Letters February 4 2016
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Thanks for defibrillators
SIR - May I express my thanks to St Stephen parish council for successfully applying to the British Heart Foundation for two new defibrillators for the area. One of my best friends died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition six years ago aged just 37. She left behind her partner and their three young sons. I had no idea that someone so young and healthy could suddenly pass away like that but after her death I contacted SADs UK which informed me that up to 12 people a week are affected by the same condition, very often fatally. Anything we can do to help prevent more people dying young and unexpectedly from something which often can be prevented is most welcome.
LAURA BERRILL Deva Close, St Albans Planning behind closed doors
SIR - I must take issue with Mr John Hanson’s letter re: Harpenden Town Council’s lack of Neighbourhood Plan. The Council clearly has developed a Neighbourhood Plan over many years - the problem is that they have never publically announced it. Rather, they have presented it obliquely and pragmatically. The Neighbourhood Plan consists of ensuring that the lion’s share of all the new housing is stuffed into the small neighbourhood within the Lower Luton Road/Westfield Road/Ox Lane triangle. This ensures that more affluent residents living in leafier areas do not have their lives made miserable by overcrowding or the constant disruption caused by building work. There is, however, a rather ironic fallout emerging. The current admissions criteria for one of the two elite overscribed schools in this area states: ‘’80 per cent of places are given to those applicants living closest to the school in Harpenden...’’ (quote from website). I believe the new proposals, if accepted, will define more closely the exact distance. By my reckoning even on a 1km rule, this means ALL of the new developments will come within the admissions criteria zone. I note the 27 ‘’affordable/social/low rental’’ boxes to be crammed on the former Westfield allotments will be only five minutes walk away. Thus both this elite school and its excellent neighbouring fellow will inevitably be filled by pupils from around here, rather than from more outlying areas of the town. But at least other residents, who never raised a knat’s breath of protest or support for people around here can console themselves that they are not blighted with excess housing, rush hour traffic jams, building on their green space, and no infrastructure to support the burgeoning population of outsiders streaming in. OK, thanks to HTC’s ‘Neighbourhood’ Plan, they may not have any secondary school places either. But surely, that’s a small price to pay....
MARTYN HEDGES Coldharbour Lane, Harpenden
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Visit pubs instead of armchair criticism
SIR - In response to Gerald Stone’s comments about 30 pub closures a week, I did not see him joining us on our anti-development protest outside the Camp pub a few weeks ago. He also proudly states that he has no intention of ever visiting The Brickyard, even to experience why others are debating its characteristics. Furthermore, he has also already stated in the Herts Ad that he does not blame supermarkets selling takeaway alcohol at bargain prices. He basically needs to get out more to pubs rather than megastores and action his opinions rather than spending his time writing pompous critical letters from the comfort of his armchair. He has repeatedly accused me of being vacuous. Well perhaps he’s like to comment on my recently published communication, Nanocathodlumiscence reveals mitigation of the Stark shift in InGaN quantum wells by Si doping, published by the American Chemical Society in their Nano Letters Journal?
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IAN BOYD Nunnery Stables, St Albans
No laughing matter
SIR - I was taken aback by the flippant comments of the Lea Springs resident regarding all-night noise and light pollution following a local resident’s justified complaints. The suffering resident used to live in a house with grassy surrounds and country views. She now has a huge several stores higher than her house, wrap around construction and all night light pollution, security lights and possibly staff chatting and clattering throughout the night while resident’s rooms are facing in the other direction and immune from the distress. There is no soft landscaping to absorb the clatter.. One resident recently complained about a lit-up Santa at Christmas, enjoyed by many, brightening up a winter skyline and a temporary decoration decoration and it was removed because the council know when to be quick with enforcement. So I have yet to see why this dear lady has the dreadful torment of Lea Springs (haven’t we all) and the comments of an ignorant Lea Springs resident who obviously knows nothing of the situation while her cries for help go unheeded. There is no landscaping to absorb the sound and echoes - yes, it used to be very quiet.
MRS C VINCENT Tallents Crescent, Harpenden
Future changes to Thameslink service
SIR - I have just read the report about possible improvements to Thameslink, ‘Dawn of new era for troubled rail service’ which says the company Govia Thameslink wants to put all their problems behind them and look to the future. Nowhere does the article mention the fact that London’s entire suburban railway network will be handed over to Transport for London between 2018 and 2021 and that TfL will then be run an integrated network with Thameslink under public control. Hopefully this will lead to TfL zone fares, more frequent, newer trains and more staff at the stations.
KAY BAGON Homefield Road, Radlett
SIR - There was an important inaccuracy in your write up about our new sidings at Cricklewood and the introduction of the long-awaited new Thameslink trains this spring. New Thameslink trains between Harpenden/St Albans and London will be half as long again as almost all our trains in the peak (12 carriages instead of 8) plus we’ll increase the frequency in 2018 when work at London Bridge is finished, removing a major railway bottleneck. So although they’ll have 7 per cent fewer seats per carriage to make them more spacious and remove the cramped 2+3 seating, there will be overall more seats and more standing room – essential to address the 40 per cent increase in passenger numbers we’ve seen on Thameslink these past five years. All in all, we estimate these changes will give our passengers at St Albans and Harpenden 60 per cent more carriages and 50 per cent more seats in the morning and evening rush hours.
Media Relations Manager
Bring in the Swiss to save rail service
SIR - Some of the Thameslink trains we have are now decorated boldly with the message “Travel the Swiss Way “. If only we could. I travel regularly to Switzerland. The trains there arrive and leave exactly to time, to the minute.Cancellations and late running do not seem to happen. The trains are very clean and comfortable. The comparison with our train service is uncomfortable. As I understand it, they get snow and ice to a greater extent than we do. So the suggestion must be... get the Swiss to run our trains!
GERAINT JOHN Fishpool Street, St Albans
Never the twain shall meet...
SIR - In reference to the longstanding tussle on these pages concerning the seemingly irreconcilable differences between advocates of Christianity and homosexuality, may I be so bold as to point out the elephant in the room? I refer to ‘Magesteria’ - the concept that any two systems can occupy wholly different spheres, ie. of thought. So, for example, a scientist can prove that human evolution took several millions of years, whilst a Christian knows God created Man in a literal seven days, and neither can take issue with the other as their knowledge comes from very different places. This can be usefully applied here. Being gay is a sin. We know this from the Bible. But only to a person of Christian faith. Just as one cannot discuss metaphore with a cat, a non-believer can neither transgress against the word of God nor indulge in “sin”.
KATHY SLEIGH Albert Street, St Albans
Worries over new day centre plans
SIR - The Herts Advertiser reports that plans by Pegasus Life for the redevelopment of the land where the derelict James Marshall House and Harpenden Day Centre were, have now been passed after going to appeal. It states that there was “a lot of support for the scheme particularly from the Harpenden Day Centre”. Having seen how the day centre operated over the past 24 years, there were basic factors that made the day centre work so well for the elderly. Access to the entrance made it possible for the frailer, less physically able user to be dropped right outside the building. This will definitely NOT be the case in the proposed new day centre. Toilet facililities were easily accessible, within easy reach of the lounge, dining room- absolutely not the case in the new plans. The overall space given to the proposed new day centre is considerably smaller than before. Kitchen facilities were asked for as plans showed these not to be included, and we believe this has been rejected. Although some of the weekend users met with the architect, and our concerns were strongly put to them, we believe that changes we asked for have not been met. We will of course find out in the future when the development is completed. We hope for the sake of all the elderly in Harpenden, who have relied on the day centre as a warm and friendly place to meet away from their often lonely lives, that Pegasus Life will not have let them down.
DEBBIE FENSOME East Common, Harpenden
City hospital at risk from new review
SIR - St Albans City Hospital is under threat again and from the West Herts Hospitals Trust that runs it. In April last year the trust said it had £1 million to boost surgery services at our hospital, including £200,000 for an admissions lounge and £700,000 for improving the post-operative recovery ward. The work was supposed to start last May, but as far as I know it has not done so. I suspect that it never will start. Last autumn the Strategic Review team that is reviewing health and social care in our area published a booklet “Improving Health and Social Care in West Hertfordshire” which stated on page 9 that the Trust was considering providing “acute care at Watford and planned care at St Albans”. But just a few weeks ago Ms Kelly, the trust’s chief executive, sent out an e-mail saying that “day care only” might be provided at St Albans, that is only minor forms of planned care - probably less than is provided now. I have written to Ms Brown, the trust’s director of corporate strategy, and asked her to clarify the situation, but have had no reply. I urge your readers to contact Ms Kelly and Ms Brown and to ask them what they have in mind for St Albans City Hospital. We have a right to know.
JOHN WIGLEY Chairman of St Albans and Harpenden Patient Group
Right to be royal
SIR - Debbie White’s report of the informal and unexpected visit of the Duke of Cambridge to our county was a treat because it struck the right note, as the Prince had no doubt intended, of information with due deference. To use the adjective “royal” as a noun (even five times) is appropriately respective of rank as a fact of life. With respect (January 28), it is great that the royals do drop in unannounced and are happily received without fear or favour - but always implicitly as “ours”.
MICHAEL JAMESON Marlborough Gate, St Albans
Have your say on former museum site
SIR - I recall with a huge sense of pride and achievement being one of the 47 people who chose to give 329 hours of their time to help shape the design concept for the redevelopment of the St Albans Museums site in Hatfield Road in October 2014. This is the first time that I am aware of that the community has hosted such an event anywhere in the country. We had as our guide to the independently externally facilitated event, the draft design codes that many had helped shape to be found in our workshop report co-authored with The Prince’s Foundation in 2012 http://www.lookstalbans.org/about-us.html For reasons other than design the planning application for this site was only submitted to the planning department just after Christmas 2015. As an organisation Look! St Albans ‘Our Community Voice on Design’, does not have a collective view on any planning application, as the combined views have been expressed through the outcome of the design charrette. However we do encourage those who took part in the design charrette for this small, but significant site within the heart of the central conservation area and others, who have an interest to make their representations to the planning department by February 17 2016. You can submit your comments on the planning application online. Alternatively they can be emailed to email@example.com or sent by letter to the Planning Department, St Albans City and District Council, Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, St Albans, AL1 3JE quoting the reference 5/2015/3706. We are grateful to the applicant for allowing us to place the Design and Access statement on our website http://www.lookstalbans.org/ news and events webpage alongside the outcome of the design charrette for comparison. The Design and Access statement explains the development of the scheme from the design concept to the planning application that is now before the planning department for determination.
VANESSA GREGORY Tennyson Road, St Albans