Letters, April 26, 2012, part two

PUBLISHED: 11:36 26 April 2012

History rewritten?

SIR – Tory portfolio holder for sport and Harpenden Cllr Mike Wakely’s selective relationship with the truth is reminiscent of former US President Richard Nixon.

Cllr Wakely claims he has solved the problem of elderly pensioners being charged over £8 a session for fitness training. No, he hasn’t. If pensioners want to use the facilities early in the morning, they will still be charged at peak rates. That is something which needs to be reviewed and changed.

Then he re-writes history by omitting the damning fact that, until I intervened, officers under his control were about to hand the Marconi Way play area back to developers, Taylor Wimpey, with the certain outcome that an application for residential development would follow.

“No whitewash at the White House” was Nixon’s notorious reassurance. For Cllr Wakely, it’s more a matter of all hogwash at the district council.

ANTHONY ROWLANDS

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Ashley Ward

St Albans City and District Council

Cycle paths are really nothing to fear

SIR – In his letter last week, George Slater claims that the decision to allow two cycle routes in Verulamium Park “is the outcome of lobbying by cyclists over a number of years supported by powerful national interests”.

We are not aware of these “powerful national interests” unless he means organisations like the British Medical Association which want more people cycling as an excellent way of improving their health.

However, St Albans Cycle Campaign (STACC) has indeed lobbied for cycle routes through Verulamium Park and in this it has had the overwhelming support of the public as revealed in the MORI survey undertaken in 2000 in which 75 per cent supported cycle routes through the park. Unfortunately, despite the public support, the council at that time chose not to do anything about providing cycle routes.

In May, 2011, a new political administration took control of the council and decided to get on with the provision of cycle routes in the park. In July, 2011, STACC presented a petition with over 1,000 signatures to St Albans Council asking for cycle routes in the park. The council voted unanimously to “endorse the principle of working in partnership with Herts County Council to provide east/west and north/south cycle routes in Verulamium Park”. So, cycle routes now have the support of the all the political parties on the council.

STACC wants safe and considerate cycling on the proposed cycle routes in the park. We recognise that the pedestrians should have priority and that cyclists should give way to pedestrians on any shared routes.

Verulamium Park is an ideal place for families with young children to visit and enjoy the pleasures of gentle cycling. It will also provide a safe and direct route for many who wish to get to the city centre, St Michael’s, Westminster Lodge and the other attractions in the area.

Verulamium Park has five schools on, or near, its periphery and it makes good sense to encourage children to cycle to school if this can be done on safe routes. The alternatives to routes through the park are St Stephen’s Hill, King Harry Lane, Bluehouse Hill and Holywell Hill. What sort of society would send its young people on these busy and unpleasant roads when a lovely traffic-free alternative is available?

There are cycle routes in the Royal Parks in London and in most of the parks and open spaces in other towns in Britain – why should St Albans be different?

JOHN METCALF

St Albans Cycle Campaign

Cunningham Hill Road, St Albans

Planning for carnival revival underway

SIR – In response to your comments about the importance of community involvement in any plan to reinstate the St Albans Carnival (April 19) I would like to share the work that has been undertaken so far.

Cllrs Melvyn Teare, Frances Leonard and I worked up a proposal to bring the carnival back to St Albans in 2013 back in February this year.

We thought that the reinstatement of the St Albans Carnival – with the theme Magna Carta and the History of St Albans – would be an excellent way to mark the 800th anniversary of the first draft of the Magna Carta,which was drawn up at St Albans Abbey.

Continuing the theme of St Albans’ historic past, we were keen to take advantage of the Royal Charter granted by Edward VI in 1553 which enables St Albans to have a Summer Quarter Day Fair.

Our aim is to use this ancient right to organise an annual two-day Midsummer Carnival Fair in St Albans on Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16, 2013 – the weekend before St Albans Day.

This fair would include an extended street market (possibly including the Italian or French markets) on the Saturday with buskers and street performers and a children’s walking procession from Bernards Heath to Verulamium Park where it would end with a huge Midsummer Picnic. The Sunday would host the Festival of Life in the city centre with buskers and street performers and a large float procession from Bernards Heath to Verulamium Park. We would hope to have live entertainment at selected venues and outdoor locations.

We realise that this project can only go ahead with real community involvement and far from excluding local groups, including the many excellent musicians and theatre groups, we hope they would be enthusiastic about taking part.

However before we can open the project out to the community, we have to get buy-in from the council to make sure that the necessary financial support is available to re-launch the carnival. That is still under discussion.

ROMA MILLS

Glenferrie Road, St Albans

More news on Plan C

SIR – We are please to report that we held an excellent meeting between the proposed new Cotslandswick leisure centre developer/operators/architects and the senior SADC planning officers agreeing an outline layout subject to formal planning submission.

This submission and plan will address residents concerns on sufficient parking, a not over-development to adjoining residents plus green space users and meeting strong Green Belt requirements.

The Samuel Ryder new Golf Exhibition preview at Verulamium Museum was excellent and the exhibition opens soon to the public. This has been organised in partnership with the Professional Golf Association and well worth a visit.

We mentioned both to the PGA chairman and to the local Samuel Ryder Foundation the possible opportunities of new state-of-the-art galleries under the old Town Hall.

Investigation work there using ground radar in front of the Town Hall and into the potential basement extensions horizontally from the existing basement are due to start soon.

Heritage Lottery funding does take a number of years but we will certainly listen to any other generous offers/naming rights to gain an early start. MOSTA trustees and SAHAAS have confirmed their strong support.

The old Courtroom is now more open to visits but unfortunately the not-unsurprisingly limited means of escape from the basement cells and passage to the secure dock means that they are not yet generally open to the public.

Outline plans for the new Batchwood tennis centre have been produced with consideration of a phased construction. This minimises delay for a future increase from four courts plus different sports when additional funding is confirmed. The new bowling green is enjoying the rain as is Verulamium Lake. This is very much non-toxic contrary to Lib Dem delusions.

CLLR MIKE WAKELY

Conservative portfolio holder for sports, leisure and heritage

Oakfield Road, Harpenden

Close the ‘gates

SIR – Yess! Back. Of. The. Net!

Harpenden Conservative Cabinet (non-mandated) certainly seems to have scored a remarkable number of own goals recently. As district council elections approach, let us review some of the season’s highlights:

Lakegate: a toxic tale of pollution, dead fish and missing money;

Estate gate: High prices, broken agreements, and no boulevards;

Snailgate: The potential slaughter of a very rare colony of IUCN Red Listed animals;

Listengate: Not happening. Anywhere;

Cabinetgate: The FOI revelation that one particular Cabinet councillor has an anorexic relationship with the truth.

May 3. Time to send off the clowns.

CAROL HEDGES

Coldharbour Lane, Harpenden

An apology

SIR – An apology is necessary from the voters of Harpenden to those in St Albans. We’re really sorry to have exported our failed politicians to you.

As you’re now painfully aware, St Albans District Council is run by a cabal of ex-Harpenden town councillors, now masquerading as the Cabinet.

They all live in the affluent areas of Harpenden and are completely out of touch with ordinary people. We’re glad to be rid of them. However, take heart, they won’t be there for long, as they all have their eyes on being county councillors (it pays better!) and will be gone in a year or so.

Unless, of course, you have the good sense to get rid of them next week – just don’t send them back to us – please!

MARTYN HEDGES

Coldharbour Lane, Harpenden

Pruning the Hedges?

SIR – Spring is sprung!

Isn’t it time you cut the Hedges?

They are both taking up a lot of space and are proving to be costly to the ratepayer.

LEE ROGERS

Churchfield, Harpenden


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