Letters, January 27, 2011, part one
PUBLISHED: 11:08 27 January 2011
SIR – It is regrettable, and surprising, that the prominent front page story in the Harpenden Edition of the January 20 Herts Advertiser, dealing with the closure of the White Horse gastropub, should contain such a fundamental error, describing Hatching Green as ‘Kinsbourne Green’.
Please inform your (unnamed) reporter, who is clearly so lacking in local knowedge that he or she should go on a St Albans district crash geography course, that Kinsbourne Green and Hatching Green are some two miles apart, respectively on the northern and southern outskirts of Harpenden.
Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden
(Editor’s comment: As you can imagine, we were horrified by this error, and can only apologise for such a silly mistake, which was just human error rather than a lack of geographical knowledge. This story was only confirmed minutes before deadline and that is probably why such a blunder slipped through our normally rigorous proofing process.)
SIR – We read with great shock and sadness about the proposed closure of the ‘Flagship’ rehabilitation unit, The Causeway in the Herts Advertiser (January 13).
From our perspective and personal experience of the place we cannot praise it enough. It provides such a unique service and is completely second to none. Our son recently spent nearly two years in rehab there and it has completely turned his life round.
It gave him the right quality of support on his road to recovery and guidance for independent living he now has. We will always be grateful for him being given the opportunity to have a placement there. It will be such a tragic shame if the unit closes as it provides a much needed service for our community.
The staff team are not only very dedicated but both highly focused and skilled in mental health.
We do hope that Causeway remains open and available to help many others who may be in need of this most invaluable resource in the future
MR & MRS KAY AND PETER HOUSE
Explaining the Baccalaureate
SIR – Following the article in the Herts Advertiser of January 13 regarding the proposed introduction of the English Baccalaureate, I thought it would be helpful to give an additional perspective.
Schools are judged on their success based on a variety of data some of which is selected to determine positions in league tables but clearly there is no single best measure.
Historically, schools were judged on five A* to C GCSE grades and more recently on five A* to C including English and maths.
These statistics measured attainment only and most schools were pleased when progress measures were brought in such as the CVA (Contextual Value Added) measure which gave an indication of progress of students from the end of primary school (KS2) to the end of compulsory school (KS4).
However, the way GCSEs and vocational qualifications are currently calculated gives a lot of weight to the latter.
Some of these qualifications can be taught in the same amount of time as one GCSE, but are awarded the points’ equivalent of two GCSEs and some are even worth four GCSEs.
There is no doubt that these are good qualifications that suit many students.
However, they do have an impact on schools’ data to the disadvantage of those schools where the majority of students opt for a more traditional curriculum.
The English Baccalaureate adds a new dimension to league tables in that it measures the percentage of five A* to C grades in a named range of subjects.
It is by no means a perfect measure as the rationale for choosing particular subjects is not clear, for example RE is clearly a humanities subject but has not been included and there is also a strong argument for including economics. Equally, it ignores valuable subjects such as technology, sport and the arts.
Nevertheless, this new measure does give recognition to schools whose students have opted for a more traditional GCSE package and until the equivalency issues between different qualifications are addressed this is arguably a fairer measure.
I would urge anyone looking at data on schools to refer to the DfE website http://www.education.gov.uk/performancetables/schools_10.shtml which has a wide range of data and should give as balanced a view as possible about different schools.
Protect St Peter’s before it’s too late
SIR – Ever since your local council collaborated with Herts Highways in spending £6.5 million on despoiling St Peter’s Street, they have both, regularly, attempted to close it to normal traffic.
The latest version of their “Core Strategy” continues this policy.
It is important that you make your views known, as the questionnaire is seriously flawed in both the style of questions and the weight given to each concept, and as such is very open to misinterpretation.
It is not therefore a suitable basis for decision making, and thus a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Of the 10 questions you are asked to agree or disagree with, three address a single topic, while Q5 covers seven totally distinct topics with only one answer allowed for all; so if you would like more schools (which is nothing to do with the local council anyway!) you are forced to implicitly agree with closing St Peter’s Street.
To further limit your responses, it is impossible to reach the final question, “Anything you would like to add”, without answering all of the previous nine in a manner which they will accept.
I therefore suggest that the only way in which we can protect St Peter’s Street – or any other topic – is to write, before February 7, to: John Chapman, Planning Policy Manager, St Albans Council, St Peter’s Street, St Albans AL1 3JE, or email to email@example.com
Barncroft Way, St Albans
Thank you Herts Ad
SIR – I would like to thank the Herts Advertiser and your team of reporters for the service you have given to the public in the cause of civil liberties, free speech to the common man, and exposés of powerful institutions and their cavalier attitude to the public and especially myself! (‘Handcuffed and humiliated after false knife accusation’, Herts Advertiser, January 13.)
Also their arrogance and hubris in still not apologising as I requested (which is all I wanted).
You gave me a voice when I had none, a way to tell the good public and my customers of 22 years (denied to me by Sainsbury’s and the police) that I was not arrested (as it looked like), was totally innocent of the bogus Sainsbury’s charges, and that I was not some nutter, or shoplifter, etc..
If I had been dressed in the “middle class” uniform of suit and briefcase as accused by last week’s letter writer I suspect I would have not been troubled! But I was not, and am proud to be working class from a council estate background.
Thank you again.
The Outdoor Shop, St Albans
Police station closure shock
SIR – I’m the county council member for the Colneys, I represent London Colney and Colney Heath and I was shocked to learn of the closure of London Colney Police Station.
I was not informed prior to this decision being made on Friday January 14. I also find that both parish councils were only told on Thursday, January 13, of a possible closure and the police sergeant responsible for the station was told at 1.30pm on January 14.
I think this is outrageous, there has been no public consultation and not even the local councillors or the police officers serving in London Colney were consulted.
London Colney Police Station supports both London Colney and Colney Heath. Residents are very angry. I will be looking at ways I can help them to direct that anger at reversing the decision.
My fear is that now it is to close the public perception will be that the police are further away. Where there is a police station people feel they have somewhere to go, even if it is not always open they can still use the phone outside and it is a symbol of police presence. The public and the criminals will feel that the police are not about any more – that is what concerns me about this closure.
I was told before the last election that our public services would be protected. Rural areas do not have violent crime on a daily basis but we do have anti-social behaviour and petty crime.
At the HPA meeting on January 14 to discuss the proposals they voted for closure and maintained that services would not be affected, adding that a strong police presence will still be felt in the area.
A strong presence will not be felt in the area, the police are moving into St Albans away from the villages and leaving them vulnerable.
I thought it was quite enlightening on how the police are thinking when I read that the Greater Manchester Chief Constable said there would be a need to prioritise policing in the future, police stations would have to close and “discretionary” activity by patrol officers would be cut.
He said the most difficult decisions would come in years three and four, when “we really get into frontline savings” and I fear that means more cut backs.
Over the Christmas period a maximum of 23 officers were on call to cover Tring, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans and due to demand they were overstretched.
How can closing a station and moving the police to a city centre location protect our residents and I do not believe the service will be improved.
I am told by the Authority that £39m of savings have to be made over four years and these savings will lead to more police being on the street.
Forgive me if I do not agree with this analysis and I think you will see fewer police officers on the street.
The Police Federation chairman claimed that police numbers, which recently peaked at 142,000 uniformed officers, could fall to “levels last seen in the bad old days of the 1970s, when the comparison was made on the basis of officers per hundred thousand residents. There will be fewer police officers patrolling a wider area”.
They will be prioritising crime and they will be under enormous pressure to save on overtime.
I will be campaigning for the retention of London Colney Police Station and I have written to the County Council, our MP and the Parish Councils to highlight this grave issue.
I think it is a backward step to close police stations and as the majority of our Council Tax goes to fund the police authority it sends out the wrong signal to the residents of the Colneys.
Park Lane, Colney Heath