As you may have read from the pages of the Watford Observer over the last fortnight, the future of the hospitals in our area has been high on the agenda. West Herts Hospital Trust has confirmed that its preferred option is to keep acute services at Watford and invest in improved facilities at this site. It has also ruled out building a new A&E hospital miles away from Watford, which would have resulted in the slow death of Watford General Hospital.

This is good news for our town. As Mayor, I couldn’t be clearer; we need acute services to stay here, in Watford, and we all need to work together to bring about facilities that are fit for the 21st Century. Work has already started on this. We’ve helped provide a new access road, and a much needed new multi-storey hospital car park received the green light last week. This will mean an end to patients, visitors and hospital staff having to use a totally unsuitable car park, which is often overcrowded and perched at the bottom of a hill. Like so many residents, I have experienced first-hand the stress of needing to park at the hospital for an urgent appointment and not being able to find a space. By increasing the capacity of our hospital car park this should be far less common.

None of this would have been able to happen without the support and tough decisions made over a number of years by Watford Borough Council and my predecessor Baroness Dorothy Thornhill. Despite significant criticism, judicial reviews and other barriers, she persevered, helping to build a new access road, Thomas Sawyer Way and crucially giving the hospital the all-important land for the trust to press on with the improvements to Watford General Hospital that are so clearly needed. The Liberal Democrat leadership of Watford Council has been unwavering in our support for the hospital. These announcements – a new, bigger car park and investment in better hospital facilities - are a vindication of that support.

For some, the idea of a new ‘greenfield’ hospital may have been seen as attractive. However, it’s been rejected over and over again by health experts as it is unaffordable and there was never an appropriate site identified for it. Crucially, it would have resulted in the removal of services from Watford to outside of the town, something nobody here in Watford wants. It is no surprise that this has been ruled out once again by the hospital trust.

Now we have this announcement, we all need to work together to make sure that we will at last have first class facilities within easy reach. Our hospital staff work tirelessly every day to provide the best possible service for their patients. It is time we had modern facilities to match their commitment.

Peter Taylor is Elected Mayor of Watford