Emma's Annual Report

2 Feb 2024
Photo of Emma Matanle

It was a great honour to be selected in January last year as your Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Hertsmere. 
 
Since my selection a year ago, we’ve taken control of the borough council away from the Conservatives. At the May council elections, our gains in Tory wards forced them out of office. We trebled our number of councillors and now jointly run the borough. 
 
If the Conservatives can lose the council, they can also lose the parliamentary seat. And increasingly, Hertsmere voters recognise that Lib Dems are the real alternative.
 
Our values of fairness and democracy - alongside our commitment to greenbelt and the environment - are cutting through at the ballot box. With more Liberal Democrat councillors elected in Hertfordshire in May, the Conservatives not only lost control of Hertsmere borough council but also lost Dacorum, East Herts and Welwyn Hatfield councils.

Over the last year, we have continued to hold the government to account including:

The Ofsted Inspection report on Herts County Council’s SEND services, which took place in the summer, found the service requires significant improvement to this vulnerable group of children. The Ofsted report can be read here and you can read our reaction here.

Councillors and Hertfordshire Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper have pushed the government to come good on its promise to fund a redevelopment of Watford General Hospital. In parliament the Public Accounts Committee found the 40 new hospital programme undeliverable. You can read that report here.

Top-down Housing Targets continue to affect the creation of Local Plans, including Hertsmere. The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove continues to expect local authorities to use out of date data for housing need, to calculate the number of new homes required. ONS household projections from 2014 (extrapolated from the 2011 census) is still being put forward by central government as the data to use, and councils are being told that up to date household projections won’t be released until early 2025. Thus local authorities are creating local plans on old data, including Hertsmere.

Fight the Freight: Save St Albans campaign has consistently fought the sale of land owned by Conservative run Hertfordshire County Council to developer Segro to build a massive rail freight terminal on the outskirts of Radlett. But Conservative County Councillors approved the sale last year and the commencement of the destruction of thousands of acres of greenbelt, including a precious chalk stream is now underway. Hertsmere MP, Oliver Dowden has done nothing to stop it – despite paying lipservice to greenbelt protection in his campaign messages. It is expected to increase traffic on Watling St, which will undoubtedly impact Radlett and the surrounding areas.

The October 7th Hamas attack on Israel was absolutely shocking. Hamas’s terrorism must be condemned unequivocally. I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues support Israel’s right to defend itself; a right in international law to defend its territory and its citizens but it is vital that it is terrorists who are targeted, not civilians, in line with international humanitarian law.

Since the 7th October, the Liberal Democrats have continued to support the aspiration of a two-state solution. The Liberal Democrat MPs put forward an amendment to the King’s Speech in the debate in Parliament on 15 November calling for a ceasefire. Unfortunately it wasn’t selected for debate. You can read the Lib Dem amendment, which sets out our position here. As a member of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel group, I continue to support the policy of a two-state solution. 

Sewage continues to pour into our waterways as the water companies go unchecked and unregulated due to a lack of government intervention and control. A recent report, found a staggering 1,924 cases of people getting sick due to suspected sewage pollution over the last year. Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, which would have allowed those who get sick as a result of illegal sewage dumping, to claim compensation from water companies. Conservative MPs voted it down.

Throughout the year, research by the Liberal Democrats exposed the depths of the Dental health crisis; revealed a record 420,000 patients are waiting more than 12 hours in A&E; calculated that waiting lists are at 7.61 million: Rishi Sunak is failing on his pledge to reduce waiting lists.

And the latest scandal, not dealt with by the current government, the wrongful conviction of sub-postmasters by the Post Office. We have all learnt more since ITV’s dramatization of this appalling miscarriage of justice and apparent actions by Fujitsu, the manufacturer of the software Horizon, and the CEO of the Post Office Paula Vennells to cover up its failures. She lied to Ministers when asked if the software was faulty, telling them it was ‘robust’, whilst allegedly knowing it was full of errors.

The Lib Dems have called on Oliver Dowden to come clean about why he failed to sack Vennells from her Cabinet Office role, after the High Court judgment against the Post Office was handed down during his time as Cabinet Office Minister in 2019. Responding to Paula Vennells handing back her CBE, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

"Paula Vennells is right to hand back her CBE, but the Conservatives still need to explain why they gave it to her in the first place in 2019, along with a plum job at the top of the Cabinet Office."

Looking forward to 2024, the General Election is expected within the year, and in Hertsmere, it’s now been confirmed that Labour won’t put effort or resources into winning Hertsmere. It’s a ‘non-priority’ seat, according to a press release issued by the Labour party with a list including Hertsmere. And that’s unsurprising, as Labour have always failed here, even in the Blair landslide years of 1997 and 2001. 

So it’s official: this is a two-horse race between the Lib Dems and Tories.

January is already coming to a close, and with the election possibly occurring in May, the Liberal Democrats have been out knocking on doors and getting match-fit ready.
 
The list of what is wrong with this country feels endless and I hear you, when you say you’ve lost confidence in politics. The corruption, greed, lack of values and investment in our critical public services has left many of us feeling demoralized and disrespected. The queues are getting longer at the Food Bank and the outlook for the coming year, bleak.
 
The Liberal Democrats have a plan to put the country back on its feet, and on the way to recovery, which you can read here.
 
We need to change the government, and with Labour giving up on Hertsmere at the next General Election, it will be me taking on the Tories at the ballot box. If you’d like to help me with that challenge, then you can volunteer here, or if you can afford it, please donate to the campaign via the Donate button on our website

If you’d like me to address any issues in your area, or address the content of this email, then please drop me a line on emma.matanle.hertsmere@gmail.com

Thank you for taking the time to read this message and I look forward to meeting you if I haven’t done so already.

Best wishes,
Emma Matanle
Parliamentary Candidate
Hertsmere Liberal Democrates