Library spending

PUBLISHED: 11:08 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

SIR, — Two letters (Herts Advertiser, January 15) jumped off the page. St George s School head Norman Hoare s gushing tribute to the consistently-excellent Harpenden Gang Show ended in true headmasterly style with a reminder that we are indeed a sustaina

SIR, - Two letters (Herts Advertiser, January 15) jumped off the page. St George's School head Norman Hoare's gushing tribute to the consistently-excellent Harpenden Gang Show ended in true headmasterly style with a reminder that "we are indeed a sustainable community and should be proud of it".

Secondly, Matthew Hart argued, rhetorically perhaps, that Herts County Council should reverse its decision to close the branch libraries in Cunningham Hill and Fleetville, both of which are gathering dust and not being redeveloped. Indeed the costs to secure and insure the vacant buildings must be a further call on public funds.

Five years ago Herts County Council set aside a very large sum - about £10 million - to invest in 10 libraries. One of the lucky winners on the list was here in Harpenden. Could the chequebook/portfolio holder please advise how any of that allocation has been spent in/on/around Harpenden library, where any changes and improvements must be gentle on the eye? There doesn't appear to have been a significant investment in what it says on the tin - i.e. books. Would it be fair to guess that most of it has gone towards remunerating and recruiting staff to cope with the extended opening hours?

One small corner of our community here in Harpenden which has not been sustainable for more than 10 years is the former further-education campus which Oaklands mothballed in favour of its brave new worlds elsewhere. A dispute between the college and the aforesaid county council over rights of ownership, pre-emption and access has been festering since 2004 and is still unresolved. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Oaklands together again.

It's rumoured that whoever emerges victorious from this giant crab contest will wrap it up in glitzy paper and dump it - neglected, decrepit and unfunded - at the door of Harpenden Town Council to be used as a youth drop-in centre. At what price?

We can indeed be mostly proud of our fellow citizens - but less enthusiastic about those paid and elected to spend taxes wisely and make sound decisions to look after our assets.

ROBERT HILL,

East Common, Harpenden.


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