Tax handout

PUBLISHED: 10:34 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

SIR, — I am outraged that Central Government have given £2.63million over the next two years of our taxpayers money to St Albans City Vision Survey (Herts Advertiser, January 1). The consultant company employed must be rubbing their hands at consultan

SIR, - I am outraged that Central Government have given £2.63million over the next two years of our taxpayers' money to St Albans "City Vision Survey" (Herts Advertiser, January 1). The consultant company employed must be rubbing their hands at consultancy fees of upwards of £850 a day - that's if anyone in the district council even bothered to see centrally-negotiated rates for consultancy and terms of engagement or put in place Service Level Agreements (SLAs)/deliverables under the project.

I suspect that like many "normal" residents, they found the survey confusing and so biased towards culture/tourism/traffic, that many like me did not respond. So we should be looking under the Freedom of Information Act at responses under groups A, AB, C and the rest to see how valid the responses are.

Isn't it time in the credit crunch that our district council stopped acting like ostriches and met the needs of residents and local businesses to address the problems of St Albans?

1.) Lager louts/knifings/muggings - to keep "youngsters" off the streets you need to invest in:

n Good sports facilities and working with community and sports groups to actively get them involved, retain their interest and build their self-esteem

n Other leisure facilities e.g. skateboarding, ice skating, etc. Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Milton Keynes have these facilities so why not St Albans?

n A cinema! How many years of procrastination does it take to provide us, the residents, with a much-needed facility?

2.) One of the vision objectives is "A sustainable and diverse economy to counter the current dependence on the financial sector". Unlike our sister towns of Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead and Watford, St Albans seems to be surprised that this is lacking. If you look at the regenerations after Buncefield in Hemel and post British Aerospace in Hatfield, St Albans District Council should be ashamed that they have not invested in the future of local people in the area. How many jobs are advertised in major corporations in St Albans?

3.) Medical care is a huge area for concern. In 2006 Central Government invested huge amounts of public cash into "elective care". Because the St Albans area was promised a new hospital, we got nothing. So we didn't get the hospital and we didn't get the funding of poorer areas in the North. Some cities/regions got up to £200 million to ensure the likes of hip replacements were undertaken within 18 weeks. In this area we got nought and now have some of the poorest NHS facilities in the UK - just because they believe we are all rich!

4.) Affordable high-street' shopping. Does anyone know another substantial town like St Albans which promotes its department store as TK Maxx? This has to be a joke. We don't have a Debenhams or John Lewis and M&S have even had to go to London Colney to increase their image in the public eye.

Incidentally, transport/parking appeared to be a key issue. In my street we have been waiting for two years to resolve these problems and yet we get another survey. In my view, if you encourage more visitors you create more problems without tackling the existing ones.

St Albans should be about the residents and local business - not just tourism or commuters. It needs to encourage industry and understand our needs. Rather than using highly-expensive consultancies who have no idea about St Albans as a living community, I suggest that councillors take their heads out of the sand, manage the budgets and deliver a service to us, their tax payers. We don't need more three-times-overspent piazzas!

CHRIS LEWIN,

Riverside Road, St Albans.

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