Your letters to the Herts Ad...

PUBLISHED: 15:49 17 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:49 17 August 2017

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I’m writing regarding your coverage of St Albans CAMHS in the Herts Ad.

I have no personal connection to the service, but am a life-long resident of St Albans and have immediate family who worked in the mental health service that preceded St Albans CAMHS many years ago. I also used to work for this newspaper – albeit briefly – and therefore feel compelled to contact you regarding what I believe to be an incredibly unfair portrayal of an important local service.

I take issue with a variety of the points the journalist raises in the piece, in particular the tone of the article which I find ill-judged, unfair and misleading.

St Albans CAMHS, along with CAMHS departments around the country and many other public services, is underfunded.

The case studies referenced in the piece are a direct result of that underfunding. Which begs the question: why direct the article’s negative spotlight onto the provision that CAMHS is offering, and more importantly, onto the staff who are providing it?

Would it not be more appropriate, and of far greater public service, to look at why CAMHS is so underfunded and challenge those responsible for that lack of resource?

Rather than using a quote from Anne Main MP to reinforce the article’s agenda, why not have the courage to challenge the person who has been St Albans’ Member of Parliament for over 12 years, about a publicly funded service which, in the journalist’s own words, is “sub-standard”?

A chain reaction has taken place here, starting with underfunding and concluding with the tragic cases referenced in the article; you have chosen to cover only the very final stage of that chain.

St Albans CAMHS carries out an incredible amount of hugely positive work. There are many families who will be very grateful for the support they have received from St Albans CAMHS.

Had these families been sought out prior to last week’s article, they would have painted an entirely different picture to the one you have decided to publish.

There is, in fact, no reference at all to the positive work that St Albans CAMHS does or the incredibly complex challenges that staff face on a daily basis, working with young people and families suffering from severe mental health difficulties.

There is however reference to the fact that the NHS is unwilling to comment on individual cases. Despite this, you have chosen to highlight individual cases. You have therefore done this knowing that CAMHS are not able to tell their side of the story.

This is, effectively, a free hit. It allows you to tell the families’ stories, safe in the knowledge that what they tell you will not be challenged by the only other people with any knowledge of the event.

That said, I do not wish to detract from any failings that may have contributed to the tragic death of Harley Tobias. It is a shocking case, however it is a case that dates back to 2013. Four years in CAMHS services is an incredibly long time, and to use an historic case to demonstrate current failings is highly misleading.

I would urge you, in the weeks to come, to consider balancing this negative coverage with some of the positive correspondence you will have received. Furthermore, I very much hope you will consider my initial point around underfunding in St Albans CAMHS and who exactly is accountable to that.

By email

As a local farmer, I was astounded to look out of my farmhouse window on Sunday afternoon to see a man and his dog walking through my crop of spring peas.

On asking him what he thought he was doing, he replied that he wasn’t doing any harm as the crop was already dead! I then explained to him that the field had been sprayed off so that the combine harvester could then harvest the crop.What may appear to be a ‘dead’ crop to the general public is, in fact, my livelihood. The man ended our conversation by saying that he had learnt something that afternoon. I hope it was that if you don’t own or rent the field, then don’t go in it without permission.

East Farm, Potters Crouch

Last week the train company contacted me to say that ‘sitting still is not an option’ in their plans for the network.

This was an unfortunate choice of words, because sitting is still not an option on peak time fast trains from St Albans.

Far from the revolutionary train design that we were promised from Siemens, we got carriages with fewer seats than the previous version and if you are lucky enough to sit down, you will find your seat horrifically uncomfortable, being bone hard and with zero legroom. No doubt that is intentional, in order to make standing up feel like a luxury.

Just a shame that Thameslink can’t find a way to differentiate ticket prices accordingly (although they are really good at handing out fines to people without a ticket - well, at least they’re capable of something!)
Cornwall Road

In the last few weeks we have suffered almost constant noise from early in the morning till late at night. Now Luton Airport want to make even more money by expanding to 25 million passengers. Why? Are their multi million pound profits not enough?

How much nuisance do they want to inflict to make even more money? Does the quality of life for those of us living within 10 miles of the airport not have value? This is a city airport that should have constraints, including a halt to night flights so that we can sleep.

The airport should never have been built where it is anyway, but now it’s there, there must be some control to alleviate the suffering of residents for miles around. As no flights go over Luton town and the owners are Luton council, I can’t see much control being exerted from there!


Ridgmont Road, St Albans

In reply to Neil Thompson’s recent letter, in the postcode area AL4 the noise of aircraft is almost relentless.

If it’s not planes flying out of Luton over the area, it’s planes flying out of Heathrow right over the AL4 area, sometimes lumbering giants heading north west in batches of 15 in an hour and a half - that’s one every six minutes. This area is for some unknown reason criss-crossed on a daily basis by air traffic. There are also I strongly suspect planes flying along the same and monotonous regularity west-east corridor, over AL4 heading either for Stansted or turning left at Lister Hospital to line up to land east west at Luton.

And between all this we also have aircraft having taken off at the easterly end of Luton runway swinging right and heading south west right over AL4. All of this aircraft movment is known to carry on for 20 hours in 24. And then we have the helicopters over flying, as if they had no other route to take.

Quite clearly this is a deliberate plan of action to target and criss-cross this area and has been happening for around two years. This is very disappointing to say the least, having previously been an occasional occurrence. It’s all very well highlighting statistics of journeys made by St Albans residents Mr Thompson, and telling us you have done something about night flights and saying something (might) or will be done about it in three years.

That will add up to five years of over-flying and creating discomfort for all in this area. And let’s be honest aircraft are not exactly green when it comes to air-born toxins and pollutants are they? After all the particles have to land somewhere.

By email

Eric Roberts, in his letter (August 3) rightly points out the threat to Thameslink and Midland Main Line rail service timings from the proposed rail freight depot on the former Handley Page airfield.

He could have added that because the depot site is adjacent to the fast lines and that freight trains would necessarily appoach and leave the depot via the slow lines, elaborate new switch-over points connecting northbound and southbound fast and slow line tracks would be required, as well as those needed for access to the freight depot sidings.

It is too much to expect that, with rail safety paramount, passenger services using both fast and slow lines between Radlett and St Albans would not be held up while long freight trains enter or leave the depot.


Ridgemont Road, Harpenden

We are very concerned about the NHS service cuts proposed by the Herts Valleys CCG (August 3). These proposals undermine the very basis of the NHS as they will create inequality.

Services now available as of right and considered essential will only be available to those who can afford to buy them privately.

Withdrawal of prescriptions for over-the-counter medication will especially hit people on low incomes. Treatment should be based on clinical decisions, not cost-saving.

Our CCGs are under extreme pressure to cut services because the Government is refusing to fund it properly, blaming the staff for inefficiency and patients for overusing the service.

We can afford and must fund decent health services through fair, progressive taxation.

People should have equal access to the healthcare they need, free at the point of use. That is the founding principle of the NHS which we believe should underpin any changes which are required to give it a sustainable future.

We urge readers to contribute to the Consultation at and the Green Party submission can be seen at


St Albans District Green Party

Reference the article in a recent Property Supplement pointing to the relative cheapness of living in Hertfordshire compared with London, this, like the enticements from estate agents to “move out to leafy Herts”, is I imagine the last thing many local residents want to hear.

We are already threatened with a massive housing programme, much of it on green field sites, with the inevitable urban sprawl and road congestion, thank you very much!

Meanwhile when Mr Cashin returns from his presumed holiday, would he please like to look into the increasing prevalence in some areas of pavement cyclists - not just youngsters wary of road traffic but also teenagers and indeed adults. I believe it is illegal but...


Fairmead Avenue, Harpenden

With regards to the impending replacement of paving slabs with Tarmac on the south side of Warren Road, I must state that I am somewhat bemused by the choice of this section of pavement when there are dangerously severe trip hazards in Robert Avenue which should have been prioritized as a necessity for rectification.

It would appear that the residents of Warren Road have not been fully consulted over this imposition but on a more important point, neither have the residents of Robert Avenue been given the chance to voice their concerns over what I would consider to be the worst pavement conditions on the entire estate.

This particular corridor is fraught with excessively uneven paving slabs and is utilised far more than any other on the estate, notably by school children and elderly residents, both being potentially vulnerable.

I would suggest that the repair of selective sections of pavement ie slab relaying/replacement, in Robert Avenue would be far more advantageous to the local community, not to mention making it desirably safer.

I would currently advise anyone wishing to navigate the horrendously uneven pavement in this road to find an alternative route for the sake of their own well-being.

The cost of removing the existing paving slabs, preparing the base and laying tarmac is surely something that the council can ill afford in view of the fact that Warren Road south side has a far more manageable pavement than that of Robert Avenue.

In short, throwing away money on something that would be better spent rectifying the deplorable state of the unmaintained and dangerous pavement in Robert Avenue defies logic.

With cuts being made to council funding, I would have presumed that the expenditure would have been more appropriate and designated in a way that would address the serious safety concerns of those pedestrians using Robert Avenue.

Potentially antagonising residents of the estate surely cannot be beneficial to anyone.

There is of course a remedy, namely that the intended works be cancelled and a full and proper assessment of the uneven pavement in Robert Avenue be conducted in conjunction with the local residents with a view to prioritising repairs based upon necessity and safety requirements.

I hope that county councillor Sandy Walkington finds it within himself, not only to reconsider this imposition but to involve the residents of the estate in coming to a unified decision over any such works in the future.

Communication between Cllr Walkington and the community is of the essence, but the health and safety issues must override all other considerations and to that end, should see Robert Avenue speedily prioritised.


Warren Road, St Albans

I’ve just read that St Albans district council has hung fire over electric taxis.

I’m very concerned that these vehicles are so quiet as I feel they cause a hazard.

A friend and I were recently nearly mown down by a lady who glided silently with absolutely no warning out of her driveway and onto the path.

Had we been blind or small children I dread to think of the consequences!

These vehicles should be fitted at source with some permanent sound to avoid accidents.


Overstone Road, Harpenden

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