Letters, August 14, 2014

Council needs to clean up car parks

SIR – I have read with interest the complaints from residents and traders about increased parking tariffs in St Albans. This delightful picture was taken on a Saturday afternoon in the car park by the St Albans law courts (I did check and the subject was not on a break from checking car park ticket expiry times). Basically, I wouldn’t mind paying on a Sunday, or paying a bit more for Saturday parking if the council invested the additional revenue in the following basic requirements for a “no frills car park”: a. Clean the car park (it stinks, and as you can see it is filthy); b. Improve the lighting; c. Improve the security so its not a welcome haunt for the local junkies.

DAI DAVID Craiglands, Jersey Farm

Is this the answer to rail freight traffic?

SIR – If the decision by Eric Pickles has brought the dreaded rail freight interchange a step closer, perhaps it is an opportune moment to remind the world of my suggestion, kindly printed in your newspaper on December 3, 2009, that lorry movements should be capped in proportion to rail movements. Absolutely the first choice is still no rail freight interchange here at all, but we need this fallback position to guard against the nightmare scenario of the road freight and warehousing operation which just happens to be built beside a railway. My thoughts have developed a little since 2009, so I would now say that all freight arriving at the depot by road must pay in full for onward travel by rail. If it leaves by road, that payment is not refundable, so a road-road interchange becomes expensive for users. There would be no need for an equivalent constraint regarding freight arriving by rail.

IAN TROUGHTON AKC Green Lane, St Albans

Highways failings highlighted

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SIR – I quite agree with Norman Dayton – the repairs to House Lane are like putting a sticky plaster on a broken leg, there must be hundreds of cars failing their MOTs each year due to the way the side of the road is just collapsing and leaving all those ruts and potholes for you to do damage to your car. Please Highways do a proper job as this road as it has been like this for about 15 years – you might also consider dropping the speed limit to 30mph as this is a very narrow lane

PAUL DOWN Gladeside, Jersey Farm

Pickles’ shame

SIR – I am one of the 10,000 ignored, who signed the petition against the monstrous planned rape of our county that is the Radlett rail freight exchange. I am completely at a loss to understand how that man Pickles, after all his proclamations about local democracy and protecting the Green Belt, can sit in his ivory tower and give the go-ahead. I live on the A5183 (Colney Street), which is already blighted by heavy traffic. Add the proposed building of a secondary school and housing in Harper Lane, to thousands of HGVs and all I can see is a recipe for disaster. It is my fervent hope that the council finds a way to deny Helioslough our land.

LES DIAMOND Radlett Road, Colney Street

Welcome to St Albans?

SIR – Until recently I hadn’t appreciated the impact a very popular charity fundraising event in Verulamium Park can have. And ‘park’ is the word. On my way to support family and friends taking part in the Race for Life the only visible alerts were about future road closures in the city centre. No helpful suggestions about where to (lawfully) park cars. There were a few parked on the grass at the east end of Bluehouse Hill then a huge coloured arrow directing traffic left into St Michael’s Street and the Verulamium car park which by 11am was already full. At the top end of Bluehouse Hill there were about 30 cars parked on the grass verge on both sides – despite the visible restriction notices. A posse of uniformed enforcement officers was already at work issuing tickets. There was a yellow “no event parking” notice at the entrance to the Westminster Lodge car parks but no stewards present to enforce. There were plenty of empty spaces and a lot of confusion over whether or not they were free. The path towards Verulamium Park was very busy (in places uneven and unfriendly to buggies and wheelchairs) and tastefully decorated with overflowing rubbish bins. This was repeated at various locations in the park and cannot be blamed on the race organisers and participants, who had only just started. The ugly metal frame notice board with potentially harmful projecting shelf at small child’s head height is still there, despite assurances given over a year ago. Funding has been found, of course, for the new beautifully designed and expensively liveried notice boards in the car parks setting out the various charges. No doubt they will either have to be replaced or have ugly stickers inserted if the council abandons the Sunday charging policy. I’m a yokel. None of the above was a surprise. I wonder how the many visitors to St Albans felt about our historic Visitor Attraction?

ROBERT HILL East Common, Harpenden

Keep dogs safe

SIR – Regarding the dog Scruff which was run over (July 24 edition), I can fully understand and sympathise with the family, but I can’t understand why dogs need to be off leads near traffic or people. People seem to treat dogs like humans and think they will obey every word, they don’t, it only takes a small distraction and they are away, I know I have had a dog which was obedient in its own surroundings, but on walks it was different, anything new and it would try to get away, luckily we always had it on a lead. I have had several confrontations with owners when a dog would run up to us and try to jump up, especially if we had children with us. The owners just said they want to play, but they wouldn’t listen to their owners when called, I don’t want to play with other people’s animals. Please keep them on leads and under control and incidents won’t happen!

ROGER BURDOCK Stephens Way, Redbourn

Homes building is just for incomers

SIR – The way in which a ‘Strategic Local Plan’ is being drafted by St Albans District Council is a matter of increasing concern to residents, a concern that is more and more reflected in your letter columns. Residents are waking up to the fact that what lies in store for them could radically change the nature of the district, have few benefits for residents and a lot of disadvantages and be something that comes into force without them having any real control over what is in the ‘Strategic Local Plan’. There will be a consultation process in the autumn with residents by the district council about the plan but whether it will be any more than ‘window dressing’ is a good question to ask. One of your correspondents recently pointed out that an independent report commissioned by SADC in April 2012 concluded that: ‘There is overwhelming quantitative evidence that the current level of urban development in St Albans district is unsustainable...” Notwithstanding that report, your district council is pressing ahead hurriedly with a ‘Strategic Local Plan’ which involves plans for massive house building. For example, Redbourn might double in size, something that Redbourn residents are against but which stands a good chance of being forced upon them. In Harpenden, the town council has told the district council that it does not consider Harpenden to be a sustainable settlement for further growth. Nevertheless, it is proposed by your district council that Harpenden takes at least 500 new houses on a site that only a few years ago was deemed materially unsuitable for house building on a number of factors which included the impact of (say) 700 extra cars using the Luton Road. Where those cars will park in Harpenden’s crowded town centre or at the station is an interesting question. The issue is not in fact whether new houses are built on the Green Belt, or on allotments or on golf courses as your correspondents suggest. The real issue is about the capacity of the district to absorb very large housing developments in terms of, for example, the road network, schools, rail services or medical services. In the case of the Green Belt, a key reason why it exists is to prevent a town expanding to the point where it grinds to a halt. According to a report commissioned by your district council, the housing needs of the district’s residents can be met over the next 20 years without building on the Green Belt. Should your district council decide to build on the Green Belt, it will do so only to meet the need of ‘incomers’ from London or elsewhere. Residents of the district should be aware of that.

J EVANS Park Mount, Harpenden

Where there’s smoke...

SIR – I recently contacted the local Environmental Health department with a query of how to resolve a situation that should not be allowed to happen. Over the past few days there was an overbearing pall of smoke drifting across Camp Road from someone burning refuse. When I eventually got through to the local council I was informed that they could take no action as I could not furnish them with information about where this appalling smell was coming from. How could I? I do not have licence to trespass on other people’s property and surely it is their duty to find out. What do we pay our council tax for? The last thing they want to do is address a valid complaint. I also thought that burning rubbish in public areas was illegal. They seem unwilling or unable to action legitimate concerns of residents when it comes to the environment. This is not the only issue I have with them as they have neglected whole areas of St Albans by failing to cut grass verges and open areas which are their responsibility. I would welcome a reply from a council officer in this matter.

GERALD STONE New House Park, St Albans Support our club instead of sniping

SIR – I am writing following the article about the latest gripe from PCP and the Clarence Park Residents Association regarding the lease for St Albans City Football Club. When I first started watching the Saints 20-plus years ago much of the support came from the surrounding roads of Clarence Road and York Road, what a shame the people that have since moved into these dwellings in the intervening years feel the need to try and put a spanner in the works for a club that has been here since 1908 and have served the wider community of St Albans residents for generations. No doubt they would be complaining about the noise from the train line as well if it wasn’t so important for their daily commute.. The football club should be an integral part of the community that brings people from all over the area together, last season was a fantastic success and I hope the support continues to grow, seeing plenty of young children there is great, meaning the club is in safe hands with the next generation. Ideally a move to a new stadium would be in the interest of all parties but if this wasn’t to be then making the club sustainable via the facilities at Clarence Park should be explored, after all the club and it’s success is for everyone in St Albans as is Clarence Park. Clarence Park was given to the people of St Albans in 1893 by Sir John Maple for the people of St Albans, not exclusively for the residents of York Road and Clarence Road. That includes me, somebody born and bred here for the past 40 years and never more than a 15 minutes walk from the stadium. May I suggest if these residents want to live next to a football stadium with no noise or support then they move a few miles up the road to our local rivals Borehamwood.

COLIN TOMS Ladies Grove, St Albans Ditches need to be cleared regularly

SIR – Over the past few years I have noticed the increasing build up of flood water on the A5182, the road between Redbourn and St Albans. I have complained to County Hall on two occasions, and on one occasion I was informed that the person I was talking to had also noticed the problem. Enough said. Over the past few years temporary signs warning of flooding have been placed at the roadside, usualy too late. Just lately more permenant signs on metal posts have been erected. I feel that the cause of the flooding is the fact that the drainage is constantly blocked by rubbish, leaves twigs, etc. Many years ago an elderly gentleman cleaned the ditches on either side of this road on a daily basis working with shovel and cutting tools, keeping the ditches clear. But since his demise some years ago these ditches have become full of rubbish, bushes and trees, some of which are up to 12ft in diameter growing from the bottom of the said ditches. Then a couple of weeks ago a small army of men and machines arrived to clean out the ditches. Someone has at last woken up and smelt the coffee. If only this had been done on a regular basis maybe we would not have flooded roads. I am supprised that as far as I know no accident has been reported subject to the regular flooding on this road.

JOHN FLINT Vaughan Mead, Redbourn