Letters, March 3, 2011

PUBLISHED: 14:56 03 March 2011

A cut above the rest

SIR – Harpenden’s Conservative town councillors are delighted to let all residents know that far from talking about a cut in the services that so many councils are having to make they have actually approved a reduction in what Harpenden’s residents have to pay as part of their overall rates bill. This means a cut of 2.5 per cent cut in the precept.

They have achieved this with no reduction at all in the quality of any of the services that the Town traditionally provides for the community.

Conservatives are acutely aware that the total rates bill is very hard for us all to bear. So they have worked hard to achieve a very realistic but substantial cut.

They have done this by scrutinising every single bit of expenditure they could and by prioritising all commitments.

A really critical review of all non-essential expenditure has taken place.

Conservative councillors recognise a very deep-rooted feeling to keep Harpenden a place where we all wish to live and a place we should be proud of.

Amongst the very many things that Conservatives endeavour to do for the whole community is to support the local economy and the well being of our town centres, defend the Green Belt, seek the provision of more affordable homes, maintain our wonderful Common to its best and seek the sensible and realistic devolvement of such local services to Harpenden where better value can be obtained and provided.

It should be emphasised that no money has been taken out of our General Reserves to achieve any of this. In fact we intend to do the complete reverse and increase our reserves. There is no “window dressing” in all of this.

Simply a very real saving has been achieved for all Harpenden’s ratepayers by a very tough and realistic scrutiny of everything we spend your money on and the prioritisation of everything we do.

This is indeed a real cut. By making it Conservatives are not only doing their best to set a great example but they have proved they actually do get results. This is indeed a “cut above the rest”.

MICHAEL WEAVER

Harpenden Town Councillor

Hatchet job

SIR – There is continuous coverage in your publication of the development of the new Heartwood Forest with residents being encouraged to restore and enhance native woodland.

At the same time, within a half a mile radius, the St Albans Council-financed Countryside Management Services are carrying out an idiotic policy of cutting down dozens of perfectly healthy mature trees, on the pretence of enhancing mosses, ferns and woodland insects, and in the process ruining the ambience of a lovely piece of St Albans countryside.

The many thousands of pounds that are being spent on this project could be better used, in this time of financial austerity, on essential council services rather than pandering to the whims of a group of ecological idealists who seem to have lost touch with commonsense.

The photograph above shows just one example of what used to be a woodland leafy path and has now been transformed into the equivalent of a countryside motorway.

Please could our councilors get a grip on this situation and stop this mindless waste of money.

JOHN STOCKER

Nomansland, Wheathampstead

Gang Show triumph

SIR – On a recent Saturday night I attended the St Albans Gang Show performed in the Arena by Scouts and Guides from 34 different groups.

After I attended last year I was moved to write to the local paper with fulsome praise, and the words I used included camaraderie, commitment, enthusiasm, discipline, cooperation, harmony and ebullience.

I could add to those words with others like determination, creativity, quality, professionalism, cohesion and excellence.

This is, I am told, one of the best Gang Shows to be seen in the area, and yes, it is attended by proud parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, schoolfriends and other group members who are not in the cast. It is also attended by people like me who have no connections but know I will emerge from the theatre with a feel-good factor that will last for days.

It is not a sexy or seductive show; it is not a sophisticated show but it produces applause and radiated happiness from the audience that many a professional performer would crave.

The logistics of bringing together this performance are enormous and a cast of 124 performers is matched by a backstage team of similar numbers, and I would guess, many parents sewing the costumes and providing refreshments and many other behind-scenes activities about which I know nothing. They must all do it brilliantly

These kids performing are different ages, sizes, ethnicities and talents; they are studying variously for A levels and GCSE’s and other qualifications or are simply studying; they put in enormous time and effort for this show.

The behind-the-scenes teams of adults all have jobs to do or families to run, or both, and yet they can organise this in their ‘spare time’.

I am sure they cannot all be of the same political persuasion but they work together to achieve this spectacular performance. I am not naïve enough to believe there is never a cross word but the job gets done!

I am retired, a local councillor and an active volunteer in various local charities and associations. I worked years ago for a large public company and have also run my own business.

How I wish that any one of these had been run with so much commitment and joy.

So, Mr Cameron, here is your localism on a plate. Find yourself a psychologist who can tap into this and convert it for your Big Society. Dismiss the naysayers and the spin doctors; it is all here and it is happening up and down the country in cities, towns and villages. If this can be harnessed our society will be much the better for it.

CLLR LYN BOLTON

Jersey Farm, St Albans

Historical correction

SIR – With regard to the letter from Mike Wakely entitled ‘A Tale of Three Cities’, I would just like to point out a small inaccuracy.

St Albans was NOT the location of any Civil War battlefields, the phrase ‘Civil War’ usually refers to the English Civil War (1642-1645).

St Albans IS, however, the location of two battles that occurred in the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487). The first battle of St Albans was fought on May 22, 1455, and was the first significant battle of the conflict.

Indeed, it can be said that the Wars of the Roses started here in St Albans – in an area known as Keyfields that is now a car park!

The second and much larger battle took place on 17 February, 1461, and the Battlefields Trust have just marked its 550th anniversary with a weekend conference at St Saviour’s church (located on the battlefield) culminating with a requiem mass for the fallen.

It is sad that there is little, if any, information on display in the Hatfield Road museum relating to either of these battles.

MIKE ELLIOTT

Castle Road, St Albans


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