Your letters to the Herts Ad...

PUBLISHED: 13:42 02 March 2018

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It was a bitterly cold day today as I walked round the city centre. Yet in St Peter’s Street, French Row and The Maltings the majority of the shops had their doors wide open with heaters blasting away just inside.

This is not only wasteful of energy (they are squandering up to 50 per cent of their heating costs), but having the doors open also allows harmful particulates from traffic fumes into the shops, which affects not just customers, but also the staff working there.

Hats off to Jigsaw which had its doors closed and a notice saying they were open, just saving energy.

It is a myth that shops will lose customers if the doors are closed, in fact customers who are warm and comfortable are more likely to stay in the shop longer. Nor is keeping doors open a requirement for disabled access. There are better ways to provide this, with an automatic door being the best solution.

Some years ago Cambridge adopted a closed doors policy. Hundreds of shops signed up for this without any adverse effect on profit.

Indeed they saved on their energy bills and reduced shoplifting - costs that would otherwise have been added to the price of goods or reduced profits.

So come on St Albans businesses surely you can do better? Don’t wait for Sustainable St Albans Week. If you need to turn the heat on in your shop please close the doors.

The Close the Door campaign group can provide you with stickers to put on your doors to explain why they are closed.

Perhaps customers may then prefer to suppport businesses which show environmental responsibility?

Vanda Crescent, St Albans

I recently arrived back at Luton on a flight just before midnight only to be greeted by an enormous queue at passport control.

Since I had only hand luggage and a biometric chipped passport, “designed for fast entry into the UK”, I assumed that I would be able to get out of the airport quickly. Attempting to go to the ePassport gates, I discovered that they were all cordoned off. A member of staff helpfully informed me that they are always turned off midnight.

When I finally got to the border control desk I asked why the ePassport gates were closed. The official said dryly, “I imagine it’s staffwise.”


Homefield Road, Radlett

Maggie Cartmell’s letter (February 22) quite rightly points out that “farmers desperately need to use every inch of their land to grow food”.

That is surely an incontrovertible reason for Green Belt agricultural land to be protected from building development, especially given the likelihood of Britain needing to be more self-sufficient after Brexit, when the price of imported produce looks certain to rise.

The St Albans District so-called Local Plan, with its perfunctory pledge to “protect the Green Belt”, makes no reference at all to the vital sustainability of feeding the population.


Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden

The Herts Advertiser has historically supported our new infrastructure successes including Westminster Lodge, Cotslandswick Leisure, Batchwood Leisure and the Town Hall museum by a new basement.

You are concerned at the usage of the Civic Centre car park at weekends by officers and councillors. We are concerned at the risk of 250 spaces being lost to new city developments.

One of our alternative museum options was to build through and over the car park with a hotel that paid for the museum. We found a better location with a basement in the Town Hall.

A developer had come up with a car park site development 10 years ago but needed approximately 10 storeys to make it pay. The main reason is that it costs about £10,000 per space for a new multi-storey car park and almost £20,000 per space for a basement one.

Record drawings were lost in the ‘80s so we have physically probed and located the existing foundations to the car park enabling the possible build-through solution. This would keep the car park allowing continued use and saving re-build of them circa £2.5m above ground or £5m below ground. The existing structure has been checked. We can always build down later if there are no cars in 10 years!


Oakfield Road, Harpenden

The new St Albans museum is about to open in what was the old Town Hall

Wouldn’t it be really nice if one of the rooms or an area in the museum was named after the late Jim Rodford.

Jim was a much-loved and respected man and musician, both locally and internationally, and will be sorely missed. What better fitting tribute than to have his name remembered in the city he so loved?

Mons Close, Harpenden

Tony Leach writes that he regrets the result of the referendum to leave the EU. Like him I voted to Remain but we differ in that I don’t accept that the decision is irreversible.

I think that it is democratic to be able to change our minds as the reality of what Brexit might mean becomes increasingly clear - a damaged Britain with a smaller economy and a less secure future for our children. Like Tony Leach I want a better funded NHS but think for that we need a strong economy. I do not believe that we can have both Brexit and increased funding for the NHS.

Tony Leach is right that the May district elections will be an opportunity to show a strength of feeling against our ineffective and shambolic Government.

It is also important however, if you believe like me that Brexit was a stupid decision, to continue to oppose Brexit in any way we can. I am curious to know if Tony Leach was actually at the meeting with Lord Kerr hosted by the St Albans for Europe Group. If he was, it is surprising that he was baffled by the arguments put forward by members of the audience from all political persuasions. I was at the meeting and was left with an even stronger conviction that Brexit can and should be stopped.

Brexit is absurd and I resent that sometimes arguing against the madness has almost taken over my life.


Langley Crescent, St Albans

I recently spent a diverting half hour looking at the district council’s online publication of the statistics regarding councillor attendance at committees and other meetings

Obviously I looked for my own ward (Verulam) first and was struck by the disparity between the two Lib Dem councillors, who over the last two years missed more than a third of their meetings, and the single Conservative who, over the same period, made it to 92 per cent of the meetings she was due to attend.

It is at this point that I must declare an interest - the lone Conservative, Cllr Jessica Chivers, is my wife, and I must say I feel rather aggrieved at losing my wife to so many evenings of council work when my other ward councillors seem to be far less conscientious.

Delving further into the stat’s it seems that Verulam ward is particularly badly served by the Lib Dems.

Although not an exhaustive study, most of the councillors I looked at across the district managed to turn up 90 per cent or more of the time.

Obviously there is more to being a ward councillor than just turning up at meetings, but nevertheless the figures for those two years (March 4 2016 to February 5 2018) are striking. Cllr Hill 66 per cent, Cllr Chris Davies 64 per cent and Cllr Jessica Chivers 92 per cent.

For one six month period Cllr Chris Davies didn’t even make it to half his meetings.

Maybe personal circumstances precluded it, I don’t know, but I really think the council should look into ways of reclaiming the allowance paid to councillors whose attendance falls below a certain level.

To add to my consternation, a few days after my investigation I received a Lib Dem leaflet through the door with many pictures of Cllr Hill pointing at various things that displease him. I understand that the councillor will be putting himself forward for re-election in May.

One has to wonder why when he seems to have a singular aversion to a major aspect of the job, namely turning up to council meetings.

What really sticks in the craw though is the line in large letters at the bottom of the leaflet, “Working hard all year round”. More accurate to say “Doing some work two thirds of the year”, no?


Jerome Drive, St Albans

I write once again in response to another Friends of Bernards Heath letter regarding the Sandridge Road Wastes.

I would like to thank Roger Miles for clarifying that whilst his colleague felt that access to our properties over the Wastes might be illegal, Friends of Bernards Heath do not wish to deny homeowners that.

Mr Miles is however bothered by the general appearance of the driveways and feels that the mixture of Tarmac, concrete, block paving and gravel are unattractive...

Part of the beauty of Sandridge Road is the fact that the houses all differ and offer no uniformity. It is unique and the very reason that many chose to buy here.

It would clearly be impossible to gather all the residents and ask them to agree on a uniform style of driveway and implement it and it is irrelevant and unimportant in the scheme of things.

I do wish that local residents and groups would spend their time and efforts engaging with the VITAL issues relating to St Albans; namely the huge cuts being made to our school budgets, the fact that we are a city with rising crime and no formal police station, depleted police numbers, a total lack of affordable or local authority housing, a hospital that has just scraped out of special measures with some services being privatised, a district council (Tory run) that has been unable to implement a Local Plan and roads that are pot-holed or poorly repaired. Instead we have an MP who has a primary concern with dog poop and residents tinkering around the edges with irrelevant nothings.

A coming together of local people with a true determination to focus on the important issues is really needed here to keep this city vibrant and modern with a rich historic past. I’m in, are you?
By email

I would like to extend a warm thanks, through your columns, to the audience at St Albans Choral Society’s Hymns and Anthems concert for their very generous donations to our chosen charity, the Hospice of St Francis.

Our concert profits and donations totalled an amazing £2,500 for the Hospice, which provides expert care for people in the district with life-limiting illnesses, and wonderful support for their families.

We are grateful to Heather Houston, ambassador for the charity, for coming to the concert in Marlborough Road Methodist Church and telling us about the work of the hospice, and to the volunteers who provided tea and cake afterwards for the audience and performers. In addition to raising much-needed funds, everyone had a very enjoyable time!


Chair, St Albans Choral Society

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