Your letters to the Herts Ad...

PUBLISHED: 18:19 16 May 2017

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Last weekend The Times published a photo of a Scottish care home’s pet rooster “who has a tendency to wander” outside the local Co-Op in her distinctive hi-vis pink jacket.

Once identified (are there any other chickens who go shopping?) the staff let her wander around the store; looking for free range eggs presumably?

If Ms Reardon had bothered to dress her Hearing Dog Anna in the charity’s distinctive hi-vis jacket and if staff had been asked if it was OK to sit inside at the Waffle House the misunderstanding would not have happened (“Restaurant’s confusion over customer’s assistance dog” - Herts Advertiser, May 4). Your editorial on the adjoining page was a bit over the top - courtesy is a two-way street.

East Common, Harpenden

I cannot help sympathising with the highly-qualified but underpaid staff of the Hertfordshire Countryside Management Service (CMS), not to mention their hard-working volunteers.

It seems that every time they propose to do their job (of maintaining and enhancing the county’s open spaces) some ignorant busybody starts jumping up and down demanding that the status quo be maintained, despite having no understanding of how inappropriate that status quo might be.

I refer, of course, to the proposals to carry out work at The Wick, St. Albans, but I could equally be referring to similar controversies at Nomansland Common, Verulamium Park and doubtless throughout the county.

What the foaming-at-the-mouth brigade fails to grasp is that broad-leaved woodland, in its natural state, is a balanced, diverse ecosystem, and an essential part of that diversity is the clearing of areas to allow re-generation.

Such clearing occurs naturally through the activities of large herbivores, occasional fires, large trees falling in strong winds and so forth.

Short of re-introducing roe deer or wild boar to The Wick, burning parts of it, or allowing large trees to become dangerously unstable, it falls to us, the people of Hertfordshire, to correct the imbalance and maintain woodlands such as The Wick. This is what the CMS is endeavouring to do.

Ms Brook, what you see at The Wick is not woodland in its natural state. It is an overgrown and unkempt mess which is far from achieving its full potential for bio-diversity. Let the CMS do its job and fix it.

Whether it is necessary to surface the paths is moot, but the point needs making that it is NOT proposed to concrete them over. The paths would be surfaced with crushed concrete or aggregate i.e. in everyday terms, gravel. Doesn’t sound so horrendous now, does it?

Finally, lest anyone accuse me of being some blow-in with no business commenting on these matters, let me state that I was born in St Albans, have lived here all of my 55 years, attended Marshalswick School (before it became Sandringham School), and have been playing on, walking on and enjoying The Wick since I was in short trousers.


Archers Fields, St Albans

As someone who works in land management and has managed woodland and nature reserves for the past four years it was interesting to read about the plans for The Wick, an area I know well.

It is a common misconception that cutting down any tree is ‘bad’ and leaving all trees to grow unchecked is ‘good’, in fact this is what I thought before studying woodland management. In fact, woodland need active management and failure to do so is a major factor behind the declines of many woodland birds, plants and animals.

In times gone by this active management was provided by grazing and the use of wood for fuel and building materials. Nowadays it needs intervention to improve wooded areas for wildlife.

The plans described in the proposals for The Wick are exactly what is recommended for woodland management – coppicing hornbeam is a traditional practise and removing a proportion of vigorous plants like laurel, holly and sycamore is exactly what is needed to stop them totally dominating the environment.

Currently The Wick is largely dark in the wooded areas, and has little light reaching ground level, resulting in little variety of ground flora and few butterflies. Restoring some variety to the woodland will be a positive thing. There are hundreds of trees in The Wick growing every year so it is necessary to periodically thin some areas to maintain a balanced wood.

In terms of surfaced paths it is indisputably true that not everyone wears welly boots in the wet, and the paths do then ‘grow’ wider to avoid wet areas, damaging the plants on either side through trampling and ground compaction.

There is a balance to be struck between ever increasing populations and a desire to have space to enjoy, and protecting the nature that is there. Many visitors will also need access for a buggy or a wheelchair.

Balancing increasing numbers of people in ever smaller areas of green space is a real challenge and needs a sensible debate. I would encourage readers to look into woodland management techniques before signing the petition.

The cover story certainly should have offered the other side of the argument too, and a link to details of recommended woodland management techniques would have been helpful rather than simply promoting the petition against the woodland management.

Sandridge Road, St Albans

With reference to the Wick reserve proposals, Wendy Brook’s comment that muddy conditions are solved by a pair of wellies is too simplistic.

Disabled people like myself who use a wheelchair or an electric buggy are immediately disbarred when the ground is soft so the idea of using crushed concrete as an aggegate for consolidating soft spots in the paths is a very good idea.

The existing main paths are quite wide so relaying with a hard material would hardly change the appearance from rural to urban and in this day and age motor vehicles are needed to carry equipment from depot to place of work.

Upgrading the fencing and the railway sleeper bridges makes good sense as does some of the tree felling especially the intrusive laurel bushes. The entrance from Marshalls Drive is very tricky for buggies so the revamp will be welcome.

All in all I think that the proposals are suitable for a wild area within an urban scene.

St Albans

I was horrified to read on your front page about the plan to spoil the Wick woodland and I don’t even live nearby.

This seems to be completely out of touch with our environment. Already we are blighted by front gardens turned into to car parks,so when there is woodland in its natural state with paths established by generations of walkers, to cover them with concrete would be a disaster.

If the council has so much money to waste could it invest in restoring the bus services it has cut.

For those who have no car and a small income, a lack of public transport in the evening has a devastating effect. Surely an occasional evening outing should not be solely for the well heeled?


Cowper Road, Harpenden
Save our verges!

It’s official. Cutting our town’s verges is killing off all our

native plants and therefore our invertebrates and so the birds.

In areas where councils have been saving money by not constantly cutting the grass wild flowers have been saved and so helped the bee and butterfly populations.

One of the only good things about sitting in the queue waiting for the traffic lights to change on the Redbourn Road was the chance to look at a lovely crop of Lady’s Smock, that little pink flower so essential to butterflies, which was growing in the large grass verge.

I returned to take photographs only to find that the whole area had been mown to within an inch of its life leaving boring patchy grass.

The council say everyone wants it to be tidy! Why? 97 per centof our wild flower meadows are gone. The only place that wild flowers grow in on our verges and the good people of Harpenden want them to be tidy.

People take holidays in foreign countries in the spring specifically to see wild flower meadows. We could have them here if we didn’t keep cutting them down.

People have to understand the relationship between all our wild creatures.

Insects may annoy you but they are food for many birds especially in spring when the adults feed caterpillars and grubs to their offspring.

We would save money by not cutting down the verges until June when the flowers set seed and we could use that money for social care and also for more dog bins so that lazy dog owners wouldn’t need to sling their poo bags in my hedge.


West Common, Harpenden

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