Just Who are They? Observations in Dacorum
Just  Who  are  They? - Observations in Dacorum
Just who are THEY?
The anonymous bureaucrats who define rules are just referred to as "THEY".  Just who are "THEY"?  It is so frustrating when these people can't be identified.   Local and central governmental bodies are well known for their committees, the members of which are largely unknown to the general public.  THEY are a fine body of people doing their best for the community or individual organisations. The individuals responsible for local projects or policies seldom come to the fore after completion to discuss their successes or failures retrospectively.  THEY instead often opt for upfront consultation meetings, sound bite announcements, exhibitions and road-shows. Living in the Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) new town area, we have seen a number of projects both successful and otherwise.  As each year passes by, it causes many of us to become more cynical when new projects are announced.  For example, we no longer hear of the much acclaimed 20/20 Vision or the Housing Futures projects which no doubt had £Thousands spent on them. Prior consultation meetings are only usually to present the statistics surrounding the proposed project and are often simply an opportunity for ‘expert’ consultants or companies who have tendered for a contract to market and promote projects already agreed upon.  THEY seldom provide a genuine opportunity for the general public to have any major influence in a project, at best the public may be presented with a couple of choices both of which achieve the outcome that THEY had pre-planned. Dacorum Borough New Town Environment    Our local borough council (DBC) provides first class refuse and recycling services reCollect and WasteAware.  THEY have devised highly efficient cyclical kerb-side collections for waste and recyclables which must be commended.  OK, occasionally bins may be left across driveways and recyclables may blow of the back of their refuse trucks when rushing from one neighbourhood to another, but generally THEY deserve our praise.
Similarly,   our   council   provide   beautiful   floral   displays   for   the   town’s   streets   and   parks.      THEY   plan   and implement   the   impressive   displays   and   maintain   the   grass.     A   splash   pool   and   children’s   adventure   play   areas are planned, let us hope THEY do not completely destroy the environment of peaceful tranquillity in our parks.
Our Heritage - Pavilion and Forum Dacorum’s    Pavilion   Theatre    was    pulled    down    was    reduced    to    a patch   of   grass   to   save   money   on   running   costs   and   maintenance during     the     many     intervening     years     leading     up     to     eventual redevelopment   into   the   Forum.      Who   decided   this?      THEY   did.      I   am sure    many    of    the    districts    residents    would    be    interested    in    the wisdom   of   this   decision   and   retrospectively   question   the   true   wider social   implication   versus   monetary   saving.      Praise   or   blame,   we should have had the opportunity to be critical of people’s actions. 
Now that the Forum is built, from the public’s perspective we have ended up with a newly integrated library and a coffee shop albeit in smart, modern, hopefully more efficient surroundings.
As   I   understand   it,   we   still   haven’t   got   a   theatre   facility   to   use   in   place   of   the   Pavilion.   An   'Arts   Venue   in Dacorum'   Trust   has   been   formed   to   promote   a   replacement   for   the   Pavilion.   Originally,   THEY   also   said   the police were also to be accommodated in the Forum. 
I   also   question   why   we   needed   a   new   Forum   if   it   is   not   fulfilling   its   full   pre-announced   potential.      We   have   lost the   architecture   of   the   original   Civic   Centre,   façade   of   which   for   years   has   badly   needed   maintenance   and cleaning, and its forecourt. Latterly weeds appeared to be growing on the roof! New   developments   seem   to   be   built   right   up   to   the   edge   of   a   street’s   footpath   thereby   reducing   the   New Town concept of open spaces.
Our Heritage - Marlowes I have fond memories of the time when Marlowes had a road running through it and the shops and market were bustling with busy shoppers and events were held in the old Pavilion!
Consultations   about   the   recently   revamped   Marlowes   Town   Centre   Project   led   me   to   a   vision   of   a   tree   lined pedestrian   shopping   area   in   which   to   relax.         What   THEY   seem   to   have   created   is   another   ‘skateboard   park style’   precinct   with   water   feature,   concrete   seats   and   a   big-brother   screen   showing   more   advertisements   than the intended occasional Public Service Messages to town centre visitors. Far from relaxing, the ambiance is tense, the seating is cold in the winter and, no doubt, will be too hot in a really good summer!  Hopefully the environment will improve when the trees mature.  At the time of writing, shopping in Berkhampstead or Tring is more enjoyable.
Riverside Retail Complex BP   and   Kodak   were   the   major   employers   of   Hemel   Hempstead   back   in   the   1970s.      BP   then   moved   to Breakspear   Park   by   2004   from   its   town   centre   offices.      In   anticipation   of   the   move   the   popular   pub   ‘The   Wagon and Horses’ was demolished along with the BP office block and spiral car-park from 1989. It   then   took   the   council’s   powers   that   be   16   years   to   build   the   Riverside   complex.      What   THEY   were   doing during that time is a mystery to many because the site remained a barren wasteland all that time.
Dacorum Sports Centre There is seldom an opportunity general public to have any influence in project, as said before, and this was the case for the Dacorum Sports Centre in Box Moor. 
SLM   is   a   profit   making   organisation,   but   THEY   in   the   council   have   made   their   decision,   despite   a   protest   petition rising   from   10,000   signatures   to   approaching   15,000   on   Facebook   and   38   Degrees.   SLM   will   be   investing   more than   £2.3   million   so   it   is   naive   to   think   THEY   will   not   want   a   good   return   on   its   investment.      Everyone Active   may keep   prices   down   and   standards   high   in   the   early   days,   but   watch   out   for   the   future.      Fitness   and   well-being should not be for profit.
Not   quite   on   the   scale   of   protests   about   Blair   taking   us   to   war   in   Iraq,   but   the   same   principle   applied.   Sportspace Dacorum   Sports   Trust   has   been   running   the   sports   centre   for   the   community   since   it   became   a   registered   charity in   2004,   but   now   Dacorum   Borough   Council   have   officially   awarded   a   10-year   contract   to   Sports   and   Leisure Management   Ltd   (SLM)   for   the   delivery   of   leisure   services   within   the   Borough.   SLM,   which   operates   as   Everyone Active, will take over the contract on 1 April 2018.
Jellicoe Water Gardens In   my   opinion   THEY,   as   members   of   DBC,   had   presided   over   the   decline   of   Jellicoe's   Water   Gardens   over decades,   not   just   in   recent   periods   of   austerity.      Water   gardens   need   ongoing   maintenance,   but   all   I   recall   is neglect   so-much-so   that   the   despairing   situation   caused   the,   now   completed,   major   'Jellicoe   Project'   to   rectify the situation. 
From what I understand of the history, Dacorum have twice privatised maintenance of green spaces latterly in the days of Brophy, brought it back in-house, closed the nursery in Two Waters, removed un-sponsored flower beds, and did the bare minimum 'health and safety' maintenance of the Water Gardens.
Despite   some   delays,   the   Casey   contractors   aim   was   to   adhere   Jellicoe's   vision   and   successfully   achieved contemporary   restoration.   The   fence   along   the   riverbank   edge   is   a   good   idea   and   maybe   it   will   deter   the Canada   Geese   from   turning   the   new   turf   into   a   mud   patch.      It   is   now   hoped   that,   in   addition   to   the   public, THEY in Dacorum Council will 'much-love' the gardens to maintain them properly long into the future!
Now that shops have been trading for some time, e.g. Debenhams, Top Shop, T K Maxx and Next, one wonders whether the development is a major overall success for the town given that there are empty shops in Marlowes.
Glorious Gadebridge Park in Bloom
Marlowes in the 70s
Festive Hemel Market Square
Neglected Civic Centre
Overgrown and Silted Water Gardens
Kate Fox discussed the English 'dis-ease' of not being earnest in her book entitled "Watching the English". It seems that also part of this perceived culture is not to identify individually responsible persons when discussing events or sensitive subjects. We now have Hemel Hempstead Evolution team for the regeneration programme of 6 zones, Enterprise & Investment Team, Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors and Local Enterprise Partnership so we can look forward to a bright future.
After Restoration
Hemel Phoenix Gateway (J Zaval)
The Bury, Queensway
We   are   sure   the   populace   does   not   want   the   iconic   Bury   to   be   sold   off   to   developers   for conversion   into   luxury      apartments   like   THEY   did   with   the   nearby   1930s   Police   Station   in Leighton Buzzard Road, now known as Century House.
In   2012   the   Gazette   reported   that   The   Bury   the   attractive   Georgian   mansion   at   the   entrance   to   Gadebridge   Park was being earmarked as a ‘potential’ home for a museum and plans were underway for the building project.
Of   historical   significance   and   Grade   II   listed,   The   Bury   was   built   in   1790,   previously   used   as   a   romantic   setting   for weddings,   is   now   largely   unused   since   THEY   moved   the   registry   offices   into   The   Forum.   Now   Dacorum   Borough Council,   Hemel   Hempstead   Business   Ambassadors   and   Dacorum   Heritage   Trust   are   all   working   in   partnership   to create   a   ‘sustainable   business   plan’   for   a   new   museum   and   THEY   can   ‘potentially’   reinstate   it   as   wedding   venue with new café and shop as part of the proposals.
In   January   2016,   a   spokesman   for   Dacorum   Borough   Council,   which   inherited   The   Bury   from   the   New   Towns Commission,   said:   “We   will   be   considering   several   options   for   the   reuse   of   the   building.   “A   museum   is   something we   want   to   pursue   ‘if’   funding   can   be   secured.”      Meanwhile,   The   Bury   houses   the   constituency   offices   of   the Right Honourable Sir Mike Penning, Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead.
It   is   understood   that   the   museum   project   is   still   awaiting   necessary   funding   and   planning   permission   to   proceed.     Will   it   ever   happen   or   is   it   an   instance   of   ‘fake   news’?      Who   knows   if   THEY   will   progress   the   project   because   the ‘proposed’ start date is already pre-announced as late as approximately 2021.
The Forum The Bury The Gade Sport Centre Marlowes Walled Charter Gardens and Tower Restful View from Walled Gardens
Back   in   2003   THEY   published   the   Dacorum   Digest   with   the   headline ’Civic   Zone’   displaying   an   artist’s   impression   of   a   grandiose   £60m   project together   with   a   consultation   questionnaire.      One   suspects   that   a   limited number   replied,   or   THEY   had   a   re-think   because   only   some   of   the   overall project     originally     envisaged     for     2007     completion     seems     to     have materialised.      Riverside,   West   Herts   College   and   the   Forum   are   now complete    although    we    are    ‘still    watching    this    space’    for    the    other proposals.
Home   deliveries   are   not   a   new   concept   as   in   the   50’s   and   60’s   we   had   a   milkman,   baker,   soft   drinks   supplier and mobile grocery van, but these did not deter people from also shopping in town.
The   demise   of   the   high   street,   including   Marlowes,   has   been   blamed   on   people’s   choice   to   shop   on   line.     Could   one   of   the   reasons   be   that   now   most   high   streets   are   pedestrianised,   parking   can   be   costly   and   often some   distance   from   the   shops,   consequently   it   is   not   worth   going   into   town   for   one   item   nor   is   it   convenient   if you   have   many   bags   to   carry.   Previously   there   was   limited   time   parking   and   bus   stops   within   the   heart   of   the town. This is the reason out of town retail outlets are so successful.
Don’t Blame Amazon for ‘High Street Retail’ Woes
In    Hemel    we    are    lucky    to    have    many    local    shopping    centres    where    smaller businesses   can   thrive   due   to   the   free   parking   and   accessibility.   However,   the pedestrianised town centre is a different story.