Letter, February 21, 2013 part one

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 February 2013 | UPDATED: 10:02 21 February 2013

Councillor sorry for causing offence

SIR – Further to my letter to your paper (January 31), I would like to thank the many residents and retailers who have written to me for their letters and emails on the subject of pedestrianisation of the Lower High Street from Station Road to Vaughan Road and apologise if I have given offence to anyone by my comments.

However I would re-iterate, as I and Hertfordshire County Council have been heavily criticised for not having a public mandate to even consider the scheme, that the consideration of a trial scheme was subject to public consultation and approval via the Harpenden Urban Transport Plan in 2009/10.

I have spoken with residents and retailers and explained that if this scheme is not wanted it will not be foisted upon them. The letters and emails received by me and the county council will be submitted as part of the evidence gathering process and even Stuart Pile, cabinet member for highways and transport, has said: “I would like to reassure residents and traders that there are no firm plans to make any changes to Harpenden High Street at this time. We are currently gathering evidence to see if there is a need for a scheme and whether there would be a benefit in pedestrianising the area on a trial basis. Our evidence gathering includes listening to resident and retailer feedback, which we and the local member, have been doing.”

I am pressing officers to finalise their decision making over the next few months, which will include a meeting with retailers to discuss their findings.

As the improvement and continued vitality of the town is at the forefront of all I do, I want to use residents’ and retailers’ valuable comments and the energy exhibited on this subject to inform future work on the highway, safety and parking in the town centre.

Comments can be made to Hertfordshire County Council by emailing hertsdirect@hertfordshire.gov.uk or myself teresa.heritage@hertfordshire.gov.uk or writing to Herts County Council, County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DQ

TERESA HERITAGE

County Councillor for Harpenden South West Division

Sibley Avenue, Harpenden

Clarence Park must remain unspoiled

SIR – I refer to your excellent editorial ‘Neighbours’ fears over park redevelopment’ (February 7).

As a lifelong resident of St Albans passionate about the things that are good about our city and equally scathing about those that are not, I was horrified to read of the possibility of commercial redevelopment (subject to an update of the trust deed) of what is an historical, iconic park that is not only stunningly beautiful but which also represents one the last vestiges of peaceful, open-landscaped space within St Albans.

I do not think this is so much a neighbour issue, although I do understand neighbours’ concerns. Rather, this has to be a city issue of massive concern to all those who do not wish to see further chunks of our historical vista clouded by the cancer of so-called commercial “progress”.

Clarence Park took 119 years to look so beautiful and it remains a distinct possibility if changes are made to the recreation ground trust, that it could go the way of so many parks in London – cheap alterations and tinkering leading to the emergence of numerous bouncy castles, multiple ice cream vans, skateboarding ramps, concrete graffiti walls, cheap restaurants and, heaven knows if they get their way, £1 shops!

You never know, they may even be secretly wanting to build a multiplex cinema and a strip mall containing another cheap budget hotel! I jest. And do not be fooled either by the platitudes of the council saying that Clarence Park is safe in their hands. Councils of all persuasions are known for their duplicity and showing complete disregard for local residents’ concerns.

Just look at the 1980s one-way fiasco, the planned incinerator and the decade-long Tesco battle of London Road to see how capable they are of changing their tune according to which way the financial wind is blowing.

No, the future of Clarence Park is far from a residents’ issue but one that should be of major concern to everyone who treasures what is so right about this area of St Albans – a pristine park, a beautiful crescent of Victorian and Edwardian villas overlooking it, beautifully landscaped parkland unblighted by commercial carbuncles and with the balance of open fields and sporting facilities just about right.

In my book, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!

If Jonathan Meades, one of our nation’s great architectural and historical experts, a man described wittily as an “indefatigable deipnosophist and a polyhistor” were to learn of the possible changes that may happen if this trust deed is altered, something which may inevitably lead to Clarence Park’s demise, I am sure he would be up in arms and be as equally acerbic in his condemnation as those who are now planning their fightback against such changes.

Lord above, St Albans is losing enough of what once made it wonderfully exclusive. We do not need further commercial exploitation (or the prospect of redevelopment changing the panoramic vista Clarence provides) of our premier parkland. This would in a heartbeat spoil over a century of use enjoyed by the people of this fine city. Next, they’ll be whacking in a Burger King next to the Museum in Verulamium. Sir John Blundell Maple must be turning in his casket. I thank you!

BARRY CASHIN

Green Lane, St Albans

SIR – The comments of Cllr Chichester-Miles, quoted in your article ‘Football club bosses and council under fire for Clarence Park plans’ (February 14) are transparent. They reveal clearly the real reasons why he and his fellow Harpenden councillor, Julian Daly, are such keen supporters of changing the trust deed which protects Clarence Park for St Albans.

Cllr Chichester-Miles says “there is a need to update the deed”. At the meeting upon which you reported, residents asked repeatedly what this “need” was. None of Cllr Miles, Cllr Daly, or the council solicitor present could tell us.

Cllr Chichester-Miles suggests that because the trust deed was written in 1894, it is not “fit for purpose in 2013 and beyond”. He says he wants “to protect the park... for future generations... and regularise current arrangements”.

Your readers should note that the “updates” to the trust deed these councillors are proposing include:

– extending the trust’s purposes to include “commercial activities”;

– giving the trustees (presently the council) the power to “enter into management agreements, special purpose vehicles and joint ventures with third parties”; and

– giving the trustees the power to close the park as they wish (presently, they cannot do so for more than 156 days in any year) and to “permit lettings to utilities generally”.

The football club’s owners support these changes – they want to develop a bigger ground at Clarence Park. No doubt, mobile phone companies wanting to erect telecomms masts and multi-national food and drinks companies would support them too. Cllrs Chichester-Miles and Daly seem intent upon advancing these private interests ahead of those of the residents of St Albans.

Clarence Park was given in trust to all the people of St Albans. The park is for the public benefit, not for private profit and development. The trust deed protects the park for us all. It does not, contrary to what Cllr Chichester-Miles says, “need” to be updated.

NEIL JAMES

York Road, St Albans

Good news about leisure centre

SIR – As leader of campaign group PoolTooSmall on www.pooltoosmall.com and as a user of the Westminster Lodge site for 40 years let me say straight away that there is plenty of good news at the £25 million flagship leisure centre at Verulamium Park.

Yes, there have been teething troubles and there are still some operational wrinkles to iron out but the outlook overall is exciting and positive for all of us.

Here’s why. Even before you go in to the impressive entrance and foyer, you have good news about car parking at the New Lodge. Last Wednesday night councillors voted to retain the free first three hours car parking for all Lodge users – that’s a pound that now stays in your pocket!

Step inside and you have a world of activity choice and space galore. The New Lodge was expensive to provide but it is clean, bright and spacious with something for all ages and inclinations. Much as we loved the Old Lodge, this is on a new level entirely.

For the boy and girl racers there’s the 200-place gym and spinning studio, the spectacular climbing wall and vast sports hall to test you to the limit if you want.

But for mum and dad with little ones the warm, well-equipped creche and play area is my bargain of the century at just £2 per child per hour!

For us folk over the age of 60 another bargain is swimming in either the learner or main pools for just £99.99 per annum and seven days a week.

But for me the jewel in the crown at the New Lodge is the 175-place, 10-lane main pool which we successfully campaigned for and which is the biggest 25 metre pool in Hertfordshire. It can accommodate several groups at once and can host regional swimming competitions. Seeing is believing as you swim up or down and on the left, the best view from a public swimming pool I have seen anywhere in the world in the last 60 years. It is of course the view of our magnificent Cathedral dedicated to our Saint Alban – it’s my pool with a view!

So there is my good news report but please, if you have not done so already, give it a go soon. Say hello to managers Alison Norman, Steve Cox ,TJ and the SLM operating team, and if you have a spare hour or three, say hello to the lane swimmers of PoolTooSmall – we are there seven days a week using our great facility for the next 40-50 years .

And finally if you don’t actually swim in the best pool with a view on the planet, you will get just as good views from the main pool gallery under the six magnificent 14 ton Glulam beams or from the gym. Well provided and on schedule by the main construction contractor Willmott Dixon. I rest my case.

DAVID GILROY

PoolToolSmall

Defending against ‘duplicity’ claim

SIR – Whilst I appreciate that this strand of correspondence has had a good run already, may I defend myself, and the organisation that I represent, against an accusation of duplicity made by your “motoring” correspondent Barry Cashin (February 7)?

It is in the nature of Advanced Drivers that we constantly seek to improve our driving standards, and consequently we do not believe ourselves to be ‘better drivers’ than anyone else – the comparison is irrelevant. We simply need to be good enough to identify hazards and handle them safely.

Being committed to self-improvement perhaps makes us more thoughtful about creating the time and space to deal with other road users. To be clear, intentionally or accidentally impeding queues of traffic is reprehensible, and I would encourage everyone to drive at the legal limit where it’s safe to do so (safety being assured by being able to stop on your own side of the road within the distance you can see to be clear – see we’ve actually thought this stuff through!)

Whilst Mr Cashin is by his own account an Advanced Driver of 25 years standing (albeit with three collisions and a speeding ticket) he may have forgotten some of what he learned in order to pass his Advanced Test. Among the 27 specific points upon which aspiring IAM Members are marked (by police examiners) are Safety, Restraint and Courtesy. A fourth point – Making progress – seems to have come to dominate Mr Cashin’s thinking. As an Advanced Driver, he is entitled to complimentary refresher drives to help put back what the years have clearly removed.

Again, I invite your correspondents, and any driver committed to self-improvement, to register interest in a NW London & Chilterns Advanced Drivers “Enjoy Your Driving” event. It’s free, it’s local, it’s run by trained volunteers and we’ll make sure it’s the most fun you’ve had behind your wheel. Email us at eyd@nwlciam.org or visit us at nwlondonchilternsiam.org.uk.

On a lighter note, many of the locally based candidates I have prepared for the Advanced Test over the past seven years will be familiar with advice that, for the majority of us there are two types of other driver; idiots and maniacs. Idiots hold you up, and maniacs want to pass you. It’s how you respond that counts, and that’s what Advanced Driving teaches.

HOWARD BARLOW

Chief Advisor

NW London & Chilterns Group of Advanced Motorists

Hospital car park charges shame

SIR – Like many, I was appalled at the decision of West Herts NHS Trust to charge those who are disabled for parking in St Albans Hospital as well as Watford and Hemel Hempstead hospitals.

I am a disabled person who holds a blue badge but I am speaking for the many who are much worse than I, those in wheelchairs who need disabled parking to carry on with their near-normal lives and hospital appointments are very much part of their everyday lives whatever their age.

I am not too sure whether St Albans Council have had any say in this unkind and inhuman decision and I know that the Chairman of the St Albans Association for the disabled was not consulted at all. She was totally unaware of the decision announced.

For my part, when I have to visit St Albans Hospital my husband will have to drop me there and come back when I have finished. For the future I will not be given the opportunity of having him with me for any assistance I might need.

My brother who is also disabled and uses an electric wheelchair to live a near-normal life, is a voluntary driver for the West Herts NHS Trust – when he takes patients for appointments at any of the hospitals mentioned above, will he as a voluntary driver have to pay these charges? No, as each patient is asked for an amount, dependent upon the mileage. I assume this money is paid to the West Herts NHS Trust!

I am Chairman of Macmillan Cancer Support St Albans & District Voluntary Committee and am most concerned about patients who have been diagnosed and living with cancer and who need urgent and regular hospital treatment/appointments. For some time Macmillan has tried to get reductions in hospital car parking charges for cancer sufferers throughout the United Kingdom with little success.

AVRIL FOSTER

Chiltern Road, St Albans

SIR – The dismay I share with many others at the proposal to charge Blue Badge holders for hospital parking is not mainly about the expense, prohibitive though it is. It is because of the extra walking involved to and from the ticket dispenser.

My experience at Watford General Hospital is that the disabled car park is always full and I had to park downhill in the depths of the general car park, toil uphill into the hospital and then tackle the long corridors and lift journeys. One wonders whether actively fit people can understand how painful every extra step can be and I would ask them to think about this aspect.

OLIVE POSNA

Meadowcroft, St Albans

Response to slights against our MPs

SIR – I feel that Anne Main MP and Peter Lilley MP deserve some defence from the accusations levelled against them over their same-sex marriage votes, as reported in the Herts Advertiser of February 7.

The way in which Mrs Main has handled this issue has, throughout, been thoughtful and respectful of all views; I can vouch for that from my own correspondence with her on the matter. So no-one of any persuasion need feel slighted or ignored.

She revealed that nearly 900 contacts from people and groups were against changing the legal definition of marriage, and 65 for it. That is a proportion of almost 14 to 1 against. That she and Peter Lilley should be accused of being out of touch with “real people” for being part of this large majority is worse than silly, and cannot come from a fair and balanced attitude. That someone is out of touch need not be doubted, but it is not Mrs Main or Mr Lilley.

Frequently, promoters of this change have thrown the insulting charge of bigotry at people of the opposite persuasion to belittle and silence their arguments. But bigotry, properly defined, is less to do with what one believes than with the way one argues for those beliefs. In this respect it is not Anne Main or Peter Lilley who are bigots.

Another confusion emerging from the comments against our two MPs is that between equality and sameness. Two people or groups do not have to be the ‘same’ to be ‘equal’. The move to call same-sex legal partnership ‘marriage’ is an attempt at declaring sameness.

Equality in all genuinely defensible matters between heterosexual and homosexual legal partnerships has already been established under Civil Partnership law; if there is disagreement about that then let the relevant issues be addressed.

But don’t confuse the two partnerships, because despite much commonality they are not the same. One might as well legislate to henceforth call all cats “dogs” because of their many similarities, so that they are “equal”. Repositioning the “equality” argument into a less emotive context allows its fundamental absurdity to be more easily seen.

So instead of insulting our MPs, let us appreciate that we are represented by thoughtful and respectful people who not only stand above the kind of moral failure that we so often hear about in other politicians, but who in their voting have the moral fibre to defy the dictates of their political bosses in their representation of their constituents.

I LARIVIERE

Park Street Lane, Park Street

Negative side to the ‘beautiful game’

SIR – The response to Mr Carey’s letter regarding his views on the Harpenden Colts expansion sums up the blind and arrogant “we can do no wrong” attitude of those involved in football and its supporters.

In what other sports can you get away with swearing and spitting at match officials who I presume much like the coaches talked about are volunteers just doing a job so the game can go ahead?

Mr Carey already went over the many other negative aspects of the so-called “beautiful” game which in my view sets an abhorrent social and moral guidance to youngsters who are easily influenced by what they see from the supposed professionals of the Premiership and lower down thus leading to the same sort of behaviour during youth games as has been reported many times via various media outlets over the years.

Maybe if footballers didn’t roll out of nightclubs or decide to use their highly expensive and often high-powered vehicles like Grand Prix cars on a Formula 1 track then the press would not need to “report the negatives”.

Sports like cricket and rugby are there to be enjoyed but played with respect and in a sporting manner.

I personally would rather see the council spending taxpayers’ money towards these socially acceptable sports or the many minority sports that hardly get any coverage or money because as the successful Olympics proved we do have winners and children can gain real sporting heroes who are good role models.

JIM FERGUSON

Pondwick Road, Harpenden

Hidden taxation from Tory council

SIR – It seems that we have a new spin on the “freezing” of our council tax and the “savings” the Tory council are making in its administration.

These terms are now used to cover what is in effect further taxation through the introduction of planning applications and museum entrance fees.

Their only saving appears to be a reduction in the Mayor’s official car budget, which I doubt amounts to very much.

Perhaps the Tories need to go back to school and refresh their knowledge of the English language.

The council recently conducted a survey amongst the good citizens of St Albans regarding its handling of the affairs of the district. As I have not heard of anyone being approached on this subject I can only assume that that survey was conducted amongst its own supporters since the majority seemed to be satisfied with the current state of affairs.

It is again doubtful if the same outcome would prevail when the ratepayers realise that they are being subjected to more “taxation”.

The Liberal Democrats’ success with their budget amendments at the council meeting held on January 30 means that many more residents and local businesses will now be helped in 2013/14.

The Conservatives were defeated again because of the combined support of the opposition who ensured all the Lib Dem amendments were accepted as part of the new budget.

Council housing tenants’ rent will only now go up by the rate of inflation 3.1 per cent (RPI) instead of the 5.2 per cent proposed by the Conservatives.

GORDON BURROW

Harpenden

Thanks for your generosity

SIR – Might I, through your columns, thank everyone who has contributed so generously to recent charity collections organised by St Albans Symphony Orchestra?

Our capacity audience contributed £1,348 at our New Year Concert in St Albans Abbey. This has been divided equally between Home-Start, the family support charity, and Ocumel, which helps people diagnosed with the rare eye cancer, ocular melanoma.

Last week, we were delighted to welcome Paul Elvidge, Chair of St Albans and District Home-Start to a rehearsal (picture attached) when he thanked the orchestra for the donation, which will directly benefit local families with young children who have come under stress.

In addition, SASO’s brass players raised £436 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society before Christmas playing carols for shoppers in the city centre. Our special thanks for permission to play go the manager at Christopher Place and to the manager of Costa Coffee for use of the Maltings Centre bandstand.

DAVID UTTING

St Albans Symphony Orchestra

Clarification on cycling rules

SIR – Retail rules do not require bikes to be sold with lights. Bikes do have to be sold with reflectors and a bell. Road regulations require front and rear lights after dark, but do not require a bell.

The cycling proficiency test has been replaced by Bikability, a more modern version, this is taught in many schools and is available for children and adults outside school – some Bikability courses are provided quite cheaply by the council. Many cycle campaigning groups are looking to have Bikability included in the National Curriculum. If anyone is looking for more info on bike training in St Albans the St Albans cycling campaign can help, contact them via WWW.STACC.org.uk.

Cycling on pavements is not permitted unless they are shared between cyclists and pedestrians. There are a few of these in the local area.

Sadly many parents recommend cycling on the pavement because the roads are seen as dangerous. If we had a decent network of continuous cycle lanes (like the cycling campaign has been asking for for the past decade) riding bikes on pavements would be much reduced and the road situation would be better for people on four wheels, two wheels and two feet.

MIKE HARTLEY

Pondfield Crescent, St Albans

An ode to Cashin

SIR – Barry Cashin

Has a passion:

See his name in print.

A weekly ration

Of people bashin’

Gives his eyes a glint.

Yours, in hopes of this bringing a rest from one man’s attempt to enter the record books.

IRENE JACOBSON

Upton Avenue, St Albans

We simply have too many people!

SIR – We frequently see letters upset about plans to build new houses and others saying how much we need new homes. I find myself agreeing with both points of view. Why does no-one ever mention the underlying cause – a rapidly rising population?

The present rate of population growth is unsustainable, yet no-one talks about it.

Some people get angry at the very mention of it. Some people assume that anyone who even mentions the subject has extremist views.

Other governments, e.g. Australia, have population policies, but ours does not. If we want to slow the rate of growth it needs people to talk about it and then, perhaps, our politicians will cease to think it is too hot to handle and might even devise sane and moderate policies to improve the situation.

It is up to us – just to start talking, change attitudes and demonstrate that it is possible to talk about the issue in a moderate way.

HELEN HARAN

Marshalswick Lane, St Albans

Confusion over charging crooks

SIR – Twice now I have put my views about charging criminals as simply as I can on your pages and twice now Ms Dumpleton has failed to grasp them.

So confused is she that in the same letter she accuses me of being too partisan against criminals AND too liberal. I don’t think I need to repeat myself as I’ve already bored the socks off most readers on this subject. I do hope Ms Dumpleton doesn’t have to deal with anything too complex while “doing her bit” at the magistrates court.

While we’re on the subject of criminality, I do wish I was legally allowed to divulge which of your contributors posing as upstanding citizens were, in fact nothing of the kind. Hypocrisy should be shown for what it is. When we no longer have to protect the rights of the guilty we will have justice.

MS K THORNTON

St Leonards Court, Sandridge

Gaza debate continues

SIR – Thank you Ms Tredinnick, for seeking to “remind” me about Israel’s behaviour towards the people of Gaza and to its own Palestinian citizens (‘Other side of the coin’, Herts Advertiser, January 31).

However, your understanding of the history and situation seems weak, or is it selective? I suggest reading An Israeli in Palestine. Resisting Dispossession, redeeming Israel by Jeff Halper, Pluto Press, London, 2008.

Then perhaps we may be spared the repetition of the usual, tired, sad and incorrect excuses by which Israel seeks to justify its actions.

Gaza was not Israel’s to “handover” in 2005: Israel had occupied it after the Six Day War in 1967, allowing settlements to be built, illegal in international law. The infrastructure was destroyed by Israel before departing (see BBC News Channel, September 12, 2005), not Palestinians as you state.

Israel withdrew in order to enable de-facto occupation by a blockade using military force without having to worry about settlers, witness the attack by Israel in 2009 which killed some 1,500 Palestinian people.

Do not forget that all traffic in and out of Gaza is still harshly controlled by Israel, e.g. concrete cannot be imported, thus preventing rebuilding of schools, hospitals and homes in Gaza’s devastated economy.

Israel is a democracy, yes, but how can Ms Tredinnick then explain and justify that, since 1967, about 18,000 Palestinian families, citizens of Israel, who have lived in houses for generations have received notification that they are occupying “illegal” houses.

These are then demolished by the state, with 15 minutes warning before the bulldozers move in, and the owners are then charged for it?

What of the destruction of Bedouin villages, theft of Palestinian land and water and razing of olive groves by Israel? Are these justified for Israeli security? There are myriad daily humiliating and brutal indignities – even to the continuous, casual killing of civilians by army and settlers on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Israel needs to protect itself: yes and has the right to do so. But it has massive military force (not to mention nuclear weapons), supported by the USA which will never make or accept any criticism of Israel, let alone allow an attack on it. Israel faces no existential threat. The power it has is used quite disproportionately against the Palestinian populations of the occupied territories and Gaza.

I would defend Israel vigorously against aggression once it disengages from the occupied Palestinian territory, stops the blockade of Gaza and engages in meaningful negotiations to establish a viable political future for Palestinians. However, it is clear that Israel is engaged in a process of taking over what it claims is the area which was its 2,000 years ago! That is the long-term aim, and the Palestinians are in its way.

Try to put yourself in the Palestinian position. Would you or your society not react “often violently” Just as Israelis have the right to defend themselves, so do Palestinians, particularly given the severity and duration of the Israeli occupation and blockade. However, their capacity to do so is extremely limited. Any attack, however feeble, is terrible for Israelis who experience it, but the threat is grossly exaggerated by Israeli, and response is always massively disproportionate.

Israel enjoys special privileges, for example in relation to the EU and UK and should be required to accept the UN resolutions to end its occupation and blockade and act in a civilised way if it is to retain such a position.

How can supporters of Israel ignore such massive injustice and inhumanity? I hope that you, Ms Tredinnick, and they will understand the true situation and find their humanity.

Thank you again for opening up the debate.

D LAWLOR

Burywick, Harpenden

Offering a simple solution...

SIR – Concerns have been raised that some cars may still be turning right from Station Road into Lower High Street. Could not double white lines be painted in Station Road from the pedestrian crossing outside the HSBC Bank to the main road with a large white arrow on the road indicating forward travel?

JIM HOBLEY

Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden

...to some people’s stupidity?

SIR – Further to the letter of David Whitbread concerning the pedestrianisation of the Lower High Street I have indeed seen a driver attempting to turn right from Station Road into Lower High Street. This happened within the last month to the amazement of myself and other onlookers.

I do not know if the driver was local or not but such was her need for an urgent dose of retail therapy that, unable to complete the manouvre in one move, she had to drive back and forth until she achieved her goal.

This is very rare but because of the great inconvenience it caused should not be possible.

DEREK MORRIS

Haddon Court, Harpenden

Parking spaces recalculated

SIR –- In trying to show his mathematical prowess by claiming that 150 new jobs with 130 new parking spaces means 20 less (sic) parking spaces Kevin Hull’s letter simply shows the lack of depth to his own thinking.

The article on the proposed expansion to the Colney Fields shopping park says that the 150 new jobs will be full and part time, and suggests that they will primarily be filled by local people.

The opening hours of the retail park mean that not all 150 new workers will be at work at the same time.

Also it is likely that at least some of them will either walk of use public transport to get to work.

Considering this it is entirely plausible that there will in fact be more parking spaces rather than fewer.

MAXWELL SMALLMAN

Meautys, St Albans

Time running out for rail freight petition

SIR – Could I please remind everyone who hasn’t signed the petition to Hertfordshire County Council objecting to the proposed rail freight depot, that your support is critically important.

At the time of writing this letter, the petition has achieved 7,650 signatures, but in order to guarantee a proper discussion in the county council the campaign needs to have 10,000 names.

If this number is not achieved within the very near future, then the danger is that this proposal will be steamrollered through “on the nod”.

However, if the 10,000 names are obtained, then the proposal will have to be discussed in a full county council meeting, with proper representation by interested parties.

Could I just remind anyone who hasn’t been following this issue what this rail freight depot would mean if it goes through. Helioslough are a large company who are planning to build five huge industrial buildings on land next to the A414 just south of St Albans. The largest of these buildings will have a footprint eight times the size of the Cathedral.

If this goes ahead then there could be up to 3,000 lorry movements a day onto the roads in and around St Albans, adding to the congestion on the roads and creating additional noise and pollution. These lorries will be operating for 24 hours a day.

There would also be additional freight trains running on the line in and out of London which will service this depot.

Hertfordshire County Council are the landowners for most of this site. They have the final say on whether they sell this land to Helioslough for development.

If you agree that this needs to be discussed properly by the county council, could you please sign the petition now. If you go onto the STRIFE St Albans website and click on ‘What can you do to help’ then a link will come up for the petition.

If you click on that then you can enter your name on the list.

In a few years time when heavy lorries are rumbling around the roads and there are additional delays on the train line, it will be too late to grumble about it.

If you are concerned about these issues and the loss of the Green Belt and damage to the local environment from this scheme then could I urge you please to act without delay and sign this petition. It really is very urgent.

ERNEST BARNES

St Vincent Drive, St Albans

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Yesterday, 14:38

A group of families have taken part in this year’s Children in Need appeal to help highlight the work of Rennie Grove Hospice Care.

Yesterday, 14:14

Being ill sucks. No matter what’s got you down – the flu, a broken bone, diabetes, cancer – it’s a horrible place to be. Your body is weaker and less capable. The drugs you take mess with your mind and your moods and sometimes can make you feel even worse than when you started. Mental ill-health is no different. The brain is an organ, and like any organ, it doesn’t always function to the medical standard of “normal”. Mine certainly doesn’t.

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