For long-suffering Hatfield residents the news that Hatfield was one of the proposed sites for the incinerator came as no surprise. Nor are people likely to be surprised to learn that 3 out of the 4 sites considered for waste disposal in the Welwyn Hatfield District were located in Hatfield.
The post-war development of the new town changed the face and character of Hatfield, a number of established residents moved out (some even emigrated to Australia). Many of the new arrivals were from the deprived parts of London that had been blitzed during the war. Problems with the Comet jet meant that de Havillands had financial difficulties, which eventual led to the end of this pioneering company.
In 1974 Hatfield became administratively twinned with Welwyn Garden City. The name of the district even changed to Welwyn Hatfield. The merger does not seem to have benefited Hatfield – Stanborough Lakes, once part of Hatfield, was appropriated by WGC.
According to the published accounts between 2003-09 Welwyn Hatfield Council spent £7,164,000 on major capital projects in WGC. During the same period they spent £284,000 on projects in Hatfield (2008-09, WHBC spent £1.257 million for the redevelopment of Moors Walk neighbourhood centre, as part of an expected £5.54 million development programme, vs. £141,000 on Hatfield town centre improvements, including toilets and CCTV).
Ironically, Hatfield residents actually pay more in Council tax than WGC residents due to the Hatfield Town Council, which has little or no powers. WHBC also gets money from the government to make up any shortfall due to the number of students housed in Hatfield.
As part of the process of clearing the New Barnfield site, two existing facilities located there – the Central Resources Library and The Park Education Support Centre – are being moved.
The Central Resources Library holds the main collection of books for the Hertfordshire Archives and Library Service. Although there is an overwhelming case for keeping it in Hatfield (including the potential savings by merging it with the current one) it seems it has been decided – apparently without any consultation – to build a new facility for it in Welwyn Garden City. Curious, given that WGC already has two libraries (including a two-storey building in the town centre). As the money is obviously available it could have been used to kickstart the Hatfield town centre redevelopment. Or they could have saved money by moving it to the empty New Briars School on Briars Lane.
The powers-that-be have also decided to expand The Park Education Support Centre – a last chance school for disruptive youngsters. That will be kept in Hatfield* – moved from an isolated location right into the heart of a residential area close to the town centre (the empty school on Briars Lane).
[*Note 16.12.10: a local paper reported in this week's edition that Hertfordshire County Council has changed its original plans and is now looking at moving The Park Education Support Centre to a site in Potters Bar. This proposed changed move is being consulted upon. HCC's website confirms it will be moving as part of the clearance of the New Barnfield site for an unspecified development]
Hatfield residents CANNOT depend on either Hatfield Town Council or Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to put an end to the threat of an incinerator to the town and its people's future. Hatfield's future is in the hands of the people who live here – who have a choice: accept it (if you can't move out) or try to do something about it.