Letters October 4, 2012, part two

PUBLISHED: 10:55 04 October 2012

Dog owners should clean up after them!

SIR – Please may I, through your paper, remind dog walkers in Harpenden to please clean up after your dog. I walk down Stewart Road twice a day and on one occasion last week the street was filthy (but clean the next day, so perhaps residents are taking matters into their own hands – not literally, I hope).

HEATHER PENNY

Wroxham Way, Harpenden

Rail station parking problems being tackled

SIR – I was surprised to read Mr Gunning’s opinion that Harpenden Town Council has washed its hands of the problems at Station Approach, this is far from the truth. I have met with Larry Heyman, integration and partnership manager with First Capital Connect, on several occasions recently to address this very subject.

Station Approach is owned by Network Rail, but is part of the FCC franchise. So FCC is responsible for managing parking in their road, ensuring that the public bays are available to the public and that the 20 minute time allocation is not abused.

FCC is also responsible for ensuring that taxis do not clog the road preventing safe access to other users for picking up or dropping off.

Mr Heyman has assured me cars parked illegally will be ticketed by staff from their car park management company, APCOA, who should be making regular site visits and logging each visit to monitor the situation.

I have also been assured that FCC will clamp down on taxi parking, making sure they keep within the prescribed parking areas.

Only taxis with the appropriate licence issued by FCC will be able to use Station Approach, which should restrict the number of taxis.

If these promises are not upheld then they should be reported to Mr Heyman for action.

We have been keeping an eye on the Approach and have forwarded photos to Mr Heyman which clearly shows unsafe practice and I would urge your readers to add their own.

Together with fellow councillors and our Town Clerk, I have met representatives from the Taxi Association and the district council business compliance officer (licensing) to talk about improving parking arrangements and working towards a satisfactory conclusion for all users.

In the meantime, while railway works continue at the station, enforcement seems to be the key as the safety of our commuters, all rail passengers and members of the public who need to use Station Approach must be paramount.

I have taken a keen interest in proceedings at the station and will continue to press for a satisfactory outcome.

CLLR NICOLA LINACRE

Town Mayor

Harpenden Town Council

Incinerator business case is not credible

SIR – As your readers will be aware, Hertfordshire County Council is soon to decide whether to go ahead with building a giant incinerator in Hatfield at a cost of nearly £2,000 million, easily the largest ever contract they have placed.

They seem likely to go ahead despite the overwhelming opposition from local residents and taxpayers across the county, partly because a failure to approve it will trigger a significant payment to the contractor Veolia.

The council has refused to say how much this amount will be but it will certainly be millions, perhaps as much as £40 million.

This incinerator project will only be going ahead because the Government has agreed to provide a grant under the discredited PFI (Private Finance Initiative).

Various Parliamentary committees have raised concerns about the effects of PFI contracts, for example in the Health Service, where some local trusts are being bankrupted by the requirements to meet substantial long term repayments.

There have also been concerns about the way some PFI contracts have been structured so that the recipients are subsidiaries in offshore tax havens and thus avoid paying UK taxes.

Veolia is a French company so is likely to be able to set up such a tax avoidance scheme for this project.

However we do not know what the repayment arrangements are as the county will not provide any information, hiding behind “commercial confidentiality” even though it is us council taxpayers and our children and even grandchildren who will be liable to meet the payments over the next 30 years.

But the good news for those concerned about the problem of “waste” is that the tremendous efforts of our local councils and residents across Hertfordshire has enabled us to meet and even exceed the target of recycling 50 per cent of household waste by 2012.

The Hertfordshire Waste Partnership is now considering a new target of 60 per cent by 2020 and some local districts and boroughs are looking at even higher targets in their local plans. There are also plans in some areas to create a separate food waste collection system as this represents around a third of all items put into the waste bins for landfill across the county.

But, wait a minute. The business case for the incinerator is based on a household recycling rate of 50 per cent being the same for the next 30 years, without any improvement! Is this credible? No, of course it isn’t.

This may be your last chance to lobby your local councillors to tell them to reject this absurd project and throw out the application for the incinerator. Do it now!

CLIVE GLOVER

Woodfield Road, Radlett

OVO bringing good theatre to Maltings

SIR – I have been a visitor to the Maltings Theatre for at least 13 years. In that time I have seen it full, less full and in this last two years almost empty. I was delighted to see almost a full house when I visited last Saturday.

OVO have certainly given it a new lease of life by redesigning the foyer, making it more open and welcoming.

The play itself attracts an audience though credit to all involved as it compared well to the West End version which I saw a few years ago. The bigger message is that if you put on good theatre you will get the audience.

I was delighted to see the notices up on Thursday around the theatre notifying the public that there were no seats left.

I wish OVO the best in building on this success, whatever the secret.

One thing is however currently lacking and that is a programme of events for the season. Last season an excellent programme was published so I am not exactly sure why the absence this time?

An Inspector Calls reminds us not only of our moral duty but also that there is a great facility in the heart of our city that with the right material works. Is there a moral duty on us to support it? I will let conscience do the calling.

GORDON JACKSON

Eskdale, London Colney

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