It was my pleasure to spend a day in the Borough of Broxbourne with Mayor Carol Crump and Deputy Mayor Steve Wortley. I also met the Leader and Chief Executive and a number of other councillors.
Our first visit was to the Broxbourne Foodbank where we met Jeremy Pearce and learnt how the food and other donations are collected, packaged and distributed. Jeremy and his team of volunteers work long hours to provide this vital service, and I was surprised to find clothes, bedding and many other items at the storage unit in addition to food.
Next to St Joseph’s Primary school where Head Mrs Barbara O’Connor showed us around the spacious classroom and outdoor play areas, and we watched a dance rehearsal. The school is working towards a Wellbeing Award and there is a real focus on emotional and mental support for the pupils alongside their academic work, and an emphasis on aspiration.
At Cedars Park we were met by Green Spaces Manager Dave Renouf who described the old site of Theobalds Palace and ongoing work on the park. Andy Massey of the Friends Group explained plans for new bee hives and Nick Spellmans and Stuart Short showed us all that they have achieved in the Nature Centre. I was delighted to plant a rose as part of the garden renovations and to learn how this wonderful space is enjoyed by so many local residents.
Our day ended with a visit to St Mary’s High School where Head Ms Stephanie Benbow and Deputy Head Steve Warner have led locally on a really valuable school-based approach in response to youth violence and gang culture in the wider community. Working with the St Giles Trust, the local Constabulary and supported by Broxbourne Borough Council this Youth Violence Initiative is already making a difference to vulnerable young people and is an innovative project to prevent crime and protect young people and those who are at risk from gang culture and exploitation.
We are fortunate to live in Hertfordshire, and although our county is one of contrasts and many face difficult challenges, it is important to celebrate the great initiatives and hard work of so many who work to make the county a better place for us all. I much enjoyed my visit and would like to thank the Mayor for her warm welcome.