Your letters to the Herts Ad...

PUBLISHED: 10:45 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:45 14 September 2017

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With exquisite timing, the Herts Ad multi-page feature last week on how brilliantly Govia Thameslink are doing at running our trains came in the middle of yet another week of chaos and misery back in the real world.

St Albans station saw the longest queues in living memory on Tuesday morning, presumably due once again to lack of staff. There were numerous delays and peak-time cancellations all week, and many reports of overheated new-style carriages which, brilliantly, don’t have opening windows.

Your interviewee, passenger “service” director Stuart Cheshire, seems to be living in a parallel universe: “It was always jam tomorrow”, he tells us, “Well, tomorrow is here”.

That’s right, Stuart. Like raspberries, we’re being crushed, boiled and stuffed into airless containers.

At least he admits that getting a seat is a thing of the past. That’s OK though, he says. You don’t expect a seat on an 18-minute tube journey (that costs £2.90), so why expect one for 18 minutes on the most expensive train line in the country?

It’s time for the Government to end the farcical rail franchise system, where proper long-term investment is impossible and money is sucked out into profits and million-pound pay packets. The smiling faces of Govia rail executives in your pages are not enough to satisfy your commuting readers. They need a coordinated service run in the public interest.


St Peter’s ward, St Albans

I just wanted to reply to the articles and letters in the Herts Advertiser concerning the organ at St Paul’s Church, St Albans.

First of all I would like to say that I rejoice that so many people are worshipping and using the facilities at St Paul’s it is great.

I have personal history with St Paul’s in that I sung in the choir in the 1970s with 25-plus other children.

This is where I first became interested in the organ by watching the organist playing and later turning pages for him from time to time. This lead me to become a organist myself.

Also my singing in the choir was the start of me becoming a Christian.

I came from a non church-going family with no music lessons. I could not read music when I joined the choir.

It seems to me that we are closing off this path to children today, in an environment where children have very little if no exposure to music at school or church contact.

I do not see this as a question of either a band leading worship or an organ; with a bit of imagination it is possible for both to work alongside each other.

I played the organ for a funeral last year with a full church, the singing was out of this world, and some people who have no church contact said “they had never experienced anything like it”.

I spent at least two of my summers in the 1970s assisting in repairing the organ at St Paul’s alongside the then-organist and a fully-qualified organ builder.

This was a great experience and I learnt a great deal that has stayed with me ever since.

Organs and the building of organs cover a very wide range of subjects, including science, maths, engineering to name just three.

In some places in the country the local schools are invited into churches to learn more about the organ and cover a number of their school curriculum subjects in the process.

St Paul’s may find that their congregation numbers increase even further if they expose the local school children to finding out more about this precious asset - the organ.

By email

It beggers belief that those who are in a position to make sure our roads, footpaths and verges (grass or not) are in a safe and good order do not seem to be able to:

1. Resurface roads properly.

2. Make good to damaged roads or potholes properly

3. Have a contract with contractors who cut verges etc. that make them clear away the grass left on the roads - this means that weeds grow in the gutters and is left there for months.

4. Have a repair/replacement programme for repairing footpaths - many of them are dangerous for young children and elderly people.

Recently, the roundabout at the junction of Watling Street St Albans and the A414 had a large hole on the exit to Watling Street for about three weeks. This damage made the road dangerous and very unsafe for motorcyclists especially and cars.

Many times my car thumped into this hole or I had to unsafely swerve to miss it.

This hole was sort of repaired about 10 days ago, I say repaired, some asphalt has been thrown in to fill it up which it spectacularly failed to do completely and it is still there.

When is the county council going to repair it properly? I guess they are waiting for someone to get injured or killed before they repair it and other parts of the roundabout.

Don’t get me started on Robert Avenue, this road is dangerous and has had repair after repair that fails every time because the repair is not done correctly or thoroughly. It needs sorting out.

Who inspects this work? Come and talk to me and I will tell them how to do it.


Watling Street, St Albans

I write to complain about the clear bias and the manner your paper has written about St Albans School’s recently approved

application for a new maths block and shooting range over these past months.

Your paper’s tone has been very much against the application. One could be forgiven for thinking that the coverage had been written by an objecting resident.

Much of your story was about the objections and nothing about the advantages which have clearly swayed the planning committee to pass the scheme.

Yet your item restates the objections. I can not see how this is not biased.

Nor is there a necessity to mention a previous disagreement re school buses which was years ago.

Would your paper have written in this manner about a state school in the area getting new facilities for its pupils? I think not!

Charmouth Road, St Albans

It’s been a while since I had a moan about anything, but here goes.

For some time I had wondered how much longer the Town Hall transformation was going to cost and now I know the answer - £7.7 million! For an art gallery and museum that I suspect, very few people will visit.

To rub salt in to us taxpaying residents, the council is also splashing out £18.8 million on a leisure and culture centre in Harpenden.

Maybe I’m out of the loop a bit but surely some of this bottomless pit of money could have been directed towards Butterfly World, or is that not the kind of culture the fuddy duddies at St Albans council are looking for?

Butterfly World attracted visitors by the coach loads. I can’t foresee the same happening at the Town Hall.

While I’m on the subject of the city centre, I see a unit has become vacant in The Maltings. What’s the betting it will be yet another coffee shop, with chairs and tables outside to block even more pavement? Moan over.

Hilldyke Road, Wheathampstead

Trevor Barton in his letter last week was rightly concerned about adults cycling on the pavements in St Albans. But, like him, most of us would find it acceptable for young children to cycle on the pavement rather than on a busy road.

As well as being illegal, cycling on the pavement is in practice no safer than cycling on the road.

Most injuries to people cycling happen at junctions and on the pavement the cyclist has to contend with more junctions than the cyclist on the road.

Occasionally, adults and teenagers may decide that it is safer to use a quiet stretch of pavement to cycle along rather than use the road.

If they do so, they should cycle with consideration for, and give way to, any pedestrians.

On shared footways (i.e. a shared pavement alongside the road or carriageway where cycling is permitted) people cycling should always give priority to pedestrians.

Cycling on the road may appear dangerous but a study by University College London has shown that an hour spent cycling has roughly the same risk of a fatality as an hour spent walking or an hour spent driving.

Of course we want the roads to be made safer for cycling and for this reason cycle campaign groups want a 20mph speed limit on residential and shopping streets.

We also want more traffic-free cycle routes in St Albans.

It is rare for a pedestrian to be injured by someone cycling on the pavement. The main danger to pedestrians on the pavement is from motor vehicles.

In a typical year in Great Britain about 3,500 pedestrians on the pavement are injured by motor vehicles. About 75 pedestrians a year are injured by pedal cycles whilst on the pavement.

Every year thousands of our nine, 10, and 11 yearold schoolchildren in Hertfordshire are trained to cycle safely on quiet roads and junctions under the national Bikeability training scheme.

Many would like, and are ready, for further training to ride on busier roads and this can be arranged through the county council. (I declare an interest here as one of the team of cycling instructors in Hertfordshire).

We would love to see, and will campaign for, more traffic free routes where young, novice or just plain timid cyclists can get places, enjoy themselves and gain confidence.

In the meantime the best route to safety for all of us is well-trained and considerate people both cycling and driving.

Motor vehicles should be going at speeds where collisions are unlikely and, if they do occur, do not result in serious injuries.


Chair, St Albans Cycle Campaign

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