RBS has confirmed that they’re closing 259 branches, 62 at the Bank of Scotland and 197 at Natwest. Radlett is on the list. The bank is doing a pretty thorough job of informing customers and local people about their plans. There’s a leaflet for each closing branch, with an explanation of why the branch has been chosen for closure and details of alternatives (although, amusingly, the Radlett leaflet suggests the soon-to-be-demolished petrol station as an alternative cash point location!).
Amazon is the beast that ate shopping. In the US, Amazon is responsible for 43% of all online sales and is worth more than all the big bricks-and-mortar retailers put together. About a quarter of the US population pays for Prime membership (more figures). There’s an extraordinary battle going on in the US right now – 238 towns and cities are bidding billions for the right to host Amazon’s ‘second HQ’ (In Seattle, home of the first one, 7.5% of the working-age population works for the firm).
Amazon came to the UK in 1999 – its first major market outside the US – so we’ve had plenty of time to get used to buying all our stuff from the Seattle monster. And, although they don’t publish the numbers, we’re probably just as addicted as the Americans.
Radlett’s in an Amazon sweet spot. We’re close enough to the big warehouses to have access to all of the company’s services – from the basic delivery service to groceries (including Whole Foods, the upmarket food retailer bought by Amazon earlier this year) and the Amazon Prime Now app, so you can order practically anything for delivery within an hour. Step outside your front door during daylight and there’s a reasonable chance you’ll see an Amazon delivery happening. Radlett is the kind of prosperous suburban community that forms the backbone of Amazon’s profitability everywhere. We’re a kind of case study for Amazon’s take-over of UK retail.
So, we wanted to know how Radlett relates to Amazon. The anonymous survey is still live so please take two minutes to complete it if you haven’t already. There are ten questions and a box for you to type what you think of the company. If you complete the survey you get to see the complete results at the end. Fascinating reading.
Here are five insights from the survey results:
We shop with Amazon all the time
Over 85% of respondents shop at least once per month with Amazon. For almost a third of us it’s ‘several times per week’! This is the kind of loyalty that any retailer would kill for.
We spend a lot
64.2% of us spend at least £50 per month with Amazon and nearly a fifth (17%) of respondents say they spend over £200 per month. That’s a lot of money: the average household grocery spend in the UK is £53 per week.
We love Amazon Prime
Nearly three-quarters (71.2%) of respondents pay for Amazon Prime – the service that provides free delivery and access to lots of other services, from free Kindle downloads to music streaming. This is really telling. Radlett has a major Amazon addiction.
We dig one-hour delivery
Prime Now represents the next stage of Amazon dependence. A mobile app that gives you free one-hour delivery on groceries – from Amazon, Morrisons and Whole Foods (plus loads of other products held in the Hemel Hempstead warehouse). 30.2% of respondents use it or have tried it. We’ve certainly used the app in our house and the delivery drivers I’ve spoken to confirm that we’re not untypical in using the app to get emergency booze supplies midway through dinner!
We’re Amazon nuts
Not to put too fine a point on it, respondents to our survey are hopelessly in love with Amazon. 84.9% are either positive or very positive about the company. 28.3% ticked the box labelled ‘Very positive – I’ve become completely dependent’. And only 3.8% of us have any negative feelings at all, ticking the box labelled ‘Quite negative – I’m not comfortable with their market power but will use them occasionally’.
About a week ago, just before the 2017 General Election, we asked you which local issues would motivate you to vote. We did this for the last election too, back in 2015.
So, in order of importance to you, here are the issues that got the Radlett electorate voting, with the 2015 position in italics and the number of votes for each issue (in brackets).
1. The NHS (140) – up from 3rd position
2. Local amenities (134) – up from 8
3. The freight terminal and the green belt (133) – down from number 1
4. Caring for the elderly (130) – up from 11
5. Crime and policing (130) – down from 4
6. Transport and commuting (129) – non-mover
7. Young people (129) – up from 9
8. Development in Radlett (121) – down from 2
9. The Newberries car park development (121) – new entry
10. Housing (120) – up from 12
9. Local business (117) – down from 7
10. Environment (114) – non-mover
11. Or is it really all about Brexit? (112) – new entry
12. Schools (105) – down from 8
The NHS has displaced the freight terminal as your number one concern since 2015, the Newberries car park redevelopment is a new entry at number nine and, although we were really expecting you to tell us that Brexit trumps everything else, it was the second-least important issue in the survey. Does this reflect a national loss of interest in the mechanics of Brexit, now that it’s a done deal? And will the biggest electoral surprise in decades throw the whole Brexit calculation in the air again anyway?
It’s also fascinating that schools have dropped from number eight to last place. The huge cuts coming down the pipe for all state schools are clearly not freaking out the population of Radlett.
And on the national scale, Tory donor (and noted tax avoider) Lord Ashcroft runs a large and detailed survey of UK voters after every major vote. His most recent data is absolutely fascinating. He shows, for instance, that the only age group that voted majority Conservative in last week’s election was the over-55s.
Here’s a timetable for the next few weeks.
Monday 22 May (11.59pm). Deadline for registering to vote. Do it online here. You’ll need your National Insurance number (but there’s also a way to register if you don’t have one) and it takes five minutes. If you haven’t done this yet, or if you haven’t helped the young people in your household to do so, you’re off our Christmas card list for good. Seriously.
Tuesday 23 May (5pm). Deadline for new new postal vote and postal proxy applications and for changes to existing postal or proxy votes. If you or your proxy can’t attend the polling station in person on the day.
Wednesday 31 May (5pm). Deadline for new applications to vote by proxy (not postal proxy or emergency proxies). If you can’t attend the polling station in person on the day you can appoint a proxy. You can apply for an emergency proxy vote up till 5pm on polling day itself.
Thursday 8 June, polling day (7am – 10pm). You know what to do. There are usually four polling stations in Radlett – the United Synagogue and the Radlett Centre, Newberries Primary School and the Phillimore Community Centre, and if you don’t know which one is yours, there’s a handy web site where you can find out.
Local and Parliamentary elections in Radlett are run by a team at Hertsmere Borough Council. They have a useful web site where you can find out about candidates, counts, previous results and so on. On the My Society web site, there’s a very useful, plain English guide to voting in UK elections.
UPDATE: Saturday 6 May.
The County Council results are all in. The details shows a strong swing towards the Conservatives. They’ve gained five seats. Labour has lost six, including their leader on the Council, Leon Reefe. The Liberals gained two. Turnout was 34.1%, substantially up from 28.9% in 2013 (turnout here in Watling Division was also up substantially, from 25.8% to 33%).
UPDATE: 8:40am Friday 5 May.
About a third of Hertfordshire’s County Council electoral divisions will be counting today, but the results so far are clear: a big win for the Conservatives, with an increased majority. The Watford Observer has the live story and the BBC’s results pages will have the national numbers.
Results here in the Watling division also show a big increase in the Conservative share of the vote. Caroline Clapper has taken votes from Labour and from UKIP (who helped out by not standing at all). It’s also likely that an increase in turnout has helped the Tories. An interesting local detail is that the Liberals have almost doubled their 2013 vote.
3,726 votes in total (2013 votes in brackets)
Saif Al-Saadoon, Liberal Democrats 318 votes, 8.5% (176, 6%)
Caroline Clapper, Conservative 2,889 votes, 77.5% (1,874, 63.7%)
Peter Halsey, Labour 344 votes, 9.25% (392, 13.3%)
Jessica Wand, Green Party 175 votes, 4.75% (did not stand)
Wednesday 3 May
Elections. Oh God. Will they never end? Here’s another one to worry about. If you’re resident here and you’ve registered to vote (you have registered to vote, haven’t you?) you’ll be able to vote in the Hertfordshire County Council elections on 4 May – like a kind of warm-up for the big one in June. This is just for the County, though – not District (Hertsmere) or Parish (Aldenham).
If you live in Radlett, your County Councillor is Caroline Clapper (Conservative) and she’s standing for re-election. She represents an electoral district (to avoid confusion, they’re actually called ‘divisions’ at County level) called Watling, which also takes in Aldenham, Letchmore Heath, Elstree and a bit of Borehamwood. Watling Street cuts right through the division, from the Northern end of Radlett to the Southern end of Elstree, where it meets the London Borough of Barnet. 15,000 people live in the Watling division and we’re quite an elderly lot: 54% are over 40 and the largest segment in the age distribution is 50-54 (8.5%). More about the Watling electoral division on the Hertfordshire web site.
Clapper (who is also a Hertsmere Borough Councillor), as well as being a member of the full County Council is also on the Enterprise, Education & Skills cabinet panel and the Overview & Scrutiny Committee.
In Radlett, she recently consulted local people about the redevelopment of Newberries car park via the Radlett Facebook group and the overwhelmingly negative response must have informed her decision to step down from the Hertsmere committee responsible for the planning decision. She’s cannily expressed no personal opinion about the development but she says “I strongly believe that Radlett residents and businesses should have a big say in any major development proposed for our village.”
Clapper won her seat in the 2013 election with a 63.7% share of the vote so she’s unlikely to be packing her desk at County Hall any time soon. The other candidates for this election are: Saif Al-Saadoon for the Liberal Democrats, Peter Halsey for Labour and Jessica Wand for the Greens. Although they came second in 2013, with a 16.5% share, UKIP are not standing this time. Here are the 2013 County Council election results (scroll down for the Watling division results).
There will be a General Election. The House of Commons has voted 522 to 13 to approve the Government’s motion for an early General Election and it will take place on 8 June.
It was a complete surprise – and not just for electors. When I called the office of our MP Oliver Dowden after Theresa May’s Downing Street announcement yesterday, the staffer I spoke to said “when I came to work this morning, I was not expecting a General Election”.
I’m waiting to hear whether Dowden will be seek selection again. I’ve also asked 2015 Labour candidate Richard Butler if he’ll be running and Hertsmere UKIP if they will put forward a candidate. The Greens put up no candidate in 2015 and if I can reach them I’ll ask if they plan to this time.
Hertsmere is, of course, a very safe Conservative seat, so expect no fireworks on June 8th. All the interest will be in the detail. The 2015 result was all about the collapse of the Liberals and the rise of UKIP – almost the whole of the 11.8% swing away from the Liberal Democrats went to UKIP’s Frank Ward and UKIP wound up with more than twice the Liberal vote. Here’s my analysis from May 2015, with detailed results. Turnout was 67.9%.
Brexit, of course, looms large in this vote. Hertsmere voted Leave, by a slightly smaller margin than the country as a whole. Turnout was 76.6%. It’s not possible to break out the Radlett vote for the referendum but our own opinion poll produced a small lead for Remain which, given the profile of the community and its dependence on jobs in the City, doesn’t seem implausible. Read my detailed analysis, putting the Hertsmere vote in the local and national context, here.
We’ll try to post some interesting and helpful stuff here during the run-up to this most interesting election – and will come up with a way to poll Radlett voters too, as we did for the referendum. Do please get in touch if you have any ideas about how we should cover the election from a Radlett perspective. We’re on Twitter (at @RadlettWire) and on Facebook, of course.
It was, let’s face it, a surprise. As late as the close of polling on Thursday bookmakers were still offering 7/1 on Brexit (that’s a 12.5% probability). The opinion polls weren’t too far off for this vote but still gave Remain a small lead.
Our polling district, Hertsmere, voted Leave by a margin of 1.6% (50.8 – 49.2%), putting the district 262nd of the 382 polling districts – meaning that 261 districts, or 68% of the total, had larger majorities for Leave.
The table, which uses data from the BBC web site, puts Hertsmere in the context of its immediate neighbours and confirms what we essentially already know about the vote in England. London, and a handful of other urban districts, voted Remain, while prosperous suburbs, rural areas and struggling towns voted Leave. The three London boroughs to Radlett’s South voted Remain and all of our other neighbours outside London (except St Albans) voted Leave.
For comparison, I’ve included London itself and the constituency with the largest Leave vote – Boston in Lincolnshire – and the one with the largest Remain vote – Lambeth (I’ve excluded the obvious outlier, Gibraltar, where all but 823 people voted to remain).
It’s difficult to know how Radlett itself voted. The referendum poll – unlike general elections – is not broken down by ward and, of course, there’s no such thing as a ‘safe seat’ in a referendum. Every vote counts. Our own opinion poll of local voters gave a small win to Remain.
And incidentally, the Radlett margin predicted by our poll (which closed on the morning of the referendum) was exactly the same as the actual margin achieved by Remain in critical North East district Newcastle upon Tyne – the first mainland seat declared and the one that got Remainers sweating because it came in below the number suggested by the BBC model.
Some local people are clearly in shock – especially those whose jobs depend on the financial sector. Others are celebrating. Were you surprised by the result? Do you think we’ve made a terrible mistake? Or is this, as Nigel Farage puts it, a ‘new dawn’ for Britain? Leave a comment below (anonymously if you like) and we’ll share your reactions here, on Facebook and on Twitter.
Lord Ashcroft’s detailed polling, published the day after the referendum, is essential reading.
Our EU referendum opinion poll closed early this morning. You voted – narrowly – in favour of Remain. Now it’s time for the real thing. During the ten days the poll was live, things moved around a lot, though, and both sides had a majority at one point or another. With a sample of 361, the poll is probably pretty representative.
Turnout in Hertsmere at the last general election, in 2015, was 67.9%. Will the feverish – not to say furious – atmosphere of the campaign and the sheer gravity of the decision we have to make produce a higher turnout? Or will the rain keep voters at home? We’ll know in about twenty hours.
Conservative David Lloyd has been re-elected. Most people don’t know who their Police Commissioner is and surveys have shown that many have no idea what they do. Something’s obviously changed in Hertfordshire, though, because turn-out for the vote more than doubled, from a disastrous 14.5% in 2012 to an almost creditable 29% this year – and that’s in a year with no local authority elections to boost the vote.
None of the candidates secured 50% of the vote in the first round so counting went to a second round, in which Lloyd beat the Labour candidate Kerry Pollard 126,069 votes to 85,854. Chris White, the Liberal candidate, came third, with 38,488 of first round votes. The UKIP candidate, who is a financial adviser to ‘professionals and the comfortably well-off’ in Royston, came dead last.
- Learn more about Police and Crime Commissioners on the Government’s web site.
- There’s a good results page on the BBC News web site.
- The BBC also has a handy guide to what P&CCs actually do.
- David Lloyd’s official Police Commissioner web site.