Coming soon: Watford’s new market

Market new path Dorothy RESIZED 8-4-14 market traders new site RESIZED 8-4-14

Yesterday I visited the site of the new Watford market, which will open in September, in  the grounds of the TJ Hughes building.  It will be modern and brightly coloured container-style market, spread over two floors, with an eating area level with the flyover, making it really visible from the ring road.

Shoppers will be able to access the new market via a main entrance on The Parade, as well as a rear entrance by the ring road.  It will be really well sign-posted and very visible, so I hope this will significantly improve footfall.

We’ve built a new footpath to link Clarendon Road to the rear entrance of the market.  This was important because so many of our older residents get off the bus on Clarendon Road, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to get there, quickly and safely.

Most of the existing traders are transferring to the new market when it opens in September and are looking forward to the move.   And of course, the old market in Charter Place will not close until the new market has opened!

Easter activities

We’re once again offering our younger residents the opportunity to swim and use the gyms at our leisure centres for free during the summer holidays.  As a parent I remember the extra pressure you feel during the school holidays to find activities to keep their children amused and it can be an expensive time.  So this should help. 

The free swimming is on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Watford Leisure Centre – CENTRAL and on Mondays and Wednesdays at Watford Leisure Centre – WOODSIDE.  The free gym use will be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2pm to 4pm.  There are terms and conditions you’ll need to know before you turn up – such as you need to apply for an Everyone Action card first - so do ensure you know those first: or telephone: 01923 296750 for Central or telephone: 01923 892710 for Woodside.

There are other Easter activities we’re organising:  

  • Tuesday 15 April: 10am to noon, join Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Officer, Rob Hopkins, on a Spring nature walk in CassioburyPark. Meet at the RusticBridge, near the Langley Way entrance.
  • Saturday 19 April: Rob will lead another two hour Spring Walk in CassioburyPark. Meet for a 10am start at the kiosk by the main car park entrance in Gade Avenue. 
  • Saturday 19 April: free family Easter workshops at Watford Museum. The workshop times are 11am to noon, noon to 1pm and 2 to 3pm.

 Happy Easter!

Lib Dem childcare pledge will benefit 3000+ Watford families

You might have heard in the news today that the Liberal Democrats have pledged to give working families up to £2,000 towards childcare costs.  The figures show that this will benefit 3,060 Watford families, when it is rolled out in Autumn 2015. 

 As a mum that worked throughout my children’s early years I’d have jumped at the chance of this extra boost to my teacher’s salary – and childcare costs are far higher these days, in many cases prohibitively so.  Those on Universal Credit will get 85% of childcare costs fully covered.

We also announced at our Autumn conference last year that wanted to make free school meals available to all infant school children and disadvantaged college students from September 2014. This was confirmed in the Government’s Autumn Statement.
I commend Nick Clegg on all he is doing to support working families – these measures will help parents to go to work and provide security for their families.

Launch of our Big Events programme

Mayor Dorothy with Matthew Russell of Watford Palace Theatre

Mayor Dorothy with Matthew Russell of Watford Palace Theatre

Earlier this week we hosted an event at The Colosseum, where we announced our Big Events calendar to the cultural players in the town.    It was a great turnout – and everyone is really excited about how they can use the new events space we’re currently creating as part of the our £4.3 million redevelopment of The Parade.

We commissioned the Palace Theatre to plan a programme of events that will have something for everyone, with the aim of attracting visitors to this part of the town centre during the day and early evening. It is the most ambitious arts and activities programme ever staged in the town – buildng on the success of Imagine Watford!

Watford’s Big Events will kick off on 20th June, with a major launch event and coincide with the start of the town’s fourth Imagine Watford festival.  They include fun runs, a winter skating rink, the Diwali festival outside in The Parade for the first time, outdoor movies, and arts and crafts. Other highlights include a summer dance extravaganza in The Parade, an outdoor fashion show staged in the autumn, and animation displays in The Parade during the winter months.

I want everyone to look forward to the monthly events and bring the family to enjoy themselves together!!

My recent flood summit

Yesterday I hosted a ‘flood summit’ here at the Watford Town Hall to look at the impact of the recent floods that took place over the first two weekends of February, predominantly affecting the Lower High St, Water Lane and Riverside Road areas.

I invited representatives from Watford police, fire service, Herts County Council to join Watford Borough Council officers, so we could all discuss each agency’s role and responsibilities for floods and understand if any improvements could be made.

The good news is that nobody was made homeless nor was there any serious damage caused as a result of the floods -  in fact it wasn’t declared an emergency in Watford because there was no risk to life. However, I wanted to know how the main emergency responders worked together and what further role we as a borough council might need to play. Read more »

Home needed for Watford Boxing Club

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill with members of Watford Boxing Club

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill with members of Watford Boxing Club

I was invited down to Watford Boxing Club, which is located in a hut on the sun sports site.  They have been a club for 10 years, providing high quality training delivered by accredited coaches.

I was surprised by the friendly atmosphere (but that’s probably because my girlie view of what a boxing club would be like was something quite different!) and impressed by the concentration and focus of the youngsters there. 

I heard heart warming tales of how boxing has given individuals inner confidence and this has subsequently improved their school work and whole sense of worth.

It was sad to hear they are to be evicted in August and will be homeless. I am trying to help them but if anyone has a space that could lend itself to such a club do get in touch.

Roadworks: M25 Junction 21a/M1 Junction 6/A405 North Orbital

Connect Plus M25, the contractors for the Highways Agency have just informed me about some roadworks that I wanted to share….

They will be carrying out safety improvement work on the M25 Junction 21a slip roads, the M1 Junction 6 slip roads and on the A405 North Orbital Road near Bricket Wood.

The work involves vegetation clearance, installing new signage, renewing the road markings and applying a new high-friction road surface in some areas.

The work will begin on Tuesday 11 February and will be complete by Tuesday 25 March 2014. This will take place overnight to minimise the potential impact on the travelling public.

The hours of work will be Monday to Thursday nights between 10:00pm and 5:30am, Friday nights between 11:00pm and 6:00am, Saturday nights between 10:30pm and 06:00am and on Sunday nights between 10:30pm and 5:30am.

Read more »

Hospital Cancer review

I was quite shocked this morning when I got a call from the Chief Executive of West Herts Hospital Trust to inform me about the outcome of their cancer review.  They’ve found they did not follow the correct procedures and have spent the last few weeks in contact with patients and their families that were affected.  I can only imagine how terrible those affected must be feeling and my sympathy goes out to them.

It is very sad that these things happen, but it’s important too to stress that the Trust is now under new leadership, and I have every confidence that the new Chief Exec and her team. I firmly believe they are the best people to move our hospital forwards. They have their work cut out – that’s for sure – but they have a lot of experience under their belts and are determined to deliver some real positive change.

On reflection, I’m reminded of when I first started as Mayor and commenting at a meeting that there just seemed to be endless stones to uncover.  It took several years before they were all uncovered and I could stop ‘firefighting’ and just start doing good things for our town. 

I hope there won’t be too many more stones still for the Trust to uncover, but they have my full support, and that of the MP, and together we will do all we can to help them to put things right for all patients, past and present.

Watford Junction: planned closures reduced

I am really pleased to hear this morning that Network Rail has now reduced the number of days that the railway will be closed in order to carry out its much needed £81m improvement scheme, which aims to tackle the most common causes of delay at the south end of the West Coast Mainline.

This means that the continuous 16 day line closure of the West Coast Mainline planned for this August and the 9 day continuous closure planned for February 2015 are cancelled. The work will now be carried out over a series of weekends. Read more »

Meeting with rail bosses

I recently called a meeting with the top senior executives, including the Managing Director of London Midland, to address the ongoing problems with Watford Junction Station forecourt.  This follows ongoing complaints from residents and dissatisfaction about the new layout.  Issues centred around car drivers dropping off passengers in dangerous places, the bus station being largely vacant of buses and taxis have insufficient space to wait.

Everyone can see that the station forecourt looks so much better since the work was carried out, and is far safer for pedestrians – however it’s been clear to me for some time that the issues we’ve been experiencing are far more than just teething problems while people get used to the changes.  Some six months on, with no sign of improvement, it was time for action.

Credit where credit is due – London Midland agree that the current situation is not satisfactory and that the scheme had fallen below their expectations.  They were very amenable to finding a resolution.  They recognised that the new layout encourages car drivers to take risks when dropping off their passengers, and that this isn’t acceptable.  Read more »


Dorothy Thornhill

Town Hall
WD17 3EX
T: 01923 278371
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