Monday, 19 December 2016

New Oxhey Community ready to roll

Following a conversation with +sandy belloni who is doing excellent work in the District it was agreed that Oxhey and Oxhey Village would really benefit from its own Community on the Communications Hub.

Sandy has three huge projects on the go, which include, Oxhey Park, The Paddock Wood allotments (of which he is chair of the association) and also Watford in the Water (conservation of the River Colne and lots more besides).

The Oxhey Community will enable all the posts that are in the separate Facebook Groups to be housed in one community on the communications hub. This will enable visitors to narrow down selection to any of the individual interest areas and / or to see what is happening in any of them. Bringing all three into one area will simplify viewing but also enable cross fertilisation of interest into the other areas.

Oxhey and Oxhey village will also share a calendar with Bushey. This means that all the activities for local community events can be located in a single calendar. The calendar can be updated by multiple people which means that it should be possible with a group of use to ensure that all local events can be found in one place. It's always a challenge to get everything in one place... but if we work together we can now do this via the community hub... plus all the other areas of SW Herts have their own calendars too... making it easy to see what is going on around us as well.

The community can be accessed via this link : Oxhey Community ... or you can find the link over on the right hand side under the Community section...

If you would like to participate in the community and begin to post / comment along with Sandy (everyone is welcome to do this and it isn't difficult) ... then please do ask to join. If you haven't yet created a Google account the follow this link to get one set up. Google accounts are simple to set up and free to use.






Sunday, 18 December 2016

WalkTimeTV with Chris and guest David Sawyer

+David Sawyer  and Chris Ogle take to the streets in another episode of #WalktimeTV with Chris. Today Chris is in Southwold Road talking to David who has lived in this street for 35+ years.

Southwold Road is a road in North Watford which runs between Bushey Mill Lane and Windsor Road which ultimately rejoins St. Albans Road.

Many of the houses in this area were built for the rising number of railway workers and the housing stock is terraced 2 or 3 bedroom properties. Interestingly many of these houses weren't built with a bathroom. The population density meant that schools were needed and these both feature in the conversation.

This is part of a whole series of getting to know our local streets and their history. If you have lived in an area for a long time or you know someone with a strong history of an area then please do let us know... we would love to talk to them...

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Are you interested in Health? Food? Spreading the word?

This South West Herts Community Communications Hub has been created to cover all aspects of community. But one of the most important services is to connect people who are interested in similar things. One of those things is Health.

Now Health is an enormous topic and covers everything from different eating styles, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free through to mental health such as loneliness or self harm, exercising (how to do it) or even just an explanation of basic food and how to cook it.

Are you involved in any aspect of health? 


... if so would you be interested in being part of the SW Herts initiative to grow a Health Support System. This is something that we 'the people' put together as a community driven initiative to start supporting and nurturing each other with respect to Health.

Before we start let's make absolutely clear this is not about replacing or doing anything the NHS is doing. This is about all the gaps in the services that are no longer provided. Nutritional guidance, Mental health support, signposting, even just looking out for the older generation making sure they are ok.

There is so much that needs doing... and there is so much expertise out there in the community. I know at least 6 ex-mental health workers who no longer believed in what they were being asked to do, and who knew that there were better ways other than drugs to help patients. Sadly no longer able to share their skills and knowledge.

The NHS needs us to support it, or it will be private all the way


If we the people do not step in to provide community based support for our neighbours then the inevitable will happen... it will be commercialised and the have's and have not's resurgent once more. How we can support our health service? provide the bits ourselves it can no longer sustain? ... real care from the community? 

First we need to start bringing people together


Collectively we know that there are a lot of challenges out there in our community, we probably can all think of someone in our own street?  To find alternative ways to meet the needs of our community one way is to get together, talk, have conversations, innovate and create.

Then together we can begin to take action...


If we collectively discuss some of the things that are not working in our community in relation to health but actually, any aspect. And we start to get creative about alternative ways we could use our resources. We might just surprise ourselves. We might find we are more innovative and creative than we ever thought possible and just maybe we could find things that not only we could do but others in other towns can replicate too. 

Email us on : southwesthertsDL@link4business.biz
Message on : Contact Us Form ... please mention Health


Monday, 5 December 2016

Watford BID thoughts and what about our small business?

I first learned about Watford BID (Business Improvement District) some 18 months back or more when plans were underway and the businesses in the town were being courted for their participation. So I was interested to see Issue No.2 of the BID News this week.

What is the Watford BID? In short the businesses in the town (inside the ring road) contribute based upon the floorspace they occupy a sum of money which goes into the Limited Company's bank account. This money is then used to benefit the town centre, market, promote, decorate, improve, whatever it is that is felt will have the most impact and deliver the best return for the money.

Now we are talking millions of pounds here over the duration of the BID term which is 5 years I believe and there have been new roles created to deliver the plans of the BID. Who is actually driving the BID project now and where are the checks and balances?

The board of directors makes an interesting read. I have often said that there are two major groups that run a town. Whether we agree with it or not, at the moment they hold the cards. These two groups are, the council (civil servants, clue is in the name) and the big businesses in the town. When you look down the list of people that are directly involved in the operation of the BID almost to the exception every single one of them is either involved in the council (or in an institution funded / heavily supported by the council) or one of the big businesses in the town. Big Retail. Banks, Entertainment and Leisure. It's looking a lot like a closed shop for those in the club again.

Apart from Situls Gift Shop there is no one on this board who runs a local small business. Many will argue, well, they are putting most into the pot so they should have the biggest say in what happens. Maybe this is true, however when they needed votes to get the BID approved small local businesses were included then.

The council of course saw this as a way of raising additional funds to do things in the high street without it costing the council... Bigger businesses now have a much greater say over what happens in the high street and the ability to sway decisions in their favour as they are in the BID team along with the council. For example our town has a Market Charter and it is a disgrace how this has been handled, no mention of it, nor representation on the BID board, and yet this is part of the town's Charter!

It's all more of the same is what I am saying. The Council and Big businesses tightening their noose around what happens in the town. What starts out as a soft encouraging sell has reverted back to old practices, with the smiling face of we're doing this for ALL the businesses in Watford. Sorry, but some flowers in the high street (which we had before by the way), a few extra Christmas Decorations and a Radio 1 DJ to turn on the lights isn't enough... good for Intu, great for John Lewis and other big organisations... Little showcasing however of the small local curio shops or independent businesses. Let me just say I am not against the ideology of the BID 'concept' I just think that this has been hijacked once more and many of the smaller businesses either signed up by default (no bids were essentially counted as YES votes) or believed they might actually be better represented. For many this is just another Tax.

Where do we go from here? 


... for the Small Businesses of Watford and for that matter the whole of SW Herts? After all, without the success of these small independent businesses there would be a lot less people using the Intu centre and the other major chains. Well we know exactly where not to go for help and support...

The business world is changing (again) and looking at politics so are many other things. Over the coming 10 years we as business owners are going to have to be even more agile, adaptable and flexible. We are going to need space to have conversations, innovate and be creative. We will undoubtedly discover new connections, new ideas, new business partners and new collaborations. Each of us will need to 'find our own way' but through a business community we can feel supported and nurtured. It might not feel like it at the moment, but we don't have to face this all alone...

It is up to us... so let's build something new and innovative, there's an idea...


The time for waiting and expecting others to deliver for us is coming to a close. Going forward it is up to us, we're going to have to take responsibility.... Next year we will begin an initiative to bring together Local Independent Businesses to innovate and create along with our communities... there is a lot to do out there but there are also a lot of us... N.B. This is an independent initiative nothing to do with the BID or Council.

If you would like to find out more : Contact Us


One date for this week... come and find out how we can start to innovate and create the future together... everyone welcome whether in business or not...

5:30-7:00pm Wednesday 7th Dec, The Kitchen Croxley+The Kitchen Croxley, 198 Watford Road

We will be sharing two further dates in a week or so for your diary in January 2017...

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The beginning of #WalkTimeTV with Chris

As one door close another opens. A couple of weeks ago we decided to bring the final curtain down on the weekly TV show. We learned a huge amount doing that show and it was great to connect with all the different sources of information available in the area... we all learnt a huge amount. But those days have drawn to a close...

Hello #WalkTimeTV with Chris


So what is WalkTimeTV... quite simply I am going to be walking along streets in our SW Herts District with a local person who knows the history of the street... has lived there for some time and they are going to tell us some stories about the street while we walk along.

I will be using #GoogleGlass to record the conversation whilst we walk and therefore you will be able to see what I see as we chat. Each walk will be less than 10 minutes, so nothing too onerous... 

So who, what are we looking for? ... anyone who has a great knowledge of their street... please get in touch... This is nothing serious it is a great opportunity for us all to learn more about the area in an informal and interesting way... if we don't get this information out of people's heads we will lose it... so this is a really important piece of history making too! ... 

Email : southwesthertsDL@link4growth.biz
Use the Contact us Form : Mention #WalkTimeTV 

Let us bring the history of the area to life... and you can help us!

How can we encourage and be active in #BuyLocal 2017?

Saturday 3rd December 2016 was Small Business Saturday. Maybe I have been a little less interactive on social media but I have heard less this year about this than in previous years. Of course anything to encourage local people to consider buying from those close to home is a great initiative and I give my full support. It is however just one day... this can't and won't change habits... and is soon forgotten for another year. It might provide a bit of extra business for a single day, but in reality... nothing changes.

If the outcomes are going to improve for our struggling local businesses then we are going to have to take this a whole lot more seriously... and it needs to be part of a much greater initiative of rebuilding our communities (which include those local entrepreneurs too). Here is a recent blog post from +linda anderson of +The Kitchen Croxley talking about the challenges of poor quality and much lower prices of the supermarkets, and another... The Dark Side, clearly laying out issues for small independent businesses, many of which are foisted upon us by government and policy makers. The big question is... "how can we find alternative ways to encourage people to utilise our services other than just low prices?"

Why should we buy from local businesses?


With the total convenience of Supermarkets and the erosion of the convenience stores and local parades that once serviced the communities it is hard to see how there could be a resurgence of the bygone days. Indeed with the size of populations it's ludicrous to conceive that these local stores could handle as much as 10% of the demand that we have nowadays.

But there are many things that lend themselves to local supply. Dairy, local meat and eggs, fruit, vegetables, bread, cakes... arts / crafts and services that rely on local people serving other local people. Convenience stores for those that don't have cars; where bus journeys are not possible, a forgotten item, or where something has just run out. And let's not forget... these shops are a chance to meet and talk with other people who live around us... the hub of our communities.

How can these local businesses help themselves (and us) ?

There are some fantastic initiatives out there already for small businesses. Networking events, business development groups and a whole raft of training and education. Actually for things to get better... we the business owners must get better too. Our proposition and value add to the community has to be so overwhelming and powerful that it is a 'no brainer' decision.

For local businesses there are two things that can be checked out right away.

  1. An audit of what marketing you currently do and where you might need to up your game 
  2. Making sure that all the free local services and opportunities to promote your business are being taken advantage of. 

Most local businesses need help with the above, but it's often a challenge to get impartial advice with no conflict of interest... At a local Link4Growth event you might get ideas and guidance but it will come with a guarantee of 'freedom from the pressure of expectation from others'. Quite simply you'll get impartial guidance from people and the opportunity 'to find your own way...'

How can you help? How can you be part of the discussion?

In 2017 we are going to start an initiative to innovate in the area of #BuyLocal. So there are two dates where we have already put aside 90 minutes on each occasion to begin the process. These events are to invite local business owners to begin positively innovating and finding alternative ways to handle the challenges we are all experiencing so they can be worked around... 'find their own way that works for them'... this is a different approach... and the dates are...

Date 1 : Monday 16th January, Basing House, Rickmansworth. 18:30-20:00
Date 2 : Thursday 26th January, Fresh Shop, Market Street, Watford. 18:30-20:00

Please follow the links above... if it is a first time visit to Link4Business use the promotion code '1stVisit'.

Some initiatives have already gotten underway...


SW Herts Community Communications Hub
We've already got the SW Herts Community Communications Hub in place. This is where we can all join in and share the 97% of good news that's out there in the community. It doesn't cost anything and we can all make use of it. Within this is a FREE business Noticeboard... anyone running a business can create their own Brand Page, register it... and then post notices about their brand. Come to Croxley on Wednesday 7th December 5:30-7:00pm if you would like to know more about this...

It's all about the [Your Business services] video series
A fledgling idea but a series of videos about anyone's local business to share with people different aspects about what makes using their local business unique and how you add real value to the local community. Spreading the message far and wide about our local businesses and the message of #BuyLocal.

The Town Business Creative initiative
We are all very passionate about our own local businesses... but we are one small fish in an ocean... and there are many much bigger fish out there who can swallow us up easily. Alone it is tough, but by working together... by raising our game and by being innovative, agile, flexible and adaptable we can do this... and at the same time we might surprise ourselves and change a world.

Conclusion

I wrote a blog post on my own blog a couple of days back about the fact that Business Networking might have run its course... I do believe businesses ought to Network together and beyond... but perhaps what we need now is an evolving approach that creates an environment for businesses to innovate, come up with ideas, collaborate and 'find their own way' which works for them to achieve their goals... now that I personally believe would be worth attending!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

December news from SW Herts Link4Growth Team

Cake pic. courtesy of Kitchen Croxley
December is always a short month... and in the rush up to Christmas which starts in earnest today... Advent counts the days eagerly away to the big day..

There is lots going on in Link4Growth in December... but there is lots more going on in and around the district too... please do check out the Watford calendar... you'll find it in the newsletter too...

And why not get involved in the reverse advent calendar... it's not too late to start now!

Read the SW Herts December Newsletter here

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Mentoring Group starts tomorrow in Carpenders Park

A new initiative kicks off Thursday 1st December in Carpenders Park to bring local entrepreneurs together to innovate and create. Offline Mentoring Groups are not a new phenomena but are a recent addition to the Link4Business service provided as part of Link4Growth - Community Building.

The first session will see 6 business owners working together on 3 challenges brought in front of the group. Next month the other 3 will have their turn to air their challenges.

The group will spend 40 minutes working on each of the issues. Combining their collective knowledge, experience and perspective to focus on each topic. It is rare that we have the opportunity to have 5 fellow entrepreneurs pulling together, devoting their attention and energy to help us with a challenge in our business.

Couple the above with the collective wisdom, experience and sheer variety of backgrounds it is no wonder that 'masterminding' is recognised as one of the most powerful tools for small businesses. This is a fabulous opportunity to enable our local entrepreneurs in difficult trading conditions.

There are already plans to begin another mentoring group starting early in January. These can be hosted not only physically but electronically over spatial distances too, if people want to assemble a group that is distributed.

If you are interested in being part of a mentoring group, developing stronger local business connections, and removing roadblocks in your business.. then this might be something for you. For further details email southwesthertsDL@link4growth.biz or alternatively use the Contact Us form, mentioning OMG's in the message.



Health Tech woman of the month awarded for local Watfordian

Local Watfordian Lisa Emery has been nominated as Health Tech woman of the month for November. Lisa who lives in central Watford started her career as a Biomedical Scientist in Watford Hospital and has now returned there as the chief information officer (CIO), being promoted from the earlier position of Associate Director of IT.

Lisa says that
"What drives me on is that great IT can, and often does, support great care. It can increase safety and free up the time of busy clinical staff to concentrate on their patients. Every single week, at an NHS hospital, there are ways that technology is playing its part in healthcare"
Information Technology is the glue that now connects everything together in our modern hospitals and there is a lot of complexity in delivering care... from initial screening and diagnosis when a patient is brought into A&E right through to when a patient is sent home (with 2 weeks of medication) ... IT systems are there to support the doctors and care staff throughout. Making sure that this IT is up and running, resilient, and performs for the health team is a vital component in our NHS service.

For the full report in the Health Tech journal click here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Can you share a little with others this December?

It's a mean month December. Not for those whizzing off to the shops to get presents for friends and family. Not for those enjoying the festive traditional candle lit lunch that slowly yields to dusk as the early evening draws in and claims yet another Christmas day.

But for those where things haven't quite gone according to plan this year, or in recent times, this can be a thoroughly miserable time. Maybe hopping from one place to another, maybe scratching just enough together to make ends meet each week... or perhaps having to make the decision between food or warmth again this year. Perhaps children in these circumstances would be grateful for an empty box to play with let alone the gift which came inside. December can be a cruel month for parents. Many will also pile on debt till the new year knowing that this will mean tough decisions come January... but at least until then...

If we look at what Christmas delivers for us even if we think we are not; we are rich beyond the wildest dreams of a great many that inhabit this planet. So can we put something aside to help our fellow human beings who are struggling today? Can we give a little to soothe the suffering without expecting anything in return. A kind deed from one human to another? ... we just need more of this don't we? ... and not just for Christmas.

Here's an idea... get a 'bag for life' or a box like what they are doing in Torbay and put something aside each day in the form of a mini hamper... you can look on the Watford FoodBanks website for items that they
know will be needed... or why not add a bar of chocolate, some socks (always needed and cold feet are the worst), some female hygiene products (no woman ever told me these were a luxury) ... deodorants maybe... they are not items that are life or death but they might bring a bit of cheer or comfort in an otherwise dreary time. When you get closer to Xmas take your bag or box to the Foodbank... you might just make someones (or a few people's) Christmas that little bit easier.


Friday 25th November 2016 - Wine Tasting

Our friends at Reason Coffee Shop and Bookstore kindly hosted a Wine Tasting event. Huge thanks to Neal & Lisa Emery and the team at Reason, thanks also to Diane Richardson for helping to organise the event and to Julia Jenkins from Flagship Wines for the splendid collection of wines on the night.

Reason Coffee Shop and Bookstore do an incredible job, not just when it comes to serving tasty coffee (other drinks are also available!) but also when it comes to reaching out into the community. Their Pay it Forward and Little Larder schemes for the homeless of Watford are very effective ways of making a positive change locally. They also play host to many groups who wish to meet, chat and swap ideas and inspiration, or if they just want to come and knit together!

Anyone who has already been to one of Reason's infamous Wine Tastings will know that it's always great fun as well as being very informative and a golden opportunity to stock up on some cases of wine both for personal enjoyment and also, in this case, as Christmas presents, of course! This particular occasion was no exception and all those who attended had a fabulous evening.

Thanks to all who support the raffle - we raised £58 in all. It was great to have a signed book by top chef, Tom Kerridge going to one of his biggest fans - well done Lisa!

Find out more about The Michael Green Diabetes Foundation.

Photo credits go, with thanks, to Diane Richardson - some great shots that really capture the flavour of the evening.

Monday, 28 November 2016

The Black Hole of Cyber Shopping

I can't be the only one who's had enough of the spend fest that's taking place this weekend. Not only has my email inbox been assailed with literally hundreds of exhortations to buy now, save money, spend more and not miss out...but traffic to and from town has been almost at a standstill and the car parks jammed with people looking for a bargain.

We all love a bargain - of course we do. Who wants to pay more than they have to for something they need to replace or which would make life easier? Especially when the bargains on offer are from large companies that we suspect will still happily be making a profit even at 70% off the original price.

But something is surely only a bargain if we needed it in the first place. And we're only saving money if we're buying something that we were going to buy anyway. Black Friday and Cyber Monday present us with so many options and opportunities to throw money at things that we may never have heard of or considered owning, and which may well remain unused or on Ebay in the new year.

Link4Growth is passionate about buying local and supporting small businesses. One of our members (myself in fact!) has written a piece about why this matters and you can read more here

We'd love to hear your comments and feedback - and examples of where we can all #BuyLocal this Christmas.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

L4GHelp warm welcome at The Kitchen

A massive thanks to +linda anderson and +The Kitchen Croxley yesterday for the huge welcome.

Once a month through Link4Growth myself and some other local people gather to offer our knowledge, expertise, connections, thoughts and ideas to help any person or organisation in the local area completely free of charge.

This can range from advice about setting up a business or community group right through to how to combine modern technology in helping to achieve whatever it is you want to do. If you have no idea about technology there are always people on hand to help with social media, websites even how to use apps on a mobile phone.

There is no shortage of good ideas too... so if you are looking for a little bit of inspiration, stuck in a rut, re-engaging after some bad news, or just want a bit of positivity pop in and join us. These gatherings are always the last Friday of the month from 12:00-2:30pm ... a kind of working lunch if you like.

This month Linda provided a lovely batch of sandwiches and cake samples for us all to feast on, free of charge. What a lovely gesture and everyone who attended was very grateful, I for one was ready for something to eat, and it was very much appreciated... so thank you from all those who were there.

What can be nicer than supporting and helping each other, being amongst friends, with some tasty food treats? ... and from next month The Kitchen will offer those that want it a special £5 deal including lunch and a drink.

So if you would like to come along meet some people, have a bite to eat... and maybe pick up some advice, guidance, ideas, signposting or a little bit of training do come along and join in the fun.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

New Link Road 'Thomas Sawyer' Way opens

The new Hospital Link road is now open... this road joins Dalton Way at Bushey arches directly with Watford Hospital and the car parks... It also connects to Wiggenhall road however coming from the arches as I found out no access either left or right turn onto Wiggenhall Road... so this new road is really a feed straight to the hospital...

You can however join the new link road from Wiggenhall road heading out of Watford to rapidly speed up access to the M1 as it takes you directly to the retail park in the lower high street and then Stephensons way... so an excellent route out of town...

Access to the Hospital car parks is can be via the new road from Dalton Way or going into / out of Watford on Wiggenhall Road... all the road signage has been amended to reflect the car park access.

Access to the hospital car parks via Vicarage road and past the main hospital entrance is now blocked although access to A&E is still available for drop off...

Couple of videos below of the new link road... first one from Dalton Way, the second from Wiggenhall Road to the hospital car parks...

From Dalton Way


From Cassio Road



More details and the story can be found here

Reproduced from the Enfield Independent 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Positive News is good for us, shall we?


An article in Positive.News confirms that reading positive stories creates admiration for others and restores faith in humanity... What if we did this in our own back yard... our own neighbourhoods? ... this is what the Community Communication Hubs have been set up to do... spread the 97% of good news which is happening all around us but is invisible...

Consuming positive news can lead to increased acceptance of others, a feeling of community and motivation to contribute to social change, new research shows
Titled ‘Publishing the Positive’, the research demonstrates that at a time of divisive politics, positive news stories have the potential to unite, inspire and empower groups of people in society.
Positive psychology researcher Jodie Jackson, who conducted the study at the University of East London, said: “Participants expressed that an excess of negative news led them to see the negative in other people, and feel isolated from society. However, the opposite was experienced when participants read positive news, which created a sense of admiration for other people and ‘restored [their] faith in humanity’.”


If you have a local positive news story then we want to hear it!! ... Please complete the Contact Us form... maybe the time for us all to do our bit has arrived!

Neighbourhood Networks in South West Herts

Local helpful neighbourhoods is an idea initiated by +Mark Barrett in Norwich. This is not the first time that ideas for bringing communities together has been tried, projects like the 'Big Lunch' have already created life long friendships... but could we do more in South West Herts? Mark has started a Facebook group - Neighbourhoods and beyond to open up discussion about reconnecting us with our neighbours and bringing together those who feel it's important.

So what could we do?


So the idea is very simple, most of us would agree that our neighbourhoods would be much nicer places to live if we knew the people around us. It 'used to be like that' many of the people I meet have said, but not any more. The 'Big Lunch' if nothing else, brings people together, and people still remember fondly those events and the people that they met for the first time who very often only lived a few doors away.

What if we were to hold regular gatherings? not just 'one offs' which might work for some but not others. But regular opportunities for our neighbourhoods to come together perhaps at different times of the day and/or weekends to engage, connect, talk to each other... share stories, memories, skills, collaborate... whatever works for the local community. Organising big events can take a lot of work... but what if we used all the modern tools to make it much easier... facebook, whatsapp, messenger groups, email... and good old methods too... phone... leaflets (hand delivered by ourselves), door knocking and of course... talking to each other in the street.

Could we eradicate loneliness in some of our neighbours? ... could we invite people on their own round for dinner? ... Christmas? ... could we pop in for a coffee or tea? ... or just help out with some shopping or a lift to the hospital? Wouldn't it be just so much better if we could say hello easily to someone we meet outside without the awkwardness... what if we joined these street groups together to create real community in our area and then beyond?

How we feel and our view of the world can often change in an instant with a chance encounter.... a friendly smile... a helping hand, support from those who live around us. But it would be so much easier if we knew those we could easily reach out to... almost like an extended family!

What can you do?


If you would like to help make this happen then why not get in touch with us? Please just complete the Contact Us form if you would like to find out more.

... there are so many neighbourhoods in South West Herts with people completely detached and who don't see a soul from week to week... if all we did is work together to eliminate loneliness, this, 'on its own' would be a project that would change lives irrevocably... forever... something to think about...

It has never been truer that it is today...


It takes a village to bring up a child... but it also takes a village to take care of an elderly person

Sunday, 6 November 2016

With a heavy heart we say goodbye to Farm Terrace

Todays Community TV Show with +Diane Richardson had more than a touch of sadness. Today we featured a short but emotional interview with +Sara-Jane Trebar from the Save Farm Terrace campaign.

On Wednesday the final announcement came from the High Court that the application to sequest the allotments as part of the plans for the 'Health Campus' had been approved and that the campaigners had lost the decision. Thoughts of an appeal were quickly quelled by the legal representatives who stated that upon each subsequent appeal the case is weakened, so it was time to accept the decision.

4 years of campaigning now come to an end. It seemed an impossible dream to save the allotments and yet the campaign team could almost taste victory and a landmark decision that would safeguard allotments around the country... but sadly it wasn't to be.

Perhaps the legacy of this campaign will be to have lost the battle but won the war. This is a story of a David and Goliath. The council with access to the finances to fund a long and bitter legal fight, the inevitable backing of the government and probably the house of lords... and constant representation in the local newspaper disparaging the small group of people standing in the way of Watford's progress. But it is evidence too. It is evidence of how the will of those 'in power' can be wielded without due diligence to the concerns of the people.

This need not have gone to court 4 times... this need not have cost the tax payer 100's of thousands of pounds. This need not have been a win / lose battle. This could have been a triumph for real democracy. A triumph for how people could work together to achieve outcomes that worked for all... but instead it has resulted in sadness and ego. This is no glorious victory for the council. This was a sad day where a 'sense of fairness' had long since left the building... The keys were handed back and the doors closed to the allotment holders on Thursday 3rd November.

To go straight to the part about Farm terrace click here


Cassiobury Park 5th November Fireworks Display

This year firework night the 5th November coincided with a Saturday night... not only was it a Saturday but it was a dry Saturday too. Many is the time that I have wandered into the foray on dark November nights to struggle to stand up, the whole area turned into a quagmire.

Not so yesterday though... a tad blustery... probably 4 or 5c but dry and there must have been close to 10,000 people it was a very busy event. As is the custom these days there was a stage upon which +Vibe 107.6 hosted the evening with music, chat and the odd competition and audience participation. Vans selling all manner of foods... including Ice Cream I spotted... bouncy castles, fun fair rides... in fact something for everyone building up for the 7:30pm firework display of 19 minute duration.

As you will see in the short video clip the iconic tree that sits upon the top of the escarpment is lit up for all to see and provides a great backdrop to the fireworks... the video is the last 5 or so minutes of the display...


Monday, 31 October 2016

Herts Prems celebrating World Premature Day

To commemorate World Premature Day on or around 17/11/2016 HertsPrems are seeking to turn our schools, offices, and everywhere Purple.

HertsPrems was founded by two local preemie mums Bekki and Audrey who experienced the preemie journey 2010 www.hertsprems.org

Since then the duo have gone from strength to strength in their fundraising efforts via https://www.justgiving.com/teams/hertsprems

Supporting parents online and since a year ago run monthly stay and play sessions at The Reddings Children Centre in Bushey which has become a well recognised hub and look forward to operating a charitable enterprise given the chance

To close World Premature Day activities a Charity Quiz night is being hosted by Bushey Beaumont House Care Home, High Stree Bushey, WD23 1QN on Thursday, November 24 at 7:30 PM - 9 PM. Entry is £5 which will include a ploughmans supper. Tickets must be booked in advance!

Please email heather.constance@barchester.com to book yours 0208 421 8844

Friday, 28 October 2016

Council Expenditure information lagging and interesting figures too!

The council should be providing us with an up to date list of all expenditure over £500 in any calendar month... at the moment the councils website only goes up to the end of the financial year March 2016... which I think ought to be sorted... anyone know who should be contacted to deal with that?

Also there are some very interesting payments... huge amounts go out each month in B&B payments... I am not saying these aren't valid... but shouldn't that money be used in perhaps a different way? worth considering at least or querying how that money is being spent... Simply Pleasure Limited got a payment around the 20th Jan 2016... not sure what that was about... but interesting nonetheless...

Worth a look... sorted in biggest expense first... the December 2015-through March 2016 spreadsheets listed folder below...

Council expenditure over £500 folder

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Business Award for Local 'Womens Lawyer' ~ Camilla Khawaja-Choudhury

The recognition of my work is very humbling, the fact of the matter is, The Women’s Lawyer, is a simple concept which was for many a year, remained a figment of my imagination; a dream that finally realised in 2012 amidst the government announcement of legal aid cuts.

It is imperative people have access to justice, the view that ‘justice in England is open to all, like the Ritz Hotel’, Sir James Matthews, must be addressed and changed; my practice is a very small attempt to make a big difference. I assist women with Divorce, Cohabitational Breakdown, Financial and Children Matters. Legal Aid is not available for such cases and the impact of this has led to severely unfair outcomes, in relation to both cases involving contact and money. Justice must be made available to all, the key to this is awareness and education; but most importantly affordable legal advice, which is what I provide.

I won the Best Business Woman in Legal Services Award this week, the Award is in recognition of my work with women on low incomes, those whom may have been entitled to legal aid, pre the cuts. The Award also highlighted my work in the community, I hold a free legal surgery fortnightly in Tesco Extra, Watford; this too has been a huge success.

Link4Growth were with me from the very outset, offering support and opportunity by way of spreading the word amongst the community in Watford; this was an invaluable support and allowed me to reach people whom perhaps may not have known of the support available.

The Best Business Women Awards (BBWA) are all about recognising great women in the business community. The business world is full of talented and dedicated female entrepreneurs who not only run successful businesses but in many cases also juggle the needs of their families.

Contact : www.thewomenslawyer.co.uk   @thewomenslawyer

2 Years on and what of the New Watford Market?

It was the 10th October 2014 that we saw the opening of the New Watford Market adjacent to the old Clements / TJ Hughes building. It was a fine clear day and as you can see from the picture it was a striking image that welcomed those first to experience what had moved 200 yards or so from the old Market location.

There was a sense of optimism about the new container style from those involved in its design and construction, however it wasn't met quite so enthusiastically by the traders themselves. There was a huge division with what was a minority saying "we're here now we have to make the most of it", whereas the larger contingent complained of the market being unfinished, no signage, unwelcoming, cold and very dark (everything was black). The move happened just as the cold weather began to set in which meant customers had not built up any habit of visiting the new market... no bus served the new market closer that 150 metres either which exacerbated the problem. Reports began to come in that trade was in the region of 50-70% down across the piece.

What became abundantly clear pretty quickly was that this new market would need to be very different to the one that left charter place. Many stall holders would not survive. 2 years in... of the 33 that made the move to the new market 6 have survived... Many stalls are empty but there is a constant stream of people looking at moving in... the mix of stall holders is very different nowadays... some just for the day as a pop up shop... some in the street... others operating both inside and outside. Flexibility seems to be the order of the day while the market regains a sense of itself and what it needs to be.

The market looks like it will survive... many thought it would see fewer summers than it has already but the darkness and cold returns very soon and a 3rd winter for the market approaches fast. At long last the long promised weather protection has been erected around the market which gives some respite from the elements, when the wind is in the right direction... and it does feel warmer upstairs in the food court (in October) at least.

There is a mood with the new people in the market of higher levels of positivity, that people know what they have taken on and accept the challenge... the memories of the old market are fading fast or do not exist at all for the new people...

As was said 18 months ago, this new market must carve out a new niche for itself in Watford. The old market has gone, the new market is here to stay, but comparing it with what we had in Charter Place would be a pointless exercise. The Charter Place chapter for the market can now be considered fully closed, the new market chapter has begun... where will it lead? ... only time will tell!

Interviews with some of the traders start at 16 minutes 20 seconds in the video below.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Annual Croxley Green Book Sale

Last weekend Saturday 8th October between 8:30am-2:30pm saw the Annual Croxley green Book Sale in support of Christian Aid.

We were delighted to receive this report by organiser Chris Gregory whose hard work contributed to the success of the day.

“So many books!” exclaimed a visitor when they arrived at the Croxley Book Sale which was held on Saturday 8th October at the Baptist Church on Baldwins Lane. The annual sale, now in its tenth year, receives thousands of second hand book donations from local churches who organise them all into categories and sell them to raise funds for Christian Aid.

This year they raised over £1,200 for the international charity, but there is also a real social dimension to the event. “It’s no longer just a book sale – it’s turned into an enjoyable sociable occasion”, commented Niamh Murtagh, one of the organisers. “We see friends and neighbours bumping into each other and stopping for a chat over coffee and cake before they continue browsing.” Hundreds of people attend from all over the local areas, many returning each year, so keep an eye out next October. As Gill, a regular, said “We come back because there’s always such a good selection.”

Monday, 10 October 2016

The Audentior Awards 2016 - Celebrating Watford's Volunteers

I was delighted to attend Watford's 2016 Audentior Awards as a representative of The Michael Green Diabetes Foundation and as a guest of Watford Council's Chairman, Darren Walford and Watford's elected Mayor, Dorothy Thornhill. Many thanks to them for their kind invitation.


We are one of the Chairman's two nominated charities for this year, along with Watford Workshop. Both charities were there as part of an award ceremony to celebrate the achievements of Watford's charities and volunteer organisations.

It was great to chat with the other invited guests over drinks and canap├ęs in the foyer before taking our seats and being entertained with a brilliant showcase of Legally Blonde by Cassio Productions - the show will be in full swing at Watford Palace Theatre from 9-12 Nov and I urge everyone to go and applaud this amazing group of talented young people.

The film reel backdrop that played throughout the evening gave us a real insight into the work of the volunteer organisations in Watford and full credit must go to Ian Port and Steve Martin of Think About it Films for their hard work in putting this together. You can watch the film reel on their website: Think About It Films

Thanks to all involved: those who cooked the delicious foodie offerings; those who served drinks; those responsible for the pretty table decorations; and those who had to clear up after us all at the end of the night!

Thanks also to Darren, his wife Tanya and their daughter Yaz, Linda from Watford Workshop, plus the others on our table, for a fun evening of friendly conversation. Huge thanks also to everyone on the night for their generous donations towards the raffle - approx. £1500 was raised, with the funds being split between MGDF and Watford Workshop.