Sunday, 8 November 2015

Watford Remembrance Sunday 8th November 2015

The people of #Watford came out to honour those that have fallen in wars and conflicts around the world today on Remembrance Sunday 8th November 2015. The service was taken by Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill and attended by many from the local community.

Watford Cassiobury Park Fireworks 7th November 2015

It looked very much like it was going to be a total washout for the fireworks in Cassiobury Park as the rain continued unabated until circa 3:30pm on Saturday 7th November. Then miraculously the weather broke and there was a glimpse of sunshine just before dusk swiftly enveloped the town.

As I walked over to the park there were throngs of people heading towards the many entrances and down towards the iconic tree at the edge of the escarpment which leads down to the river.

Thousands turned up to what is a huge annual event now in Watford... +VIBE 1076 were there as were other sponsors such as +Watford Community Housing Trust and +Nando's ... Entertainment in the form of a stage with a band kicked off at 6pm and there was food and refreshments available too... I have to tell you it was a bit damp and a bit of a quagmire down there... but everyone seemed to be having fun and fortunately the weather held out for the 20 minute firework display... the bonfire did finally get going as people were leaving for home... a casualty of the rain I'm afraid!

Video of the whole firework display below....

#L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show November 6th 2015

This weeks News Show almost had the full complement of presenters +Diane Richardson hosting / producing as usual with +Catherine Baldwin +Tania Clarke in their respective studio's covering charity and the local news... myself spared the early bath in the rain with an unusual day in the office, covering some of the stories I've been reporting on recently ... shame as it would have been good to test out whether we've solved our recording technical issues of last week... +Neal Emery as always on with the footie...

If you fancy being involved in the show and would like to come on board as either a researcher or presenter under the guidance of +Diane Richardson please do get in touch with the show via @L4GSWHerts or alternatively email

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Diwali Festival of Music and Light in Watford 26th October

Another one of the Watford Council's BIG Events took place today (26th October 2015) in #Watford High Street and Parade. Diwali brought out a real mixture of different cultures and was a great celebration of both the diversity and cosmopolitan nature of our town...

I believe that performances had been going on during the afternoon... I unfortunately only arrived at 16:35 as the night began to draw in... fortunately as the festival finale commenced at 5pm when the fireworks and light display on the bridge over the pond took place...

CKi (Community Kickstarter initiative) coming to #Watford soon!!

Are are ready? ... the CKi is coming to #Watford... so what is a CKi?

This is an initiative to bring together all the people doing great work in our community and to get all this information into a place where anyone can see what is happening. 97% of what is happening around us is good, the only problem is we don't know about it... it's underground and only those involved know...

Well that is about to change. We need to celebrate the good things being done, make them visible and enable more people to join in, engage and get involved. That is the core driver for the CKi... enable us all to work together to create a better community for us all to enjoy... and it's all free...

The initial core team meeting with happen at Reason Coffee and Book shop on the 3rd November at 7pm... and then the big launch for the programme in January 2016... dates will be confirmed after the initial meeting.

Below a short video on how it works... this is needed across the country in every town, village and city... time for the people to awaken and for us to create what we want...

Please get in touch .... comment here or tweet to @L4GSWHerts the time is now... not only in Watford... if you want to get involved these are starting in Rickmansworth, and will be on other towns in the SW Herts district.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Cassiobury Park gates could be reinstated within 2 years!

Friday 9th October I met with Kevin, David and Lesley all senior committee members of the Cassiobury Park Gates Project. We met at the site of the old Gates where Cassiobury Park meets Rickmansworth Road.

A bit of background to what has gone before... The old gates were removed for the widening of the Rickmansworth Road project back in 1972. The Gates had become a somewhat easy victim at this stage needing some repair and a bit of TLC. Although it was promised that they would be rebuilt, set back into the park or placed elsewhere... something that was never delivered on.

The committee to restore the gates was formed back in February this year and consists of 12 people all with different backgrounds and each able to contribute something both unique and vital to this project. What has happened since February has been nothing short of a miracle. Kevin said that if permission was granted they were in position to pretty much start the project so advanced were the plans now.

What started as an idea back in February has now gathered real pace. Based on the speed at which other projects progress the Cassiobury Park Gates has I believe set new records. 100's of hours, unpaid, have culminated in not only detailed architectural plans in place, but types of materials needed, how the gates will be powered, use to which the gates could be put, and all backed up with a business plan to ensure this becomes a net contributor to the community rather than a cost. When people are passionate about a project and something they love it is amazing how quickly things can come together!

There are so many great projects going on in Watford at the moment what with the Charter place redevelopment, the extension to the MET line and the renovation of other aspects of Cassiobury Park. The gates and their location would bring a huge bit of history back alive in Watford and make a massive difference to the popularity of Watfords Jewel in the crown, Cassiobury Park.

So what is stopping this project getting off the ground? The council own the land where the gates would be recreated and the costs to deliver would be in the region of £1m. The committee have various options on the table for raising the finance including a 'buy a brick' scheme and corporate sponsorship. All that needs to happen is that the council grant permission to build on the land. Something that would make absolute sense if it cost the council nothing and if enough people in the community supported the project.

So... Here's where you come in. There is a Facebook group 'Cassiobury Park Gates' please join it, that is where you can keep up to date with everything that is happening. There is a huge amount of documentation in the files section of the group of all the progress being made. There is a petition (with video) on there which you can fill in to support the 'Cassiobury Gates Project' and there are T-Shirts, mugs and Christmas Cards (most popular Xmas card being sold by the Peace Hospice this year). There has been a huge legacy already created by the team involved in this. Over 800 historic pictures have been unearthed about the gates and Cassiobury Park (many previously unpublished) and the only detailed technical drawings that exist today of the Gates have been crafted by this small but determined group.

There is a real chance here. A real chance to prove that the people of Watford can really make things happen for the people of Watford. These Cassiobury Park Gates, the Red Lion Community Pub project and a multitude of other smaller projects being led by the community are testimony to the fact that we can create the type of Watford we want in the future. It's not up to the council, they are there to do our bidding... So let's make sure they listen to what the people want and let's get these Gates put back in place... Shall we say 2 years?

Interview with part of the team on L4G SWHerts CommunityTV below... It's the first interview in the show

... and now for the German (Watford) Christmas Market

Watford needs a Christmas Market! ... or so the story goes. "many people have been asking if we could have a German style Christmas Market". I personally quite like the idea of a Christmas Market in Watford and I think many would support it too, however how it has come about and the communication to those affected by it has left a lot to be desired. I don't remember seeing the memo or the questionnaire inviting me to cast my opinion though... so who exactly the 'many people' are I haven't a clue...

Now although the notice in the high street only went up in September 2015 it seems that Town & Country Markets made the application back in the early summer... 15th July to be exact...

Full details here...

This application covers the following parts of the high street... some of the revisions to this drawing were completed in June 2015... none of the traders knew about this until September... objections anyone? Remember we have a market operating in this part of Watford High Street Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday afternoon... and this Xmas Market means this area will be out of action for the build from 9th November... open from the 19th November and then dismantled from around the 3rd / 4th January 2016. None of the existing traders can operate here during this period because an external market is being brought in to benefit from the festive season... all this after the disastrous move from the old charter place and a year of extremely challenging trading conditions. I trust I'm not the only one in feeling that the traders are not really being given a fair crack of the whip here...

Full details here...

The response to the complaints about being dislodged from their regular pitches has been, it's not a problem, you can relocate to the other side of the overpass, the Gade house part of the high street. Apart from the fact that there are traders already operating there this area is not as well frequented and requires people to walk even further to the market... perhaps they wouldn't bother at all having experienced the xmas market already?

But there is a late development... another plan has been submitted this time on September 30th...

As you can see from the drawing below. There is now an additional proposed second half of the Christmas Market that is now starting at the top end of the Parade. Thus providing a complete Christmas market now spanning from the Clarendon Road junction with the high street right up to the top end of the parade... which includes the existing traders who are now residing in the middle of the Christmas Market.

The full drawing can be viewed here...

As you can see... with one submission made in the middle of July (drawings designed in June) followed by a second hurried submission at the end of September with drawings finally completed just this week, that there has been a bit of rethinking.

I would hope that the recent amendments to the Christmas Market have been made because Town & Country Markets and the council have listened to the traders. Recognising how the original plans would have adversely affected the existing traders on whom they rely week in week out to provide a market for our town. The Market Traders that I have spoken too see that being in the middle of the Christmas Market means that they can continue to operate and that there is some hope at least that people will continue to walk up the town to the parade and provide that much needed footfall.

Both of these submissions have been made on the basis that this is a recurring annual event... so it looks like whatever happens this year will be repeated. Let's hope that any lessons learned will be fed back to improve subsequent years for all concerned.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

1st Anniversary of New Watford Market!! ... Shhhh nobody knows!

You could be forgiven for missing the first anniversary of the New
Watford Market, indeed hardly any of the market traders seemed to know either. A far cry from the opening day on the 10th October 2014 when one could hardly move with dignitaries and suits adorning the event.

So one year on and how are things down at the Market? I'm going to be quite candid here, I actually think the market is transitioning into something positive for Watford. It's not what was planned or what was envisaged but it is steadily changing. There is yet more change to come though. Counting up the traders there's approximately 15 brave souls remaining of the original 32 that made the 200m trip up the road from Charter place. There is every indication 2 or 3 of this number won't be there after Christmas and I predict more will go before the end of the winter months.

I took a video of the market as it was today, 1 year on and here is a link to the video from last year. Interesting to see the difference. There have been improvements at the market but Andrew Sparrow (Town & Country Markets) has been slow to implement many of them and we're fast approaching another winter without some protection against the elements. Good news though a sound system has been installed so Christmas carols could be on the way very soon!

With yet another debacle on the arrangements for the German Christmas market, poor communications, lack of consultation, absence of loyalty for the existing traders (spending their money on pitches each week) was probably the final nail in the coffin for market manager John. John who has been popular with the traders left today and was understandably not available for me to interview. A market manager from Reading plus another regional representative from Town & Country will be covering until a suitable replacement can be found.

Talking with Damion (junction flowers) and Grant (the footie store) it seems that the market will continue to evolve. Personally (and one shared by others) I believe that the rear section of the containerised section of the market will revert to storage with the front section under the food court continuing for those that need a permanent home. The remaining traders will fair better in the high street and with adequate storage provided at the rear of the market probably prefer to operate there either with fixed pitches or day trading options.

It has certainly been a rocky first year for the market. It's contract renewal time at this moment with a number of traders looking at their options. Changes at the Market are not likely to end anytime soon, but rest assured I will keep you up to date with all the developments as they happen. Look out for another post coming soon with details of the Xmas market. Plans are available from the council and if I can download them I will be posting them as well.

SW Herts L4G Community TV - 9th October 2015

This week we have three interviews for you, the first is +Chris Ogle  interviewing +Kevin France about a project to rebuild Cassiobury Park Gates. In the second I will be interviewing +Dipa Kotak , who is L4G District leader in NW London and who next week launches +Link4Business in #London. Finally, +Diane Richardson is chatting to +Fiona Flaherty about her new +L4G TV show on public health which launches next week.

Tania, Catherine and Neal are all away, so Chris is covering the local charity news and events. Chris will also be bringing you a local restaurant review. I will have the latest news and sports news as well.

All this and more, on what was a very interesting show.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Christmas snub for Market Traders

It's almost the 1st anniversary of the opening of the New Watford Market. What a difference a year makes. Of the original traders that made the move less than half remain. Many who started at the new market have also disappeared within the first year. To say this first 12 months has been 'a difficult trading period' would be a gross understatement.

The market opened in early October, just as the weather began to get colder. This left no time to build a regular clientele or to create new habits of visiting the Market as part of a trip to Watford. Couple this with zero signposting and poor marketing last Christmas was the worst on record for many of the traders.

In order to survive many of the traders are now using the 'container market setup' as storage and have resorted to paying for pitches (additionally) in the high street. Indeed if you were an infrequent visitor to Watford you would be forgiven for believing the 'New Market' was in the High Street itself. Perhaps that was always the intention?

A little known fact picked up last week is that the council have a clause in the contract with Town & Country (operators of Watford Market) to use the high street in any given week in whatever way they choose. This weekend 19th September is a prime example of this. Watford big events sports fest has meant all high street trading has been suspended. As I understand it there is no compensation for this inconvenience (I do hope though that rent is not charged in such cases?). This is not the worst of it though...

The council have decided to take control of the high street at another time this year for 6 weeks! Yes, from the end of November to early January, upon popular demand (I would like to see the questionnaire and facts to support this statement) we are to have a German style Christmas Market this year, right where the loyal market traders operate for the rest of the year.

So... In return for battling it out during the worst trading year for the market. In return for your loyalty to Watford Market, we (the Council, in our infinite wisdom) are going to move you somewhere less favourable (or due to space restrictions stop you being able to trade) during the busiest time of the year and bring in outsiders to benefit during the busy festive season. Not local people running local businesses who live in and around this area, but people who just visit towns and mop up during the Christmas period.

All the above conducted with minimum notice and no consultation with the traders themselves. The Watford Observer carried a story this week how the Watford Traders view this move by the council Watford Market Traders rally against Xmas Market - it's unfair and unjust and I for one can't help but agree with their view.

There is an opportunity to put this right though and that is about planning the location of the Christmas market properly. Locate the Christmas market after the flyover, between the flyover and the pond as shown in the picture to the right. This will attract people to the lesser used area of Watford town centre and draw people through the Watford Market, increasing footfall and providing existing traders with a welcome boost.

There is time... Reading the Observer piece Mayor Dorothy has stated that she hopes Town & Country will locate the Christmas Market correctly so as to minimise the impact on the loyal traders. So it is down to Andrew Sparrow again, Director of Town & Country to create a workable solution to this debacle. But he better get his skates on as the clock is ticking.

Communication has once again failed miserably here. A Christmas Market in a Watford is a good thing, and if introduced as a way to make Watford a must visit destination this Christmas everyone would have benefitted. Instead, there has been no thought behind it and we have a whole group of disenfranchised local traders who are understandably very upset. This just reinforces many of the traders views that the council has no interest in Watford Market.

Friday, 18 September 2015

SW Herts L4G Community TV - 18th September 2015

This weeks #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show has once again a huge lineup... with your host +Diane Richardson we have +Tania Clarke with all the local news, +Catherine Baldwin with everything charity and +Neal Emery covering all the sporting action. Special guest this week is +Nadine Standish who is going to tell us all about the excellent work of BITC (Business in the Community) and their fabulous 'connectors' of which she is one in the #Watford area. +Chris Ogle is out and about again in both Rickmansworth and bushey interviewing local people once more... please join us...

SW Herts L4G Community TV - 11th September 2015

The #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show for the 11th September is a packed show... with all the local news, charity stories, sport, and special guest +Jeremy Silverstone talking about the new Online Mentoring Groups (OMG's) taking place on the 17th September. Chris is out interviewing award winning local businesses who have done amazingly on both local and the national stage...

Friday, 4 September 2015

4th September #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show

This weeks #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show is packed. With only a four day week there is no let up on activity in the local community. +Diane Richardson as always hosting the show along with +Catherine Baldwin , +Neal Emery with all the sport and +Chris Ogle having a break (almost... but a serious ankle sprain) from his regular roving reporter spot covering all the local events in the community over the coming week. Special guest this week is +Laurie Bernard a local Small Business consultant. Laurie helps local businesses to grow and works with a number of local organisations.

A small piece of interesting but otherwise useless information is that Laurie now lives in the house that Chris used to live in many moons ago...

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Speakeasy Diner comes to #WatfordMarket

Following on from our regular #Link4Coffee at Ell's Kitchen on +Watford Market this week +Alex Murray and I took a stroll over to the newest eatery that has opened up in the food court (upstairs in Watford market)

Anita and Mike a local husband and wife team have been planning the idea for over 6 months and Anita has always wanted to do something like this. Recent opportunity to exit from Tesco's has meant that the dream is now becoming a reality.

They are 'soft opening' at the moment so that they can familiarise themselves with all the new equipment and are providing a range of burgers, hot dogs and diner style food all at very reasonable prices. Watch out for one of the #L4GBuyLocal videos coming soon as we have a video scheduled in... and also a Food Court revisit for the #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show as we catch up with all the comings and goings that have happened in recent months!

14th August #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show

As usual your host +Diane Richardson leads another packed show. +Catherine Baldwin returns for everything community and charity... +Neal Emery provides all the sports news and reports on first fixtures from the local football clubs... +Asif Rehman who is heading up +Link4Business is the guest this week as he prepares for the launch event next week, 19th August in #Oundle. This week we are 'Sans' +Chris Ogle so likely to be a much more organised and professional show than when he is around!

7th August #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show

All the local news with your host +Diane Richardson+Tania Clarke once again covering all the community stories and what's happening with charities we know about. +Neal Emery is joined by +Martin Willmin who are covering off the first games of the season for +WatfordFCofficial and Kings Langley FC both making their debuts in tougher divisions following promotion last season. +Chris Ogle is out and about once again... This week #SaveTheRedLionPub is on the agenda, Chris is interviewing local +CAMRA, Campaign for Real Ale representing Mark Fried and then heading off to take a look at how preparations are going for the Watford Beer Festival at Halsey Halls on Rickmansworth Road.

31st July #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show

This episode of our local TV show has +Diane Richardson as your host, +Neal Emery with all the sports news and +Tania Clarke with all the community news and charity stories for the week... +Chris Ogle is out and about taking a look at the Beach which is at the top of the parade and talking to the man behind the Croxley Car show which is held annually on Croxley Green...

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Animal Magic from Cassiobury Farm - Helen (guest blogger)

We have a new blogger in #Watford :) Helen has been in Watford since 2013 and is blogging about her Watford adventures...

This post is about the secret farm in Cassiobury Park... there are all sorts of exotic animals kept there. The farm is open to the public a couple more times this month so if you want something to do with the kids please do book up and go see this! .. thanks for the blog Helen!

Read the full blog post click here...

Thursday, 30 July 2015

What has Link4Growth done for us? ...

Here +Chris Ogle talks to Andrew Carberry and Andy Harland of Yellow Comedy in Watford. Andrew and Andy talk about how +Link4Growth and +Reason Coffee Shop & Bookstore have helped to get things off the ground in #Watford and assisted in promoting the events and having sell out (well you don't pay to get in, you pay to get out) crowds at the first 3 events at Reason.

Lots more events are planned just visit the Yellow Comedy website ... for events at both Reason and also at the Pump House in Watford....

Friday, 24 July 2015

24th July #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show

This weeks show say the return of +Alex Murray in a cameo slot taking a well earned rest from his Legal work having bagged a distinction in his law degree... well done Alex! ... Your host +Diane Richardson as ever, supported by +Neal Emery. Guest this week +Gerri Riddiough from Redcar and #Link4Growth in the north... and +Chris Ogle back out on the road in the pouring rain interviewing +Lester Wagman who is working hard on the #SaveWatfordMet project... the interview with Lester starts at 35:33 and ends 46.33 ... enjoy!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Friday 17th July 2015 #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV show

Friday's #L4GSWHerts #CommunityTV saw a whole new cast and mixing up of roles. +Tania Clarke made a welcome return joining +Diane Richardson to report in on all the charity and community activities going on in the District. +Chris Ogle uncharacteristically was studio based filling in (badly) on sport for +Neal Emery who was attending a climate change summit in #Watford along with +Richard Harrington MP. We were also joined by +Carol Dodsley adding international flavour to this weeks show all the way from Bulgaria. Carol heads up Link4Skills and shared with us all the recent developments on the workshops and training front. A packed show as always with plenty of fun and laughter!

Enjoy the show!!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

SW Herts CommunityTV show 10th July 2015

This weeks show was hosted as always by Diane Richardson along with Catherine Baldwin. Guests on the show today included Danny Young fronting up the Central Herts district for Link4Growth and Chris Ogle once again out and about enjoying the weather. Guest with Chris this week Sandy Belloni talking about the great work he is doing in Oxhey woods, cleaning up the river Colne and as part of the team looking after the local allotments.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Out shopping early in June with Damion from Rosanna's (North Watford), Junction Flowers (Watford Junction) and Watford Market Flower. Diane Richardson and I left early one morning to accompany Damion replenishing his stock... this is a short 40 second automatically produced video of the morning... There are more videos and a blog post with pictures coming up soon!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

SWHerts CommunityTV Show 3rd July 2015

This weeks CommunityTV show 3rd July with Diane Richardson, Catherine Baldwin, guest Paul Violet and Chris Ogle talking with Paul Roberts about plans for new doors on the intersection of Queens Road and the Intu building. To watch Live... each and every Friday afternoon between 4 and 5pm

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Imagine Festival... live events in Watford

The Palace Theatre short video of the Imagine Festival in Watford... ends this week...

Friday, 19 June 2015

L4G SW Herts Community TV 19/05/2015

Here is this week's community TV show for SW Herts with Diane Richardson hosting as always, Alex Murray pulling double duty with news and sports and Catherine Baldwin as always on the charity, arts scene as well as her regular restaurant review. This week Chris Ogle joined us from a exotic wildlife park just outside Watford and gremlins prevents a debut for Paul Violet. Enjoy the show and we'd appreciate any feedback!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

What is the SW Herts District Website?

+Link4Growth SW Herts has been a driving force in #Link4Growth and one of the key ways we are doing this is by using a blogger site designed to be our 'district website'. The website pools in all aspects of what we are doing in the area and enables people to have a single place to find out everything that is going on in SW Herts. 

So what does the website contain and how does it build community?

When you first arrive on the SW Herts District Website, the landing page will contain a lot of different information and links but in short it contains the following information:

  • SW Herts blog: This is the blog for the area and as well as stories about what we are doing in the area, we have the ability to provide a space for Link4Growth subscribers to showcase what they are doing and links to their blogs. This in essence is a magazine for the area and can contain stories ranging from property and the local economy to politics and much more. We are constantly looking for new people to help write pieces for this so if this interests you, get in contact and we can help promote what you do!
  • Along the top of the page you will see a bar with links to various sites we use. For example, we have the link to the main L4G website so people can find out more about Link4Growth and so of the other aspects of it. We have links to the newly upgraded national forum where you can connect with other people within Link4Growth and help people on a national level. We also have links to the Link4Skills and two features I will go into in further detail below.

  • One of the key links on the top panel is the one enabling you to go to our SW Herts TV channel. Within this, you have the ability to view our playlists that showcase local businesses, charities and many other parts of our community. We are constantly updating the playlists with videos so please do subscribe to our YouTube channel and keep up to date
  • The other key link is to our community calendar. In short, this is  a calendar for the people of SW Herts to find out what is going on in their area. Whether it is big events in the Watford Colosseum or a yoga class in a community centre, this calendar enables the people to find what is going on in one place. And because it is linked with Google, you can add it to your phone's calendar and find out what is going on wherever you maybe!

To the right hand side we have a further set of links to different aspects of what we do. We have a feed to our #CommunityTVShow which enables you to watch our latest show. We also have links to all our communities such as L4G Watford and L4G BuyLocal Watford. These are key aspects of online community building and enable us to build community online as well as online. 

To be honest, this is just a mere sample of what we are doing on the website and the best way to find out everything is to visit the website at and look around. I believe +Chris Ogle will be doing a short video tour explaining much of this in video form for those who prefer video. If you have any questions, do ask one of the SW Herts team and they will be able to explain all to you!

SW Herts L4G Community TV - 12th June 2015

Latest #L4GSWHerts CommunityTV show with +Diane Richardson +Catherine Baldwin +Alex Murray +Neal Emery and +Chris Ogle out on the streets!

Community Building on Twitter

For those of you who maybe unaware, as well as a Facebook and G+ account, we also have an account on Twitter. This is one of the tools we are using to enable us to be share the stories of what we are doing throughout the district and engage with different groups of people. One of the features in particular that we are using are lists.

Lists are an effective way to filter your followers by certain
factors decided by you. Users that have 100s or 1000s of people that they are following can't filer their news-stream to allow them to find they key information they are looking for. By creating lists, they can organise the people they are following into lists and this allows them to focus on select areas.

So how are we in SW Herts using lists...

1) Towns in the district

This list breaks the district into the towns that makes it up and creates a list for each of them. Currently, we have lists for Watford, Bushey, Croxley, Rickmansworth and The Langleys. These lists contain accounts of people, businesses, charities and community groups that live, work and play in that particular town. Online, there are few places were you can go and find a list of what is going on in a particular town at any given moment or what is coming up. Currently, we have nearly 400 people in the Watford list as well as nearly 150 in the Rickmansworth list so please do check them out if you are keen to find out what is going on in the area.

2) Sport in SW Herts

Simply, this list contains all the details of local sports teams in the SW Herts area. Maybe you are keen to join a new team in the area or find out the latest results from the area, looking at you +Reason .....! This list is growing at the moment and if you know of any local teams on Twitter, please let us know and we can get them in the list also.

3) L4G Venues

One of the things #Link4Growth is passionate about is promoting those that help us. That is why we have a list dedicated to the venues that help promote us and host our events. This list gives us an effective way of finding their accounts and sharing what they are up to. As a result, they get greater exposure and hopefully more customers. Many of our venues are on Twitter so do check the list out.

4) Local Reporters

Sometimes it may not be enough for you to simply tweet your way to success. Sometimes, some traditional advertising is required and this list provides you with accounts for people at the Watford Observer, My News (which covers most of the district) and accounts such as @WatfordForYou. These guys are designed to promote what you do so contact them should you need to get your message out there!

5) Local Politics

By its nature, #Link4Growth is an apolitical organisation and simply aims to help rebuild community and engage all sectors of it. Politics shouldn't not be something that we do every 5 years and a successful community should see its decision makers in contact and engaged with the electorate. As a result, this list details all those decision makers on Twitter, This list will increase the more we engage with them and explain to them the benefits of being active on Twitter. If you Councillor, MP and Borough Council is not on Twitter, tell them to do so and we can pop them into the list.

6) Charities in SW Herts

It is clear that local charities can suffer from a 'cloak of invisibility' and they can struggle to get known to the community their serve. In Watford alone, there are 800 charities and there isn't a current list of who they are. This list enables people to find out what charities there are in the area, what they do and an easy way for them to engage with them to see how they can help each other.

We have only just started populating these lists with tweeters and the more #Link4Growth grows in the area, the more accounts we can add to the lists and the more detailed it will be for people to find out what is going on in SW Herts, If you are not following @SWHerts on Twitter, please do so and we can then make sure you are added to the relevant lists.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Carpenter's Park, are you ready?

As part of our plan to spread #Link4Growth throughout the whole of the SW Herts district, the SW Herts team had a meeting with +mina patel, a local Carpenters Park resident and Eric Bishop who is the Councillor for the ward as well as the Chairman for Three Rivers. The meeting was a success and as a result, we are pleased to announce the 1st event in the area will take place on the 2nd July starting at 9:30 in a local coffee shop called Perk. Kerry, the owner was very excited by the event and keen to help promote it. If you are keen to come along, please book into the event here.

As well as coming to the event, Eric has written a piece about the meeting on his blog. To read it, please click here.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Do you have a dream?

For one person, 22nd August 2015 will be the third anniversary of his dream coming true. Tyson Martin is the Chairperson of Hertfordshire s Pride Society.

Tyson’s dream was to create an annual event in Hertfordshire to promote the county’s vibrant LGBT*Q community.

Tyson’s aim was to devise, plan, organise, fund and implement an annual Pride and family fun day event in Hertfordshire to promote equality and diversity. The aim of the event, which is open to the public, is to raise awareness of discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race, religion and belief, and in particular to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Tyson’s passion is his firm belief that ‘We’re as diverse as we are individual’.

For those not familiar with the Term LGBT*Q it stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and ‘questioning’.

Hertsfordshire Pride Society who organise the annual Herts Pride and Family Fun Day are a group of friendly, passionate, creative volunteers from the local LGBT*Q community and their straight allies.

August 22nd 2015 will be the Herts Pride’s 3rd annual Pride and family fun day event, supported by many businesses and organisations from across Hertfordshire. This colourful, musical and informative event takes place in Watford’s beautiful Cassiobury Park and is one of the few opportunities in Herts to demonstrate your commitment to, and interest in equality, diversity and community.

Herts Pride attracts over 3,000 people and provides local businesses and providers with a fantastic opportunity to showcase their goods and services.

As a member of L4G I’m very proud to lend my support to Herts Pride, which is helping to make our community stronger and safer for LGBT*Q people, providing them with every reason to thrive.

For further information, visit our website...

Monday, 1 June 2015

Recognition for Members of #TeamWatford

Last week at the #Link4Coffee event in #Watford, +Catherine Baldwin and +Diane Richardson were awarded a L4G Pin in recognition for their what we are doing in the area. In essence, both Catherine and Diane have helped Link4Growth expand into new areas and are excellent hosts of our free community building events. I encourage you to connect with them on here as they are both great, well connected people in the community.

For more information about why they were awarded L4G Pins, visit the L4G forum.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Aylesbury Fisheries ~ the day before dawn...

The plans had been laid many months before, but Saturday 23rd May
2015 the day had finally arrived. +Diane Richardson and I were off to Billingsgate Fish Market with Joe Stokes of +Aylesbury Fisheries to record the story of what happens before most of us get out of bed!

The day started with an early morning alarm clock at 1:15am. A quick cup of Tea and then off to collect Diane and then to the Market for the rendezvous with Joe at 2am. Joe leaves for Billingsgate market at this time each day, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The roads were quiet except for the taxis and clubbers just hitting the street. Central London looked like a busy night in Watford with the local food takeout shops doing a roaring trade. As we approached Billingsgate Joe drove into the Traders car park, Diane and I hit the Visitors car park which was very empty. £2.00 for 2 hours would be enough. We arrived at 2:50am. Visitors are usually allowed to enter the market at 4am, but there didn’t appear to be any real controls around
this. We did obtain permission to take pictures, which was why we were allowed in early and why when accosted by security they knew us by name!

First thoughts when we entered the main trading floor (which was very wet and made my experience with slick new shoes a little precarious) was that it wasn’t as big as I’d or Diane imagined it. I’d say it wasn’t much bigger than the old Watford Market. Forty or so traders with every conceivable harvest from the sea imaginable, porters busy hauling polystyrene boxes on small hand operated forklifts out to the loading areas. There was an overpowering sea smell as you would expect here, not that fishy smell of fish off the ice too long… but of the sea. Not unpleasant but 2 hours was going to prove long enough, I suppose the traders are used to it… One of the traders told us that the Paris and Japanese fish markets are huge in comparison to Billingsgate. One hall in the Japanese market is the same size as the entire Billingsgate market and just only for Tuna! I guess it would take days to get around that Market.

I finally caught up with Joe at about 3:10am only to find out he’d just about done all his buying. Joe has about 8 traders he regularly deals with, phones up the night before to find out what is coming in, places his orders for the local restaurant clients and then whatever he needs for the Market stall. Joe stays at the market till about 4:20am and then heads back to Watford.

Many of the local porters and Tradesman that Joe buys from have been working Billingsgate Market since it was in its old location. It moved to where it is now some 30 years ago. The old market used to be Billingsgate (Wholesale) Fish Market and business was confined to those people in the trade. Today, anyone can go along and buy fish, but buyer beware… Joe has seen people pay more for fish at Billingsgate than he sells it for on his stall at Watford Market.

Nevertheless people flock there looking for a bargain and yes you can buy fish at low cost… but there is a difference in quality. Joe only buys from those that know what he expects… if the fish isn’t the right quality then they won’t offer it to Joe. These relationships have been built over decades as Joe has been in the Fish market for 30+ years himself.

It is fascinating talking to the characters at the market, they all have a story or 10 to tell. Bob who Joe buys smoked products from and oily fish used to be a good boxer… there are a million other stories like this… and you get a sense of stepping into a bit of real London history brought to life at this moment. There is a richness of community and belonging that both Diane and I are privileged to have been able to witness, if only for a short while. I just wonder though with greed and the new ‘make a fast buck’ traders moving onto the Billingsgate scene how long this will continue… I hope that it will survive.

I have never seen so much fish for so long, how Diane remained focussed to take another fishy picture for almost two hours I’ll never know but Diane took a haul of over 200 pictures, some of which are here in this post, but the rest can be viewed here. Before leaving a very
busy Billingsgate Market filling up with the public, we grabbed a quick coffee / Tea (bacon roll for me) in the Cafe which is steeped in the history of the market (pictures adorning the walls). We left the main hall at 4:45am with Diane still snapping away, Joe had left ½ hour earlier, so now it was time to head back and see what happens back at the Watford Market end…

Back at Watford Market, 5:30am and the Fruit and Veg stall (Gary) is well underway too. These people really do work long hours… another story with Gary coming up later!! Around the corner in the New Market, Joe is already busy unloading the fish and placing the first items on display. Making sure that the fish is displayed well and looks its best is vitally important for customers, and at the heart of why Joe has a very successful business. The stall is impeccably clean as you will see from the videos how Joe washes down everything constantly. But none of this happens by itself. With limited display area, Joe needs to maximise on the space available. More like a construction site than a fish stall at the start with boxes and ice… plenty of ice… especially at this time of the year.

Close to 7am… the stall is looking amazing. With bolt on additional shelving added to the side of the stall, Joe is able to extend the unit a further 3 feet and this is used for shellfish and smoked fish items. Joe has already prepared and packed all the restaurant orders… so just the paperwork and invoicing to do (a real challenge with it being wet everywhere) and I think our work is almost done too. I select a whole range of fish for my weekend… Hake, Salmon, Tuna, King Prawns, Smoked Salmon and a bag of samphire should keep me going for the bank holiday weekend. Joe will now stay around until the ladies, Lisa and Sally come in at around 7:30am… when their day begins and Joe’s comes to a close. Joe is back late afternoon to clean up after the day’s trading, take stock and then begin placing orders for the next days trip to Billingsgate, although being a bank holiday weekend… there are a few days off at least.

Running a market stall such as a Fishmonger, Butchers, Fruit and Veg or even flowers is much more work than we can imagine… long hours, early mornings, lots of carrying back and forth, I think this short story might help us to appreciate these trades and what they do just a little more. We wish to thank Joe Stokes for inviting us into a glimpse of his world and we are very much looking forward to bringing more stories like this to the people of South West Herts and beyond.

Here is one of my weekend meals fish courtesy of Aylesbury Fisheries... a cheeky Salmon in Oyster sauce with grilled king prawns, boiled potatoes with oregano and butter.. and a salad with lebanese dressing... very tasty it was too!! ... from Billingsgate to the table!