Letters, August 8, 2013

Highways have just ignored us for years

SIR – What do we pay road and council taxes for?

I have written to Hertfordshire Highways four times and rung them twice but to no avail. Two of our councillors have also contacted them and sent photos in of the dreadful state of the road and pavements. These communications started in November 2012 and surprise, surprise, we still haven’t heard from Hertfordshire Highways. There are a good few young children in this road who before long will have a nasty accident on these pavements and people’s cars will be damaged before long because of the potholes.

Will the Highways pay out if claims for accidents and damaged cars are sent to them? I don’t think so!


Wellington Road, St Albans

Parish under fire

Most Read

SIR – As readers in St Stephen parish will know, a Lib-Dem Focus leaflet has been delivered in the parish recently, part of which attacked the parish council for lack of repairs to certain bus shelters, and for installing two new bus shelters in Chiswell Green “using Section 106 (developers’) money from the development near Waitrose”.

In fact this is not true: the Section 106 money used for the new shelters was from the Butterfly World developers’ money, and residents have expressed their gratitude for the new shelters.

A few other shelters which may need repair are being monitored, but one of those sited on Highways land has presented a problem for some years due to permission being required from the Highways department for work to be carried out in that location. Highways are also aware that shelters on the A405 have presented a problem for a number of years due to their proximity to this busy road. The Passenger Transport Unit is working with us to seek replacement of these, at no cost to our residents.

A second Focus attack on St Stephen Parish Council highlights Cllr Baillie’s “raising concerns about costs” in the matter of staff wages and “increased staffing levels”. As Cllr Baillie was fully aware, this council had taken independent professional advice on staffing levels and on pay scales: it became clear that our staff should be on a higher scale when compared to others in similar employment, and the workload had increased such that another person was needed in the administration section. All councillors present voted for the increases except for Cllr Baillie, who abstained. We are grateful that the existing staff has carried on working loyally during the period when their pay and conditions were under review, and we admire the quality of their work.

St Stephen Parish Council strives to carry out its duties on behalf of all its parishioners equally, without any political bias.


Chairman, St Stephen Parish Council

Planning and pedestrians

SIR – Re: “Cyclists terrify me (recent letter)”. I am a cyclist, using my cycle to travel to work most days. However, although I have found most drivers to be careful, some pedestrians present a danger.

When crossing at a zebra crossing they don’t stop and wait but turn directly off the pavement without stopping or even looking up and down the road.

Many cyclists are knocked over by pedestrians not looking where they are going. Many just wander across the stream of traffic. A friend’s late father was knocked over twice.

Re: “New development rules slated”. I have no doubt that the “rules” are designed to destroy the environment and will enable householders to build eyesores.

However, I have no doubt that they are mainly to allow what has been going on for many years (especially in the Dacorum areas), where often no planning permission is sought, no notices displayed, etc..

A neighbour has built without permission, in contravention of planning regulations, three double garages, a patio too close to the garages and actually used as a workshop, creating noise and pollution, and a mobile home which he told the council he wanted to keep car parts in!

One double garage, built without permission, now has picture windows, a back door and steps leading down to a lawn. In building these monstrosities the neighbour has damaged my property and destroyed mature trees in my garden. The attitude of the local council seems to be to kowtow to “the people”, not protect the environment or those living nearby.


Old Watling Street, Flamstead

Rothamsted expansion plans

SIR – I read with interest and no little astonishment your report (Herts Advertiser, August 1) that Rothamsted Research station, at a time of supposed financial stringency, is to receive some £10.9 million from the public purse to expand its facilities in Harpenden. I have no objection at all to Rothamsted increasing its fundamental research budget into crop cultivation, in order to help feed a burgeoning world population.

But I seriously question the way in which this huge lump of taxpayers’ money is evidently going to be allocated. My concern is compounded by the use, in the reported plans, of what Private Eye would refer to as ‘Birtspeak’. No one in large organisations these days seems to know how to express themselves in plain English.

For example, what in heaven’s name is a ‘shared resource hub’, as projected in the Rothamsted plans, at a cost of £8.2 million? We are told that, whatever it is, it “would be shared by industrial and academic scientists”, implying that they are two different species of boffin who, till now, have never worked together. In any case, isn’t an industrial scientist also, by definition, academic?

And, whoever they are, don’t they already work together in Rothamsted Research’s ultra-modern Centenary Building laboratories?

As for the proposed £2.7 million “state of the art” conference centre, your report is not clear as to whether it is an all-new building or – as the annotated aerial view suggests – an extension to Rothamsted’s existing much-admired, purpose-built, spacious and by no means dated conference building.


Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden

In defence of bus driver ‘heroes’

SIR – I felt I had to write this in defence of the driver who couldn’t take the wheelchair-bound child into the bus.

I know it is very sad that the carer and the child couldn’t get in but it was not the fault of the bus driver. Bus drivers have to make sure every traveller is safe in the bus and I can assure you our drivers of S3 buses are some of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever met.

I had a shoulder operation and had to go to St Albans City hospital for physiotherapy. It was the bus driver who advised me where to catch the next bus and which number buses go past the City Hospital. One of them even advised me to take care getting into some of the buses which have higher steps than the S3. I have also noticed that the drivers of S3 always wait for people to sit down before driving off from one stop to the other. Nobody gives them credit they are my unsung heroes!


Windmill Avenue, St Albans

Disabled penalised at Luton Airport

SIR – Over the last two years dropping off disabled relatives at Luton Airport has got harder and is now chargeable.

I am disabled and have an elderly mum and sister who need wheelchairs at the airport, the parking has got further and further away from the terminal, you also have to park, then walk over 200 yards to get your badge verified then walk another 200 yards to pay.

Priority is given to taxis and posh cars (parked up in the taxi car park). As I have to wait for a wheelchair I cannot use the drop off as it usually takes over 30 minutes to get assistance (unsure if you can get assistance at drop-off but they would not give you enough time anyway), poor signage tells you where the disabled parking is and you do not know you have to pay until you are at the barrier with other cars behind you giving you no choice.

Signage telling you how much you have to pay is deceptive and on trying to get out I am threatened with a penalty notice as I have no money on me.

I thought parking was meant to be easier for us disabled not harder.


Hopground Close, St Albans

No heart over Westfield decision

SIR – Re: ‘End of the Road for town green campaign’, Herts Advertiser Harpenden edition, August 1.

At first glance one would be forgiven for thinking Harpenden Town Council (HTC) were “heartened” at the opportunity to improve play facilities, at the Westfield playing field, until you discover that it was only six months ago that their attempts to build an access road across it were thwarted by a gentle reminder that there was a Town Green application pending.

Any Town Green status would have had no bearing on HTC’s ability to upgrade and improve the play facilities which are long over due.

It is more plausible that, in fact, HTC are rubbing their hands with glee that the legal impediment of the pending Town Green status has been removed, making it possible for them to proceed unfettered in their quest to provide vehicular access to the adjacent former allotment site (ripe for development apart from the small matter of a protected species).

In fact they are so desperate to move forward with this that they had threatened Herts County Council with legal action if they did not review the TG application post haste instead of waiting for the outcome of a similar case, the “Barkas case”, which may have set a precedent.

If only HTC would consult on all issues that really matter to local residents instead of token gestures to make it appear that they have their constituents’ wishes at heart. Let’s hope that residents in the Westfield area will be “heartened” to hear that HTC will now be able to push forward with their plans for development of the former allotment site.


Marquis Lane, Harpenden

Harpenden Independent Partnership

SIR – It was with renewed sadness that I read of the latest development for Westfield Playing Field. To read that Town Green status be denied follows a sad trend Harpenden Town Council has set for the Westfield community.

To see that Rosemary Farmer finds the decision “heartening” reaffirms the opinion I’ve sadly reached that the council are simply on a different page to the residents of Westfield. It seems time and time again the council ignores the requests of the community and for whose benefit it is not entirely clear.

I have been a resident of Westfield since I was a toddler, and over the past 23 years I have become greatly disillusioned by HTC, our play equipment is faded and dated, although I have to say it is a marked improvement on our last set of equipment which was set alight and not replaced for over 10 years, as residents we have learnt the sad inevitability that our needs are rarely met.

Although Cllr Farmer talks of “consulting” I have to say I am a little wary. The Westfield community have unfortunately learnt that members of the council have a different interpretation of “consult”; I think dictate would be more appropriate.


Westfield Road, Harpenden

Managing to cope without email

SIR – Can someone out there put me right on a certain matter?

Towards the end of last year, a friend and I attended a musical evening given by the Salvation Army in St Albans.

We enjoyed listening to the ‘Songsters’ singing during the performance and I thought how nice it would be if, at some time, they could sing for the music club that I belong to and to this end, I made strenuous efforts to contact someone with regard to this but all to no avail.

In the end, after a period of time, a friend gave me a telephone number, albeit outside of St Albans, but it had the desired effect and a very pleasant voice told me over the phone to leave my name and number and he would contact me, which he did.

On listening to my enquiry, this person suggested that I give him my email details so that he could set the wheels in motion with the appropriate person.

When I told him, however, that I did not and had no wish to be on email, he was most put out and once again, I was asked the proverbial question: “How on earth do you manage?”

“The same way that I have always managed,” I told this gentleman. The same way that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cliff Richard, who consider all the latest technology to be too much of an invasion of their privacy, manage!

I received no further contact from this gentleman and have to assume that he is still suffering from my shock revelation to him.

Do I understand that now, to be involved with the Salvation Army, it is very necessary for a person to belong to the league of email subscribers? Perhaps someone could advise me on this perplexing issue?

I notice, by the way, that the Salvation Army are still managing to find me by post for any contribution that I can make to their various charities!


Wilstone Drive, St Albans

Fighting against Hatfield growth

SIR – I, Colney Heath Parish Council and the Smalford Residents Association strongly oppose the site identified as HAT3 in Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s Emerging Core Strategy Document.

The potential growth around Hatfield into St Albans must be resisted, it would been the loss of Green Belt, the loss of Ellenbrook Country Park and potential coalescence relating to the broad location west of the redeveloped part of Hatfield Aerodrome.

We objected to this possibility of expansion east of Smallford and coalescence between existing settlements prior to this document. Opportunities for combined heat and power and a waste facility associated with development at the south of Hatfield broad location was supported by the county council, but not the local community who continue to fight the Travellers Lane site for the incinerator.

The Hatfield Road is already congested with cars and buses during the day, adding more traffic to that road would cause gridlock. We already have the pressure of Oaklands wanting to build 350 houses on the site near Sandpit Lane, another 60 houses in that area will just swamp Smallford and kill off a historic settlement, and I will fight to keep it.

What has happened to the development of the park in the aerospace site? I see no mention of that continuing – has it been dropped in favour of development?

The emphasis must be on retaining local character, strengthening Hatfield town centre, securing economic growth, reinforcing neighbourhoods and creating new neighbourhoods with the necessary infrastructure.

There should not be a loss of character, an erosion of Smallford as a Green Belt Settlement. Hatfield and Welwyn need to provide for an ageing population and the young and should raise the profile of the University of Hertfordshire as a cultural asset. They should not be trying to change the borders and encroach into St Albans.

If and I hope there will not be any discussions on exchanging land between the councils but if there are I strongly suggest Colney Heath Parish Council is included in those discussions.

The county is currently in infrastructure deficit, how can we propose an expansion across the borders, with no transport policy in place, no sewage provision discussed?

Where are the children to attend schools, where will the retail be situated and what new bus services are being put in place?

Gypsy and traveller pitch provision proposed for Coopers Green Lane.

There is no need for new gypsy provision in the south of the county, we already have 40 per cent of the county’s provision. We have gypsy sites close to Coopers Green Lane: The Paddocks and Barley Mow. Before we expand the south’s provision we should look to the north to expand their sites.


Park Lane, Colney Heath

Can you cater for my kids?

SIR – I was most distressed to hear that nobody had chosen to cater for Andy Strowman’s dog during their walk out last week (Drinks for dogs, August 1).

Andy, next week I shall be taking my kids to play in Harpenden, and as it’s likely to be hot again, they’ll probably be in need of a cold drink, so we’ll pop round yours.

We should be there early afternoon, and it’d be great if you could get some ice cream in too, as they do like ice cream.

My son will want chocolate, and my daughter strawberry, though they can be picky so it would be prudent to have a selection of flavours at the ready.

We won’t stay for tea, though if we do, a simple salad and cold meats would go down a treat. I’m sure we can bring our own bedding in case anyone gets tired, but a low-sprung matress in a south-facing bedroom would be very welcome.


The Ridgeway, St Albans

Smoked out by nightly bonfires

SIR – After a long day at work I sit down to enjoy what is left of a lovely evening in the garden, only to have to grab the washing off the line, scuttle in doors and shut all the windows and doors because yet again the air is full of the stench of burning.

Smoke is everywhere again, and not always the gentle smell of dry leaves, but anything else our local pyromaniacs can find to burn. Plastic, rubber, unwanted sofas and chairs. Or like my neighbour recently, anything and everything in his shed.

I know there is no law against bonfires, but come on, just a few nights without someone within a two mile radius lighting up would be nice.

Could we have a rule that they could only be lit on Tuesdays and Thursdays after 8pm, rather than the nightly rotation running at the moment, giving the rest of us a chance to enjoy some of the remaining summer with the windows open?


Nicholas Close, St Albans

Day trip joy for bowls group

SIR – Members of Thirlmere Church’s bowls group in Cell Barnes Lane enjoyed a day out beside the seaside in Southend last week. Thanks to the generosity of Samuel Ryder Academy, the senior citizens were able to use the the school’s minibus for their day trip. The perfect weather conditions allowed some of the group to even manage a paddle in the sea!

We appreciate the consideration shown by Samuel Ryder Academy towards the local residents of its community.


St Vincent Drive, St Albans

Hunt for owner of recipe book

SIR – On Friday evening of August 2, whilst out walking my dog, I found a book, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes (perhaps for making some summer goodies!) in the road outside the tennis club at Elliswick Road/Browning Road.

I did put up a small poster on Saturday evening, but within 24 hours someone had taken it down. If this belongs to your child, please call 07970 123491.