Letters, February 24, 2011, part one

PUBLISHED: 11:14 24 February 2011

Verge vandals

SIR – I was interested to read the article in the Herts Advertiser of February 10 regarding the damage caused to grass verges by inconsiderate drivers.

This is a problem I see every time I walk up the Sandridge Road in St Albans. Curiously enough the culprits in this area appear to be the very people who one would think would be annoyed at such damage (i.e. people living along the road and tradesmen working for them).

I hasten to add that it is only a minority of residents who apparently drive over and/or park on the Sandrige Road wastes, but those who do succeed in leaving ugly scars, ruts and bare patches, as well as obstructing the passage of other people walking across the wastes.

According to the 1955 byelaw “Parking on any part of these wastes is forbidden and proceedings will be taken against offenders”. Has this ever happened? If not, why not? Perhaps the sometimes excessive enthusiasm of local parking officials could every now and then be redirected away from booking people exceeding their parking voucher time by five minutes.

While in the area, these officials could address the dangerous and illegal practice of parking on the pavement; only last week I witnessed an elderly lady on a mobility scooter riding the wrong way down the Sandridge Road to get past a vehicle that was completely blocking the pavement.

However, I would much prefer that no one has to be warned, fined or clamped.

Rather, can I appeal to those concerned to drive and park their vehicles with due respect and consideration for other users of the area, and for the environment.

ROD WOODWARD

Lancaster Road, St Albans

SIR – I read with interest your article on lazy drivers churning up district’s grass verges (Herts Advertiser, February 10).

This kind of behaviour has been going on for months in my street as there are improvements going on at Mandeville School.

I’ve written to Herts Highways about this problem just asking for some wooden pillars to be put in but they say it’s too expensive. Outside my house there is a green area with large trees, it was a lovely area.

The people who pick up their kids from school are the offenders and the nurses who work at the annexe at the school.

Even the residents are at fault despite them having a driveway, so I either do it myself or put up with such an eyesore as nobody seems to bother with the problem.

The Herts Advertiser needs to take photos as the one printed is nothing compared to this; it’s just a muddy mess.

MRS N CARSON

Mandeville Drive, St Albans

Bloated council is unnecessary

SIR – There is one Member of Parliament per constituency and one county councillor per county division.

We do not need more than one district councillor per ward. In the four years (2000-04) that I represented Park Street as their district councillor, I attended all 20 full council meetings throughout. All matters were dealt with without any real debate.

There were often amendments to the agenda approved without due notice. These agendas were decided beforehand by the district cabinet. A small group is far more effective than a large one.

This St Albans and District Council spends about £50 million per year of our money, and employs about 400 people.

Smaller governance will release time and talent to do things more cost-effectively, even if redundancy agreements cost a bob or two.

For example, squirrel-catchers now enjoy the job and are more effective since going it alone. Kate Bretherton’s book shows how to improve our arboreta. Council leisure services co-operate with volunteers to garden the Abbey’s north churchyard. Community radio (Radio Verulam here) is a voluntary jewel in local media crowns.

Bring back the Friends of St Albans City Hospital and almoners like Jane Campbell. They never really went away. Our Big Society’s here to stay.

MICHAEL JAMESON

Marlborough Gate, St Albans

College bus route campaign

SIR – We have been trying for 18 months to get the times of the S8 and S9 bus service slightly changed so that instead of the bus being virtually empty, a few St Columba’s students can use it to get to and from the Sandpit Lane area to the college.

The bus times are currently not compatible with the beginning and end of the school day despite the fact that the bus actually stops at a bust stop called ‘St Columba’s College’!

For example, in the afternoon the bus is scheduled to leave this stop two minutes before the end of the official college day.

By making minor alterations, a revised timetable would reduce the use of a number of cars across the city, something which the traffic system as well as the carbon emission could well do without.

Phone calls to the bus operators Uno have been made as well as emails sent.

They have sympathy with the case, but it is not their decision and we have been assured that our comments have been passed on, but still the timetable which was last revised on September 28, 2009, has not been changed.

Any ideas how we could help this further in order to save the environment and actually help the bus company get more passengers – surely most logical!?

NAME & ADDRESS SUPPLIED

Children’s centres are safe

SIR – Following the recent launch of a nationwide Netmums campaign to save children’s centres, I am writing to reassure parents, carers and families across Hertfordshire, as well as all the subscribers to the website, that Hertfordshire County Council is committed to keeping all 82 children’s centres across the county open.

Hertfordshire County Council members have taken the decision to maintain the funding for Children’s Centres at current levels in cash terms from April 2011 until March 2013.

Instead of the Sure Start Grant, the funding now comes from the Government’s new Early Intervention Grant (EIG) and is allocated according to the number of under-fives in each area and levels of local need with an emphasis on improving outcomes for children from the poorest families. The use of this grant is not ring fenced.

In April 2010, Hertfordshire completed its countywide network of children’s centres, which were set up in three phases from 2006. Each centre is commissioned by HCC and run through a lead agency often from the voluntary and community sector.

The lead agency is responsible for staffing and delivery of services to an average of 800 children aged nought to five and their families.

Retaining the current level of revenue funding, and ensuring that the funds are targeted on children from disadvantaged backgrounds through the revised funding formula, will ensure that our children’s centres continue to make a positive difference to families in Hertfordshire.

For more information visit www.hertschildrenscentres.org.uk/

CLLR JANE PITMAN

Lead Member for Children’s Services

Hertfordshire County Council

U-turn over mobility payments?

SIR – The architect of the welfare reforms, Iain Duncan Smith, said at Toynbee Hall on February 17, that the government had listened to the people and that no one in a care home will lose the money they need for mobility.

This represents an important shift in the government’s thinking in respect of the proposed changes to disability living allowance and has receive little press or media coverage.

In order that the change is not easily overlooked I ask readers to write to their MPs and invite them to confirm they support the government’s change of direction.

ROBERT BONNINGTON

Arretine Close, St Albans

Consultation concerns

SIR – May I link two stories in your edition of February 17?

On page seven you report that more than half the people at the St Stephen’s Parish Public Forum on the Core Strategy Consultation were from Chiswell Green.

This was because they had read in the previous week’s edition of your paper of a request by a developer for people to vote in favour of a retirement home on Green Belt in Chiswell Green and they went to the meeting to show their opposition to the proposal.

On the same page you report a huge response to this consultation.Partly this is to be expected because of the emotive issues raises re: building on the Green Belt. Partly it could well be because there was no way to prevent multiple voting.

It was a case of following the old adage ‘Vote early, vote often’ If people were seriously concerned one way or the other about schools on the Green Belt or retirement homes on green belt it was very easy for anyone to vote as many times as they liked on the issues.

I suggest that the council take whatever result comes from the voting with a very large pinch of salt and rely heavily on the public meetings and other direct contact with their constituents.

ROBERT BOLT

Forge End, Chiswell Green

Justice must be seen to be done

SIR – I commend your comment column last week when you again referred to the case of “boy racer” Roberts Dales who, as a result of incompetence by the CPS seems to have got off very lightly from causing the death of Rachel Deradour through careless driving.

It seems a sad reflection on our judicial system that the case did not meet the criterion espoused by the character in The Mikado who said “Let the punishment fit the crime”. And it certainly did not meet the views of one of our most distinguished lawyers in the 1920s, Viscount Hewart, who said “ ---it is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”.

More recently, Master of the Rolls Lord Denning would have agreed and I’ll lay odds he would have had strong words to say to the appeal judge in the Dales case who even reduced “the least severe sentence possible” given by the judge in the first instance.

With Kenneth Clarke’s reputation for sparing the rod I fear we could be in for a long wait for justice for victims such as the Deradour family to receive even the slightest comfort.

PHILIP WEBSTER

Townsend Drive, St Albans

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