Letters, April 14, 2011, part two

PUBLISHED: 11:06 14 April 2011

Sunday football remembered

SIR – I found the article ‘Friends united on the pitch after 50 years’ (Herts Advertiser, March 24) very interesting and quite a unique event, with Brian Hubball and Roy Scott’s association with Sunday football.

A fact that both men would have been aware of is that Sunday morning football had begun earlier, in the 1946/47 season.

In London Colney a meeting took place between fathers who were keen to see the youth skills of our village come to fruition.

With the co-operation of the parish council, three pitches were made available, the roundabout ground became the home of Birkfield FC, Shenley Lane’s pitch was shared by Aubrey and Harvey Bombers, and Coombes and Peters, which later became Eagles FC. The other pitch was at the Recreation Ground, White Horse Lane.

Within two seasons, further teams joined the league, Cunningham Avenue, Bernards Heath, Dellfield and Mount Pleasant.

In the immediate post-war years, sports equipment was very difficult to access and afford so we were very fortunate such a shop existed in St Albans, Green and Winter, where footballs, shirts, shorts, and socks could be purchased, although very limited on the choice of colours.

Napsbury Avenue FC had a lad who had been evacuated from London and he purchased their shirts (dark and light-blue chequered) at a shop in Islington.

Birkfield FC were champions for many seasons, with Napsbury Avenue coming a close second.

Many of the players in those formative years are still with us today, in our mid- to late-seventies.

Many brothers played in the same teams, going up to the time of National Service, after which a lot of the lads went on to play for London Colney, Marconi, Bowmansgreen, etc.

DAVID ANSELL

Collyer Road, London Colney

Swimming pool row won’t go away

SIR – May I respond to Cllrs Donald and Rowlands’ spin and casuistry in the Herts Advertiser of March 31.

The bottom line is getting the specification right and delivering value for money.

They have demonstrably failed on both counts and have given us instead a £25 million white elephant when we could, for the same money, have had a 50-metre community Olympic dream with all the trimmings!

For about the same spend of about £25 million, Luton Aquatic Centre gives their people Olympic heaven with a 50-metre swimming pool, Olympic-standard diving plus sports hall, gym, cafe, etc..

In comparison, St Albans’ Newbodge gives us an inadequate 25-metre main pool “Pig in a Poke”, no diving or flumes whatsoever but a spa for the well-to-do amongst their offerings.

It’s a no-brainer. Hats off to Luton Aquatic Centre!

On Thursday, May 5, the people can, if they wish, pass judgement on the Newbodge politicians in the district council elections.

You can read much more on www.pooltoosmall.com here for you 24/7/365 on email newpooltoosmall@ntlworld.com We have no political status.

DAVID GILROY

Park Avenue, St Albans

SIR – The letter from Cllrs Donald and Rowlands in your March 31 edition is very helpful as it discloses that the key argument for the new pool is, in the opinion of the Lib Dem administration, avoiding: “increased and unreasonable financial risk” leading to “a future burden for council tax payers at a time of LA cutbacks.”

Previously, on March 24, a former council conservation officer, S Howard, wrote: “The council’s own chief executive favoured rebuilding a new pool on the same site, thereby avoiding many of the problems we are encountering now.”

The primary concern of a CEO should be the financial well-being of an organisation. It is reasonable to suppose that the CEO had concerns over the viability of the reduced sized pool and the intensification of the “spa” and gym use. If he didn’t, he should have.

I write this, because of the research executed by the council, which suggested that increasing the number of “stations” in the gym would improve the income stream and reduce the annual deficit inevitably accruing from the need to borrow a dozen or several dozen million pounds.

This argument is fatally flawed. Unlike other councils, which accept the need to subsidise their pools, or manage them to break even, St Albans is unique in trying out a really rather dodgy speculative venture which seeks to compete with Richard Branson, Duncan Ballantyne and all the other entrepreneurs who seek to profit from spas and luxury gyms.

The Lib Dems claim to be a step ahead of this competition. Our venue will be new, they claim. It will be uniquely well-sited, they say.

As I understand it, politicians to the left and the right of them think they’re crazy.

Leisure facilities are like libraries, art galleries, museums, schools and hospitals – they cost money, they don’t make money, and we build them to benefit the public and not to project ourselves into the “Dragons’ Den”.

The problem for the council tax payers is that this crazy experiment can’t succeed.

If these proto-dragons, Cllrs Donald and Rowlands, succeed against the odds to compete successfully against the top dogs of the business world, we will lose out, because the competition doesn’t need to apply for planning permission or go through all the lengthy procedures and consultations that the council has had to undergo; any hotel can open a gym or spa, and cream off the profit that the council relies on to stay solvent.

If they fail, we lose and the council tax has to be increased.

It’s a straightforward gamble. Heads we lose and tails we fail to win.

Thank you very much, Cllrs Donald and Rowlands.

TONY WAITE

Holywell Hill, St Albans

Alban Way work was necessary

SIR – I am writing about all the people who are complaining about the work St Albans council has done on the Alban Way.

I am a disabled person who uses the old railway all the time as a traffic-free route and I have had twigs and thorns hanging out of the overgrowth hit me in the face – at the same height as a child would be on a bike. It needed to be cut back.

Have you looked at some of the stumps? Some of them show signs of rot and would have become dangerous if left.

Welwyn and Hatfield council did the same about three or four years ago and nobody complained as far as I know.

When they did it on their section of the track the company they used published pictures on their website.

WILLIAM HUCKLE

Smallford Lane, Smallford

We need to keep ivy under control

SIR – I wonder if I could ask your readers to look at the trees this spring before they grow their leaves.

Many are being covered in ivy, which means they are wind resistant and will blow over in a gale as the ivy is heavy and grows very thickly if not controlled.

I wrote to the council a couple of years ago mentioning the trees on Sandpit Lane, particularly those at the end of Sunderland Avenue.

I had a reply from Mr A Branch saying that the ivy was not causing any harm. Since then many of those trees are leaning over towards the road under the weight of the ivy.

Last year the council cleared the ivy which had grown all over the bus shelter at Sandpit Lane/Beechwood Avenue lights but did not stop it growing up the tree.

Last year I visited a church yard in Oxfordshire where all the ancient trees had been overgrown with ivy.

They cut all the ivy branches (which are quite thick when mature) at the bottom of the trees and as the ivy died they pulled it off and saved all the trees.

The gardener there was very pleased with the result.

Besides being a nuisance and dangerous, the ivy spoils the beautiful silhouettes of bare trees in winter.

I beg everyone to look at the trees in their gardens, or by the roadside, and keep the ivy in check.

Perhaps if enough people contact the council they might do something about it?

I know farmers are always busy, but winter would be a good time for them to check their trees.

Trees are beautiful and its so sad when driving through the countryside to see so many leaning over, and in a wood or copse they create a domino effect and uproot each other.

We need trees. Let’s take care of them and protect them.

ANGELA TOMLINSON

Address supplied

Road repairs were not up to standard

SIR – Whilst the county council is congratulating itself on getting £4 million from the Government’s roads budget to tackle potholes, I think this should be stopped immediately as the council is clearly completely inept and should not be given 50p from the Budget!

The reason for my rant is the state of Prospect Road in St Albans.

It has been less than 12 months since our road was closed down and was completely resurfaced. The people who carried out this work have now left the road in a worse state than it was before they started work and at massive expense to the local taxpayers.

For the first few months everything was fine and the road appeared to be cosmetically beautiful.

Then after the cold snap in November had thawed, massive cracks and potholes started to appear along whole stretches of the road.

It is obvious to anyone, even myself who is no road expert, that such a thin layer of tarmac was laid on this road that as soon as the temperatures dropped it just started to crack and move. We now have holes so big up and down the road that they are being filled in with a shovel full of tarmac rather than being repaired properly!

An excellent way to keep council employees busy, but remember who pays for this in the end but us the taxpayers.

Who is responsible for doing the work as the people who were paid for this job should be forced to comeback and completley redo the job?

Who was responsible for employing them in the first place, did they actually check how long the work the contractors carried out actually lasts?

Who should have inspected the end result? Surely there should have been a guarantee period because the job that was done is clearly not fit for purpose!

MICHELLE EDWARDS

Prospect Road, St Albans

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