges that they do expect to make some gains across the county.

And he stresses that the Liberal Democrats have the talent and experience to successfully run the county council.

The Liberal Democrats have candidates standing in all but one of the 78 county council seats, except Ware North - there are 10 candidate standing for the county council seats in Dacorum. In addition to the estimated £140m raised from the sale of empty or unused county council sites, the Liberal Democrats say that no longer having to manage those sites would save almost £700,000 next four years.

And, they say, renting out surplus office space could bring in £810,000 over the same period.

> Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green candidates are standing in every one of the county council seats within Dacorum – with a Reform candidate standing in Bridgewater and independent Jan Maddern in Hemel Hempstead South East.