I think one of the reasons Adrian’s wife took up volunteering as a Special Constable was because Adrian spends so much of his time fulfilling his role as a local councillor. They try and work it so that they are out (or in) at the same time, but all of Adrian’s council work has to take place around his full time job as a Marketing Manager. As a councillor he needs to attend the various council meetings and other interest groups meetings, as well as addressing the numerous concerns constituents have. They can be about anything – pot holes, street lights, parking or water flumes. I remember when my mum was a councillor and council were looking at removing the water flumes at the local swimming pool. She had various letters sent to her from a very upset gentleman who always signed himself off as King of the Flumes.
Adrian is also keen on educating the public on local issues. “I want to try and get to the point where more people vote in the election because they understand more about it”. He gives me an example. “Lots of people complained about the council tax going up because of some Dacorum issue, but actually 80% of council tax is spent by Hertfordshire County Council”. When I get home I look in to it and he is right. I find an example of a Band D property tax which is £1,679. Dacorum council only get £195 of that money. He also sees a problem of imbalance of power on council at the moment. 43 out of the 51 councillors are from one party (the conservatives). “This means they (the ruling party) can do whatever they want, whether it’s a good idea or not. It’s actually healthy to have some tension so that you have to make your case and argue your point”. Having seen what happened with the privatisation of Sportspace, the local sports centres, where over 8,000 Dacorum residents signed a petition against the privatisation, I tend to agree. As the ruling party hold such a big majority they could railroad the policy through, without, as I see it, considering the best interests of the local community they are meant to serve.
Looking at the bigger picture of Hemel, Adrian also thinks it needs a vision. “Hemel is a place, which after the war, had a fantastic, grand vision,” he says. He is talking about the Masterplan devised by Geoffrey Jellicoe in 1947. Jellicoe’s dream for a ‘city in a park’, can be seen throughout the neighbourhoods and green spaces that were created. But today Hemel, as the biggest town in South West Herts, doesn’t have a sense of itself. “Hemel needs to have a big idea that says ‘this is what Hemel is now’”. And he doesn’t mean being known as home of the Magic Roundabout. He sees connectivity is a problem in Hemel. “When they did things like Maylands and Jarman Park, they kept them as separate entities”. Ideas whirr around in his head about somehow connecting up the areas and the green spaces. And he also sees a more prominent role for the Adventure Playgrounds. He thinks they could play a more integral part in the community. I agree with him on that. ‘The Adventure’, as my children call the one in Chaulden, are a wonderful and quite unique asset that I haven’t seen in other communities and could be taken to another level in terms of serving the community.
After our interview my head is spinning with visions for Hemel. I message him saying I think Hemel needs trams. I can see one of those turntable things in the middle of the magic roundabout. The tram comes in, gets spun around and spat out in a different direction. “Mega expensive,” comes back his reply. I get the feeling he has already considered it.
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