Your letters to the Herts Advertiser...
PUBLISHED: 11:59 04 November 2016
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Driving along a quiet St Albans road the other day, I suddenly had to brake hard when, on my left, what looked like a swarm of human wasps appeared on two wheels from out of a footpath onto the road.
I am referring of course to the collective noun for cyclists which I have named a ‘nuisance.’ These pesky critters wove in and out of each other pottering along, slowing me down to almost a crawl by driving two abreast contrary to the Highway Code.
As I tried to pass them, I gave good berth but got a two fingered salute from some because I never allowed a full car width. Maybe one of them recognised me. I don’t know. Water off a duck’s back. When I reached the front of the line of Lycra clad “Freds,” the head honcho of the pack decided in his infinite wisdom to pull directly out in front of me smiling like Top Cat, forcing an emergency stop whilst he and his cohorts continued to pass ahead of my vehicle.
After much horn blowing, expletive delivering and hand gestures, the group of cyclomaniacs disappeared up another road to terrorise and torment other motorists. I drove off think us motorists were the superior breed when the left hand paralysis I once many years ago accused motorists of having manifested itself at the roundabout.
It was a simply case of playing clairvoyant as none of the idiots were indicating and one just had to guess, gulp, take a deep breath and hope for the best to avoid a collision.
Just what is it in the minds of the modern road user (in the case of cyclists, their arms) and the motorist, the indicator, that gives them the divine right to fail to indicate their turning intentions - when God gave the Freds arms and motorists an indicator lever!?
It makes me seethe when I get to a junction and have to second guess someone because they cannot be arsed to indicate. If I were a traffic cop (and I nearly was once in a former life) I would nick everyone failing to indicate, drive at the speed of the road and of course the cyclomaniacs who should, in my book, have some kind of reg plate displayed or at least pay a road tax.
Maybe Theresa May might wish to bolster the revenue by taxing the Freds so that the careful Toms, Dicks and Harrys of this world might have a safer journey and we could all get along on the road warm and cosily driving 40 in a 40 zone, indicating left before we turn left and obviating the need for confrontation when lines of wasps share the same highways.
We may be one of the UK’s most desirable places to live - but it is a city domiciled by too many Sir Wiggins’ wannabes and brainless drivers with left hand paralysis. I thank you!
BARRY CASHIN Green Lane, St Albans
In response to the interesting Editor’s Comment in the Herts Advertiser of October 13, ‘Why cathedral should run the city’, in some ways we fully endorse his comments. Our cathedral is certainly a major tourist attraction, it is also - surely above all - a house of prayer to God?
Yes the cathedral is run well and efficiently. The services can be a joy to attend, the teaching is sound and instructive, adn the attendance at services is mostly very good. It is a pleasure to be part of the worshipping congregation at all times.
The cathedral, if it had the time and resources, could surely run our fine city better and more efficiently than the council. However, I ask, should the cathedral main aisle be used as a catwalk? Scantily dressed or however dressed models sashaying inside the vast cathedral seem incongruous and inappropriate to me. Though we acknowledge that all things come together for good for those who love God, so possibly I needn’t be critical of that - certainly the concerts and the education centre are a joy to be part of. What do other readers think?
The Dell, St Albans
Following recent correspondence and last week’s letter about Heathrow flights we would like to clarify a number of items.
As an introduction we are a steering group, St Albans Quieter Skies (STAQS) set up in September in response to the ever increasing and intruding aircraft flights over our locality. We were set up initially to represent concerned residents in north St Albans and Sandridge. The steering group members are residents, local representatives and parish and county councillors. From the current interest it is planned to include additional local areas who also have issue with aircraft noise.
The level of noise we are experience can be as much to interrupt conversation, prevent listening to the radio or television and makes life generally difficult. Whilst it is more intrusive in the summer when windows are open, it can still be sufficiently loud to penetrate a closed environment at any time of the year.
We are currently raising our concerns and reporting excessive noise events with number of national bodies including of course with Luton Airport Authority.
In our case the official Luton Westerlies take-off flight path has recently been moved closer to us and has been concentrated via GPS technology (RNAV). This new official flight path is extremely close to North St Albans. Sandridge is directly and consistently overflown by this flight path. Easterly routings occur only 32 per cent of the time and westerly routings 68 per cent of the time.
These Luton aircraft fly 24 hours a day at low altitude and are always climbing - sometimes steeply and always very noisily. Many aircraft are now vectored directly over and across densely populated areas of New Greens, Marshalswick, Jersey Farm towards Brookmans Park. In addition, since last summer we now frequently experience double fly pasts at the same time with Heathrow flights on westerly routings.
Heathrow flight paths have not changed in five years according to NATS (National Air Traffic Service) and should not fly over central St Albans, so NATS must be vectoring Heathrow traffic over us too. This has exacerbated the issues as the expansion of Luton has occurred over just a couple of years, much faster than previously anticipated, and is now 50 per cent more since the expansion started.
There is a Post Implementation Review (PIR) of the Luton changes, likely to be around June 2017, where the CAA will review the situation and enforce changes where appropriate. It is important that the CAA are aware of the problems caused. STAQS is seeking amendments to the current flight plans, in order to reduce the noise and consequential disturbance these changes have made. We believe the best chance of amendments are through the PIR. We are pleased to hear from concerned residents and seek to keep you informed through our developing communications. We currently have a Facebook group called STAQS.
We understand that Luton has a business to run, however, we do want them to take our plight into account and work with us, our local supportive MPs, the CAA and other groups as together we seek ways of getting a better and more tolerable environment.
St Albans Quieter Skies steering group.
We are assured by St Albans district council that the proposed new Harpenden arts and leisure complex proposed for Rothamsted Park, on the two sites currently occupied by the town’s sports centre and swimming pool will, in the words of council leader Julian Daly, “not add a penny” to our council tax bills, at a time when SADC faces an ongoing period of severe financial stringency. His assurance came at a public meeting where the town’s residents were invited to submit their ‘wish lists’ for the range of facilities the new complex should include.
If council budgets are so tight, I think we are entitled to ask why the series of meetings and ‘workshops’ being held to determine the needs of Harpenden’s arts, leisure and sports organisations were ‘farmed out’ – at an undoubtedly formidable cost, which the council certainly wouldn’t disclose – to Eventbrite, a consultancy based in, wait for it, San Francisco.
One result was that those of us attending the meetings were taken immediately into the baffling world of transatlantic ‘management speak’. The meetings were billed as ‘charettes’. Neither myself or any other attendee I spoke to had ever heard the word. Someone said it sounded like a small charabanc! Meanwhile the chairperson, employed by Eventbrite, was introduced as ‘facilitator’.
Given the supposed level of professional expertise from such a clearly experienced international consultancy, it was dismaying to observe that the facilitator, who told us she lived in north-west London, knew almost nothing about Harpenden. Her supporting material, projected on to a screen, mis-spelled Rothamsted as ‘Rothamstead’. And one was left with the impression that the meeting could have been organised and chaired perfectly adequately, at a fraction of the cost to council tax payers, by SADC personnel.
Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden
I refer to your recent coverage of the very sad passing of David Wray and his outstanding work on behalf of community sport across the St Albans district area.
David’s influence went much wider than his home town. As a highly valued board member and treasurer of the Herts Sports and Physical Activity Partnership – Hertfordshire’s County Sports Partnership – he showed an empathy and understanding of the huge difference that community sports clubs can make to our communities, in terms of health and wellbeing; social inclusion; community cohesion; crime and disorder reduction; and educational attainment.
He was a champion for the underdog and totally committed to using sport as a vehicle to address inequality. Eight years ago it was David who secured external funding so that a focus on disability sport could be included in the inaugural Herts Coach Education Week. That funding was pivotal to the sustainability of the programme, which has since catered for over 9,000 sports coaches from around the country. Without David’s tireless efforts, support and vision, that success and the massive impact that it has had on our communities, quite simply would not have been possible.
The term legend is bandied about all too freely in the sporting world, but in terms of community sport in Hertfordshire, David Wray was just that - a real legend. Community sport has lost a true friend and the Herts Sports and Physical Activity Partnership an inspirational leader.
David believed in the adage that ability without opportunity is nothing, and the people that he helped develop as community sports leaders, and the sports programmes and facilities that he put in place across St Albans and the wider Hertfordshire area, will serve as a fitting legacy to one of life’s loveliest people.
May he rest in peace.
JOHN D O’CALLAGHAN Herts Sports Partnership
I swim every day at a local health club, summer and winter in the outdoor pool. Sometimes it’s a challenge to leave the house especially at 6am when it’s still dark outside, and when it’s cold I have to gather every ounce of motivation to get me out of the door, but I know that once I have braved it I will be zinging with exhilaration.
Sometimes I sit in the car, parked in the almost deserted car park, willing myself to get out, whilst having a conversation in my head about how great I will feel having done it, whilst the other side of my brain is screaming that I want to go back to my warm, cosy bed! Of course I do eventually make myself get out of the car, walk to the entrance of the health club and swipe my membership card at the automatic gate - and I’m in. There’s no turning back now. The receptionists are always way too bright and happy for so early in the morning but they make me smile back and greet them, and once I’m in I suddenly feel motivated and ready for my bracing swim.
There’s nothing like swimming outdoors watching all weathers. Sometimes the sky is just turning from dark to light and there is a glimmer of sun as it starts rising - they are my favourite sorts of days. Sometimes the sky is grey and miserable and sometimes I swim in the rain. The end result is always the same. Once I have finished my laps I stride happily back into the club and reward myself with a warm shower and soothing sauna. I tingle as I go into a warmer temperature and feel on top of the world.
The changing room of a health club at 7am is a really special place. There are not very many people who have already exercised at that time of day and we have become a bonded group of ladies who chat about what we do, our families and what the day ahead has in store. I feel like I am part of an exclusive club. We don’t tend to get together outside of our exercise time, we don’t know each other’s addresses or phone numbers but we support and encourage each other in life’s challenges and encounters. It’s really interesting how a common interest can bring women together in such an honest and true way, with no barriers, no axes to grind, no judgement and no competitiveness. We are just a group of women trying to live good, decent lives, doing the best we can for ourselves and our families and for a brief time every morning we can just be who we are, accepted and welcomed into the fold of sisterhood.
Currently there is me - out of work and desperately looking for my next big break - a gorgeous lady who recently lost her husband and is trying to make sense of it all, a middle aged lady who is so in the routine of coming early that even though she has her whole day free, she prefers to continue coming at that time. There are two older ladies who are rather on the large side and obviously shop for swimming costumes at the same store as they arrive wearing the same one most days. They call themselves the dynamic duo although dynamic is not really a word I would use to describe the speed of their swimming, and lastly there is the lady who works incredibly long hours and can only fit her swimming in at 6am. She swims manically up and down with a really professional looking stroke, getting in as many lengths as she possibly can in the time available. We are such a diverse bunch of women, coming from different backgrounds, with various family and work situations and all ages, but first thing in the morning whilst most of our contemporaries are still snoring in their beds, us ladies put the world to rights! I love it and feel like we are part of a secret society. I always have a bounce in my step when I leave, and a bright smile of anticipation for the day ahead. It certainly sets me up for the day and gives me the strength I need to face the day’s challenges
ROS BENMAL By email
I am writing to you to say thank you to the people who have helped me after an accident I had travelling on my moped to Sandridge on the evening of Wednesday October 26.
I got knocked off by a driver on the junction of Sandpit Lane, but was helped by six people, a number of whom waited with me until the ambulance arrived to make sure I was OK.
One woman, called Anne, who was travelling all the way to Essex, made sure my family were informed about what had happened and even called me in the morning to check that everything was alright.
Luckily I escaped with no serious injury and am back at work. Nevertheless, I felt very comforted that so many people in our community offered their assistance to me. I am very grateful and they made a very bad experience much more bearable.
OLIVER GILL Kings Road, St Albans
Please, can any of your readers help me find my cat Belle (pictured above)? She has been missing since Thursday morning. We live in the Southdown area of Harpenden and Belle was last seen in the garden, by one of the residents on Cravells Road.
She is a much loved, family pet, she is very friendly and loves her food, so someone may mistake her for a stray.
We are really missing her at home and spend everyday out looking for her. We would love to have her back in our lives, she is such a big part of our family.
If anyone recognises Belle would they please contact me? Thank you in advance for your help.
HOLLY SALE 07545482249 Harpenden
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