Letters December 11 2014

Kerbside splashing is against the law

SIR – I wonder if you could bring to the attention of vehicle drivers who love to travel at speed through pools formed by rain at the side of the road (due to blocked drains), deliberately soaking people on the path, that it is a criminal offence to do so. Many enjoy soaking pedestrians on the footpath; they often cause waves over 10ft high along the A5 with the water going over the path and many yards over the verge. It is not very pleasant to have one’s clothes soaked with dirty water, especially during the winter weather, but many drivers enjoy doing this. They are breaking the law when doing so. Please remind them.

MISS L. BARWELL Old Watling Street, Flamstead

Further support for Fosse House

SIR – I was prompted to send the following letter to Fosse House a few weeks ago following an article that appeared in your newspaper some time back. They suggested that I should pass it on to you should you feel that it would be proper to publish it. I wish to submit a few ideas that come to mind subsequent to an article that appeared in the Herts Advertiser a few weeks ago. I was surprised and somewhat perturbed by the tone and the over-critical presentation. I wish to note the following comments. My association, as a Roman Catholic Chaplain, to this establishment dates back to nearly eight years where I have received support, welcome and encouragement in my ministry. Throughout this time I bear witness to the probity of the care home and express my deep admiration for the day-to-day running of it. I cannot fault, in any way, the constant quality of devotion given to each one of the patients during my frequent visitations. I have never seen the slightest indication of harsh or unreasonable treatment of the persons living there. The atmosphere has ever been joyous. The activities are multiple. I even was drawn in to participate in a dance or two to help with the jollity of the occasion. May I add that the standard of hygiene never leaves anything to be desired while the patients are meticulously kept clean. The building is spotless and appropriately decorated with ever-changing innovative themes. It is true that many inhabitants are sadly in ever-increasing decline, both physically and mentally. But the administration and staff kindly accompany this state of affairs with patience, understanding while showing remarkable compassion. The institution in our midst deserves praise for rendering a valuable and necessary service to the community.

BROTHER CLEMENT King Harry Lane, St Albans

(Editor’s note: I’m confused by the suggestion in your letter that our story earlier was in some way critical of the care or facilities at Fosse House. It was merely reporting on an octogenarian who felt she had been persuaded to move in there under false pretences because she does not suffer from dementia.)

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Hard line at the tip

SIR – Just like Cllr Gaygusuz (Herts Advertiser, October 17), I too have fallen foul of Ronson Way recycling depot. I asked if I could dispose of some large garden stones, I was told ok and shown the skip to use. I took 12 10ins pots half filled with stones the next week and did the same the following day only to be told that I had broken the rules. Apparently I could take stones down only once a month and only in the boot of a saloon car as opposed to a van or estate car. The boot had to be closed and I couldn’t use the inside of my car. I’m told that this is to stop travellers and builders from misusing the facilities. I am 66 years of age and not too steady on my pins – hardly capable of transporting tons of rubble (and surely the depot employees are capable of turning away commercial business or at least make them pay for the use). I am a council taxpayer and as this is the first time I have taken rubble (as my stones were listed on the Waste Declaration Ticket I had to sign) I am owed 29 years credit for the times I didn’t use the dept.

JENNI JOHNES Gurney Court Road, St Albans

Have our roads ever been as bad?

SIR - Re your recent editorial I don’t think the roads have always been as bad as they are currently. I believe a major contributor to increased city centre traffic is the closing of Prospect Road for what appears to be interminable power supply works. When Prospect Road is open a lot of traffic from south St Albans to the station does down Prospect Road, now it has to go along Holywell Hill until it can turn off onto Belmont Hill or Albert Street. This means Holywell Hill now carries more traffic than it used to. You mention queues on Verulam Road. These could be reduced if traffic was banned from exiting Market Place to High Street and instead went down Upper Dagnall Street.

ROBERT BOLT Forge End, St Albans

Time to slow down

SIR - I have lived in St Albans now for about five years. By and large I find it a pleasant place but I have a major gripe. Why do I get the impression that a large majority of drivers in this burg are late for their own funerals? Or somebody else’s, for that matter? You all seem to be in a tremendous, and largely unnecessary, hurry. For example, I cite the steep hill on Waverley Road leading down from City Hospital to Batchwood Drive. People zoom down there as if they’re setting up to attempt a jump over 15 end-to-end Cadillacs, only to, once again, find a bus-stop, a local shop with most times half-parked cars outside of it, and a busy mini-roundabout – hardly a gold-medal stunt! And going the other way up that hill, drivers gun their motors so hard as to make the casual observer, we’ll call that observer a pedestrian, wonder whether at the top of the hill there may be the need for the vehicle to leap the Grand Canyon. I could go on and on but suffice to say, drivers of St Albans, please ask yourselves; how important is it to get from one green light to the next red light in a short a time as is humanly and mechanically possible? If some modicum of social and civic responsibility doesn’t get through to you, surely the price of fuel might stop you from stomping on the gas pedal! But no…

FINTAN BERMINGHAM Ladies Grove, St Albans

Green Belt housing row rumbles on

SIR - I am very much against the use of the Green Belt for building land. We need our green spaces and our beautiful woodland, especially lovely when carpeted in bluebells in the spring and filled with colour in autumn. The Green Belt should be protected at all costs.

HEATHER LONGSHAW Toulmin Drive, St Albans

SIR - All the brouhaha about the Strategic Local Plan and the criticism by Messrs Baird Evans and Perkins of this process and Cllr Julian Daly misses the point completely. We have to do something and NIMBYism is not the answer. Historically, there was an SLP developed under the previous Lib Dem administration. When the Conservatives took over, rather then do the whole thing again (at vast expense) the Conservatives proposed that this plan be adopted, and the Lib Dems then voted against their own plan! (The podcast is there for all to see on the council website). So the whole damn thing had to be redone and we’re in the situation we are now where were damned if we build, and damned if we don’t.Cllr Daly is working really hard to try and find a solution and asking for residents to comment. If we all worked together on this I can guarantee not everyone will be happy but at least we’ll be able to plan sustainably for the future, protect what is important and use both Green Belt and brownfield sites to provide much needed housing.

RICHARD CURTHOYS Hornbeams, St Albans

In slave to the gods of consumerism?

SIR - The Monopoly board is now complete. The top of St Peter’s Street has the full caboodle. Consumers can be at one and at calm for all is well in the sea of consumerism in our great city. We are now served by two beautiful pound shops full of long-lasting, quality, everyday bargains, ubiquitous coffee haunts selling frothy caffeine hits at nearly three quid a throw, the sophistication of a Dunkin Donuts (note the Americanesque spelling) with calorie-laden circular, fried sweetmeats to aid and abet already burgeoning waistlines, an anachronistic hotel for businessmen-cum-one-night-standers, a classy club for young people for whom the cheap rooms next door are perhaps the logical next stop after finding Miss Right inebriate and prostrate on the dancefloor of said classy club and, for the financially astute, sin of financial sins, the blue and red livery of a Metro bank replete with shiny new smiling uniformed staff. Close your eyes for a moment, take in the waft of grease spewing from the bowels of Dunkin Donuts next door and you could just as well be in Clacton, Frinton-on-Sea or that venue of extreme fine manners, elocution and decorum, Jaywick Sands. Where once St Albans stood among the behemoths of affluence and class, we now reek of echelons so disparate from what ‘Snorbenites’ used to represent that when one takes the blindfold off, it’s very hard to imagine how different it all was a few years ago. All we need now to completely destroy the soul and intrinsic beauty of St Albans, the city of the first Christian martyr, are a couple more fish and chip shops, a few more pawn shops, another Cash for Gold, perhaps a new sex shop and a high street food bank. Once we have the full set, we may as well change the county boundary to incorporate us in Essex! Quite how our city is still among the top five commuter locations to live in with stable and regularly improving property prices I do not know. But I’m glad - for when the time comes, and that time will surely be soon, I for one will be laughing all the way to the bank as I hand over my keys to the estate agent and bid farewell to a city I love but which, despite being a cash cow for people’s retirement, has become the very epitome of desperation; a denuded city bereft of all character demonstrating all that is wrong and endemically formulaic about British towns and cities in the 21st century. It is perhaps the tragedy of commercial ‘progress’ and changing tastes that, in itself, eats away at the heart of the community that such progress seeks to serve. I thank you!

BARRY CASHIN Green Lane, St Albans

Homeless are in need of our support

SIR - We are writing in support of the excellent letters written by Laura Berrill and Jonathan Prayer supporting the proposed homeless shelter in Church Crescent. Many people become homeless through unexpected, adverse circumstances. Those of us who are more fortunate should surely offer support to initiatives such as that of Hightown Housing Association.

JANE COOK, SUSANNA LINES Old London Road & Tyttenhanger Green, St Albans

The true tale of Tories and taxes

SIR - Whilst Nick Chivers in his brief hagiography of the local Conservative administration (Letters November 27), seems unable to notice any cuts required by the council tax freeze, many others will have noticed the new challenge of negotiating a safe passage home with no street lights. This black out occurs hours before last trains arrive and therefore is a real concern to many pedestrians, and can hardly be described as simply wasteful expenditure incurred by more community focused administrations. As he recognises, spending cuts have been necessary due to many factors out of any politicians’ control. Politics therefore often boils down to setting priorities. It is likely that these will differ between those able to afford private transport home to their doorstep from those who cannot.

A choice has had to be made, but it is important that all residents appreciate this for what it really is.

PAUL DE KORT Station Road, Harpenden

SIR - Nick Chivers congratulates the Tories on freezing the Council Tax for the past six years and asks what else costs the same as it did in 2008. The price has in fact reduced in real terms, but services have been decimated in that time. Let us compare 2014 with 2008. We now have fewer public libraries.The condition of our roads and footpaths has been allowed to deteriorate to a scandalously low level and the street lighting is turned off in many places at midnight, both compromising safety. We have lost a proper police station, further reducing security, and the fire service has been pruned. The public education service is gradually being handed over to the private sector via sponsorship and taken over from local control by so called “free” schools. Our waste collection services have been reduced and the municipal waste sites have had their opening hours reduced. Not surprisingly, fly tipping is increasing. Teachers have experienced a real salary reduction for years and as a result there is now a crisis in new recruitment. The true story is that, once again, the Tories have demonstrated that they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. In a prosperous area such as ours, these service reductions are shameful. Let us in future have the opportunity to be proud of a local authority, be it at city or county level, which provides decent services and has the political confidence to raise the necessary revenue to provide them. At the moment we do not have this.

ROGER BLASSBERG Woodstock Road North, St Albans