Letters, November 4, 2010, part one

PUBLISHED: 12:33 04 November 2010

Unfair comment

SIR – Re: Editor’s comment (Herts Advertiser, October 28).

I have just read your article in the October 28 edition of the Herts Advertiser. It is clearly a personal attack on my company and its efforts to gain retrospective planning consent for the out-of-hours parking of our tipper lorry fleet.

It is an emotive article containing inaccuracies and personal thoughts and clearly in your role as editor of the publication I believe that it constitutes an abuse of position.

I admit to only being an occasional reader of your paper but I have never before noticed such an open attack on a planning application prior to it being determined and judging by the clear collusion of inaccuracies contained within the article published on the previous page of your paper, there would appear to be some sort of disruptive agenda shared by both you and Councilor Melvyn Teare.

I would therefore take this opportunity to reiterate the corrections and facts contained in my email of October 29, directed to your M.Burton.

I note your comments concerning the odd delay that you and your staff may have experienced with the KHL low loader vehicles reversing into the depot and apologise for any inconvenience caused. However I don’t believe that it is unreasonable to suffer a minor delay, that is no longer than the time it takes for a set of traffic lights to change, whilst trying to exit an industrial estate during peak periods, i.e. between 4.30pm and 5.30pm. Surely when the Herts Advertiser decided to relocate their offices to Porters Wood they were aware of the access limitations of the estate with only one main arterial road and fully considered any negative implications.

As for your comment on less skilled drivers I think that it is highly unlikely that you as a car driver would have any understanding of the skill that it takes to manoeuvre one of our two low loader rigs which can have an effective length of some 85 feet and a gross train weight of 150t.

You have expressed your personal concerns for residents that suffer from heavy lorries rumbling past their doors at all times of the day and night and yet the KHL planning application is clearly stated as the requirement for overnight and weekend parking of commercial vehicles. Our current practice is for the vehicles to leave the depot between 6.30am and 7am returning to the depot between 4pm and 5pm. We do not operate the type of transport business that either generates night time movements or excessive traffic during the normal daytime period. I therefore see no relevance in trying to link these two very different types of traffic movements other than to prejudice public opinion against the current application.

As a business Kane group companies contribute large amounts of money every year on road tax and are therefore perfectly entitled to use any suitable public highway in the country. There is no corroborated evidence that demonstrates commercial vehicles are responsible for more than there fair share of RTA, in fact to the contrary HGV drivers are professionally trained and closely monitored and generally drive their vehicles to a higher safety standard that the majority of ordinary car drivers. It is a proven fact that the greater majority of RTA are caused by excessive speed and inexperienced drivers, not specifically commercial vehicles.

I note your comments concerning the use of my personal helicopter but see no relevance to any concerns that you may have, genuine or otherwise, about the increase in commercial vehicle traffic entering and exiting the Porters Wood Estate.

Lastly your comments concerning the intent of the local authority when the industrial estate was first established are totally inaccurate and show that you have not attempted to research the facts or include accurate comments within your article. Whilst I accept that the piece has been written almost from a personal prospective you are the editor of a local paper and as such your comments will be viewed differently to a member of the general public just writing an open letter to the paper.

In my email to M.Burton I have identified the original owner of the estate as St Albans District Council. The estate was established during the early 1950s and was originally sited with good access from Valley Road and was surrounded by open fields. During the 1980s the council began selling the freehold of the leased properties to the various tenants that wished to acquire them. I believe at a similar time council homes and subsequently some private housing started to be built either side of Valley Road. In the early 1990s the office development that the Herts Advertiser occupies was built by Porters Wood Estates, a company that succumbed to become a casualty of the last recession. This site was formerly occupied with the manufacturing facility of President Office furniture. Subsequent to this there have been more offices developed in the last five years on the site of the former United Glass Company, again altering the ratio of heavy industry to office space from the council’s original intentions for the site. I would however refer you to the signage directing traffic to the estate from the main St Albans ring road where it clearly states that this is “Valley Road Industrial Estate” not Valley road office park.

Prior to KHL purchasing our current site the depot was occupied by a commercial haulage company ART who operated a large number of articulated vehicles from both Porters Wood and Soothouse Springs. In addition Buttle Timber who are located at the far end of Soothouse Springs occupy the former premises of Larry Webb Plant Ltd, who at the time the depot was constructed were the largest earthworks contractor in Europe, operating many low loaders and large items of earthmoving equipment that frequently required transporting to and from their depot.

I would therefore contend that it is not the heavy industry and transport operations that are alien to the estate but the more recent establishment of office developments and residential homes that are inappropriate to the area. This fact is further reinforced by a legal covenant issued by lawyers for St Albans District Council ensuring that freeholders of the estate do not do anything that detrimentally affects the property from its use for industry and do not do anything that materially affects others occupying the estate from a similar use. The exact wording was included within yesterday’s email to your paper.

I trust that upon reflection you will be prepared to publish either an extract from this or my previous email with a degree of retraction on previous inaccuracies or alternatively a few words that more accurately reflect the facts surrounding the planning application by KHL.

However if you do not feel obliged to do so in the name of fair play I will not hesitate in approaching one of your competitor publications and providing them with an open letter outlining the true facts for them to publish and underlining the gross inaccuracies contained in this weeks editorial.

Andy Kane Haulage

Group Managing Director.

Gallery’s demise

SIR – I was saddened to read of the demise of the Margaret Harvey Gallery (Gallery to move next door, Herts Advertiser, October 21) as I was responsible for the design (with the job architect Michael Tempest of the world-renowned Herts CC architects dept) of the original gallery in 1970.

Incorporated in the project was the installation of a display system that has been replicated by many informed specialists in gallery design.

The substitution of the gallery within the St Albans Museum is problematic, requiring extensive adaptations.

The last wish of my predecessor Mary Hoad was to ensure that a gallery would attract visitors by being well-lit in the front of the building. This proved very successful until the site housed the Law School.

St Albans citizens are not only in danger of losing a purpose-built gallery but other facilities such as a lecture theatre with access for the handicapped (ahead of its time).

The site must be used for educational use but I am wondering whether any consideration has been given to granting Grade II status as applied to some of the buildings within the site of the former FE College?

ANTHONY HARRIS

Hillside Road, St Albans

Doctor’s departure

SIR – Marmite – that is the only way to describe Dr John Stephens. Some people loved him, a lot really didn’t like him at all.

John had been my family doctor for the last 30 years. He had supported me through good times and bad and was always willing to stop in the street and ask me how my two boys were. He unashamedly fought my corner when battling with children’s services, was quick to offer a shoulder to cry on and was always willing to listen.

I, like many of the residents of Harpenden who were touched by John Stephens, am amazed at the revelations which have been reported over the last few weeks. None of us can believe it and all have wondered why?

Ours it not to guess – I suppose the answer will never be given in its entirety – but a hole has now been left. No one can condone what happened and I don’t think anyone should.

I made an appointment at the Village Surgery yesterday and was told I could see any doctor. I really didn’t want to. I wanted to see my doctor.

Good luck in your retirement John. I shall always remember you turning the air blue with expletives as you lorded over Dr Garwood’s old office where pizza is now made.

SAM NEWBY-RICCI

Harpenden

Flight paths row

SIR – Thank you for your article on flight paths over Harpenden (Herts Advertiser Harpenden edition, October 21 – St Albans residents can see this article on the e-edition on our website at www.hertsad24.co.uk).

The CAA spokesperson stating “they [Luton aircraft] are not taking short cuts” is completely wrong and another example of the appalling lack of information and understanding of what is happening at CAA and their so-called regulation of NATS controlled flights over Harpenden. Members of www.HarpendenSky.com have provided a detailed analysis of 15 different visual sightings for these flightpath “short cuts” to the Dover/Clacton exit at c 4,000ft over populated areas of Harpenden.

The analysis has been sent to Peter Lilley MP who is interceding on behalf of www.HarpendenSky.com campaigners with CAA CEO Andrew Haines and we are also engaged with Luton operations director Neil Thompson. We await the outcome.

Concerning Wheathampstead, Cllr Gillian Clark’s response that residents were “extremely unhappy” about the original TCN proposals. Well how many Wheathampstead residents use Luton Airport?

Why should Harpenden take almost the entire air traffic as is the case with easterlies and a disproportionate amount of the air traffic under different wind conditions – this is completely unreasonable and unacceptable. This is why www.HarpendenSky.com was established – to institute some justice and conformity into air traffic regulation and we intend to prevail.

NEIL G MacARTHUR

Cross Lane, Harpenden

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