Letters, February 24, 2011, part two

PUBLISHED: 11:13 24 February 2011

Budget stores snobbery

SIR – I am often incensed when reading in your paper the views of some of your readers. However, this is the first time I have put pen to paper.

The views that have prompted me to do so are those expressed in the letters headed “Budget stores are unwelcome here”. I have seldom seen expressed such snobbish views.

There are some people living in St Albans who do not have an income of around £35,000 pa, myself included.

I therefore welcome a shop that will sell me a great range of branded goods at less than the supermarket price.

What about all of the people who work in the shops in St Albans, their income is not £35,000 pa, far from it.

Check out the salary of those civil servants working in the courts and the other government offices in the city, they do not earn £35,000 pa, much nearer £15,000.

Your correspondents would perhaps like all citizens of St Albans to pass an income test before being allowed to live here in order to keep St Albans exclusive.

What about the Tesco shop in St Peter’s Street; surely, according to your correspondents’ views, that should be a Waitrose or maybe they would like to see a branch of Fortnum and Mason open in St Albans.

DOREEN COURT

How Wood, Park Street

SIR – It is obvious from the comments of Barry Cashin that he has not visited one of these budget stores as he calls them that sell throwaway goods.

Many of the items sold in these stores are top brand names and the same goods can be purchased in all of our local shops and supermarkets (check out the food, washing, toothpaste, shampoos and medication brands, etc.).

In a recent survey it was found some of the major supermarket chains actually match and are in some cases are cheaper than these stores when selling exactly the same brands and goods.

It seems that Mr Cashin also does not like McDonald’s, KFC, Cash Converters or pawn shops.

If you stand outside of Harrods in Knightsbridge you can see the very same shops which can also be found in towns and villages throughout the country and not just St Albans.

Obviously he has not had a good look around St Albans lately to see we do have a number of similar shops that have been in existence for many years which add to the prosperity of the town.

It is not SADC that brings these type of shops to our city but the demand and need of the majority of the public.

RICHARD HOUSDEN

Address supplied

SIR – I read with exasperation the comments in last week’s letters page deploring the advent of pound shops in St Albans.

The tone of the letters your paper chose to print was, I’m afraid to say, one of rank snobbery and showed the writers, who presumably think themselves above citizens in less salubrious parts of Hertfordshire to be lacking in basic manners let alone any sense of community spirit beyond the St Albans borders.

Comments such as “Dear God! Is St Albans morphing into Hatfield?” demonstrate nimbyism at its least attractive.

I have often been struck by how many negative impressions people here have of our neighbouring town.

Yes, there is more attractive architecture in St Albans – excepting the quiet and serene Old Hatfield, a nice contrast to traffic-congested St Albans as increasing numbers of the middle classes choose to shoe-horn themselves into ever smaller overpriced properties.

No, the demographic in Hatfield probably isn’t ABC1 – but I have made some great friends there, some of whom I’d probably rather share a lifeboat with than with some St Albans residents.

A few bargain shops aren’t going to drag St Peter’s Street into the gutter as the panicky letters fear.

It’s been well reported that many better-off people have discovered pound shops as a refreshing alternative to the big supermarkets who charge too much for goods we all need, e.g. batteries or deodorant.

Are your letter-writers aware that even many St Albans citizens are now living with pay freezes and big rises in their grocery bills?

CHARLOTTE HERON

Address supplied

SIR – Regarding Mr Barry Cashin’s letter ‘Budget stores are unwelcome here’, I fear his condescending, and frankly snobbish, views may be considered to be typical of St Albans residents.

However, Mr Cashin does not represent me or any of my friends – none of whom earn his predicted ‘average salary’ of £35,000 per year!

Not all of us living and working in St Albans can afford to shop in Waitrose, Mr Cashin (could there be a more appropriate name for this topic?!) As is evident from the queues in Pound World, many of us appreciate a discount.

His suggestion that such shops sell ‘stuff that lasts five minutes’ shows you have never actually visited either of these stores. Pound World sells items (specifically name-brand shampoos, shower gels, cleaning products, etc.) which are also sold in Waitrose or Boots – yet at often triple or even quadruple the price.

If he wishes to pay exorbitant prices for goods which can be purchased for much less – please feel free!

That can only reduce the queues for those of us who are not ashamed to shop in these ‘paragons of penny-pinching parsimony’ as he laughably terms them.

MS S EVANS

Address supplied

Still got the hump over speed bumps

SIR – Mike Hartley, in his letter of February 17, claims that chicanes, pinch points and speed humps are not fundamentally dangerous to cyclists and he wants to lay the entire blame for my son’s accident on the driver who drove closely past him.

Accidents are usually the result of a hazardous condition and a triggering event.

In this case the hazardous condition was the hump, with its sloping edge near the kerb, and the triggering event was the driver leaving not enough room.

Take away either the hazard or the event and it is unlikely that my son would have fallen off and broken his wrist.

It is very hard to mitigate or eliminate triggering events – they are usually the result of a momentary lapse of concentration or a misjudgement on the part of a road user.

It tends to be much easier to remove the hazardous condition.

So, while I have no doubt that the car driver was a major contributor to the accident, there is very little that I can do to prevent them doing it again.

On the other hand, removing obstructions in the road that create hazards, do untold damage to the tyres, suspension and steering of all vehicles, and which have no proven safety benefit, is something I can do something about and I will continue to campaign tirelessly to that end.

I do, of course, also encourage all drivers to be familiar with, and follow, the Highway Code, and pursue advanced driver training (as I did) to reduce the likelihood of them contributing to collisions or casualties.

ERIC BRIDGSTOCK

Evans Grove, St Albans

A tale of three cities

SIR – A tale of three cathedral cities, Canterbury, St Albans and Winchester... Winchester with its Purple Flag and Canterbury seem to value their city’s heritage and city environment much better than St Albans.

Purple Flag has been designed as an objective assessment that will help improve city centres at night.

Most significantly it is designed to provide recognition that a centre is managing its night time experience and thus help overcome any negative public perceptions that may exist.

Purple Flag provides the opportunity for successful centres to present themselves in their true colours and in a positive light to town centre users, including operators, residents, tourists and visitors.

Canterbury has acres of ‘George Streets’ with car access limited and a veritable selection of shops both to the benefit of shoppers.

St Albans arguably has much more heritage than Winchester and Canterbury with its Roman city, cathedral, Civil War battlefields and previous famous residents including Nicholas Breakspear, Francis Bacon, Sam Ryder, Stanley Kubrick and Stephen Hawking.

However, while St Albans has a great out-of-town Roman museum and outstanding cathedral it only has a limited museum run by dedicated staff. With the recent incorporation of an art gallery the museum portion is sadly even smaller.

The Lib Dem SADC cabinet prefers to spend £300,000 on a City Vision and £174,000 on public relations just trying to impress its residents and mentioning the Lib Dem cabinet members rather than entice tourists in from nearby London.

This City Vision unbelievably seems to fail to consider the financial costs of their recommendations while the SADC cabinet spends £25 million on a same-size new swimming pool, hopes to sell for £6m Ridgeview, a centre for vulnerable homeless residents and aims to leave the city in an additional debt of £13m (p26 of SADC Guide to budget full of other worries).

All rather than improve the centre of our great city.

The Lib Dem cabinet’s latest response as a cost cutting exercise seems to be to dump a third of the democratically elected councillors who dare question their actions.

MIKE WAKELY

Shadow Portfolio Culture and Heritage

Oakfield Road, Harpenden

Recycling over incineration

SIR – I’m writing to say how delighted I am that human rights lawyer, Lord David Pannick QC, will be joining the fight against building a waste incinerator in Radlett (QC joins in fight against Radlett incinerator plans, February 17).

I completely oppose the building of this incinerator, but wonder if the residents of Radlett, aside from campaigning against this proposal, are also spending their time talking to the public about recycling, writing to their supermarkets to demand a reduction of excessive packaging and canvassing their MP to improve the recycling facilities across the county?

It’s waste that we’re all responsible for, and unless we take collective responsibility and personal action to reduce, reuse and recycle our waste we’ll have to continually fight against similar proposals, even in delightful places such as Radlett.

I hope the residents of Hatfield will find a person of similar standing to that of Lord Pannick to help fight their cause.

G PATRICK

Address supplied

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