Letters, October 14, 2010, part one

PUBLISHED: 11:12 14 October 2010

West Bank link to incinerator firm

SIR – I wonder if council members know that Veolia, who are bidding to build an incinerator locally, has had all contract bidding refused by Swansea City Council recently.

This follows similar action in countries around the world. The reason? The are building a light railway connecting Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements, run bus services for Israeli settlers and a waste site in the West Bank. All illegal.

I hope our councillors will show solidarity with right-minded people around the world and refuse all dealings with this company. If only we could choose our water supplier.

KIM THORNTON

St Leonards Court, Sandridge

PO food waste

SIR – Regarding your front page of September 30 showing someone from the Post Office bathing in beans to raise funds for a charity.

A week before I was leaving a meeting held in church premises near Euston when a chap, quite clean and tidy, came to the door asking if this was the right place to obtain a couple of cans of food.

Should in future he be referred to the nearest Post Office?

LESLIE FREITAG

Cravells Road, Harpenden

Thought police?

SIR – I refer to your headline of October 7: “Former teacher in child-porn disgrace”.

Judge John Plumstead said: “ ...parents trusted you with their children. They would never have done that if they had known what was going on in your head.”

Parents should be concerned with what a teacher does, not with what he thinks. The report does not say whether the teacher paid for the child porn. This teacher admitted guilt, but we are on dangerous ground here. Buying a second-hand computer puts one at risk in this climate, because porn might not have been fully erased. When the same subject arose a few years ago I suggested that a hacker should hack into the minister David Blunkett’s computer and leave porn there.

The only safe time to act against an individual is if we can prove he paid for pornography. We are not in China, and should not monitor what people download, or what they think.

IVOR CATT

Westfields, St Albans

More questions than answers

SIR – What on earth is wrong with St Albans? Is it some of the people who live here? Is it the council? Why is St Albans such a mess?

Who resurfaced Tippendell Lane in Chiswell Green? Perhaps they would like to return and clear up the litter and Tarmac they left behind on the verges (they left the sandbags they apparently used to hold their road signs in place) and in the entrance to Carisbrook Road they left what can only be described as speed bumps of Tarmac.

Why on the pavement outside my house are there eight patches, yes eight? Why, having been told three weeks ago, are the doors on one of Virgin’s pavement boxes still wide open in Compton Gardens?

Who picks up the litter in Chiswell Green other than my wife and I? Better still who drops it and what is being done?

Who is responsible for painting pillar boxes? Who is responsible for making sure the lamp standards are straight, not just leaning over where they were hit 10 years ago?

Why do the persons responsible for cutting the verges go straight on and leave me to cut the grass? What a mess!

ALLAN MARSKELL

Farringford Close, St Albans

My right to object

SIR – I note that Ms Frusher (Herts Advertiser, October 7) states that she is an aviation enthusiast and has visited Duxford and seen the F-16 Fighter plane perform. Yes it is quite a spectacle, especially with the afterburners on.

However, if I were to put four RB211 ‘Jumbo’ jet engines in an onshore facility, they would all have to be in a substantial acoustically lined enclosure to prevent noise to the local community.

The emissions from these engines would also be monitored – probably continuously – by the Operator, and pollution checks made by either DEFRA or – in Scotland – by SEPA. The emissions would also be at ground level and not where there is an “emission effect” mutiplier of perhaps two-to-three times for emissions at high altitude.

The aviation industry has done what it can with noise – in the form of the “bypass” type of jet engine, but I do not see them getting much quieter, or less polluting, in the next decade or two, as the technology has been around for 70 odd years.

For what it is worth I have been a resident in Harpenden for 25 years – I could not directly vote on the expansion of Luton Airport from two million passengers per annum to 10 million.

Neither can I vote in the local elections for Luton council, which as Ms Frusher will no doubt be aware, does the planning approvals for Luton Airport, and from which it receives income. She may be aware that this is called “conflict of interest”.

This country is a democracy – Ms Frusher may not object to excessive aircraft noise – I do. Each to their own.

COLIN WEAVER

Tuffnells Way, Harpenden

Council tax banding

SIR – I was one of, probably, many who received a letter from Randall Vickers (who describe themselves as Consumer Champions) suggesting that my property was in the wrong council tax band and that they might get me a £2,000 plus refund and save me £331 a year in future. No success, no fee.

Sounds too good to be true? Unfortunately yes.

They claimed that this was because other houses in this road were in lower tax bands than mine. I checked out the website of the Valuation Office Agency, and found that there were indeed two properties in a lower tax band – the only pair of semi-detached houses in the road! I checked the two neighbouring roads – Elliswick and Connaught – to find that all of the detached properties were in Council Tax Band G, while all of those in lower bands were semi-detached.

What a pity that Randall Vickers had not done their homework properly.

RICHARD NYE

Browning Road, Harpenden

Roundabout praise

SIR – My wife and I would like to thank Romans vehicle sales and Matalan for sponsoring the two roundabouts at the top and bottom of Bluehouse Hill. The flowers have been beautiful all summer, and our thanks to Herts Highways for maintaining them in such good order.

BILL LLOYD

Stanley Avenue, Chiswell Green

Paying to park

SIR – For the last 30 years I have had the pleasure of living in Prospect Road, one of the latest to be targeted in the council parking permit scheme.

Yes, this road has become increasingly congested over the last few years by inconsiderate commuter parking and this is worst at the Holywell Hill end because of the Abbey station.

Now to prevent this we are being given parking restrictions from 8.30-6pm seven days a week!

I can certainly see advantages to residents’ parking, but what I don’t see is what this scheme actually achieves. The council have over the years reduced or out priced the commuter parking in the town car parks, pushing commuters to park in residential streets around the town. Every time a new permit scheme is introduced the commuters merely move on to the next band of residential streets (watch out Cottonmill – you’re next!)

Surely permit parking is not the answer. Why should the residents have to pay to park near their own homes? The council have created this problem so they should sort a solution at their expense – not ours.

Whatever happened to park-and-ride at Westminster Lodge? Why are there no designated free parking areas in the multi-storey car parks, they can’t all be needed by shoppers! Why isn’t the Abbey station responsible for providing sufficient parking for its users?

The scheme apparently will even apply at weekends! How does this work for a weekend guest when a visitor permit only lasts four hours? We will have to watch the clock to make sure we add further permits at the correct time. If there has to be a permit scheme why could it not be for a couple of hours in the middle of the day on weekdays only, this would inconvenience the residents less and cost less to enforce.

This scheme is not the answer to the problem, the commuters will not go away, they have to park somewhere. More and more St Albans residents will be inconvenienced, first by commuters and then by permit parking schemes. I wonder whether the council are in fact trying to force all commerce out of the centre of St Albans along with the shops!

JANET FLINT

Prospect Road, St Albans

Illiterate sign writers’ blunder

SIR – I couldn’t believe my eyes today when out walking with my neighbour in Hatfield Road.

New signs have been erected, warning people not to park on the path or verge. As you can see from the picture, someone doesn’t know how to spell – is this how our hard earned council tax is being spent! We haven’t stopped laughing since – so what is a fooway, can anyone advise?

SUE BRUCE

Address supplied

Deluge of despair

SIR – For 10 years too long Batford residents have suffered dangerous Lower Luton Road flooding at the bridge.

Fancy walking along the flooded pavement and the busy road without a wetsuit! We have had a recent meeting with our new Herts Highways local officer and have been told the more repeat reports, the more urgency is given to the fault. Flooding (or other) reports go to Herts Highways at www.hertsdirect.org/highwayfaults or 01438 737320/01923 471320.

To date, Herts Highways efforts reportedly only last a month and then the drain under Tesco’s blocks again. Exactly the same as three years ago at Batford Mill when we proved the drain was broken near a new house and flooding for five years repeatedly and very dangerously blew off a manhole cover.

It helps being a civil engineer but anyone could have seen the gravel up the drain outfall. Herts Highways assure us they have a plan for this flooding but have been unwilling to yet produce it. They say it is difficult with river flooding backing up the drain but I suspect it is again water coming down the drains from the hill meeting the blockage.

While they ponder a longer-term solution I suggest town Cllr Caroline Vincent’s simple solution to install a pump in the gulley pot and mole a pipe under the road and lead it to the river. There is surely plenty of electricity near their lamppost for this and I am sure Harpenden Town Council will consider letting them pipe it under their land.

MIKE WAKELY

Harpenden East District Councillor

Oakfield Road, Harpenden

Pride before a fall?

SIR – To misquote the opening of Jane Austen’s most famous novel: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a small town, in possession of a large green space, must be in want of a housing development.

This story started many years ago when Harpenden Town Council took some Westfield Common land out of allotment use and set their sights on a housing development. They face two major obstacles – finding viable road access and overcoming the opposition of the local residents. After three failed attempts and almost £34,000 of taxpayers’ money, they still can’t bring themselves to admit defeat.

Government policy is against them, St Albans council’s cabinet has refused road access via Hyde Close, the local residents have organised themselves into a WAG (Westfield Action Group) to object – but Harpenden Town Council rolls on regardless. They have now called in the cabinet decision and it goes before the overview and scrutiny committee on November. 23.

In Austen’s novel, pride and prejudice were tempered to ensure a happy ending. Let’s hope the same holds true for Harpenden Town Council.

GILL CHAMBERS

Fallows Green, Harpenden


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