Your letters to the Herts Ad...

PUBLISHED: 08:45 05 December 2016 | UPDATED: 08:45 05 December 2016

Have your say and write to hertsad@archant.co.uk

Have your say and write to hertsad@archant.co.uk

Pixtural

If you would like to comment on any of the stories or features which have appeared in the Herts Ad, please email hertsad@archant.co.uk

I would just like to say a big thank you to all the people who dealt with me when I had to dial 999 in an emergency last Saturday.

The young lady who took my call was very calm and reassuring and kindly kept me talking until the ambulance men came to my door.

They were then in charge and did all the usual checks before getting confirmation that I needed to go to hospital. I was taken to Barnet hospital which I did not know at all but again everyone was very kind.

Eventually I was allowed home late evening. Well done NHS. Thank you all very much.

MRS J BANFATHER

Colney Heath

Before Govia Thameslink Railways build their new footbridge to relieve congestion on Platform 4 at St Albans during the evening rush hour, have they considered relaying the footpath which ran from the north end of Platform 4, along the top of the embankment, to Hatfield Road?

When the line was built there was such a path - this was before Victoria Road/Street and Sweet Briar Lane were a through-route to the town centre and the route to the town was via Alma Road and London Road.

Also have they considered removing the bollards blocking off the “private section” of Ridgmont Road? The Act of Parliament authorising the building of the line from Bedford to St Pancras stipulated that the Midland Railway must build and maintain this piece of Ridgmont Road.

Before the Midland Railway was realigned Richard Grove Lowe was under covenant to build a road from London Road to Hatfield Road which would have spanned the station site.

As the position of the station rendered it impractible to construct such a road the Act stipulated that the Midland Railway Company shall construct and maintain along the western side a road not less than 40ft wide and sufficiently fenced and screened from the railway.

In 2001 several motorists sued Railtrack for compensation for damaged to their vehicles due to potholes in the private section of Ridgmont Road.

Railtrack then, legally or illegally, blocked Ridgmont Road off.

If Ridgmont Road was again a through route, as the Act of Parliament intended, it may reduce congestion at the Trinity Church crossroads and the present station forecourt, and make it easier for passengers from south east St Albans to access the station.

HOWARD GREEN

Jennings Road, St Albans

I can’t believe that anyone is proposing the perpetuation of misery created by the Berlin Wall at Club Batchwood. For almost three decades this was the tangible symbol of suppression of human rights. Why would we want to have it in our own, democratic country? 191 people died trying to escape to the West. Is there one good reason for having it here?

PAMELA MANN

Harpenden

Harpenden is really becoming a ‘death-trap’ for people walking home after work.

Not only has a member of my family managed to fall badly near the top of Westfield Road, bruising their back, but I have now heard of another resident falling in exactly the same area.

Now that the nights are drawing in, the street lighting is totally inadequate to highlight the uneven pavements, holes and bumps and generally poor maintenance of both the footpath and roadway.

I know we have had this ‘turn off the street-lights to save money’ debate before. When it is actually causing injury to residents, I think it is a false economy. I’d be interested to hear of any other residents who have suffered falls or injuries caused by bad street~lighting. Perhaps some remedial ‘group-action’ might be on the cards?

Meanwhile, one of our councillors might like to throw a little light on the matter.

CAROL HEDGES
Coldharbour Lane, Harpenden

With reference to the letter from Mr Lewis of Hedley Road about aircraft noise, and his belief that aircraft flying north over the city from Heathrow are more of a disturbance to him that westerly departures from Luton.

I can well understand his perception, it is certainly true when the wind is from the east, but as a resident of Sandridge, I only wish that I were in his position.

The flights from Heathrow are no longer flying in a tightly controlled corridor, but have been given a course and speed by National Air Traffic Control. As a result, there is significant dispersion and to a certain extent the noise is shared around between us all – unwelcome as it is.

In august of 2015 Luton airport was given permission to fly a new departure procedure for flights departing into the prevailing westerly wind, but then turning back to fly over northern St.Albans, Sandridge and Jersey Farm. The amended route uses GPS technology to make aircraft fly through a tighter corridor, and at the same time they extended that corridor so that all of the aircraft – unless vectored away early by air traffic control – must fly directly over Sandridge and Jersey Farm, and are very noticeable over northern St. Albans.

Coupled with the rapid increase in the number of flights (a consequence of the airport’s expansion program), the situation has very quickly become intolerable. The majority of these aircraft are at an altitude of 5,000-5,500 feet – not very high considering they have already flown for 13 miles, and this area is already 350-400 feet above sea level. To make matters worse, it is at this location that the aircraft are released from their 220 knot speed restriction and are accelerating towards a 250 knot limit.

Another disturbing aspect of operations at Luton is that the airport has permission to fly night flights. Many nights for me are disturbed by the 3 o’clock flight to Istanbul and/or the 5.30 to Tel Aviv or wherever. Not even Heathrow makes its neighbours suffer night departures.

The real problem is that the skies over southern England are just too congested.

Airline operators do not want their aircraft flying extended periods at low altitude. The aircraft are much more efficient (and hence less polluting) when flying higher and faster. It is hard for us to appreciate the way that flights from Luton, Stansted, London City and Heathrow all interact and affect us all.

The authorities know that a thorough overhaul is required, but this process will not even start until the position regarding London’s third runway is finally decided.

Our politicians and local representatives have missed opportunities to make Bedfordshire share more of the burden of flights from Luton, and to prevent the expansion of the airport until more is done to reduce noise from flights, especially at night. Whatever decision the government might eventually make regarding the location of an additional runway in southern England, you can be sure that their local pressure groups, councils and Members of Parliament will make long and determined arguments to protect their residents.

I would like to think that – maybe – we can get some high level political representation to fight our cause?

Sadly, the situation with Luton stands to get even worse for us next year as the expansion continues. The route changes introduced in August 2015 and overflying us have yet to be reviewed for final approval by the CAA, and I would urge anybody who feels that the noise disturbance has now reached unacceptable levels to write to both the airport and the CAA and complain. Luton Airport is just another business, out to make a profit for their owners (Luton Borough Council) and we are having to pay the price through our quality of life.

NIGEL GREEN

Highfield Road, Sandridge

It has come to my attention that on October 19 when a vote was held in Parliament on the motion: “That this House recognises the contribution that nationals from other countries in the EU have made to the UK; and calls on the Government to ensure that all nationals from other countries in the EU who have made the UK their home retain their current rights, including the rights to live and work in the UK, should the UK exit the EU.”

Conservative MP for St Albans Anne Main was mysteriously absent. It would be interesting to know the reasons for her absence given that in the past she has purportedly argued for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, but it seems that this is nothing but lip service.

Her mentor and colleague Harpenden MP Peter Lilley was present and voted against.

This is not unsurprising given Ms Main’s lacklustre record in defending the best interests of her constituents. On October 10 she made an enquiry of the Minister for Brexit David Davies as to how her constituents could feed into the Brexit process, his reply was equally noncommittal.

Rather than robustly confronting the issues or leading from the front, it appears that she is happy just to faff around the edges.

In recent contact with her constituents, it has also come to light that she does not believe that the price of food will go up as a result of brexit, well we will see who is right on that one.

Any EU nationals living in our area, their loved ones, colleagues and those who support them should take note, Anne Main MP has nothing to offer them but empty platitudes.

MRS MP HOSKINS

Halsey Park, London Colney

Last week Hitchen and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley voted against a Private Members Bill to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who have, in good faith, legally made their lives in his constituency, contributed to the community, paying taxes and raising their families here. Some have been here for decades and are an integral part of our community.

Peter voted against the motion alongside other Conservative MPs so that the lives and futures of the affected people in his constituency and the futures of their children can be used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations with the EU.

The junior minister for Exiting the European union, Robin Walker, said that he expected EU citizens will be allowed to stay but might be deported if the rights of UK citizens in the EU were not guaranteed.

Joanna Cherry, SNP, who raised the motion asked that the rights of EU ex-pats in UK be guaranteed, and said: “The status of millions of our fellow workers, friends and neighbours is uncertain. That is simply not good enough. Despite repeated requests, the Government have refused to guarantee, in the long term, the rights of EU nationals who have made their home in the United Kingdom. In the meantime, in England and Wales hate crime has soared and xenophobic rhetoric is common in the mainstream media and, sadly, sometimes in the mouths of Ministers.”

The junior minister for Brexit , Robin Walker, said: “We are not able to set out a unilateral position now... we should not do anything to undermine the Government’s negotiating position.”

Joanna Cherry added: “The whole point of this motion is that human beings should not be used as bargaining chips in negotiation. If the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues think that the United Kingdom has so much to offer the European Union in its negotiations, why do they insist on using human beings as bargaining chips?”

Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab), added: “My husband is a UK citizen based in Germany, where he runs a very small business. He was horrified by the tone of his Government in looking after his rights as a person who is working and has established himself abroad. He said to me, ‘Do they not understand that threatening Europe is not the best way to open negotiations?’ I merely said, ‘No, they don’t’.”

A JOHNSON
St Albans

I was interested to read the piece written on behalf of the St Albans Civic Society “From NIMBY to BIMBY” (October 13). Many of your readers may be unaware that a local organisation, Look! St Albans - Our Community Voice on Design (LSA), roadtested the BIMBY (Beauty In My Back Yard) online toolkit. This is not to say that BIMBY was LSA’s idea but, through our work between 2011 and 2013 - when a set of draft design codes for the City Centre was co-authored by the St Albans community and The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community - we were approached by The Prince’s Foundation to work through a draft of its online toolkit from the perspective of a community wanting to use it, and to suggest any improvements.

This resulted in two of LSA’s officers being invited to Norwich earlier this year to meet the professionals and members of the local community directly involved in the first development to take place as a result of the use of the BIMBY toolkit. As well as providing an opportunity to explain the role of LSA in the BIMBY process and its work in promoting community engagement in the design of buildings and open spaces in St Albans, one could not fail to be inspired by the commitment and enthusiasm of the Norwich community as those attending could see the culmination of much hard work and effort towards improving the look and attractiveness of their area, and also by their feeling of local pride in and social belonging from the new buildings and developments they were overseeing. Also represented was another Cambridge-based community group in the early stages of working through a toolkit (initiated by what they perceived to be the universally poor design quality of residential development taking place in and around Cambridge) and they too are progressing well in their ambitions.

Dusting off my notes of that reception, also there were representatives of Civic Voice, the national charity for the civic movement in England and, according to its website, a “proud partner of the Prince’s Foundation BIMBY project”, as well as being the organisation of which our local Civic Society is a member. LSA is pleased to be an affiliated member of Civic Voice and to be represented at the Civic Voice Annual Convention held on October 21 and 22 in Chester.

As many may know LSA was asked by the landowner trustees to host the design charrette for the MoSTA site in Hatfield Road and, more recently, was asked by ‘The Partnership’, comprising St Albans City and District Council Community Services, Herts Constabulary, NHS, and Boultbee LDN (owners of The Maltings) to host the Civic Centre Opportunity Site design charrette in which 166 different stakeholders and members of the community participated. In each case, having taken part in both, that feeling of local pride in and social belonging was evident. To provide a flavour of how enthusiastic the community and landowners were, your readers are invited to view the three minute film of what taking part in a design charrette is like by watching YouTube https://youtu.be/Nt2LKlyXTIk This was commissioned by the lead facilitator of the CCOS design charrette and filmed and directed by a local film maker Donato Cinicolo.

What LSA offers that is not otherwise available locally is a means by which the St Albans community can become involved in a process of public meetings and workshops that will influence the design of buildings and open areas before a planning application has been lodged rather than, post planning application, being able only to object to what has been prepared and presented by others - after the horse has bolted, so to speak. Having touched on the subject of MoSTA, comments have been made from time to time about the intended use of the site for residential purposes. That decision was one for the landowner trustees to make, so that the brief at the workshop was to prepare designs appropriate to a residential development. The reality of course is that trustees are under a fiduciary duty to sell on the best terms that they can, so that a sale with planning permission for other than residential use would have had to meet that test for it to be implemented.

On the use of the word charrette, this is not a local invention, nor a recent one, dating back as it does to the 18th Century, and increasingly in use nowadays amongst professionals such as architects and bodies, professional and voluntary, involved in land use planning, urban planning and fields of design. For those who are not familiar with urban planning, charrette is a single word encapsulation of what would otherwise be quite a large mouthful, “a public meeting or workshop devoted to a concerted effort to solve a problem or plan the design of something”. For further information about the work of LSA, please visit www.lookstalbans.org/

CHRIS DEBENHAM

Treasurer Look! St Albans - Our Community Voice On Design

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