Letters December 5, 2013, part two

Clarification over church expansion

SIR – We at St Helen’s Church, Wheathampstead (pictured left), fully acknowledge that any change to a much loved Grade I listed church building in the middle of a thriving and close community like Wheathampstead will excite both support and opposition. However your article contains a few factual inaccuracies which I would like to correct. First, consultation. As with any planning application, there has been a public consultation period of three weeks providing an opportunity for members of the community to make their views known. Bright green notices were placed prominently by the district council at entrances to the churchyard. We supported that with notices placed alongside the council notices and all around the village, offering presentations in the church and a leaflet explaining the proposals. Nearly 1,000 copies of the leaflet were distributed and many local residents have taken the opportunity to view our plans and talk to us about them. Submission of the planning application was delayed so that the consultation period would not fall within the summer holidays. Second, the centre is primarily for use by the church, wishing to improve the base from which we serve the community in Wheathampstead. It will also be available to the community, although we believe that it is unlikely to be used for wedding receptions and we do not see the building’s purpose as being to raise money from that source. Third, we would like to emphasise that there is no proposal to disturb graves, only to move gravestones to a new location, which is a frequent practice with works of this kind. Fourth, the main entrance to the church will remain the existing south door.

REV RICHARD BANHAM Rector, St Helen’s Church High Street, Wheathampstead

Philippines collections

SIR – I would like to thank rush hour commuters using Harpenden station on for their magnificent contributions in support of our appeal for the Philippines disaster. As a result, Shelterbox, a disaster relief organisation and project partner of Rotary, have received in excess of £1,000 for a further two boxes to be sent to the Philippines. Rotary nationwide has raised already in excess of £180,000. Your support to our appeals is always much appreciated.

RICHARD UPTON President of Harpenden Village Rotary Club

SIR – On behalf of Harpenden Lions Club I would like to thank everyone who gave so generously at our tin shake on Harpenden station last Tuesday morning for disaster relief in the Philippines. I am pleased to announce that we raised £840. Through the International Association of Lions Clubs we have local volunteers on the ground in the Philippines and they have told us that there is an urgent need for water filtration units. Lions Clubs in the British Isles and Ireland have pledged to raise £200,000 to send 1,000 ‘LifeSaver’ water filtration systems to the affected area. Each filtration unit can produce up to 20,000 litres of sterile water, making potentially contaminated water safe to drink. The Harpenden collection will help in raising the promised funds. Through your letters page could I also make a plea for further donations. Simply visit www.harpenden-lions.co.uk and on our fundraising page please make a Pay Pal donation using Philippines as the description and entering your donation under Item Price. All such funds raised will be used immediately to help purchase further water filtration units. Thank you all so much for helping us to save lives.

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ANDREW GODDEN President, Harpenden Lions Club

Darkness does not mean danger

SIR – For the past 22 years I have been arriving late at night at the City station from my office in London and I have walked the two miles to my home on the Hemel Hempstead side of St Albans at any time from 10pm to 2am. During all those years I have never experienced any problem and have never felt under threat. This has continued to be the case since street lights were turned off at midnight, a council policy I welcome when financial savings have to be made. Common sense tells any reasonable citizen it is sheer madness to spend thousands of pounds on lighting when all that electricity is wasted on the rare pedestrian. And they are rare. After midnight, outside the city centre, I am usually the only person around. So I hope the council will continue to save money by turning off the lights. Despite the prophets of doom (and gloom) who forecast the end of civilisation as we know it, the absence of illumination in our city does not appear to have resulted in soaring crime and more accidents. Life goes on much as before. But if anyone has figures that prove the opposite, I would be pleased to see them.

JIM ELLIS Abbey Avenue, St Albans

Police heroes

SIR – With so many complaints about our police force, I felt compelled to write a good news story to show the other side of the coin. I was travelling home to St Albans after visiting a friend in Stanmore Orthopaedic Hospital in the late afternoon of November 20. It was raining hard, very gloomy and I took a wrong turn and soon found that I was completely lost somewhere in residential areas of Watford and Bushey. Irritation with myself soon turned to unease and then to a certain degree of panic. Round and round I drove in the increasing darkness. Suddenly I saw a police car , and managed to flag it down. I explained my predicament to the young officers. They said I was far from home! Rather than merely giving me directions, they escorted me to the main road , a distance of several miles out of their way, waiting to see me safely on the way home. I was so grateful to them, and would like to express my thanks through your newspaper. They made my day!

ELIZABETH MITCHELL Gonnerston, St Albans