Letters, June 14, 2012

PUBLISHED: 11:30 14 June 2012

Answers please from Helioslough

Sir – Helioslough. A recent letter from Park Street has highlighted much of the disinformation that Helioslough and its lobbyist wishes us to believe.

It would be interesting to know whether Helioslough have offset their costs against Corporation Tax. The ratepayers of Hertfordshire have not been able to do so.

All the money that has been spent fighting the proposal has been post income tax and has involved man-hours of valuable time. It has come at a cost to other vital services in the surrounding boroughs.

Helioslough claim that the jobs created will enhance the public purse, if so, let it be stress tested to include financial, economic, environmental, transport and health issues.

Only then will we get an idea of what we are in for.

Michael de Ruyter

Hill Street, St Albans

Herts Aid hits back

Sir – I read Mr Murtagh’s letter (Herts Advertiser, June 7) and would like to have the opportunity to respond and give some facts about Herts Aid and the service we provide. Firstly, I would like to say that Herts Aid is a learning organisation, always seeking to improve our services and communication, and this is an underlying value that we have.

Herts Aid’s office premises in Watford consist of a large function room and a second office that we rent on a monthly basis. We have access to the building at any time, and operate services throughout the working week as well as on some evenings and weekends.

Our staff members providing support to HIV positive people and their families are based in either Ware or Watford. We have one full-time support worker at each site, and a support lead who works across both sites.

Our support workers do travel from our office bases to see service users in their homes or other venues, in order to maximise access for people. Some of the service users we support are in care homes or are wheelchair bound, and if we operated only out of an office base expecting people to come to us for support we would be excluding some from being able to receive services.

We believe offering flexibility and choice to people as to where and how they wish to receive services is an inclusive way of operating. Feedback from service users has also told us that not everyone is comfortable accessing a known HIV support service centre due to fear of facing stigma or discrimination as a result of their confidentiality being breached.

Mr Murtagh suggests that Herts Aid knew from 2010 that we were going to be delivering a countywide service. This is untrue. Herts Aid was asked by Hertfordshire County Council in January 2011 whether we would be prepared to consider extending our service countywide.

Mr Murtagh states that the majority of people living with HIV in Hertfordshire are in the west of the county. There is in fact a wide spread of people living with HIV in Hertfordshire according to the Health Protection Agency data from 2010. This is the reason we have chosen the service delivery model we have. The numbers by area of people aged 15-59 receiving clinical care for HIV in Hertfordshire is as follows: Watford: 165 people: 3.01/1,000 of population; Stevenage: 97 people: 1.92/1,000 of population; Welwyn/Hatfield: 137 people: 1.89/1,000 of population; Hertsmere: 90 people: 1.53/1,000 of population; North Herts: 76 people: 1.03/1,000 of population; Broxbourne and Dacorum: 52 and 84 respectively: 0.98/1,000 of population; St Albans: 70 people: 0.85/1,000 of population; East Herts: 53 people: 0.64 /1,000 of population; Three Rivers: 29 people: 0.24/1,000 of population.

Finally, Mr Murtagh states that there has been no improvement to services in the west. Herts Aid has introduced a number of services in the west not previously available to people living with HIV. These include access to a specialist CAB advisory service, job/computer clubs, service user forums, a positive self-management programme, access to wavelength radio scheme and the food bank scheme. We are also starting volunteer-led small group socialising in five locations across the county in July to ensure that people are able to meet up with others in their local area.

Suzanne Bannister

Executive Director of Herts Aid

Grateful thanks from town’s mayor

SIR – Having just stepped down as Harpenden’s Town Mayor I simply want to thank everyone in our very wide community who not only supported me but who made it such a rewarding experience.

In our local community we have a high fabric of voluntary and social work going on all around us all the time that really binds us together. The Big Society as they call it nowadays already exists in Harpenden. In my year I have attended over 150 civic functions. Every single one was a pleasure to visit – take for example seeing the fun of the Scouts Gang Show and four year olds receiving graduation certificates at Busy Bees heading for “big school”.

The job of Mayor is not just civic or ceremonial it also had a serious function. As leader of the Council one of the main targets I set last year was to bring back to Harpenden certain assets (five in total), such as parklands that were being administered by the District Council. I am delighted to say that working very well together with SADC we have virtually achieved this goal, a typical one which Harpenden residents seem to feel close to their hearts.

As a former long term shopkeeper (sometimes nicknamed “Arkwright” in the town) it is not surprising that one of my main driving forces has been to see our town centres thrive and prosper, as I so strongly believe a vibrant shopping centre is the hub of our community. For all sorts of reasons it seems to work in Harpenden, evidenced by the fact that our shop vacancy rate is one of the lowest in the whole country. However, nothing stands still, particularly in these tough economic times, and all our councils, I can assure you, will not be complacent in trying to keep Harpenden the place it is.

It has been a high honour to serve this wonderful town and our community as Mayor. I can only say “thank you” once again to everyone who has supported and worked with me to make this such a rewarding experience. Like many before me I tried hard to uphold all the best traditions of the office. I now hand over to a lady, Nicola Linacre, who shares a love of this town and is someone you can totally rely on in this year ahead.

Michael Weaver

Harpenden Town Council

Help for wife has restored my faith

SIR – I’d just like to thank all the kind people who helped my wife, Valerie, when she fell and broke her elbow last Saturday in the middle of St Albans. Their concern and help has restored my faith in human nature.

Thank you all.

RON BEATTIE

Pine Grove, Bricket Wood

Last days of Herts Highways

SIR – We all know that the dreadful Herts Highways is soon due to expire (having been proved unfit for purpose), but now they don’t seem to want to even accept fault reports.

When attempting to report faults a few days ago, I got a message to try again later.

Now I get “LB00234 : The request channel timed out while waiting for a reply after 00:01:00. Increase the timeout value passed to the call to Request or increase the SendTimeout value on the Binding. The time allotted to this operation may have been a portion of a longer timeout.”

How does one report a fault about the fault reporting system?

Perhaps it is time Stuart Pile had a “timeout” and handed over the responsibility for maintaining Herts roads to someone who knows what they are doing.

PETER MANNELL

54 Aldwickbury Crescent

Harpenden

Litter picking hero

SIR – I have pleasure in praising Geoff Bullimore, a neighbour of mine, whom I have seen picking up litter with long tongs from Harpenden pavements for many years. He puts the litter in plastic bags and, of course, deposits the full bags in the correct place.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Nicola Linacre at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Party for old people in the Public Hall at 3pm on Monday, June 4. I am 76. I told her about Geoff Bullimore’s dedicated work picking up other peoples’ litter. Geoff Bullimore will be 80 on June 16. I have suggested to Mayor Linacre that she mails or hand-delivers a birthday card to Geoff to record her thanks on behalf of all the people of Harpenden.

I also pick up litter as I recorded in your Letters’ Column 10 years ago (May 2, 2002).

DR TONY HALL

Manland Avenue, Harpenden

Archgate or The Wondrous Thing

SIR – To mark the Diamond Jubilee our council formed a commi-tee,

Who tossed around a few ideas to celebrate Her 60 years.

Arch goes up, arch comes down, eyebrows twitch around the town.

Some exotic and some quite crass, antique silver or dipped in brass.

Clerk’s advice: “Nil desperandum – Non sequiter Millennium!”

Arch goes up, arch comes down, eyebrows twitch around the town.

Members said: “No silly mistakes, no big Black Hole or Champagne Lakes.

“A monument on which to preen, our hands must be so squeeky clean.”

Arch goes up, arch comes down, eyebrows twitch around the town.

A Wondrous Thing they did okay, to be put up without delay.

A golden arch in Tommy’s Close, bright, uplifting, not morose.

Arch goes up, arch comes down, eyebrows twitch around the town.

On Friday last at 8 o’clock came the erector Mr Knock.

He had it up in half a jiff and left before the civic tiff.

Arch goes up, arch comes down, eyebrows twitch around the town.

Then came the self-important two, declaiming: “Lorks, this will not do.

“It’s been put up without consent and on this point we’ll not relent.”

Arch goes up, arch comes down, eyebrows twitch around the town.

Our absent clerk the whip did crack, so Mr Knock was summoned back.

The Wondrous Thing is now in storage – and poor old Weaver’s in the porridge!

Arch goes up, arch comes down, another bloop for our dear town.

ROBERT HILL

East Common, Harpenden

The street trees of St Albans

SIR – As a St Albans taxi driver I have to say I am worried about the condition of the trees lining the St Peter’s street rank. In the last two weeks, two of the trees have broken and fallen over due to the fact that as young as they are, they are dead.

The reason for this is that in their wisdom St Albans council saw fit to allow the contractors who improved St Peter’s Street, to hem the trees in with some kind of stone chipping conglomerate. I remember at the time asking someone how the tree was going to grow and they told me that the mixture would expand.

However it can clearly be seen that it hasn’t and that the remaining trees though in leaf are struggling to expand in their restrictions.

Now the legislation that has seen fit to allow this obvious ignorance of the needs of trees is coming from the same source that allows too many taxi licences to be issued at the working drivers of St Albans expense.

In the capital city, the London Plane has proved to be an excellent street tree provided that it is regularly pollarded and that its bole has ample space to develop.

However development in St Albans has lost out to the quick fix and the cosmetic veneer. Long term consequences are overlooked and I hope one of these trees doesn’t fall on my cab.

RICHARD MOFFAT

Green Lane, St Albans

Muddy information

SIR – In Verulamium Park there is a length of Roman Wall which has an information board behind the fence. To read the information a visitor must stand in a hollow, caused by years of feet scuffing the ground, which collects water after every rain storm as can be seen in my attached photograph (taken June 7).

The new project proposals for the park envisage a new information board and upgraded standing area but that is for the far distant future when funds might be available.

In the meantime the squelchy hollow will remain and get worse unless action is taken. By action I mean the provision of a couple of barrow loads of gravel loosely tipped and levelled at a cost perhaps of £25.

I have been trying for the past three years or so to get this small item carried out but obviously in vain. Delaying tactics have involved the mention of the “archeology” and the necessity to involve English Heritage; that was last year’s claim. I had hoped that a change of political regime would have had some effect but No hope I am afraid.

As a PS I note that despite a strong flow in the River Ver, the water entering the lake at the top pond is but a trickle compared with the overflow systems, so cleansing is at a minimum.

JACK HILL

Riverside Close,St Albans

Fears of football thugs at Euros

SIR – It troubled me to watch recent news reports covering the Euro 2012 football finals.

As an avid traveller to Poland, a lover of its people, its culture, the food and its beautiful buildings, it troubled me to witness packs of marauding so-called football “fans” chanting like Neanderthals in the name of the love of sport, ripping up once peaceful café chairs, tables, road-signs, fighting with the police, frightening the locals, destroying local businesses and generally ruining the good name of the countries whose football shirts they are not fit to wear.

And these “pack thugs” are not limited to one nation – all nations competing at the Euro finals have an element of troublemakers hell bent on doing anything but celebrating a great sporting occasion. It makes me sad.

What makes me sadder is when one, for example, looks up on YouTube one of the cities hosting some of the matches, Krakow, in Poland – a place I have visited numerous times in the past two years and where a lot of my Polish friends who live and work in St Albans originate from – where videos posted by some of the lawbreakers are posted as some kind of trophy (probably to make up for the football trophies their respective countries will not win at the finals) boasting of their exploits.

The behaviour of these international “scum” is reprehensible and does great damage for inter-European relations as unfortunately, peace-loving and genuine travellers like myself are naturally distrusted when we visit the host countries next.

As long as there is breath in the human body, lawless behaviour and thuggery will always be a sad feature of football, our national game, played out by “fans” of all nationalities our own included. The tragedy is the aftermath that their destruction leaves after the final whistle has been blown.

In a year which has so far for us been gloriously spent (under deluge of water) celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee without incident, I fear for the impending Olympic Games praying that none of the scumbag element that domicile God’s great Earth and are doing their best to ruin Euro 2012 will not descend upon London (our own home nations included) to do the same in what should be a marvellous, peaceful, harmonious international sports spectacle.

BARRY CASHIN

Green Lane, St Albans

Bagging up for festival publicity

SIR – This weekend, families from Manland Primary and Sir John Lawes schools packed shoppers’ bags at Sainsbury’s in Harpenden High Street as a fundraising initiative and to publicise the Festival on the Field taking place on Saturday June 23.

We’d like to sincerely thank the kind shoppers for their cheery smiles and generous contributions. We were really cheered by the camaraderie and big-hearted donations from everyone – particularly in these testing times. A big thank you to our wonderful community!

PENNY, AMELIA and CHRIS BIRD

Ox Lane, Harpenden

Offended by these unjustified remarks

SIR – It is quite remarkable that when a person is losing an argument they seem also to lose their sense of reason and resort to childish abuse of the opposition which I was sorry to see in Dr Coad’s letter (June 7) and I have to say that I take the greatest exception to his extremely offensive remarks that I have well-known visceral and virulent hatred of Lib Dems.

Hate is a dreadful trait to have in anyone’s character and I certainly deny it in mine. I wonder how Dr Coad dare make such an unpleasant remark about me when we have never met and he can have no knowledge of my character so I hope he might muster up the good grace and good manners to withdraw his contemptuous remarks. I do not deny that I have made the occasional criticism of the Lib Dems and reserve my position to do so in the future if I have feel that criticism is justified.

I think we probably both agree that the present voting system is not the most satifactory; where we differ is the solution and I stlll maintain that the answer suggested by Dr Coad would almost always result in the balance of power ending up with the minority party as it is now in Westminster.

PHILIP WEBSTER

Townsend Drive, St Albans

Half marathon was a great success

SIR – On Sunday morning, thousands of runners of all ages and ability descended on Verulamium Park for the 31st St Albans Half Marathon. Nearly 3,000 participated in the half marathon, many hundreds more in the shorter races.

All of us who enjoyed or endured their exercise along the highways and byways are indebted to the hundreds of local volunteers who gave up their time to act as marshals, so that the route was safe and runners regularly replenished. Equally, the organisation by the council’s community leisure department and the event commentary in the park were again excellent.

ANTHONY ROWLANDS

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Ashley Ward

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