Letters, February 17, 2011, part four

Put St Albans City out of its misery now...

SIR – For 40 years I have followed the trials and tribulations of St Albans Football Club.

The constant disputes with the district council over money, and a succession of chairmen and managers whose weekly complaints invariably take up more column inches than the latest loss on the pitch.

The latest financial irregularity must be the lowest level to which the club has sunk.

Some years ago I suggested that the local authority should close down the club and look towards converting the ground into a sports centre. There is space for a range of activities with the aim of encouraging the involvement of young people.

So here we are again, and this latest disgrace reinforces my earlier proposition.

This time I suggest that an approach is made to developers who might welcome the opportunity for a limited building conversion to a sports facility on a ground which would be in use all year. The present ground is not used in the summer.

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I think the time has come to bring down the curtain on this long-running farce.

Let’s have a centre that will benefit the residents of the city and district; the newsprint would reflect the hopes and aspirations of a young generation instead of the weekly dose of doom and gloom.


Cunningham Hill Road, St Albans

Take time to get our swimming pool right

SIR – May I thank you for publishing the letter by Mr Paul Davidson, chair of the Abbey Theatre Trustees, in your Letters column last week in reply to mine of February 3.

This was very helpful as it highlighted the invidious position the theatre has been placed in through no fault whatsoever of its own.

May I now, not just as a leader and founder of the PoolTooSmall Campaign group but also with my wife as patrons of the theatre over several decades, make our position absolutely clear where we are now with this ill-begotten �26 million waste of our money – the Newbodge at Westminster Lodge, St Albans.

Can the Abbey Theatre defy strangulation by the council’s Newbodge plan? Well, so far, thankfully yes.

The clock is ticking, but as the council now realises, it is only ticking for them and no one else – it is the wrong scheme in the wrong place at the wrong time!

What is the hurry? The present Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre (WLLC) has years of life left in it. Look at the Old Hatfield Pool built in 1965, now refurbished and good for another 25 years.

In contrast, the present proposal for the Newbodge is currently being condemned or resisted right across the social spectrum in St Albans – by PoolTooSmall, the Abbey Theatre, St Albans Diving Club, the Civic Society and various archaeological, historical and conservation groups and the general public.

As a professional engineering project manager for over 40 years, I can assure everyone that there is no prospect whatsoever of this present technically and financially flawed Newbodge scheme opening to coincide with the opening of the London 2012 Olympics that summer.

I repeat, it’s the wrong spec in the wrong place at the wrong time!

So what is the hurry? There is none.

Time now for SADC to show courage and wisdom – set aside any political considerations and concentrate on the real leisure and aquatic requirements of the people of the city and district of St Albans over the next 50 years.

Time now to go back to the drawing board and look again at the council’s original first choice site to the west of the present WLLC near the running track.

The last Government’s Eastern Regional Board no longer exists so there is now no real impediment to a fresh plan, a clean slate and a new centre on that site that meets all our future needs.

It could happen fast – if the political goodwill and courage was there. There is no shame in that – getting it right is paramount however long it takes!

Definitely and unanimously the present Newbodge plan is not the answer – it is a poisoned chalice that our unfortunate citizens will have to tolerate and pay for over the next 50 years.

Time now for cool heads to step back and realise that for everyone’s better future there is no other action required now except sign nothing and go back to the drawing board.

In a few months time we could all be shaking hands on a new design which is trusted and respected – then we could all close ranks and drive ahead together.

It’s as simple as that.



Speed bumps debate refuses to go away

SIR – In his letter published on February 3, Eric Bridgestock says: “Ironically, my son’s only incident on the road involved a speed hump in Sherwood Avenue a few years ago when he was at school.

“He was cycling when a vehicle passed him closely forcing him to go onto its sloping edge of the hump, hitting the kerb, falling off and breaking his wrist.

“Such incidents are inevitable when, in effect, obstacles are placed in the road (chicanes and pinch points can be even more dangerous to cyclists).”

It is most regrettable that Eric Bridgestock’s son had an accident. In this case, from what Mr Bridgestock says, the accident happened when “a vehicle passed him closely” – this is clearly the fault of the driver of the vehicle, who should have been paying attention to the person they were passing according to the Highway Code (http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_069858) sections 204, 205, 206 and particularly 212 and 213 which give details of how to pass cyclists.

If the driver was unable to pass without passing closely then the driver should have waited and passed once the road was clear.

Chicanes and pinch points are not fundamentally dangerous to cyclists, it is the actions of drivers close to these features when they fail to acknowledge other road users which cause the danger.

It seems that Mr Bridgestock is using his son’s accident to support an argument against speed bumps which is not applicable in this incident.

He appears to be blaming the victim, his son, instead of the problem - the driver who caused the accident.


Pondfield Crescent, St Albans