Letters March 3 2016
PUBLISHED: 10:50 07 July 2016
Our taxes propping up rest of the UK
SIR - As was discussed during the Scottish independence debate, it’s here in the south east where the majority of the UK’s income from taxation is derived, whilst I firmly believe that we are ‘better together’ it sticks in my craw to note that of the £60m of business rates collected by St Albans district council every year, we get to use just over £2m a year for our residents. We await the final details of the devolution debate regarding local taxation being able to be spent on local residents and businesses. Knowing how the Treasury works, we should not hold our breath!
RICHARD CURTHOYS District councillor for Marshalswick South Hornbeams, St Albans
Borders and bias in EU referendum
SIR - We should all embrace the opportunity to have a popular vote in the June referendum as a truly democratic decision for the first time in many of our lives. In the next few months the case for or against membership of the EU will become clearer. It is of immediate concern that most of the national media seems to be Eurosceptic, with the red top papers predictably displaying their traditional jingoism. We are not helped by MPs who we seem to assume, truly represent the constituencies to which they are periodically elected. So let’s not be led like sheep. What has been demonstrated by the self-promoting, so-called high flyers of the Conservatives’ extreme right is here they see an opportunity to rise to more power and privilege. It is yet another depressing display from the political class of pure political opportunism. As for our local MPs, it is depressing news that the St Albans MP Anne Main is backing the Brexit campaign. She has been fortunate that the decline of socialism with such weak leadership with Brown following Blair giving her a shoe-in and it would seem socialism locally is condemned to a life in the wilderness first under Milliband now under Corbyn which should now make any victory for Labour impossible. Our MP for Harpenden and Hitchin Peter Lilley in his safe seat (where is democracy here?) is I never knew an Eurosceptic. I expect this will be his swan song being close to his retirement from the Commons. So let us all think for ourselves on this issue. Here is our chance to make a well thought-out decision without the bias of politicians and the media.
STEPHEN ATKINSON Gerard Court, Harpenden
SIR - Anyone using the term “Brexit” makes the assumption that, outside the EU, Britain, or should I say the United Kingdom, will remain a stable unit. It ignores the possibility of a further Scottish Referendum followed by separation and then Scotland joining the EU. Scotland would then be an export market for English companies, and business would be subject to our new trading relationship with the EU, whatever that might be. Even small cross-border business transactions could require cumbersome paperwork, and we would need to show our passports at the frontier. Then we can have that debate about where to re-site England’s nuclear deterrent which is currently north of the border.What is left will not be the United Kingdom any more, and we would need a new name for it. This would constitute an EWNI-Exit (England, Wales and Northern Ireland-Exit), but it might not stop there. Could Northern Ireland and Wales follow suit? If so, we will have an E-exit, with barriers to business and travel all around us? Those opting for Brexit might get more borders than they bargained for.
IAN VANLINT Antonine Gate, St Albans
New school delay
SIR - I note with disappointment the fact that the new school will not be opened until at least September 2018. I also note that Peter Lilley MP has also expressed concern re the delay however I consider that he has not looked deep enough into the problems causing the delay and potentially extending the delay. In my opinion a major remaining problem is the eventual need for planning permission. Sadly I believe the granting of planning approval will be a challenge because of the location of the new school just off Lower Luton Road which has significant structural road, cyclist and pavement/pedestrian problems as well as existing major car and lorry numbers. Numbers that will increase for many reasons including additional vehicles bringing children to the school from the Wheathampstead area, the projected substantial expansion of Luton Airport and additional houses being considered to be built east of the site under the new Strategic Local Plan proposals. I consider that planning permission can only be given if the road, cyclist and pavement problems have been sorted out or if not sorted out then it will be necessary for resolution of the problems to be a condition of the consent. If these conditions are not resolved/included then I believe The councils are exposing themselves to legal actions from injured/killed users of Lower Luton Road. It is critical that the county council addresses these problems over the next 12 months so that they are resolved by the time the planning application is presented.
HON ALDERMAN CHRIS OXLEY Coleman Green, Wheathampstead
SIR - I read with interest your report on the delay in the opening of the new school in Harpenden and the role Sandringham School will be playing in alleviating the position for at least one intake. Residents of Harpenden should be asking why it was possible for Sandringham School to increase its intake by 30 to accommodate Harpenden students while local schools were not prepared to extend a welcome. The governing bodies of the existing Harpenden schools should explain why they were not up to the task. Sandringham School has now expanded its intake twice in recent years to accommodate increasing demand from elsewhere in the district. Why were none of the Harpenden schools prepared to? Those 30 students will have to commute half-way across the district to go to school, fortunately to one of the best schools in the district. Their families will also have to trek across the district for school events. While their MP is right to complain about the delay in the opening of a new school in Harpenden the root cause is government and county council policy, for which the Conservative Party is responsible. He should be asking his colleagues in Westminster and Hertford what they are doing to ensure the school opens in 2018.
JOHN HALE Chandlers Road, St Albans
Volunteers needed for disabled riding
SIR - In the past your readers have very kindly taken the time to read my letters regarding the Riding for Disabled stables at Digswell Place. Not only have they read my letters but several people have actually come forward and joined the group of volunteers who help keep stables running. So many thanks to those people. However as with all things people come and people go and we find that we are in need of some more volunteers in order for us to help the local disabled riders. Where will we find the volunteers? Well I’m hoping some of your readers might feel inspired enough to join us. A quick background to the RDA. We are based at Digswell Place, which is just a beautiful place to spend a morning or afternoon or even a whole day. The rides are during term time only Monday through Friday 9am-3pm. Volunteers are given training but a knowledge of horses is always helpful. Some of a volunteers duties involve leading the horses, walking along side a horse “spotting” the riders (so ensuring that the rider is stable in the saddle), mucking stables, chatting to the riders, grooming the horses, having a laugh with the other volunteers and riders and enjoying the fresh air! I personally have been a volunteer at the stables for about five years now and words can not express how enjoyable I find the whole experience. How did I find out about the stables? I was walking my dog with another lady who discovered I liked horses. She suggested I meet her at Digswell the following week. I spent the next five days trying to figure out how to get out of it without disappointing my walking buddy but couldn’t see a way of doing it without causing offence! Well it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! I love horses so thats just a plus for me but what I wasn’t prepared for was the joy I get by helping the riders. We have all sorts of different riders some are old some are young. Some have learning disabilities some have physical disabilities but what makes them all the same is the enjoyment they get from being up on these gentle animals. One little boy spent his first ride laughing the whole time he was up on the horse and his mum spent the whole ride crying as she was so happy to see him so happy. He was getting physiotherapy without knowing it so it wasn’t a chore for him or her. How could that not have been a fulfilling day for me? I get a double enjoyment and insight to the whole RDA as my daughter has Down’s Syndrome and rode at the stables for a while. She LOVED it and I’m very sad that due to school commitments she can no longer ride there yet. I hope to get her back into it once we settle into a school routine. From this side of the coin I can tell you that the value of the RDA to the disabled person is huge. Riding is a great form of exercise without it being a chore or a drag. If any of this story has stuck a cord with you please, please, please come down and have a look at the stables. We can’t do it without help from the local communities. If you want to see more about the stables please Google us on www.digswellplacerda.org.uk. As always I thank you for taking the time to read my letter and I hope some of you will feel inspired enough to come down and see it all for yourselves.
ELISSA BAIRD Willoughby Road, Harpenden
SIR - I am unfortunate enough to be one of the parishioners of whom Cllr Bolton writes (February 25). Yes, I and many others were looking forward to celebrations for Her Majesty’s birthday, remembering well the lovely day we had at the Sandridge 900 event. There were many enthusiastic volunteers from all sections of the parish, from those running stalls and events and performing on the day, to those lowlier ones (like me) just fetching and carrying. I was a parish councillor for 12 years, running the Best Kept Village competition for Sandrige village, and during the organising required, had meetings in pubs to discuss preparations for the event. These were INFORMAL discussions, with councillors and non-councillor volunteers present. At these informal discussions, there was no quorum needed, nor chairman or secretary and no minutes taken, and I would have been very surprised if a parish or district councillor had voiced an objection to the informality of the proceedings and walked out. I am not aware of any changes in rules governing parish council meetings since my time, and I was not present at either the formal meeting when the decision to hold an event was taken, nor at the pub discussions which decided the fate of the celebration, but I can only reiterate that many in the village were looking forward to it, and it is unfortunate that it has been scuppered by the - if the Herts Ad reporting is accurate - childish behaviour exhibited by an elected councillor.
ANN HORNIGOLD Hopkins Crescent, Sandridge
Filling in the gaps over old photo
SIR - Following up on your Yesterday Once More photo of February 25, the picture lacks detail but I remember driving a Bedford van around 1957 and a Singer Gazelle (1957 onwards) around 1964 (or is it a two-tone Hillman Minx?). The van nearest the camera is glazed and possible had wood side benches. The one-piece windscreen was introduced in 1958. Perhaps the Triumph Herald (1962 onwards) number plate heading uphill is readable in the original picture. The M1 was built so 1962-3 may be an good guess.
DAVID M WILLACY Hazelmere Road, St Albans
Get off the bus!
SIR – I was astounded to read the letter from a lady who appears to be of the opinion that she should be permitted to take her greyhounds on the bus (Herts Advertiser, February 11). The only animals that should be allowed on public transport are guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf.Indeed where would we be if all and sundry decided to take their pets for outings on the buses. I, for one, would most strongly object to travelling with a menagerie.
C. BOVILLE Linden Road, Redbourn
SIR - Re: Verulamium Lake. Surely someone from the council could contact the Heritage Fund of the National Lottery for funding. Job sorted.
L. SAUNDERS Four Trees, St Albans
Charity donations at stalwart’s funeral
SIR – In the December 31 edition you wrote a lovely article about my husband Roger Bracey who sadly passed away earlier in that month headed “Harpenden charity stalwart dies”. We were delighted that his years of hard work and dedication to many charities was acknowledged. Thank you so much. Instead of flowers at the funeral we requested donations to the Make a Wish Foundation, a wonderful charity that works tirelessly to grant wishes to very sick and terminally ill children. We are so proud that £865 was raised by our family and friends and £241 was donated to The Salvation Army, another wonderful institution that Roger supported. How fantastic that he worked to raise funds all his life and in death, he still managed to raise over £1,000 – he would be so proud. Through your paper I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to everybody that donated so generously; it’s just wonderful.
IRENE BRACEY Beeching Close, Harpenden