Letters April 14 2016

Have your say and write to hertsad@archant.co.uk

Have your say and write to hertsad@archant.co.uk - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Send litter dumpers to live on landfill

SIR - Your article (March 31) highlighting the curse of litter, creating, in the words of your headline writer, those ‘streets of shame’ in and around St Albans, echoes the same concerns of many Harpenden residents. Cllr Jessica Chivers is to be commended for her efforts in organising monthly litter picks and for pointing out that the real focus should be on deterring people from dropping their rubbish in the first place. It is hard to fathom the mentality of those who discard their fast food containers, drinks cans, cigarette packets, tissues and plastic bags in the street. I sometimes wonder whether they might be content to live in the middle of a waste landfill site, where they would presumably be oblivious to their nauseous surroundings. My own observations, along specific routes I walk regularly in Harpenden, indicate that a high proportion of the litter we see all around us is dropped by youngsters on their way to or from school. It seems to me that the schools’ prime role of education ought to include, in the much-vaunted National Curriculum, lessons in care for the environment. Litter is, after all, another form of pollution, deserving of attention, and indeed legislation, in the same way as noxious vehicle exhaust emissions. By all means let’s get schoolkids organised on litter picking – which they won’t enjoy, but with an important accompanying message that the job wouldn’t be necessary if they took their own litter home or disposed of it tidily. Anyone from the UK visiting Germany, Austria or the Scandinavian countries cannot help noticing their almost entirely litter-free townscapes and countryside, which local inhabitants take for granted. It would never occur to them to drop their detritus willy-nilly on the ground or throw rubbish from their car windows. I fully support Cllr Chivers’ suggestion that it is time for the Keep Britain Tidy campaign – which was launched back in 1954 – to be revitalised, by way of posters around the St Albans district, including Harpenden, and that such a campaign should, crucially, involve active participation of local schools.

ALAN BUNTING Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden

Welcome warnings on Roman Wall

SIR - Some time ago I wrote to SADC and CC’d yourself about concerns I had regarding possible damages being done to the Roman Wall along the Causeway, most likely by children. I received a very comprehensive reply from SADC and was impressed when the Heritage Watch/police signs started appearing on the only remaining railings along this stretch of walk/cycleway and close to the wall itself. Recently I did have concerns as to whether or not Heritage Watch was in actual fact watching when the wall was subjected to what looked like a vehement attack by cement-throwing yobs. I have missed out on previous correspondence on this matter, but now, thanks to Prof Tim Boatswain I am more up to date, thank you - so the damage was not caused by yobs but was in fact consolidation of the wall carried out by English Heritage. My apologies - and Prof Boatswain is dead right on his comments to Nick Chivers - you can never have too much of a good thing, so if it needs 100 signs put up to get the attention of the public then go for it.


Jennings Road, St Albans

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House prices crisis must be tackled now

SIR - It was with huge disappointment and anger that I read from a recent report using statistics from an ONS study that St Albans has now overtaken London in having the highest average house price in the United Kingdom at a staggering £390,000. Not only this, but the city also had the third of highest increases in house prices in the UK in the last five years; this has seen house prices rise by nearly £100,000 from 2010 and there is no sign of this trend abating. All of this, is, in some ways positive news for the local economy. It is a clear indication that St Albans is a city that people want to live in and frankly who can blame them? St Albans is beautiful, historic, in spitting distance of London but with distinctly different feel from the capital and has many good local state schools. However, this trend has much more worrying consequences for the young people who have grown up here and for St Albans more widely. As a third year undergraduate beginning to plan on what to do after university and as someone who has loved growing up here and would love to at some point move back, it is deeply depressing knowing that most likely I will never earn enough to even rent in the city that I have grown up in, let alone put a deposit down on a house in St Albans. These aren’t just worries that I have but many other friends my age and older who are left locked out of the property market in the district. All of this is distinctly unfair; previous generations have been quite able to rent and buy property in the city that they have roots in but my generation will almost certainly unable to do so. This is also damaging for the long term development and community feel of St Albans. Communities thrive and depend on people who have grown up there coming back and building a family locally; this is simply an unrealistic option in the present climate and will lead to many people who have been born and educated being forced to move away, this perhaps breaking the sense of community that St Albans currently has. Although there is only so much the local council and local politicians can do to prevent this mass exodus, there are some solutions available. St Albans and district council consistently misses centrally set targets on affordable housing and in some parts of the district has not built affordable housing for decades. Housing that does get built in St Albans rarely contains adequate provision for social housing and housing that is branded as ‘affordable’ that is built in these schemes are far from it. The government’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme similarly does little to alleviate this problem in St Albans and bolder solutions on the building of affordable housing needs to be found in the district. Having been a member of our local Youth Council and the local Liberal Democrats, I have seen first hand some of the consultation efforts that go into housing plans locally. However, much more needs to be done to include not just young people of a school age in the district in consultations but also those in their 20s trying to enter into the property market. Young people must be a central concern in any major plans to increase the level of affordable housing in the district. We must start to face up to the crisis that is developing in St Albans, before it is too late.

NICK SUTTON Kings Road, St Albans

Thanks for autism awareness piece

SIR - I was very interested and thankful for the autism awareness feature run in last week’s Herts Ad because I can totally relate to those parents affected by dealing with the system. My son has a diagnosis of high functioning autism, which although is fairly mild, meant he was unable to cope with mainstream secondary school. After a year and a half he was excluded, which unfortunately was the only way we could get the local authority to deal with the matter properly. Despite the exclusion, getting him into the right school proved a continuous uphill battle with meeting after meeting, appointments and a whole lot of paperwork. This took several months, during which time he was missing out on his education and as a result falling behind his peers. In fact it was heartbreaking when he kept asking when he could go back to school. He is a bright young man and was becoming increasingly upset by being at home. Also it is just as well I run my own business as how could I have coped if I was commuting every day? It came down to me compiling pages of evidence to take to a tribunal before eventually he was offered a place at our chosen provision, where he is now happy and thriving. So many children fall through the net as parents find the whole process complex and time consuming and are unaware of their rights and help available.Thanks to the Herts Ad for shining a light on this problem and it really should be addressed a lot more.

LAURA BERRILL Deva Close, St Albans

Poor management of recycling centres

SIR - What has happened to the recycling centres? The last three times I have been there I have myself or seen people being turned away because the recycling centre is full! This weekend I managed to get rid of two large cardboard boxes into the non-recycling because that was the only option available, but two times before that I have had to turn around and head to Hemel because the centre was full. I was lucky this weekend but there were a lot of people being turned away and told that the Harpenden and Hemel centres were also full so they had to try another day. Over the last few years the recycling centre has improved year on year and was always efficient and easy (yes occasionally you had to wait while a lorry replaced the big skips, but that is life). So what has suddenly gone so wrong? it is clearly not just the change of opening times, there has to be something more going on like a reduction in collection. So whoever though it was a bright idea to change the way recycling operated has made a right royal... mistake and probably needs to revert back to the way it used to operate. As to why ‘they’ made the changes I am sure they will explain that ‘we need to make efficiency savings due to cuts in budget’. Well providing a poorer service for the same council tax is NOT an efficiency saving, it is an efficiency reduction. Possibly worse than that, the effect of these changes could increase the costs not reduce them if the people turned away choose to dump their rubbish in a quiet country lane instead. On one hand it is admirable that the council have kept the tax increase to 1.9 per cent, but that extra few pounds in my pocket is no compensation if I am surrounded by rubbish, potholed roads and dysfunctional services.

NOEL HURLEY Fishpool Street, St Albans

School right to cancel Paris trip

SIR - In reference to the story of ONE parent objecting to the minor change to the itinerary of the Year 8 student trip to France, I am amazed that this even made it into your paper. It appears that this was a decision reached following consultation with school governors and teachers. Ms Thomson was absolutely correct in putting the safety of the pupils first. The current level of terror threat in France is still HIGH. As a caring grand-parent who had and still has grandchildren at the school, I am very happy to see that the school made this decision and in my opinion, acted in a caring and responsible way. There is no comparison with tourists visiting London, it is their individual choice. If the complaining parent wants to give her child a Parisian “cultural” experience, she can make a day trip by jumping on Eurostar.

U BATES Beech Road, St Albans

Search for records

SIR - As a very long-shot request, I do hope you won’t mind this inquiry for advice. I am trying to trace the internment of my long lost grandfather, who died on the way to the City Hospital and registered in St Albans, but with no known burial/cremation there. His name was George Edward Pemberton, born November 6 1901 and died March 5 1970. I was wondering if any local person might have known of him and where he may have been taken for burial? He lived at 189 Cotlandswick, London Colney, St Albans.

P PEMBERTON 66 Foads Lane, Cliffsend, Ramsgate, Kent, CT12 5JH

More action needed against flytipping

SIR - I must congratulate the Park Street Pickers and Redbourn Beavers on their excellent efforts in removing large amounts of litter from local areas. Well done! However, isn’t it disappointing to see so much rubbish collected which has been so carelessly discarded? I have also read the letter by Robert Paget (April 7) and he makes a compelling case for much more energetic enforcement in tackling fly tipping and I totally agree with him. Action is urgently needed. This scourge is costing taxpayers ever increasing amounts to clear up. The perpetrators if caught need to be fined the maximum, no messing about, it only needs one or two to be fined £5,000. The council must be much more robust in pursuing those who create this mess and balance the cost of clear up with the fines recovered from those who carelessly dump litter. GERALD STONE New House Park, St Albans

Get moving on lake Chichester-Miles!

SIR - It has been some while (July/Aug 2015) since I had a moan about the lack of action from Cllr Chichester-Miles in his efforts to restore the lake in Verulamium Park to its former glory, so here I go again. I suppose the councillor thinks the (pathetic) signs warning against duck feeding he has floated in several parts of the lake have “done the trick” in curing the avian botulism that appeared last year by terrorising the children who used to feed the ducks into thinking it was their fault that the ducks and a swan died because of throwing them bread. The excuse of having little or no funds to clean out the lake has been banded about many times since the problem arose. “Come on Cllr C-Miles”, we’re not daft! St Albans council must be one of the wealthiest councils around. My council tax bill added to tens of thousands of other residents will testify to this. So much so, that I read that the council is going to spend £1 million on advice in the planning of the new city centre museum. What is more important to the image of St Albans? Wasting vast sums of money on mere “consultational suggestions.”, or having a wonderful lake and park to delight the thousands of residents and annual visitors to the city. It’s time to act now councillor before the avian botulism returns with the warmer weather. What are you doing about it?

PETE THOMSON Cannon Street, St Albans