Letters, November 15, 2012, part one

PUBLISHED: 10:14 15 November 2012

Broken bollards

SIR – Why is it you drive around St Albans streets and see bollards circling a damaged road/pavement, and it is left there forever more!

I have noticed on the corner of Drovers Way and Adelaide Street the corner of the pavement has been badly damaged, and has been left like that for weeks and weeks. It didn’t take someone long to come out and put the bollards around it, so why does it take so long to fix it? Also on the same subject is another display of bollards on the corner of Marshalswick Lane and Sherwood Avenue.

It is a good job they don’t put bollards around all the pot holes in St Albans as it would be like an assault course.

LESLEY HOOKER

Hughenden Road, St Albans

Thanks for help with fashion show

SIR – I would like to thank on my own behalf, the other directors, staff and particularly the women and children we care for at St Albans Women’s Refuge all those who helped with our recent Fashion Show held at the Verulam Golf Club.

We are especially grateful to The Dressing Room who provided the dresses and other accessories – the very essence of the show. Lots of other individuals helped, erecting the catwalk, setting up the PA system and so on. All the hard work by so many will help directly those who use the refuge.

MARALYN POLLARD

Chair, St Albans Women’s Refuge

Opposition to Colts Green Belt plan

SIR - Although I agree with Cllr Bernard Lloyd that Harpenden Colts (along with many other local sporting organisations) do an excellent job for the town’s young people, I totally disagree that the scale of the plan for New Farm which he is championing (Letters, November 1) constitutes “an acceptable use of Green Belt land”.

Harpenden Colts have flourished using the facilities already available to them and have no need for something as grandiose as this proposal, which would give them more pitches than Arsenal have at their training ground in London Colney!

Their gain would be a permanent loss for all the families, walkers, dog-walkers, runners and cyclists who use this space throughout the week. They value its tranquillity, which would be destroyed at weekends by the noise of car engines and shouting players and supporters.

They value its rural beauty, which would be replaced with a pavilion, tarmac, muddy pitches and 22 goal posts. Perhaps above all they value its safety; its traffic-free paths provide a rare opportunity so close to so many homes for dogs to run off the lead and for children to walk, run and cycle without adult supervision.

The plan makes provision for one hundred parking spaces; I would predict, from my experience as a spectator at Colts matches, that the number of parking places needed for 11 pitches is nearer three or even four hundred.

The volume of traffic will be such as to cause chaos on local roads: Roundwood Lane is exactly what the name implies – a lane. From the Harpenden direction it has a couple of very dangerous bends, is only just wide enough for two cars for most of its length and has a very narrow pavement along one side only. From the Redbourn direction it is a single-track road used by many local drivers as a short-cut and down which visiting players are likely to be directed by their SatNavs.

In an email to a local resident Cllr Lloyd says that the site was first proposed about six years ago, yet there was no mention of it in his election manifesto. It does not therefore seem appropriate for him to be lobbying in favour of this proposed development before giving all the residents in his ward the opportunity to express their views. I would be pleased to know via the pages of this newspaper the views of other district and county council representatives and candidates about this plan and protection of the Green Belt in general.

GILL MOURANT

Roundwood Lane

Harpenden

SIR – I feel a need to support the letter stating no to football fields in Harpenden.

This is because of an accident waiting to happen with cars from all angles, a reduction in biodiversity and variety of animal and plant species by creating monocultures and the noise. Let weekends be sacred.

This is not the east end of London. There are school grass pitches all over Harpenden.

ANDY STROWMAN

Roundwood Lane, Harpenden

Strategic Local Plan row continues

SIR – In your edition of October 25, you reported that an organisation representing landowners and developers believes that building on Green Belt in our district has become “highly emotional”.

They also believe that the district council’s housing targets are far too low.

There is certainly nothing “emotional” in our district council’s draft Strategic Local Plan. It is a lengthy, detailed, and reasoned plan which strives to balance the need for new houses and our district’s capacity to cope with extra housing.

The simple fact is that our district is a comparatively desirable place to live and the demand for accommodation is, in effect, insatiable.

The demand comes from people who were born here and do not want to live anywhere else, or from people who have migrated to our district from less economically successful regions of the UK, or from residents who have migrated to the UK from another EU country because they feel they will be better off here.

Against that background of insatiable demand, there is a proven need to find £2.5 billion to improve Hertfordshire’s creaking infrastructure for the population that lives in the county now, never mind for new residents.

If developers were given permission to build twice the number of houses that is being planned by the district council, we would not still not satisfy the demand for accommodation and in doing so our district would suffer badly in terms of, for example, traffic congestion, insufficient school places and, according to a recent independent report, inadequate water supply.

Profit-driven developers are not in business to serve our community or to take a long term view.

However, St Albans District Council is there for that purpose and is trying its best to do so in its draft Strategic Local Plan.

Developers really should do better than broadcast a viewpoint containing flannel and obfuscation.

A less self-interested approach might be something else that they could consider but maybe that is asking too much.

DAVID RANKIN

Bloomfield Road, Harpenden

SIR – Re your ‘Oaklands campaign meeting’ report (Herts Advertiser, November 1). I would like to make a few comments and to correct a few inaccuracies with the article.

The Oaklands site is one of three ‘mixed use broad locations’ identified in the Council’s draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP). Broad location means exactly that, a location. No planning application has been submitted for this site.

Policy SLP14 of the SLP sets out what the council would expect to be delivered on the site, inter alia between 250 and 350 homes, and there is no mention of a link road from Hatfield Road to Sandpit Lane.

I do not know who has scaremongered with such a rumour, but it has no foundation.

Under the National Planning Policy Framework, local planning authorities have to indicate where they will build new homes.

Land that is available and developable must be found to match that target (a total of 4,250 homes over a 20 year period). No development is not an option.

The council is already putting forward fewer homes than is annunciated by the Eastern Region Spatial Strategy as we consider that 250 new homes per annum rather than 360 new homes per annum, is more realistic for this district and matches both resident aspirations and the constraints of the district.

Over 70 per cent of our target will be delivered in the main urban areas, with about 15 per cent in the villages and Green Belt settlements and 15 per cent in the three broad locations.

We do not have enough spare brownfield land in the urban areas to meet this target, hence alternative sustainable locations have had to be identified.

I appreciate that communities do not like the idea of major development on their doorstep and there will initially be disruption, but by stating in our plan where development should go as a planning authority we will be able to control its delivery and also ensure that the communities around it benefit from that development, by obtaining planning gain funding to use on, for example, expanding schools, improving sustainable transport routes and environmental enhancements.

Sir, you have yourself commented in your editorial that same week that councillors must sometimes make difficult decisions for the benefit of all – on November 28 the members of the St Albans City and District Council will have a difficult decision to make, but it is a decision that must be made. I hope that the SLP will be approved, so we can move forward and develop modern planning policies for our very special district.

CLLR TERESA HERITAGE

Portfolio holder for Planning and Conservation

St Albans District Council

Are we unable to cope in a crisis?

SIR – I had to snigger a little when I read your front page report of November 1 about poor Cllr Rowlands who came a cropper in the recent storm in New York.

Although no laughing matter, the councillor’s situation only highlighted how inadequate our country and councils are in dealing with even minor crises, let alone a serious one on the scale of Sandy. No-one could have anticipated the devastation caused by this terrible hurricane with over 70 million people affected.

However, wasn’t it wonderful to see the hard working, stoic officials and people of New York banding together to get the city going again: power restored to half those affected within four days, a very limited service on the subway within three days, the stock exchange open within 24 hours; it just shows how New Yorkers rise in the face of adversity in a city which has seen its fair share of tragedy over the years – and although progress has been made, there is still much to do.

Look at our nation on the other hand: rail services crippled by the wrong type of rain or a few leaves on the line, the entire motorway in gridlock when a mere 2cm of sleet falls and despite being an island nation riven with waterways, completely impotent to stop widespread flooding when we know we’re going to get a hammering every autumn.

In the UK at times of crisis, of those that choose not to loot, many people now look not to help their fellow neighbours but how to exploit the opportunity to stay off work when inclement weather strikes and we panic at the least deviation from normal weather conditions. How times have changed. Years ago, we Brits had a Blitz mentality and would think nothing of helping each other out. Now, just the few diehards give of their time and effort in a crisis with the majority just standing by and watching.

Despite the magnanimity of the storm the country faced, America will survive, the people will endure as Americans always do. The race will be run and the Marathon will take place eventually in spite of the public pressure, not a leaves-on-the-line-mentality to cancel an event; one which would have taken place in the face of the devastation meted by the worst storm to hit the eastern seaboard of the USA in living memory. Cllr Rowlands couldn’t have been in a better city for such natural disaster to happen and won’t have too long to wait I’m sure!

BARRY CASHIN

Green Lane, St Albans

Give pedestrians a chance?

SIR – The issue of the plant boxes beside the pedestrian crossing opposite CW Plant Hire in Harpenden is not the only safety issue that needs to be addressed (Herts Advertiser Harpenden edition, November 1).

The actual flashing beacons (along with one of the pair opposite the Harpenden Arms) have not been lit for some weeks.

At night, there also being no specific lighting of pedestrians at the crossing as I have seen elsewhere, resulting in a dangerous experience for pedestrians.

I have noticed pedestrians waiting to cross at night wearing dark clothes not being seen by motorists and the motorist braking at the last moment.

The very least we could do would be to maintain the flashing lights to give pedestrians a chance.

MARTYN LOVE

Crosspaths, Harpenden

Cycle path scheme is incomplete

SIR – You report the opening by the Mayor on October 31 of the new Verulamium Park cycle path from King Harry Lane to The Fighting Cocks.

The event was surely premature as the cycle path proposals have yet to be completed in a key location at the entrance at King Harry Lane.

We were lead to believe that the £400,000 contract to be carried out in 12 weeks was to include a new entrance and separate bridge for cyclists. In fact no work has been carried out to date at the entrance and it has taken over 18 weeks to achieve the present partial completion. Perhaps a council representative will provide an explanation and let us know when work in this critical area will be undertaken.

In the meantime I observe the majority of cyclists treating the so-called “speed reduction humps” as a challenge to see who can negotiate them at the fastest possible speed and remain airborne the longest.

As an urgent temporary measure I suggest a clear new sign at the King Harry Lane entrance: “Pedestrians – Beware Cyclists – Your Life Is At Risk”.

J A LIDINGTON

Corinium Gate, St Albans

Praise for Premier Inns nationwide

SIR – I felt I had to write in reply to Mr Cashin’s letter (Herts Advertiser, November 1) about Premier Inn and the proposed site in St Albans. I do hope he has stayed at this “low budget hotel” as he calls it, before he condemns it.

When my husband and I have been away on long weekend breaks, perhaps to the Cotswolds, Dorset, Bath, etc., we feel quite happy to book into a Premier Inn if there is one close by, and we have always found they are very clean, offering good value and excellent service.

Of course we have stayed in four and five star hotels and once stayed in a brand new “budget hotel” Travelodge, which I must say was horrendous.

Perhaps he should check them out. As for being a purple carbuncle it’s not a big sign, it’s usually just telling you it’s a Premier Inn.

I disagree with him when he says the much-loved phrase “Beirut” comes to mind. I think it was very offensive at the time he wrote about it, as other people did too.

It certainly isn’t just business people who use Premier Inns. Not everybody can afford Sopwell House or St Michael’s Manor if they are coming to St Albans for a wedding or a degree ceremony.

Perhaps I’ve missed the point in his letter when he mentioned Boots? Sorry, I don’t see the connection.

As Premier Inns have 600 locations nationwide they must be doing something right. I wish them good luck in St Albans.

JOYCE MCRAE

Woodland Drive, St Albans

In defence of vital water works

SIR – In response to the article about replacing water mains pipes in Marshalswick (October 25), I can’t imagine that this was a job that could be completed overnight.

In defence of the water company, the men carrying out the work are polite and courteous, residents are offering neighbours driveways and verges to park their cars on if work is preventing access, Affinity are making good the pavements and verges and I even got an apology for drilling starting at 8am on a Saturday morning. Affinity seem to be working in many roads across the district and it’s an inconvenience, yes, but not the misery that Cllr Tom Clegg makes out.

Please find something worthwhile to campaign about Cllr Clegg instead of moaning about something that is clearly essential to ensure that we continue to have clean fresh drinking water – maybe log onto www.wateraid.org, I’m not sure many of the people in the stories you will read would be complaining about a few holes in the pavements.

LUCY DAVIES

Marten Gate, St Albans

Thanks for your help after fall

SIR – Could I through your letters page thank the two young ladies who kindly assisted me when I fell in Russell Avenue on November 7. Without their help I could not have got up. They may like to know that I was able to continue with my dental appointment. Thank you both so much.

JOSEPHINE DALE

Palfrey Close, St Albans

Refusing to vote in PCC election

SIR – You’d be forgiven for not knowing, but there’s an election today. It’s to choose Hertfordshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner.

There’s been close to zero publicity about this election, except for some truly awful posters saying “Criminals hope you won’t vote on November 15th”

That poster slogan is nonsense, and the entire election is nonsense too. For the first time in my life, I’ve decided not to vote at an election. The turnout is going to be very low anyway. But if it’s mind-bogglingly low perhaps the Government will think again about this ridiculous waste of public money.

So why is it nonsense?

The title is nonsense. What on earth does it mean? What’s a police commissioner? Someone who runs the police, right? No. This new role will not run the police, or tell them what to do. And what’s a crime commissioner? Someone who commissions crime?

The job description is nonsense. As I say, this person does not run the police. The Government says the PCC’s job is to “oversee” the police and “ensure they are prioritising what matters to you”. Of course this is only true in their patch – in our case, Hertfordshire. Above them is the Home Office, whose job it is to, er, oversee the police. And below them is the chief constable, whose job it is to, er... well, you get the picture.

The cost to join in is nonsense. To be a candidate you had to stump up £5,000. For a democratically elected post? That’s 10 times more than you have to put up to run as an MP! So you’re excluding anyone who can’t muster five grand, or find an organisation to give them it.

The cost of the new role is nonsense. There will be 41 PCCs, each with a salary of around £75,000. That’s £3 million straight off. No doubt there will be support staff and office costs, plus the cost of running a nationwide election. Millions and millions, all for what?

The candidates are nonsense. Surprise, surprise, almost every candidate has a party political label. What is the relevance of party politics to this job? It is supposed to be about getting the police to do their job in a way that local people want, whatever that means. This is already nonsense, but adding a party political dimension makes it more so. Are we supposed to vote for the candidate we like or the party we support?

The candidates’ statements are nonsense. They are indistinguishable from each other. No one has anything interesting or different to say. Each one of them promises no political interference, tight budgets and, brilliantly, “tackling crime”.

The foregone result is nonsense. As the candidates all have party labels, the result in Herts is a foregone conclusion. The Tory will win. Not because of anything he says or stands for, just because he’s a Tory and that’s the way the demographic cookie crumbles in this part of the world.

I’m not prepared to support this nonsense with my vote.

CLLR SIMON GROVER

Green Party, St Albans

SIR – I am writing to voice my agreement with Dr Stephen Moss about the police and crime commissioner election (letters, November 8). All of the candidates are affiliated to political parties and it is alarming that we do not have an independent candidates. Why is that? Because it has been made too expensive for independent people to take part.

This is very disturbing and is politicising our police. I heard a candidate speaking recently and she refered to “my police”. Political parties should not have any control over the police.

I agree with Dr Moss and I shall be destroying my ballot paper as well. I hope many people do.

LINDA RYAN

Mile House Close, St Albans

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