Letters, April 14, 2011, part one

PUBLISHED: 11:07 14 April 2011

A storybook tale

SIR – Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was a small kingdom, ruled over by sapient men whose only concern, day and night, was to make the lives of their citizens better.

One day, these men were given a pot of money by the rulers next door, and although they hated the rulers next door with a hatred so strong it could have powered the entire lighting and heating system of their kingdom and of several other kingdoms in the immediate vicinity too, nevertheless a pot of money was a pot of money. And so they grabbed it with both hands, and resolved in their minds how to use it advantageously, to make their citizens love them even more.

And thus after much debate, a decree was sent out to all corners of the kingdom inviting the citizens to submit projects and plans to make their area better, for as the very sapient mayor said, ‘We all know people living locally have the best knowledge of an area and know what needs to be done to improve it.’ And they called the scheme Voice Your Choice.

Now there was living in that kingdom at that time, a small group of people who read the decree and decided to submit a project, for lo!, they inhabited a poor area, and they wanted to make it a nice place with allotments and an orchard and a better playing space for their children. So they wrote up their ideas, and they called it the Westfield Transformation Scheme and they sent it in.

But when the sapient men received the project and read what the people wanted to do, they waxed exceedingly wrath, for they had other plans for part of the land that the community wanted to improve. They desired to sell this bit of land for much silver and gold, and to build upon it many houses, for they had friends who built houses and sold houses, and these people had much silver and gold and so they were important to the sapient men, while the people in the small community, who did not possess these riches, were not.

And so they told the people that they could not submit their project, because selling the land and building houses upon it was an incontrovertable fact (they liked to use big words like incontrovertable because it made them appear even more sapient). But the people protested, and said, ‘You told us we knew best what would improve our area. Now you are saying we cannot do what we want. So we believe you have moved the goalposts. This is not a scheme but a scam!’

But the sapient men ignored them, and they re-wrote the words of the project so that it said what they wanted it to say, and they called it the Westfield Recreational Area, which was not its real name, and they put it into their shiny magazine along with the other projects – that they had not re-written. Then they invited all the citizens of the kingdom to rank the projects in order from the first to the fourth, so that they could give the best ones the money. And all the citizens voiced their choice, and the sapient men gave the favoured projects the money, and lo! it was good, and all were exceedingly happy – except for the small community, but hey, who cared about them.

But the scribe of the community wrote down the story, and everybody who read it learned important things. And what they learned was this:

That although the sapient men had failed to grasp the meaning of the word hypocrisy, they had shown to all the citizens a completely new way to choose things. And the citizens declared with one voice that the new way was clearly the best and they would use it from that day forth and for evermore, because if it worked for the sapient men, it worked for them.

And they named it the AV system. And lo! it was good. The End.

CAROL HEDGES

Coldharbour Lane, Harpenden

The Crescent move is defended

SIR – We are writing in response to your article ‘St Albans HIV clinic to relocate to Ware’ (Herts Advertiser, March 31) as we are concerned about the misinformation that it contains and we wish to clarify a few points regarding the future of sexual health and HIV services in Hertfordshire.

Recent media interviews and newspaper articles, linked to the Friends of The Crescent’s Save the Crescent campaign, have included misinformation, specifically relating to the location of services, alleging that there will be no services in West Hertfordshire, and that service users from that part of the county will be required to travel to Ware. We are mindful that such negative, incorrect press will have a detrimental effect on their service users.

The most important thing is to ensure that service users remain supported and Herts Aid is conscious of ensuring equity of access for all service users to services across Hertfordshire. It is important to stress that the change in contractual arrangements for services will not reduce the services currently available to service users under the Hertfordshire County Council contract and that service users are able to receive seamless services.

To facilitate a smooth transfer of provision commissioned by Hertfordshire County Council for HIV services, a transition plan was agreed with the joint commissioning team of The Crescent and Herts Aid on February 14. The transition plan includes consultation with staff, service users and stakeholders, and events have taken place to facilitate this on March 17, 22, 24 and 29, with further events planned. There has also been a survey in the form of a questionnaire sent to all service users of both The Crescent and Herts Aid to enable them to put forward their views in a variety of ways.

In addition Herts Aid has written a letter to all service users of The Crescent encouraging them to use this opportunity to influence the structure and delivery of the new countywide services, and to contact them directly if they wish to discuss any areas of concern.

Although Herts Aid is located in Ware, and for an interim period will continue to maintain its head office in Ware, it is envisaged that new service delivery points will be secured in various locations across the county, that may include the current building occupied by The Crescent, and in addition, support workers will be able to meet service users in the community, at their homes or at the agreed new service delivery points.

It is very important that we listen to views, thoughts and concerns of all those who use HIV services in Hertfordshire and to those of the people who work in them. We would strongly urge people to get involved in the discussions that are taking place and that will continue to take place while we establish this new service for Hertfordshire.

ELIZABETH COLLINS

Former chair of Trustees, The Crescent

SALLY NEWTON

Chair of Trustees, Herts Aid

SIR – We are writing in response to your article ‘Stephen Fry joins in fight to save Crescent’ (Herts Advertiser, March 31) to clarify a few points regarding the future of sexual health and HIV services in Hertfordshire.

Hertfordshire County Council and NHS Hertfordshire have undertaken a review of all voluntary and community services in the county that we fund. We encouraged organisations to work with us to find ways of improving services and delivering value for money.

Six events were held and representatives and users were offered the opportunity to attend to explore ways of improving access and service delivery.

In line with previously agreed strategy, we have been seeking to provide integrated Herts-wide services. This would offer fairer access to care for all as well as reducing the amount spent on management. This has been taking place over the last year or two, and has led to one provider taking a lead role in developing a single integrated service for Hertfordshire.

NHS Hertfordshire gave The Crescent formal notification in February that its contract would come to an end in June. HertsAid and The Crescent were asked to work together to develop a plan so that service users, their families and carers, together with staff and volunteers were supported during the transition period.

It is important to emphasise that HIV support services will continue to be available in St Albans and across west Hertfordshire.

Our aim is to make services more accessible by delivering them closer to where people live. HertsAid is working with service users to listen to what they have to say about the best place to locate services to make it easier for them to use.

It is vital that we listen to the views, thoughts and concerns of all those who use HIV services in Hertfordshire as well as those of the people who work in them. We would strongly urge those people to get involved in the discussions that are taking place and that will continue to take place while we establish this new service for Hertfordshire.

You can do this by writing to:

HertsAid, York House, 45 Baldock Street, Ware, Herts SG12 9DH, tel: 01920 484784, or by sending an email via the website www.hertsaid.co.uk

All enquiries and correspondence will be treated in the strictest confidence.

SARAH PICKUP

Director of Health and Community Services at Hertfordshire County Council

DR JANE HALPIN

Chief Executive NHS Hertfordshire

Season ticket chaos

SIR – May I through your paper express my disgust at NCP.

In February I was informed that unless I paid for my senior citizens season ticket by direct debit, I would be charged an extra £5.

I set up a direct debit in February for March 15, ticket due March 31. On receiving my bank statement on March 31, I see they have taken £2.50 instead of £45.

On phoning them, after a 20 minute wait, I was informed they had had trouble with St Albans and Harpenden’s senior citizens season tickets and now direct debits.

Why were we not told? They had two weeks and now I have to send a cheque and wait for my season ticket. In the meantime my parking season ticket has run out.

Their business methods leave a lot to be desired.

MRS S BURNS

Porters Hill, Harpenden

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