Letters, July 25, 2013

PUBLISHED: 14:59 25 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:59 25 July 2013

Shameful decision over college site

SIR – Philip Webster (Letters, July 18) is absolutely right to castigate St Albans councillors for approving the hideous redevelopment proposals for the Oaklands College city centre site.

Yes, they may well provide lots of affordable housing, but at what cost? In rejecting the wise counsel of the Civic Society which advised refusal of the application, the good burghers are guilty of inflicting on us a dreadful eyesore that will further disfigure our lovely city.

When the council finally came to its senses in rejecting the original proposals for a Premier Inn in St Peter’s Street, I thought there was no chance of a similar planning atrocity being inflicted in another highly sensitive location. How wrong I was!

I am now left to wonder what future generations of Albanians will make of this decision when they come to examine the stewardship of our city, or lack of it, by all the members of the council who voted in favour of this awful scheme. Shame on you all!

GRAEME EVERS

Hatfield Road, St Albans

Disabled bays abused at Lodge

SIR – I read your front page with interest as I too have a disabled blue badge.

Whilst I feel for the individual concerned, he is parked almost blocking the gateway, and the disabled bays did not include where he is parked. The book that comes with the blue badge, clearly states where parking is permissible and about safe and responsible parking.

Parking in front of an access gateway is not, in my opinion, responsible.

However, in the driver’s defence, I have to say the parking bays for the disabled were almost non-existent at the the time of the offence (February) and I too nearly got a parking ticket because I had to park on the cross hatching behind the temporary disabled bays.

I was just lucky that I came back to my car just before a ticket was issued, and received a ticking off instead.

My main comment I would like to make though, is what is a lorry (just visible in the photo) doing parked in a disabled bay? Did the lorry driver get a ticket? Or is this another case of blatant abuse of the disabled bays? I acknowledge that some lorry drivers have blue badges but they are very few and far between.

The temporary bays were significantly abused by various people, including those who were on mobile phones and coach drivers, leaving nowhere for the disabled drivers and passengers to park.

The only access from previous disabled bays at the rear of the Westminster Lodge, was down steps – unless you wanted to walk another five hundred yards on flat surfaces.

Some people are unable to walk more than a few yards and certainly have trouble with steps!

Lorry drivers had a loading and unloading bay on the opposite side of the access road, which was also for coaches to drop off the children and then drive off to park so why would a lorry be parked in a disabled bay? This loading/unloading area, however, is now abused by coach drivers who quite happily sit in the bays waiting for the children to return, even though they have only just dropped them off, making it difficult to exit the car park safely. The sight line from the car park is severely curtailed.

SUSIE BEE

Bedmond Lane, St Albans

Thanks for all of your donations

SIR – Animal Aid would like to thank the people of Harpenden who contributed generously to our annual street collection in the town centre on Saturday, July 13, helping to raise £158.56. The money will help fund our peaceful campaigns and important educational work on all aspects of animal cruelty. For more information on how to prevent animal cruelty, please call Animal Aid on 01732 364546.

PETER SIMPSON

Animal Aid Volunteer Co-ordinator

Peers Lane, Shenley Church End, Milton Keynes

Sign up against night flights

SIR – According to the most recent Luton Airport planning application, Technical Appendix H Appendix N(3) Tables 01 and 03, Luton Airport intend to double the number of night flights from 17 to 35 and add six more flights between 5am and 6am.

Night flights at Luton Airport are currently unregulated and affect far more people than at London City Airport, which has a night movements curfew. Planes from Luton Airport are much bigger. There are more night movements at Luton than at Heathrow.

The World Health Organisation links noise disturbance at night to serious health problems.

There is an online petition at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/luton-airport-significantly-reduce-night-flights?utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

Please ask your readers to sign this petition and put pressure on our MP to stop this unnecessary night-time expansion of Luton Airport which is mainly run for the financial benefit of its Spanish operators and Luton Borough Council, to the detriment of its neighbours.

PETER MANNELL

Aldwickbury Crescent, Harpenden

All we want is some peace and quiet

SIR – I am so pleased that Steve Pryor has no problem with overflying aircraft. I note that he lives at the bottom end of Granby Avenue on the even-numbered side (the word bottom is not in a derogatory sense, it is just that the road slopes downwards).

If he lived at the top end of the road on the odd-numbered side, he would have heard as we did, when lying in bed one morning, 15 planes flying overhead between 6.10 and 7.10 am. After that, we lost count.

Numerous other planes frequently fly across our back gardens during the day from right to left, when as retired persons, we hope to spend a quiet time outside. As I write at 2.30pm, three planes have passed over.

WENDY SHARP

Granby Avenue, Harpenden

Airport bus service shortsightedness

SIR – As with your earlier correspondents I am also disappointed in the short-sightedness of Luton Council and Luton Airport management regarding a public bus service to the airport.

There is now no public bus service direct to the airport from south Hertfordshire with the demise of the 321 and 757 services. Surely the 321 service was hardly competition to National Express?

With no competition National Express will charge whatever they want.

Are St Albanites, people of Watford, Wheathampstead and Harpenden supposed to travel into London to pick up the new service?

What will now happen is people will use cars and taxis to the airport, a move the airport clearly dislikes.

Luton Council and Luton Airport management have shot themselves in the foot over this poorly thought out public bus service provision.

With planned Luton Airport passenger expansion it’s about time British Rail constructed a train service line into the airport complex.

STEPHEN TYAS

The Ridgeway, St Albans

Arriva caught with their pants down

SIR – Leslie Freitag in his letter of July 18 is, I am sure, correct in saying that Arriva run the Greenline 757 as a commercial service. Of course they do and they had a contract to run the service into Luton Airport.

The contract was due to expire on May 1, 2013, and renewal discussions which began last year were ongoing, with other competitors invited to submit quotes. We are in the 21st Century when business is tough and cut throat. I’m afraid for Arriva to think it was just a paper exercise as Leslie suggests shows breathtaking naivety on their part.

Many local people are not interested in whether or not the 757 or indeed National Express coaches run into Luton Airport. I wonder how many people from St Albans or Harpenden took their families and luggage out to Bricket Wood just to catch a 757?

Much easier I would have thought to board the local 321 to Luton Airport. But now they can’t. Arriva now runs a shuttle into the Airport (so they still have a parking place and it is wrong to say that Arriva buses can no longer go into the Airport) so not too much damage has been done, but it is a real inconvenience for no good reason.

I think Arriva were caught with their pants down on this one and are now trying to recover a situation that need never have happened.

Oh and as an afterthought I bet readers think that Station Approach in Harpenden is the Queen’s Highway. Tell that to Network Rail to whom it belongs!

BOB GUNNING

Field Close, Harpenden

No need for this toxic business

SIR – A few weeks ago I had to go for a rare ultrasound check-up and was sent to a London Colney GP surgery which I have never attended before.

Since losing my 26-year-old husband to cancer 26 years ago after being told he had sciatica by five local GPs I haven’t been a huge fan of going to the doctor’s.

Luckily for me when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 12 years ago and told that I was on medication for life I decided to change my lifestyle.

And after six years on medication and a radical new eating regime my colitis went into remission and I gave up taking medication for good.

I have spent the past 15 years being fascinated by health, healing and well-being. So, on entering the GP surgery I was horrified to see perched on the front reception desk leaflets for Botox! I was so shocked!

Why, I asked , was cosmetic surgery, and in particular, Botox, being advertised in this way? Botox is full of toxic substances that in the cutting edge world of health are known to cause disease! I was told that the Botox was the private business of the GP at the surgery! Promoting a private commercial business through the NHS!

So when I heard last night that the cosmetic surgeon candidate had won The Apprentice I was very disappointed because the winner is promoting a product that defies everything I believe in: natural, toxic-free living for a healthy, happy, abundant life!

The lips on the winning candidate were surely enough to put anyone off wanting Botox? I just don’t get it. What is so radically warped within our society that we see putting harsh toxic chemicals into our bodies as beautifying?

Toxins that are known to tip the PH balance into an unhealthily acidic enviroment where disease is comfortable and health cannot survive? Where our daughters are growing up to believe that to be beautiful and successful you need lips pumped with poison, fake boobs and unnatural chemicals paralysing your beautiful being?

What is happening to us as a species? Why did Lord Sugar agree to a business opportunity over an ethical important topic on why our young girls and grown women are so obsessed with destroying the health of their bodies in the name of beauty! Beauty comes from within... radiance, peace of mind, self- love and acceptance... eating right foods, exercising! We live in a quick-fix world, and I would have thought that someone like Alan Sugar might have used his status in a more ethical and heartfelt way.

LIZ KALOCZI

Host of Inspired Talk on Radio Verulam 92.6FM on Wednesdays 8-10pm, www.shaktitv.co.uk

Cottonmill Lane, St Albans

Ex-councillor is ill-informed

SIR – Matthew Peck (Letters, July 18) fires wildly in all directions in his attempt to discredit the Labour Party. This time the comparison is with North Korea rather than Hitler, but the claims are equally baseless.

Britain is not self-sufficient in food production, but is able to import enough food from its economic activity, although the rise in the need for charity food banks since 2010 is remarkable. Farms are not state-owned, but the taxpayer supports farmers with over £3 billion per year, much of which goes to large, wealthy farmers rather than the struggling small farmer.

The government has resisted European calls for a cap on the amount given to any one farmer, a point lost on Ian Duncan Smith whose family has received millions in these state benefits.

The mischievous claim that Labour was responsible for thousands of hospital deaths has been condemned by Sir Bernard Keogh, author of the report quoted.

Patients die in hospitals for many reasons, but rarely through lack of care. Some hospitals have low death rates because dying patients are moved into hospices or are treated at home, other because they do not deal with many life-threatening cases. Hospital death rates decreased steadily between 1997 and 2010. The interpretation of the statistics is not at all simple, but politicians are particularly prone to making crude generalisations to suit their philosophy.

Both NHS and private providers have had instances of poor care, but the NHS is more rigorously monitored.

Mr Peck claims that the Labour Party represents only the workers, but curiously not their families. If he is referring to the situation in 1901 when few working men and no women had the vote, and where the Conservative and Liberal parties resisted all efforts to improve the lot of working families, then it is hardly surprising that there was a need for a party to stand up for the poor. Since then all parties have changed their priorities according to circumstances.

It is nonsense to say that Labour only supports teachers, not children or parents. Labour brought in many welcome reforms, such as SureStart centres, some of which have been closed under the present government.

Many teachers are naturally hostile to Mr Gove’s ideas, many of which are unsupported by evidence or experience, for example the need for a complete re-write of the much-ridiculed first draft of his history syllabus.

The Conservatives have been too ready to attack all public servants and academics, and to ignore the results of evidence-based research.

All we learn from Mr Peck’s letter is that he is anti-Labour, and not well-informed.

GAVIN ROSS

Connaught Road, Harpenden

Thanks for support over Gathering

SIR – On behalf of Harpenden Lions Club, I would like to thank everyone who attended the Harpenden Lions Highland Gathering on Sunday, July 14. Thousands of people had a very happy and enjoyable day out and enabled us to make sizeable donations to our chosen charities: Parkinson’s UK, HomeStart St Albans & District and Harpenden Lions charities, including our ‘Life Skills’ programme in local schools.

Additionally I would like to thank sponsors, advertisers, stallholders, exhibitors and many others who have contributed to the event – it would not be possible without their generosity. I would also like to thank the pipe bands, dancers, competitors and performers for entertaining us so well during the day. Special thanks to all the voluntary and commercial organisations with whom we partnered as well as St Albans District Council and Harpenden Town Council who helped in so many ways to make the event possible.

Harpenden Lions Club is an active service organisation, open to men and women, who like to have a good time as well as raising money for good causes and assisting those who need help.

We are always looking for like-minded people to join the club to take part in events such as the Highland Gathering. It is very rewarding and fulfilling.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to find out more about becoming a member please contact me through our dedicated line 0845 833 7426 or e-mail me on andrew.godden@harpenden-lions.co.uk.

ANDREW GODDEN

President, Harpenden Lions Club

Alzey Gardens, Harpenden

Immorality of car park charges

SIR – The Herts Advertiser editorial column of July 18 rightly expressed cynicism regarding the West Herts Hospitals Trust’s new parking charges following its “listening exercise”.

In all the correspondence and discussions which have taken place over the past few months one basic issue has been overlooked, that is that it is immoral to charge for car parking at hospitals!

No doubt the hospital authorities would say that car parking is a facility which it provides that needs to be paid for. But this approach could be applied to other facilities which are provided, e.g. chairs for visitors to sit on, or toilet facilities. (I hope that by saying this I haven’t encouraged hospitals to start charging for all patient/visitor facilities!)

To come back to the serious question of car parking, nobody goes to a hospital for pleasure. Visiting hospital is a serious and stressful business whether one is a patient or visitor and the authorities should not be seeking to make money out of it.

Even in this materialistic age it is immoral and it is only in relatively recent times that it has been charged for.

If the WHHT insists that it must cover the cost of providing parking facilities then it should at least be open and honest about what the true cost of providing the facility is. By this I mean only the annual maintenance cost for the car park plus a cost for “policing” it, say a check by a member of staff every 30 minutes.

There should be no additional costs added to cover the provision of hospital buildings, equipment and management/administrative staff.

If WHHT wishes to be taken seriously regarding its integrity then it should tell us what the true cost has been based on the formula mentioned above for the past three years and then show the revenue received for the same period by each hospital and the private company providing car parking. This information could be given to the public through the pages of this newspaper.

I do realise that the situation at Watford General Hospital is slightly complicated due to the proximity of Watford FC’s ground to the hospital, but as there are only 23 league games plus, perhaps, three cup games during the year this should not be a problem beyond the ability of any competent management to resolve.

KEN SHUTTLEWORTH

Reynards Way, Bricket Wood

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