Letters June 23 2016
PUBLISHED: 11:03 07 July 2016
Background to road restrictions
SIR - With regards to your article under on June 9 ‘Yellow lines creating road chaos’. Prior to the implementation of the traffic lights under the rail bridge, Herts Highways held a consultation. It was recommended that on the park side, double yellow lines would be extended from the bridge to the Radlett Road junction, this was to deter rail commuters from parking. I objected to this proposal as the only parking was by local residents, workers and parents attending the local school. It was agreed that the approach to the bridge up to and including Oliver Close, would need double yellow lines, as in the past drivers had parked right up to the bridge, leaving a single lane for traffic. With regard to criticism of the police for not enforcing the 7.5 tonne restriction on Park Street Lane, this is unfair, as the police have many other priorities. Proving this offence is labour intensive.
Park Street Lane, Park Street
Poisoned lake is rich breeding ground
SIR - The complaints about the state of Verulamium Lake rumble on, and there is no doubt that the smell in particular is unpleasant. However, what also strikes me is that I have never seen so many young birds on and around the lake. I counted over 60 Canada goose goslings the other day, and there are also very large numbers of mallard ducklings and young coots. Clearly the condition of the lake is not having a detrimental effect on either the birds’ fertility or the survival chances of their young. Can any reader recall seeing more young birds around the lake?
RICHARD COLEMAN Sunderland Avenue, St Albans
Look! Design group’s success story
SIR - A charrette is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and more importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a mutual author of the plan. Look! St Albans (Our Community Voice on Design) became a fully constituted body in November 2013 to organize charrettes so as to co-create a proud legacy for future Albanians. In conjunction with the district council the first design charrette was held in October 2014 for the site of the locally listed Museum of St Albans situated within a conservation area in Hatfield Road. A cross section of stakeholders from the community with an interest in and love of our city joined together so as to effect a high level of combined neighbourhood planning. 47 different people were very proud to be involved in the co-design process over a weekend. An ambitious ‘tool-kit’ of design guidelines were utilised to ensure that the new place with its building and landscape will make a positive contribution to the character of the locality in the future. Four design concepts were envisioned; from which the ‘Oak Tree Gardens’ was chosen. It retains, alters and extends the old building, which will be turned into six townhouses, and there will be an arrangement of four new terraced townhouses close by. The development will be environmentally friendly with full protection for the existing trees and there will only be 11 car parking spaces to encourage cycling and walking. Overall, it will showcase contemporary design that reflects the tradition of St Albans but also acts as a fine example of early 21st century architecture. On April 11 the planning application for the redevelopment of the Museum of St Albans site was unanimously passed by councillors. The results of the charrette were used as input into a design and access statement to be forwarded to the future developer. Look! St Albans was mentioned several times at the planning committee meeting but it was with great surprise that it was not highlighted in the articles in the local press, despite the design charrette being shortlisted for a national community-led Placemaking award by Planning Magazine.
TOBIAS FORSTER Kings Road, St Albans Some last words on day of Referendum
SIR - “The UK is the world’s fifth largest economy, boasting amongst the highest economic growth and lowest unemployment rates in the developed world… not to mention the most foreign investment in Europe” (Leave.EU leaflet). How? Why? A major reason for this must be that we are a member of the EU and have benefited from the large free trade market, regulations that make trading easier, the movement of EU people to UK places of work and our willingness to take more immigrants from the rest of the world. We had to become more competitive in this free trade area.We forget that in 1973 (when we joined the EEC) we were the ‘sick man of Europe’. Between 1958 (when the EEC was formed) and 1973 our GDP rose by about half of that of Germany, Italy and France (three countries of similar size). Since joining, we have become more prosperous in comparison with these three countries and others outside Europe. The net cost to us of the EU is less than £8bn after subsidies – the economic growth benefit, and therefore opportunity for investment by the govt, far outweighs this cost. The Confederation of British Industry estimates that the net benefit of being in the EU is worth £62bn to £78bn a year. We have an unelected House of Lords and head of state, a government elected by less than 40 per cent of those who voted, four parliaments, civil servants, unelected advisers to government and mayors, councils, unelected regulatory bodies. Perhaps we should push our government for change at home (smaller, elected House of Lords and smaller parliaments, control on advisers), proportional representation, if it’s democracy and lower costs that we want. Some regulation is good and the EU has led and/or protects on the environment, conservation, food, workers’ rights and more. Standardised regulations help us to trade across borders. We can work and travel reasonably freely though we are checked at our UK borders, which is good. Why get out of the EU? It’s our own politicians, not the EU, who have failed to plan and invest sufficiently in housing, health and education, and failed to ensure that the wealth of our country is shared more equitably! We are not constrained by any UK sovereignty issue in demanding our government makes changes. Remaining in Europe will help us focus again more quickly on the real cause of problems here.
S ORAM Palfrey Close, St Albans
SIR - I was seven when the war started in 1939 and was evacuated to St Albans from London when the bombing died down my mother took me back to our house in London she was also unhappy with the people I was billeted with. We lived just off Gray’s Inn Road and at night we used to go and sleep down Chancery Lane tube station. The gates were opened at 7am and as we walked home and turned into Wren Street to find our house had the roof blown off and we went past a man who was dead my mother pulled me away and tried to tell me he was just resting. My mother came up to St Albans and rented a small flat in Prospect Road while my father rented a small flat in London as it would have been impossible to commuteas the trains were far too unreliable. That war had an enormous effect on me as a child. Which is the one of the main reasons why I will be voting to stay in Europe. If we turn on backs on the other countries in Europe not only will we lose all the benefits we have, but the German finance minister W Schauble has made it clear that if we leave we will cut ourselves off from the tariff-free movement of goods in Europe. If we want to have semi-detached membership we would still have to pay the full fees and to guarantee free movement of people within the EU. There is also the danger of causing the more right wing countries to leave and break up the union, then we could be back to bickering with each other like it was in 1933 and all the consequences of what followed from that.
JACK PIA Spencer Street, St Albans
SIR - So Anne Main is backing Britain to make its own way in the world, rather than take advantage of the huge benefits that being a member of the EU provides. For her many constituents who travel to and from Europe and work for companies that do much business with Europe this is a very worrying time. Once again the Beaconsfield-based MP is out of touch with the people of St Albans. Our city has always welcomed migrants with waves of Irish, Italian, Asian and now Polish people coming to work here for a few years and then settling in the area. Each group has brought additional colour and life to St Albans. Instead Anne Main is happy to be pictured with a leaflet that even people in support of Brexit admit is full of lies? The net contribution to the EU is about £100m per week not £350m and over half of immigrants to the UK come from outside the EU, not the other way round. She ignores the benefits of EU migration which helps the UK to fill vital skill shortages in hospitals, care homes, and engineering. The young people of Britain are strongly in favour of staying in, we should be voting to be part of Europe to enable their future, rather than looking back at the past.
RICHARD EXACT Grimston Road St Albans
SIR - Once again I seem to be crossing swords with Ian Boyd. I have an opinion on the future of the EU if the Referendum results in a vote to Remain which he dismisses, but fails to inform us of how he sees the EU progressing, if at all. Perhaps he could elaborate? The status quo is simply just not good enough. However, he does admit that the EU has many flaws and if we remain we could seek changes. What he totally fails to understand is that change and reform are subjects which are not and never will be on the agenda. Why rock the boat? Let the gravy train roll on. The main aim of the EU is expansion with more member states and ever-increasing powers. Does he really believe that those who differ from him are nationalists and narrow minded idiots, (his words not mine). Also contrary to his wild assumptions I do not have a comfortable armchair while compiling letters to the Herts Advertiser and I do not profess to have a superior intellect above any other, but I do have honest views. As usual his insults are risible and have no bearing on the subject or outcome.
GERALD STONE New House Park, St Albans
SIR - Chris Ford, “In” campaigner, is quoted in your June 9 issue, beneath a photograph of his bright eyed young bespectacled “In” colleagues. Chris says: “St Albans was a prominent part of the Roman Empire in the UK. It benefited from trade links and the opportunities these brought.” Really? The Emperor Claudius conquered this country by the sword, to stop it assisting rebels in Gaul, and to enhance his prestige. The Romans bought off local elites and extracted value in minerals, agriculture, slaves and taxes. They dealt with dissenters ruthlessly and efficiently, by, inter alia, crucifixion and the amphitheatre; in Alban’s case, beheading. For me, at school, studying Romano-British history, Boudicca and Caractacus were heroes; for Chris and his generation it seems the emphasis has shifted: Roman administration and authority (represented by the bundle of rods, the fasces - from which the word fascist derives) are supreme.
CRAIG CROSBIE Ramsbury Road, St Albans
SIR - As are many other people, I am somewhat cynical regarding most of our politicians. It seems to me that in many cases their ambition is personal power or influence rather than political ideals. Why do I think this? Well, how often after an election have we heard the losing side(s) say that they must make their party more attractive to voters – in other words alter their policies? How often after an election has the winning side altered their policies also? Budget turnarounds immediately spring to mind. Now, on the day of the EU Referendum we are hearing lots of opinions and few facts; indeed how can there be facts since it will undoubtedly be a great leap into the unknown. The point that strikes me is that if we leave, our national government will have more power than it presently has in respect of our national affairs. Cameron and Osborne will be less constrained than they presently are yet they are still prepared to recommend this although to me it seems that it will actually be to their personal disadvantage. This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that they truly believe that to remain is overwhelmingly beneficial to this country. I find it rather ironic that the majority of trades union leaders also agree with them, not something I am at all used to. As for the more vociferous opponents, what is in it for them? If they win, I suspect we will shortly have a new PM. And again, ordinary MPs will have more power and influence than they presently have, albeit in a smaller pond. I have nothing more to say.
CHRIS BROWN The Rise, Park Street
SIR - The PM has stated that the EU Referendum is a “once and for ever” thing but what does “forever” mean? Of course, politicians normally deal in “half-truths” (which are difficult to discredit). With the Referendum, why not “hedge our bets”? If we vote to stay in, we can always leave later but if we vote to leave, I think the real truth will be that every EU state will vote against our return and that could effectively mean “forever”! Why not “have our cake and eat it” by staying in, for the present, but by working for the common good (Europe-wide) – not just seeking small economic (or personal) advantages, here and there. To paraphrase John F Kennedy: “Think not what Europe can do for the UK, but what the UK can do for Europe.” Within the EU, the UK could be a leader for resolving Europe-wide problems, such as the European Commission or migration or for defending the rights of the smaller/poorer countries. The function of the European Commission is similar to that of the UK civil service and (at the next level down) of council staff. Obviously, each level should be overseen by the level above, which should exercise a co-ordinating function, seeking out and circulating “best practice”, for general use. Why should town, county (and additionally regional?) councils not reject laws/regulations from our national Parliament? With regard to imposing laws and regulations on levels below, those lower levels should have signed up to appropriate agreements which should be renewed from time to time, by local referendum. Because the UK signed up to a series of treaties, will we be abrogating those treaties by leaving? If so, then why should towns, counties (and regions) not behave similarly towards Westminster? The very Referendum question is flawed! It may be claimed that those of the electorate who do not vote – for whatever reason – are siding with the “status quo”, which is to continue to remain. Finally, a Referendum, which produces a marginal result, would certainly be a disaster: a clear (two-thirds?) majority and minimum turn-out (50 per cent) should be specified for such a constitutional issue. Don’t tell me the PM is not shrewd enough to have realised all this? So, what is really going on?
JIM NAISBITT Cunningham Avenue, St Albans