Thursday, 20 July 2017

Amazing results in SW Herts for Park week with 11 Green Flags... BUT!

Woodside playing fields
We are blessed with having some amazing green spaces in our area. In recognition for keeping the parks in prime condition for the community to use there are awards. These are Green Flag awards.

This year we have received this prestigious award for 11 green spaces :-

Cassiobury Park, Woodside Playing Fields, Cheslyn House and Gardens, Waterfields Recreational Ground, Callowland Recreational Ground, North Watford Playing Fields, Oxhey Park, St Mary’s Churchyard, Goodwood Recreation Ground, Paddock Road Allotments and North Watford Cemetery.

Cassiobury Park - Water park & Community Hub
The reporting of this amazing achievement has been widespread (in the Watford Observer, and on the council's own website) The credit for the achievement has been awarded to two organisations. Deputy Mayor Peter Taylor (Portfolio holder for client services at the council) has congratulated the council (themselves) and their contractor Veolia for the outstanding work they had done (paid for work mind) that both these organisations have undertaken on our behalf.

It's great that these awards have been given and that our parks are of excellent quality for all of us to enjoy however... let us not lose sight of the fact that they are 'self congratulating' for actually doing their job. This is indicative of a much wider issue that we experience in many aspects of our lives today where we are pleasantly surprised and give awards out for people who actually provide the service they are being paid to do...

Sandy Belloni - cleaning the river in Oxhey Park
In two of the above situations namely Oxhey Park, and Paddock Wood... the most important contributor to the success has been sadly overlooked and omitted. That of the very humble +sandy belloni. Sandy is well known in the area for the tireless hours he puts in at Oxhey Park (with many local volunteers) and also as a key member in the Paddock Woods Allotment Association.

Sandy runs a Facebook Group Friends of Oxhey Park and you only have to look through the posts to see the tremendous energy, enthusiasm and commitment Sandy puts in... wait for it... for little or no reward whatsoever. It's easy to do a good job if you're being paid for it. Sandy does most of what he does for no money and... he helps local young adults gain experience through providing a valuable community service. Veolia would not be able to keep this park up to scratch if it wasn't for Sandy telling them what needs doing... where the graffiti is... what needs sorting out down there...

And yet... everyone knows what a contribution Sandy makes and no one even thought to mention him. This is not an over sight... it is much worse (in my opinion).

Peter Taylor (Deputy Mayor) wrote on the FB Group for Oxhey Park
You are right. I should have have thanked Sandy and the work of all our Friends groups. Apologies for any offence caused. I know that the Green Flag assessors were particularly impressed with the community involvement in our parks.
I for one am very pleased that the Green Flag Assessors were impressed with the volunteers... so impressed they never mentioned them at all...

It is this default mode of the council thinking we're here to give them position and power... rather than they are here to serve their community... that could be partially responsible for the mess we're in today.


Jobs Fair on September 1st... could you help?

Watford - Jobs Fair - Banqueting Suite Watford
The Watford Jobs fair which was initiated by +Richard Harrington (local MP) is being held once again at the Banqueting rooms in the high street (near the overpass) on the 1st September. In what has become an annual event in the town diary it provides a fabulous opportunity for local people to connect directly with potential employers in the area and vice versa.

For more information about the Jobs Fair please take a look at the website here.

Can you help?

There are a number of ways that you might be able to participate

  1. If you run a business and are looking for people why not exhibit there (it's free, visit the website above for further details)
  2. If you are looking for work come along and meet other people who may have job opportunities or at least make some new connections, or just get some new ideas
  3. The Job Centre will be there and are looking for volunteers to do Mock Interviews and / or help with CV writing throughout the day

Job Centre volunteering

Hema Pandya our local Watford based BITC Connector (Business in the community) is working with the Job Centre and looking for a number of volunteers from businesses to support them on the Friday 1st September at the Jobs Fair.

They would like volunteers to carry out mock interviews or provide CV advice to individuals attending the event that are looking for employment. Not only is it a great opportunity to support local people either get into work or seek new employment, its a fantastic opportunity for employees to develop coaching and interviewing skills.

The Jobs Fair runs from 10am to 4pm and will have over 60 employers exhibiting. Last year over 4,000 people attended. The mock interviews and CV advice sessions were hugely popular last year and we know they are going to be well received this year. As such, we would need volunteers to commit to at least three hours of their time or ideally the full day. CV coaching sessions are approximately half an hour long, and mock interviews run for around 45 minutes.
Hema Pandya

Want to help? 

If you would like to go along and be part of this initiative in Watford then please make contact with Hema directly, her contact details are below...

Hema Pandya      
Business Connector Watford  Business Connectors Programme

twitter: @HemaConnects

Thursday, 6 July 2017

NHS Nascot Lawns children's respite centre under threat

So why is it that it always seems that the most vulnerable are hit time after time?

We all know money is tight... but it is a complete misnomer that there is 'no money'. When the money is needed for things that are 'found out' to be wrong... like fire prevention on tower blocks, money which wasn't available suddenly arrives.

However when there isn't the opportunity to gain public votes... when it isn't an emergency... when the people who it effects are unable to defend themselves and it basically hurts the vulnerable in society... the money is NOT AVAILABLE. Doing the right thing 'when no one is watching' seems to be very absent in those that would have us believe are looking after our best interests. Whatever happened to integrity?

If you wanted to look at this from a cynical perspective, here we have a a large property in significant grounds on a plot of land worth millions. We have a remit for all public service providers to save, save, save. In this instance there is not only a saving but the very real prospect of a large cash injection to boot. A double whammy.

What happens to the families? ... 

well the other support services will have to pick up the slack. Really? How will they be seeking additional funding for the increased work and skills required? ... is this a case of, well it's off my spreadsheet, I'm not bothered where it goes at least I've shown some savings in my area? ... and by the way do I get a bonus for finding that cash injection for the one off sale of a community asset?

What of the increased care required for the parents, already at breaking point and surviving with the promise of that tiny piece of respite once in a while. What of the siblings who get precious little of the parents time already... what of the rest of the family members who see loved ones crumbling under the strain... what of them?

Is this not just a complete false economy anyhow?  Has no one even considered the implications. Was this just we have to make cuts, this is expensive, let's just tick that one shall we? ... Has no thought at all been put into the scale of devastation this decision will bring to so many in the borough.

All these parents and families are looking for is for some brave person 'with influence' to actually say. Hang on this isn't right. When everyone has been hammered with austerity measures (not discussing them here) for years and now... this is just one step too far. We have two very powerful individuals (as far as the existing system of governance is concerned) in Richard Harrington and Dame Dorothy Thornhill. If there was ever a time for these folk to show their true colours I would suggest that time just arrived.

Please take a look at the video below... an interview with Marlene Rhodes whose family depend on the services provided at the Nascot Lawn Day centre... there is a petition to sign at the end of this post if you haven't already done so... please sign it...

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Pop up Table Tennis

Table tennis is a sport that we've probably all had a go at. 

I know when I first picked up a bat the challenge to get that ball back on the other side of the table no matter what was an irresistible draw.

There are not so many places to 'give it a go' these days... It seemed with works canteens and social clubs of yesteryear that there were more places to 'chance by' table tennis.

As chairman of the Watford Table Tennis League... my remit is to ensure the future of Table Tennis locally and consequently I have acquired some mini table tennis tables that require minimal space and that can be easily transported.

The idea is to open up the opportunity to experience Table Tennis is a fun way... through increased engagement, new connections... more people experiencing the game and perhaps even discover some new venues which could host more formal Table tennis going forward... In an ideal world we might find a new home for some of the teams that play in the Watford League itself.

If you are interested in new ideas around Table Tennis as a means of bringing people together for a bit of fun, along with other initiatives or just a fun thing to do all on its own then please let me know. You can contact me on twitter @chrisogle or through email

Below a bit of video captured using Google Glasses (video camera built into wearable glasses) so you can see first hand how it was for me playing against Abbas from Shamma Dry Cleaners (Croxley) ... this trial event was hosted by +The Kitchen Croxley

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Kitchen Folk with Christopher Lawley

When I first heard about Kitchen Folk ... I thought it was all about 'Folk stuff' at +The Kitchen Croxley. But it isn't...

The significance in the use of the word Folk is for 'people' and so the meaning of  'Kitchen Folk' is literally... people who meet at the Kitchen Croxley (venue) once per month (4th Wednesday from 7:30pm)

I had visions of Morris Dancers and other 'folkie' things going on and it turns out it is nothing of the sort. So... if you would actually like to experience a kind of 'Camp Fire' gathering of local people who can just be there, support each other, or even share something (no pressure) then that is what it's all about.

Christopher Lawley runs the group... you can catch him on Facebook easily enough and there is also a facebook group here...

Below +Chris Ogle chatting with Christopher Lawley about Kitchen Folk...

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Local candidates for the Watford constituency

With the exception of the Conservative incumbent Richard Harrington the 3 candidates, Chris Ostroswki (Labour), Ian Stotesbury (Lib Dem) and Alex Murray (Green Party) giving us an insight into their proposals. +Neal Emery from Reason Coffee Shop & Bookstore provides his views on what he believes are the most important issues of our time...


Non political party related but a view of a Watford resident and Business Owner Neal Emery

Credits: Videos all recorded and produced by Mustr

Monday, 5 June 2017

Table Tennis for fun at The Kitchen

Table Tennis is an amazing game... 

did you know that often you have to make 3 decisions a second when playing the game?

This is brilliant for keeping the mind active and agile... so if you are a baby boomer... time to pick up a bat and start playing!

Table tennis is the second most popular sport in the world after Fishing believe it or not.... and there are more registered table tennis players in China than there are people in the UK...

Table Tennis is a fascinating game... often touted as chess at a million miles an hour it's both an exciting and exhilarating sport that is available to all, very inclusive, and can be played indoors in all weathers. It's really quick to set up and get going so it is a real shame that over the years there have been fewer and fewer venues where you can play.

But there is a little acorn of an initiative starting at +The Kitchen Croxley this Friday from 5-7pm. Two fun sized tables for anyone that wants to just come along pick up a bat and have an experience of just joining in.

This isn't a session for superstars... or would be world champions... it's actually a chance for anyone in the community to come together and have a bit of fun... Afterwards, if you find you like Table Tennis then just ask and we can signpost you on to further information.

Event Details on the Kitchen Facebook page here...