Letters, February 7, 2013

PUBLISHED: 09:46 07 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:47 07 February 2013

Pavement cycling debate continues

SIR – Dr Tony Hall rightly points out that cycling on pavements which are not shared use for pedestrians and cyclists is illegal – to be accurate this is under Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888.

Dr Hall recounts a series of other deaths caused by cycling on the pavement. Any death or injury is terrible but cyclists cause very few deaths and few injuries. Government figures show that on average fewer than two people are killed per year (none in 2009) and fewer than 65 are seriously injured.

To put this in context, pedestrians are more than 200 times more likely to be killed by motor vehicles when they are walking on the pavement.

These statistics are here for balance, they in no way justify riding on the pavement if it’s busy with pedstrians, but the statistics show that the risks of cycling on the pavement are often exaggerated.

People often ride bikes on the pavement because they are scared of traffic. St Albans Road between the King William crossroads and Sandridge High Street can be a fairly challenging road to ride on a bike – it’s often busy, it’s narrow and fairly badly lit. St Albans Road is the main route between Sandridge and St Albans – alternate routes via House Lane/Jersey Lane/The Ridgeway are more than twice as far and there seems to be no effort from Herts Highways or the council to provide any sort of safe and direct cycling route from Sandridge into the city centre.

Prosecution of people who ride on the pavement has long been aimed aimed at irresponsible people.

Former Home Office minister Paul Boateng issued a letter in 1999: “The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so.

“Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”

Almost identical advice has since been issued by John Crozier of the Home Office in 1994 with regards the use of fixed penalty notices by CSOs and wardens:

“The Government have included provision in the Anti Social Behaviour Bill to enable CSOs and accredited persons to stop those cycling irresponsibly on the pavement in order to issue a fixed penalty notice. I should stress that the issue is about inconsiderate cycling on the pavements. The new provisions are not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other road users when doing so. Chief officers recognise that the fixed penalty needs to be used with a considerable degree of discretion and it cannot be issued to anyone under the age of 16.”

I hope Mr Anson recovers quickly and that the miscreant feels guilty about the hurt they have incurred by carelessly cycling on the pavement – they are very lucky to avoid a fine.

MIKE HARTLEY

Pondfield Crescent, St Albans

SIR – I wholeheartedly support the sentiment expressed by Dr Tony Hall with regards to the cycling on the pavement. I strongly feel that something must be done to stop the cyclists using the pavement which should be for the pedestrians only. You very kindly published my letter on this very subject about four years ago.

About 30 years ago my son, then aged 12, was cycling on the pavement to his school. He was stopped by a policeman and cautioned. He never did it again. Now it seems the footpath is used by the cyclists both adults and young with impunity, the result is the severe injury sustained by Mr Anson, an elderly pensioner.

It is also annoying that the cyclists use the lakeside footpath of the Verulamium Park where young mothers with pushchairs and elderly persons with walking sticks have to give way to them.

I wrote to my local councillor about this two years ago, asking him to discuss it as a matter of urgency in a council meeting and perhaps have a discussion involving the police, the public, local politicians and the Cyclists Association. I never got a reply.

I am almost certain that if a policeman or a traffic/park warden (who are quick to put a penalty ticket on your car parked on the grass verge on Sunday afternoon) cautions someone who is cycling on the pavement he/she will perhaps never do it as I feel many of the cyclists are not aware that it is an offence to cycle on the pavements.

MA WAJED

Sandridge Road, St Albans

SIR – As a lifelong cyclist I am obliged to respond to the letter from Dr Tony Hall.

There can be no justification for the behaviour of the cyclists quoted in his letter, it is totally inexcusable and deserves censure, but although cyclists have legitimate right to use the carriageway, hazardous situations often occur which are perceived as intolerable to many, who may elect to access the sidewalk where there is no other recourse.

This does not make the practice legal, no more than traffic failing to observe speed limits and it goes without saying that pedestrians have precedence on footpaths in any such event.

Regular cyclists are acutely aware of hazards among traffic on our busy roads and recognise the reluctance (not to say fear) of many inexperienced cyclists to share the carriageway with speeding traffic, which may prompt them to seek relief. Training and experience can make a difference but statistics belie any cause for satisfaction.

Although the objection from pedestrians is understood, and the attitude which led to the regrettable incidents is condemned, it is necessary to assert that some consideration of the needs of less experienced cyclists is due.

A relevant reference is to the Herts County Council draft Active Travel strategy, which, in seeking to aid the council in dealing with mass obesity (in collaboration with NICE), and in reducing the threat of economic stagnation due to congestion, proposes to encourage a significant increase in “sustainable” cycling for short journeys – up by 300 per cent from current levels, in lieu of car use.

“Interventions” are postulated to encourage a willing transfer of allegiance from cars to bikes, not least with regard to safety aspects – though there seems little enough to encourage such a significant swing. It remains an issue worthy of further community debate, how to accommodate the desire, if not demand, for cycling to be integrated as a viable, safe mode of sustainable transport (there is much more evidence of pedestrians and cyclists co-existing agreeably than is perhaps generally accepted).

May I also refer to correspondence in my possession with officers appointed by the Chief Constable of Hertfordshire in 2010, following a similar outburst.

In quoting the then-Home Secretary’s guidance at the time of the introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices (for among other things, illegal riding on pavements), that their purpose “was not to penalise cyclists who did so in fear of their own safety... providing that they were considerate to other users”, the Constabulary’s response was a statement that “it is not... my officers’ intention to prosecute cyclists riding responsibly (but)... to deal with those riding irresponsibly and dangerously on pavements... a cyclist riding (on pavements) with due consideration to pedestrians... would not fall within that remit”.

This is valuable assurance to the majority of considerate cyclists who may wish to act so to for self-preservation, given of course their responsible behaviour.

DOUG NEVELL

Barnfield Road, Harpenden

SIR – Tony Hall pointed out that cycling on the pavement is illegal. Whilst this is correct, most of us would find it acceptable for young children to cycle on the pavement rather than on a busy road.

Cycling on the road may appear dangerous but a recent study by University College London has shown that an hour spent cycling has roughly the same risk of a fatality as an hour spent walking or an hour spent driving. Of course we want the roads to be made safer for cycling and for this reason cycling groups want a 20mph speed limit on residential and shopping streets and more traffic free cycle routes in St Albans

As well as being illegal, cycling on the pavement is in practice no safer for the cyclist than cycling on the road. Most injuries to cyclists happen at junctions and the pavement cyclist has to contend with more junctions than the cyclist on the road. Occasionally, adult and teenage cyclists may decide that it is safe, safer and much more convenient to use a stretch of pavement to cycle along. If they do so, they should cycle with consideration for, and give way to, any pedestrians. Even on shared footways (i.e. a shared pavement parallel to the road or carriageway) cyclists should still give priority to pedestrians.

Dr Hall referred to a pedestrian who was killed by a cyclist riding on the pavement. This is appalling but fortunately very rare. The main danger to pedestrians on the pavement is from motor vehicles. In a typical year in Great Britain about 3,500 pedestrians are injured by motor vehicles whilst on the pavement. About 75 pedestrians a year are injured by pedal cycles whilst on the pavement.

Every year thousands of our nine, 10 and 11-year-old schoolchildren in Hertfordshire are trained to cycle safely on quiet roads and junctions under the national Bikeability scheme. Many would like, and are ready for, further training to ride on busier roads and this can be arranged through the county council. (I declare an interest here as one of the team of cycling instructors in Hertfordshire).

I would love to see, and will campaign for, more traffic-free routes where young, novice or just plain timid cyclists can get places, enjoy themselves and gain confidence. In the meantime the best route to safety for all of us is well-trained and considerate cyclists and vehicle drivers. Motor vehicles should be going at speeds where collisions are unlikely and, if they do occur, do not result in serious injuries.

JOHN METCALF

Chair, St Albans Cycle Campaign

Cunningham Hill Road, St Albans

Extolling the merits of football

SIR – Having read the letter from James Carey (January 24) on these pages, I was astounded by his comments regarding youth football in the district, is he living in some kind of private bubble?

There are a number of good, well-run community clubs within the district that provide organised sport for boys and girls, these range from not only football but rugby, hockey and cricket to name but a few. These clubs are run by many hundreds of volunteers who give up their time for free in providing safe, organised activities for young people. Would he rather have youngsters roaming the streets as in days gone by?

Mr Carey should be praising the volunteers at Harpenden Colts for their vision in providing sporting facilities that will be of great benefit to the community for the years ahead.

Mr Carey writes “let’s face it, soccer is an activity that is and will always be associated with negative cultural attitudes and values”. All I will say on this point is that the only negatives on this matter are in his letter.

People should support Harpenden Colts in their vision to help young people in Harpenden and not listen to outdated and Victorian views such as those put forward by Mr Carey.

MERVYN MORGAN

Trustee, St Albans City Youth Community FC

SIR – As CEO of the Hertfordshire FA I have sadly become all too familiar with the sort of vitriol provided by Mr Carey. However, as a resident of Harpenden I have become increasingly despondent as week after week negative letters regarding Harpenden Colts FC and its plans are published, some with ridiculous inaccuracies. Having read last week’s letters I felt forced to respond.

Over 50,000 people are involved in grassroots football each week in Hertfordshire. Mr Carey seems content to wave a broad brush of criticism over all of them.

Thousands of these are hard-working volunteers giving their time and effort to provide opportunities for people aged six to 66 to participate in an activity that will improve their health, instil valuable life skills and of course allow them to have fun.

In Mr Carey’s world are we to think that the many people that can be seen cycling through the town every weekend are all doping cheats because of the negative stories associated with top level cycling in recent years? Of course not, and neither should grassroots football be confused with the professional game.

Let me be clear there are many reasons why New Farm would benefit both Harpenden Colts FC and the town.

The suggestion by Mr Jenkins-Greig (January 24) that there is an over-supply of pitches in the district is inaccurate – the Playing Pitch Strategy was produced in 2005 and since then the number of teams in the district has grown by 37 and even in 2005 here was a deficit of youth pitches.

Whilst one only has to look at the issues affecting parents trying to get their children into primary schools to realise the growing population of children will put enormous strain on all of the town’s clubs and facilities in coming years. That is not to say that there aren’t issues with the site and clearly those living close to the site have concerns.

Ultimately the planners and councillors will use their skills and experience to make the correct decision, whatever that may be. In the meantime if there are to be further letters in this paper can people please stick to matters that are relevant to the planning application – the club’s business plan (I can assure everyone the club will not receive funding without a solid one) and people’s ill-informed opinions of football are not relevant to the debate.

NICK PERCHARD

Chief Executive Officer

Hertfordshire Football Association

SIR – Is James Carey for real? I read his letter about Colts’ New Farm proposals and genuinely believe that it was a parody of a Grumpy Old Man’s rant.

I cannot believe someone can be so bigoted about “soccer”. Just referring to football in this way makes me believe he is either North American or a “rugger” fan. Nobody calls our great game “soccer” anymore.

I speak as a mother of two – one girl and one boy – who have both derived immense benefit from playing for Harpenden Colts and other football teams, but who also play what I assume Mr Carey would deem more worthy sport: tennis and hockey.

They have learnt different values from different sports, and I can assure you that some of the behaviour in tennis has been less than savoury. Please don’t tar local football with the same brush as the Premiership footballers, where, I might add, only the bad stories make the press. You may not like “soccer” but I can assure you that a large percentage of the population do and whether Colts get their new home or not football will still be a very popular sport in this town and rightly so.

Being a member of Colts is very reasonably priced and, should a family not be able to afford it, then concessions are available. I would be very interested to hear what sport Mr Carey likes, obviously not soccer.

VERONICA DODD

Elliswick Road, Harpenden

SIR – I feel I must respond to the alarmist and exaggerated comments made by Mr Carey regarding the proposed Harpenden Colts football pitches at New Farm.

Rather than addressing what may well be genuine concerns over the siting of the facility Mr Carey describes the proposals merely as “fluffy nonsense” which will “decimate” the Green Belt and “the lives of large numbers of Harpenden residents”. According to Mr Carey Harpenden Colts is seeking to “bully its way into the Green Belt and inflict misery”.

Is swapping two fields from arable use over to maintained grass areas really going to decimate the countryside? Will a single-storey pavilion, designed in keeping with traditional farm buildings and partially screened by trees and hedges, really blight the lives of such large numbers of people?

However, my real concern at the tone of Mr Carey’s letter is that he appears to equate anyone who has an interest in the game of football as somehow linked to “racism, homophobia, cheating, violence and hooliganism”. Sport England figures (2010) show that 2,090,000 people and 30,355 11-a-side teams regularly play football in the UK, and Mr Carey fails to show how those of us who do play the game on an amateur or social level display the “negative cultural attitudes and values” he talks about.

Mr Carey fears that the profile of Harpenden (whatever that might be) will suffer from having Colts Football Club within its boundaries, and would rather encourage sports which are “more in keeping” with the town’s identity. Let’s just remember what we are talking about here – it’s a football club run entirely by volunteers for the benefit and enjoyment of around 750 local youngsters. Please let’s keep things in perspective.

PETER BRADLEY

Connaught Road, Harpenden

Latin grammar tips

SIR – It was brave of Magnus and Maximus to allow you to publish a copy of their letter to Harpenden Town Council. However, it was a little confusing as, being snails, they may not have learned much Latin grammar. I think they were trying to write something like this:

Salvete aediles! Repugnabimus pro domum nostrum consilium aggerem in agro faciendi. Ita vero!

Depugnabimus ad mortem. Moniti estis. Estis malos et vos odimus. Ne nostram pacem turbate! Valete!

CAROLINE BLACK

Fishpool Street, St Albans

Homes are needed for everyone

SIR – The rash of unaffordable houses being built in the district of St Albans are way beyond the reach of the vast majority of those local people whose ambition is to live in their home town with their families. This is a real situation particularly for young people and has created a situation which cannot be good for the future of our city.

Having read Kerry Pollard’s letter (January 24) praising the provision of council housing for the benefit of present and future generations, which is a view that I share with him, at the same time I recognise that others will possess a different opinion and that many of us are affected by our own situation when judging others .

When major decisions are to be decided we must look to our elected councillors to act on our behalf for the good of all of our community and its inhabitants and to bequeath a better and a fairer society as a legacy of the time which they have spent in office. I believe that promotion of growth for our present council housing provides the council with an opportunity to behave responsibly by agreeing for a significant number of additional council houses to be built.

At the moment there are flaws in Cllr Young’s perspective for the answer to lie in the allocation of council housing with a time limit on tenancy giving overall more people the opportunity to obtain council housing, whilst existing residents will be moved out, which are that estates will turn into transition camps where the population is forced into a situation of uncertainty and anxiety in place of the opportunity to establish family roots supported by attachments formed with neighbours and the establishment of community.

In particular young people need continuity to form and nurture friendships and to achieve their educational potential without the enforced trauma of being uprooted from a stable and enduring environment.

TONY LEACH

Langley Crescent, St Albans

SIR – Although I strongly agree with the concerns conveyed for the young and underprivileged in Kerry Pollard’s letter, I can’t help but feel that, in linking these sentiments to his campaign for further development, he failed to declare a very important interest – his own personal and, no doubt, financial involvement in property development.

As a consultant for the Hilton Hotel development in Chiswell Green, Mr Pollard clearly stands to gain from the recent decision to grant planning permission and allow the consequent destruction of Copsewood, an important area of Green Belt and rare local example of untouched natural habitat.

While distressing in itself, the further ramifications of this decision are now perhaps becoming clear. When Mr Pickles the Communities Secretary learnt that St Albans District Council was willing to allow this non-essential development on the Green Belt, he may have been left with the mistaken impression that we, as a community, are not that serious about preserving our green spaces and that the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) plan in Park Street could therefore go ahead without too much opposition.

While Mr Pollard’s expressed concern for the economic wellbeing of younger people is commendable, it is unfortunate he apparently fails to understand that the irreversible damage his generation continues to inflict on the natural environment is of equal, if not greater, concern to them. They, after all, are the ones who are going to have to deal with the escalating consequences.

As a former St Albans MP who was once quoted as describing the Green Belt as a “20th-Century idea that has had its day”, I wonder even whether Mr Pollard recognises the damage that the SRFI development will cause. Perhaps he is all for this as an economic stimulant too?

On the subject of the SRFI, and with reference to Christopher Langdon’s letter of January 24, when he asked the question: “Who actually owns the land – is it only Herts County Council or are others involved”?

I understand that the sale of a parcel of land to Helioslough has occurred which allows access to the entire Radlett Aerodrome site and without which the scheme would be unable to proceed. Can anyone throw light on this pivotal land transaction and who it involved? Given the enormous impact the SRFI will have on this area and its people if it goes ahead, it is only fair that all relevant information should be out in the open.

PAUL WILKINSON

Watling Street, St Albans

Tribute to late vicar

SIR – I would like to pay tribute to a man with a sincere spiritual feel, Rev David Brentnall. Many was the time we sat on a bench together with a giant tree in front of us and prayed to the one God.

He made time for people. In our hurried world of computers and mobiles and forms and spreadsheets let us remember what really counts.

ANDY STROWMAN

Roundwood Lane, Harpenden

Response to letters on slow drivers

SIR – Ooh, I do seem to have touched a nerve of the milk float minority with my observations on driving along Harpenden Road, let’s face it, within the rules of the road!

Once again, I find myself correcting the misconceptions of the missive writers who malign my words with their malcontent.

To Howard Barlow – thanks for the invite sir, but I passed my Advanced Driving Test some 25 years ago and have been driving 32 years. In that time, I have had three accidents, only one of which was documented as being my fault and that was at the age of 17.

I have only ever been pulled up for speeding once in 1986 when I was seen travelling at, wait for it, 34mph in a 30mph zone.

I have never professed to be the world’s best driver but please stop the duplicity and agree with me when I say that we all, even you perhaps, believe that we are better than the next driver.

It’s just human nature and to refute that undeniable fact does not do the respondent’s intelligence any justice.

To Jack Taylor – it may have taken me nine and a half column inches to show that brevity is, as you say, the soul of wit, but it only took you one column inch to demonstrate your complete lack of understanding of the substance of the message I was trying to convey. Well done for such a constructive response.

To Jack Easton – I would not have expected anything less from a spokesman for a party with such minority appeal, it stands to get blown away at the next General Election by UKIP, so disenchanted has the main populous grown to become with cardigan-wearing bleaters and blitherers who futilely try to squeeze support from a disinterested electorate tighter than the trees they routinely hug.

Come on Mr Easton, are you really that angered by my observations that you felt the need to do a time and motion study with an ACME stopwatch and pen?

To Stuart Easton, it’s either a big well done for agreeing with my stance or a cleverly-veiled attempt at sarcasm in your disagreement.

Either way, it’s good to see the editor showing some reader support although judging from the hundreds of people I meet who enjoy my letters, many secretly agree with every word I say!

Finally, for the avoidance of doubt and for those who didn’t read my original letter properly, 1.) I clearly said I did not advocate breaking the speed limit, merely driving within them and 2.) I said that the protagonists were both young and old. I thank you!

BARRY CASHIN

Green Lane, St Albans

Last word on rail freight terminal?

SIR – May I be allowed just one more shout concerning the proposed rail terminal, albeit a somewhat briefer one this time.

A very key player in this affair at the moment is Herts County Council, who own most of the relevant land, and the development can’t go ahead unless they sell or lease the land to the developers. It is widely suspected locally that the amazing u-turn decision by Mr Pickles was made under pressure of lobbying from self-interested parties, as opposed to being based purely on carefully balanced facts, and that this decision needs to be publicly opened up and examined. By refusing to sell or lease at the present time, the HCC can play a significant role in the call for such an examination. May I urge all St Albans and Radlett readers to register on the on-line petition to the HCC; if 10,000 “signatures” are achieved then a full council debate will be assured. The web address for this is: https://consult.hertsdirect.org/petitions and then click on “Hertfordshire County Council must not sell or lease land to Helioslough”.

In addition to this, St Albans District Council have again showed their mettle by challenging the Secretary of State to either reverse his recent “minded to” decision and revert to his own earlier proposal for a conjoint inquiry with this site and the Colnbrook site, or face a High Court action. It would be encouraging to our council for us to express the massive local support for their action by “signing” the on-line petition to this effect, by visiting the website: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Z3KMFCV.

IAN M LARIVIERE

Park Street, St Albans

Ambulance delays could cost lives

SIR – I read your article, “Boy’s freezing wait after sledging crash” (January 24) and the long wait for the ambulances.

On Christmas Day my 95-year-old mother was coming into the living room from the kitchen and fell over. I called 999 and asked for an ambulance because when anybody falls you should not move them in case they have injured themselves and we had to wait 40 minutes for the ambulance. I rang them three times and was told they had to prioritise for people with heart failure and things and I told them she has heart failure. They never sent a first responder to check her over and she had to sit on the floor all that time. I must emphasise though that when the ambulance did come the men were wonderful.

What I want to know is with all the cutbacks on the ambulance service, which is greatly valued by the public, how long is it going to be before somebody dies? The government wants to get their act together and put the emergency services first.

MISS MG FOSTER

Dalton Street, St Albans

Pedestrianisation row

SIR – Having missed several editions of this paper, I am not up to date with this latest wheeze of Herts Highways to close off the first section of the service road on the High Street. There must be a reason why it has been proposed at this time.

Many years ago, a similar proposal was put forward, to turn the whole of the service road into a pedestrian precinct. One of the reasons put forward was that vehicles turning right into the service road were holding up traffic coming down Station Road. If someone from Herts Highways had actually spent a few minutes studying the problem, they would have seen, immediately, that it is the vital pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Station Road which causes the occasional hold up; nothing to do with vehicles turning into the service road.

Common sense almost prevailed. The whole ludicrous scheme was cancelled although the (inadequate) no right turn sign and traffic island were put in place. I believe the decorative gate – only closed once, as I remember, was also built at that time. Another waste of our money.

This new hare-brained scheme would remove eight or nine parking spaces – including some disabled ones. Every time a parking space is removed it seems a shop closes.

Very few people appear to want this latest scheme, most – especially the shopkeepers, who are the lifeblood of the town – are totally opposed to it. Why does our county council persist in putting forward plans like this which, far from improving the shopping situation in Harpenden, always seem to do the opposite.

In all the time that the no right turn sign has been in place, I have only seen one or two vehicles trying, with extreme difficulty, to turn into the service road. It is not a real problem.

Might I suggest that the plan is shelved and the £35,000 spent on tackling a real and urgent problem, which is to repair the appalling potholes on both the pavements and streets in Harpenden. Surely this should take precedence over all other county council plans.

GRAHAM PHIMISTER

Browning Road, Harpenden

SIR – It is with incredulity that I read the disgraceful comments of Cllr Teresa Heritage on this matter in your paper.

This person’s attitude to the spending of £35,000 on this scheme, (described by others as “crackpot”), is truly appalling! “ ...The money is provided by the Department of Transport... if it is not used in Harpenden it will be used somewhere else....” What sad,insulting and misguided rot!

Can I advise Cllr Heritage that the money does NOT come from the Department of Transport. It comes from the taxpayer! Little wonder that this country is in such a financial mess with thinking and attitudes such as this in those with positions of responsibility.

Cllr Heritage should withdraw these insulting remarks immediately and apologise for ever having used them.

With regard to the proposed scheme itself, may I ask who actually wants this?

Cllr Heritage says that the “main objective is to remove the confusion of the no right turn from Station Road”. Who is confused? I have lived within half a mile of this spot for 31 years and have never, ever, witnessed an accident or an incident there so, I say again, who is confused?

Who actually wants this change – either in Lower High Street or Thompsons Close? Where is the mandate for this? According to your paper, hundreds of people have signed petitions already to say that they do not want this to happen so what is going on? Who wants this?

Can I suggest that if councillors want to bring about change in our town that they focus on improvements; improvements which would be pleasing to the residents. An obvious example would be a clean up, and relocation of the taxi rank, in Station Approach which these days has more resemblance to an inner city slum than to a pleasant Hertfordshire town. Harpenden station won an award in 1986 – no chance of that happening this year!

VICTOR LOWRY

Amenbury Lane, Harpenden

Disgrace of Westfield planning decisions

SIR – In 2010 town and district Cllr Mike Wakely was chair of the working party for the former Westfield allotment site.

The councillor advised at meetings that “the site had progressed from allotments as the allotment holders did not want the site anymore”. The town councillors then sent out tender for the site to be developed. However in 2011 development was temporarily stopped by St Albans District Council, when access was denied across Westfield playing field (then owned and managed by SADC), although Cllr Wakely with other Harpenden cabinet members voted for granting access.

SADC then drafted up plans to give back the land to Harpenden Town Council. This could very easily be seen as a covert attempt to force closing current maintenance access via garages behind Beeching Close and therefore creating access via Willoughby Road, whilst at the same time giving power to Harpenden Town Council to re-open the case for development.

Very recently a very brave local lady took on the town council and applied for Westfield playing field to become a town green. Only a few weeks after the public inquiry, Harpenden Town Council applies for access to be granted over the same site, even before the decision is made as to whether it should be made a town green.

From the start it has been the same people involved in various committees, town councils and district councils, some even at the same time, who seem to be making decisions and without any consultation of the local people and their wishes.

The finance world is regulated, and the state, judges and police force have in place systems to make sure the same enclave of people don’t make the decisions. However Harpenden town councillors seems to be above all this and behave like they are responsible to no-one.

Who holds these people responsible? Who challenges these people’s decisions? How can they get away with asking for access across a piece of land that has a town green status pending on it? It shows complete contempt for the local people that they should be responsible to. They constantly make decisions that are detrimental to the wishes of local people.

I suggest you give these politicians “the sack” at the next election. It is time Harpenden Town Council gets some new “blood”. Soon is not soon enough.

TINA KENT

Hyde View Road, Harpenden

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