Letters, April 21, 2011, part one

Shameful dumping by schoolchildren

SIR – On Sunday, March 13, I was one of the volunteers who took part in the annual litter pick in Verulamium Park and I managed to fill two plastic bags with rubbish left by thoughtless, irresponsible, filthy people.

At the end of my three hours of labour, I must say the park looked immaculate, absolutely beautiful, a credit to everyone young and old who had given up their time for the endeavour.

Last Friday afternoon I walked through the park again and was appalled to see what had happened.

As it was the last day of school term, hundreds of children were sitting on the grass, with litter strewn all around them... hamburger boxes, crisp bags, plastic bottles, sweet wrappers and other rubbish.

Talk about disheartening. Why did we bother to tidy the park up?

In fact, as I walked home, I thought this was the final straw because I have no doubt our park will be trashed again on the last day of the summer term, as has happened previously.

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So I am making one last appeal to the head teachers of the local schools that use the park, including St Albans Boys, St Columba’s and Loreto.

At the end of term, before your boys and girls congregate there, would you please remind them to put all their litter in the bins provided?

Equally, I would ask whether on the last days of term the park managers couldn’t have someone monitoring the situation in Verulamium, asking children to clear up their rubbish where appropriate. Perhaps a police community support officer could also put in an appearance.

I have done my best to look after our park but it is time the responsible authorities took a proactive role in dealing with this problem.

We should not just rely on public-spirited citizens to clear up other people’s mess.


Hatfield Road, St Albans

In praise of The Lea

SIR – I am writing in support of The Lea Primary School in Harpenden.

Both of my older children attended the school 1995-2004 and had a great time there – their education and social life could not be faulted.

They both had a wide variety of friends, achieving beyond the national average in SATs, along with many of their peers.

I have lived in Harpenden for 25 years and during that time The Lea, quite unjustly, has been seen as a poor Harpenden school.

I, along with many others, am fed up with the unrelenting prejudice against this gem of a school. I hear so many falsehoods bandied about, usually from people who have never set foot inside it.

OFSTED reports and league tables do not give an accurate picture of any school and it is unfair to judge on that alone.

The prejudice I have witnessed over the past few days concerning the allocation of school places has been appalling.

The parents may not manage to raise thousands of pounds to provide many added extras like the other schools in Harpenden, but the children are happy, receive a rounded education and do not lack – except maybe those things that would only normally be seen in a private school.

Harpenden is a peculiar bubble that we sometimes need to push hard to burst through to remind ourselves of what the real world is like.

I have many friends with children currently at the Lea, and I go into the school as a visiting teacher a number of times each term.

I am always met with courteous and helpful children and a very pleasing learning environment, and my time with classes has never been disrupted due to challenging behavior.

The staff are committed and additional support is given where needed, as in any school.

If you have been allocated a place at The Lea and it wasn’t one of your preferences, please give the hard-working head, teachers, governors and current parents the courtesy of visiting the school and listening to the truth, not hearsay that has been passed on, from one person who has never entered the school, to another.

My eldest is now studying for a masters degree in mathematics at Durham University.

His primary education has certainly not held him back!


Roundfield Avenue, Harpenden

Voting system to be cherished

SIR – It is widely admitted by supporters of changing the voting system to the Alternative Vote, that ‘AV’ is not the best electoral system, but a useful ‘staging post’, through which they hope to then get Proportional Representation (PR) in later years.

If this ‘Yes’ campaign gets to its ultimate destination, and cuts the link between an MP and their constituency, then St Albans could end up with any politician who chooses to move here.

Given that the BNP got 1.9 per cent of the UK vote at the last general election, that would result in 12 BNP MPs elected across the UK. If one of these BNP members of parliament chose to settle in St Albans, they could reasonably claim to ‘represent’ the area. Perhaps they could ask to present awards at a local primary school? Or have a little stall on the high street?

Our current voting system has kept out extremist groups for centuries, unlike in the countries of our continental neighbors. I suggest we cherish it and vote ‘No’ to AV.


The Cleave, Harpenden

Nature reserve’s future management

SIR – Last week’s article in the Harpenden edition of the Herts Advertiser explained the issues associated with ownership of Batford Springs Nature Reserve by St Albans District Council (SADC) and why devolution to Harpenden Town Council would enhance the way that the reserve is managed.

Richard Shwe from SADC took the trouble to add some words to the copy provided by the Batford Springs Volunteers.

While I am pleased that Richard has taken the time to contribute in this way, I have to challenge an anomaly in the comments that he made.

Richard explained that “any organisation taking occupation and control of a site, whether on a leasing arrangement or otherwise, would normally assume responsibility for the cost of its future maintenance”.

Undoubtedly, the town council will have to assume responsibility for the cost, but this does not prescribe where the funding will come from to allow them to achieve this.

If the organisation handing over occupation and control has in the past received, and still does receive, funding for the site through the payment of taxes by its customers, this surely ought to be passed over?

If it is not, the receiving organisation will have no choice but to increase local taxation to cover the costs. In the instance we are talking about, this would result in Harpenden residents being charged twice, but only receiving the service once.

Meanwhile, the organisation handing over the site would divest itself of the cost while still receiving the benefit.


Lea Road, Harpenden

Irresponsible dog owners slated

SIR – I totally agree with Mrs Wain’s comments (Herts Advertiser, March 31) about dog poo on the paths in Batford – a letter which should be taken notice of.

It really is disgusting. I walk my three-year-old son up to the school but most of the time (even though he wants to walk) I have to push him in the buggy as he gets it on his shoes and he couldn’t possibly walk it into a school full of young children.

One time when my son stepped in it a passing man made a comment at how appalled he was and that he would report it to the council. But nothing has been done.

Because it gets trodden on, it is smeared all over the path.

Please can something be done about this?

Even if there are no dog bins, why can’t people just pick up their dog poo, bag it and dispose of it at home.

Why should we and our children’s health and happiness have to suffer!


Wroxham Way, Harpenden

SIR – I am writing about the misuse of flexi-leads in and around St Albans.

I have seen dog owners with their dogs the full length of the lead, not only in my street but in the market, on pavements and roads.

These owners let their dogs go into other people’s front gardens and stand a good chance of tripping members of the public up.

The flexi-lead was invented for the police to use on their tracker dogs to save them using heavy leads.

They are also sold to the public to use in the parks and open spaces so that their dogs have some freedom but the owners also have control.

When I’m out with my dog, I take a wide circle around anybody in the street whose dog is at the length of the flexi as those dogs have no rule, boundaries, limitations.

I also walk my dog on the flexi-lead – it’s short on the pavements and long in the fields as it should be.

PS. I’m an experienced handler and dog walker so I know what I’m talking about.


Dalton Street, St Albans