Allotment questions

PUBLISHED: 11:01 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 06 May 2010

Sir - Is it election time already? Councillor Mike Wakely writes as if he s ready for the stump (Allotments row, Herts Advertiser, August 20). Surely his seats are safe for another year or so? His response to the concerns of a local resident about Harpend

Sir - Is it election time already? Councillor Mike Wakely writes as if he's ready for the stump (Allotments row, Herts Advertiser, August 20). Surely his seats are safe for another year or so?

His response to the concerns of a local resident about Harpenden Town Council's resolution to sell off surplus allotment land at the Westfield rec raises more questions than answers:

1. What is "affordable housing"? Cllr. Wakely hosed the term around his letter but didn't actually say what it means. Would this be housing with subsidised rents or for sale with a significant market discount?

2. Ditto "social housing" and what is the "lesser 35 per cent" he refers to? Would this be the modern equivalent of council housing?

3. Cllr Wakely mentioned "local people with limited incomes". Does this imply the dwellings will be exclusively for Harpenden people in housing need, and what in times of a global recession is the definition of "limited income"?

4. The decision to sell a once-used and once-useful asset is a fine objective, but surely a council has to obtain best value? If so, by restricting the sale to housing associations, hasn't it effectively lowered the open market value of the land?

5. A previous attempt to obtain planning consent for this piece of land quite rightly fell at the first hurdle - the flats were designed to look like a small prison compound and the issue of access had not been resolved. It looks as if the two councils are still at odds and Cllr Wakely is silent on St Albans Council's valuation of a ransom strip.

6. The previous application sited the flats immediately next to and with living room-windows overlooking the children's playground. Has the town council issued guidance to prospective purchasers to ensure the development is sited well away from the playground?

The irony of Cllr Wakely's random claim that "they appear to be encouraging building houses on our employment sites causing more commuters" (causing them to do what?) will not be lost on those who know this passionate councillor from West Common is himself... a commuter! Not more of the same, surely?

Robert Hill

East Common, Harpenden

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