© 2017 The Harpenden Society

A Night on the Hustings

Summer2015 Newsletter

On Tuesday 21 April we held our 'hustings' meeting when four of the five parliamentary candidates for the local constituency faced a packed assembly to speak about and discuss their vision for Harpenden, especially in terms of significant matters such as housing development. Regular readers will recall the idea of the meeting grew out of anxieties felt by The Society's leaders and others about the infelicities – now there's a charitable word – of the St Albans District Strategic Plan. And the meeting proved to be a lively and bustling affair.

Your editor did something of a vox pop the following day, listening to what proved to be a fairly consistent line. Everyone thought The Society had provided a worthy service to the town by gathering together the candidates so they could, so to speak, be observed in the flesh. Looking back over the year at other meetings, such as those on the Red House or on the housing threat, we have obviously found for ourselves a valued niche in the organisation of such events. While everyone had, naturally, differing views about the actual candidates, there was a widespread feeling that we could not look to them as being likely to protect Harpendonians from an ill-thought out housing scheme. However, the very first comment of everyone referred to the fine job done by Chris Marsden in chairing the proceedings. Having (as the last issue explained) contemplated him standing for parliament to advertise our housing worries, maybe we should nominate him as Speaker for the House of Commons...


The timing of the general election and other logistics made it necessary for The Harpenden Society to hold two important events in sequence at Rothamsted Conference Centre

Above top: The four Parliamentary candidates taking questions from the audience. Above: Radio Verulam and Nickey Radio reporter Jo  Coleman interviewing guests. Below: Labour candidate  Rachel Burgin (third from the left) with members of the audience

A Night of Celebration

The following night, Wednesday 22 April, features our AGM as part of 'Celebration 2015'. It was another successful evening, at least in terms of contents, for, sadly, there was huge disappointment over the attendance. Some said this was to do with dragging people out two nights on the run; others that Rothamsted, for all the charms of its new and refurbished conference facilities, is too distant from the town proper to appeal as an evening venue. Having had a great turn-out for the first 'Celebration' in 2013 at the now defunct Harpenden House Hotel, two Rothamsted years of relatively poor numbers must give cause for some furious administrative thought. It is being proposed that The Society's quite brief legal and technical AGM might be absorbed into one of its popular public meetings on the lyrical counsel that 'just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way.' The programme, complete with free refreshments, flowed easily and well, with discussion of the exciting new Volunteering for Harpenden (V4H) concept of a unified and effective approach to recruiting and deploying volunteers, the announcement of  The Harpenden Society Awards and comment on The Society's schools competition – the exhibition of the winning entries was there for all to admire. A highlight was a presentation by Rothamsted Research officials of the changes made and planned at this fine site and we look forward to interesting conversations about its future.

Above: The exhibition of creative work in the School Arts competition with teachers, parents and pupils.

Below: The audience at the ‘Oscar’ style presentation showing their appreciation.

Bottom: The exhibition area for the official launch of the new ‘Volunteers for Harpenden’  organisation.