Letters, January 13, 2011, part one

Charities’ thanks

SIR – May I use your columns to thank all the people in St Albans who have contributed so generously to the variety of collections carried out by our Rotary Club over the Christmas period.

We collected on Santa’s Special (the Abbey Flier), three times at Morrisons in Hatfield Road, at the City Station, and finally we borrowed the Round Table Float and toured the New Greens area.

We are aware that we are only one of the organisations collecting for good causes, by rattling tins or knocking on doors, and I think it is a great tribute to the people of the city, that they give so generously.

Many charities face a difficult time in the near future, and thankfully we raised over �3,000, the bulk of which will go to needy local families and local charities.


St Albans Rotary Club (Verulamium)

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Churchill, St Albans

SIR – I would just like to thank everybody who generously donated to the annual Santa appeal. It was fantastic to see the delight on many children’s faces as Santa was driven round the snowy streets of Harpenden.

Despite the treacherous driving conditions, we still managed to raise a total of �7,432. This will be distributed to 2010’s nominated charities: Alzheimer’s Society, Luton and Dunstable Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Appeal and Round Table Children’s Wish (a charity providing life changing experiences for seriously ill children). Also a special thanks to Harpenden 41 and Circle Clubs who, as ever, provided invaluable assistance.

We also hope that this generosity will be displayed again in May when Tablers will again pound the streets selling programmes for 2011 Carnival. More details on the Table can be found at www.harpendenroundtable.org/


Chair of Harpenden Round Table

Traffic calming measures defended

SIR – In his letter in your issue of December 30, Robert Bolt repeated the myth that traffic calming measures, such as road humps, cause extra vehicle emissions.

He said that he had asked Hertfordshire County Council “to remove all the emission causing traffic calming measures such as road humps”.

Earlier this year The Guardian reported on research carried out in Germany in the 1980s which found that when the speed limit was cut from 50kmh (31mph) to 30kmh (19mph) there were lower emissions.

The research also found that even aggressive driving under the slower speed limit produced lower emissions but that calm driving produced the greatest reductions in emissions.

However, more recent research from Virginia Tech in the United States found that traffic calming could increase emissions if drivers exert aggressive acceleration levels to speed up their journeys. It found that if drivers eliminate “sharp acceleration manoeuvres significant savings in fuel consumption and emission rates are achievable...”.

So, the vast majority of motorists who drive calmly where there are road humps and who avoid aggressive acceleration can be assured that they are not only helping to make the roads safer but are also doing their bit for their own pockets and for cleaner air in our towns.

It is important to remember that the main benefit of traffic calming is to make the roads safer. This not only saves lives but also encourages more people to walk and cycle which is good for their health and means that there are fewer vehicle journeys, less congestion and therefore even lower emissions.

Of course we would prefer not to have road humps but the safety benefits, and the environmental benefits, far outweigh the discomfort and inconvenience.


St Albans Cycle Campaign

SIR – There have been several letters printed on the merits or otherwise of “speed-recording cameras” and “road humps to slow traffic down to the legal limits.”

As I am mainly a pedestrian I would like to point out that the benefits are mainly to the pedestrians and are not intended to be benefits for motorists.

Motorists driving within the speed limits are not affected by the presence of functioning cameras; those driving over the limit, hopefully will slow down.

Accidents happening, particularly to pedestrians, are likely to cause death or more serious injuries, the faster the vehicle is travelling – so assuming no-one wishes to injure others, it is in everyone’s interest to stay within the speed limits and to be discouraged (fined) if one is not prepared to do so.

It is not as D Chan (Herts Advertiser letters, December 16) suggests, that most motorists drive within the speed limit – they do not and in some places in particular – coming from the St Albans city centre over the railway bridge in Sandpit Lane – I am surprised not to see some of these vehicles becoming “airborne” the speed they are travelling.

The pavement there is narrow, poorly maintained and is well used by all ages of pedestrians. Particularly children need protection from these drivers – so let’s keep all speed cameras and keep them all functioning: when no-one speeds we won’t need them!

As for the humps, I too would like to see them flattened out as they cannot be good for the vehicles to drive over and they provide the potential for even more “airborne vehicles” so we should get rid of them.


Culture denied

SIR – Sadly it seems that the Lib Dem Localism Denial District Council cabinet are also in denial of St Albans’ unique cultural and heritage potential.

I understand we have the early loss of the senior museums and culture officer and incorporation of the already too small St Albans Museum into the Margaret Harvey painting gallery.

The gallery is presently situated in the old adjacent law school, once the St Albans Arts College and if protected by deeds will have funding implications. This is a further loss of once thriving higher and further education facilities in the centre of St Albans.

It is sad that the council itself seems to lose professionals, yet keeps managers and expensive consultants. All probably to fund the Westminster Bodge (for a same size pool) and other cabinet white elephants while the city centre further declines in tourist, residents and business attractions.

The Lib Dem district council cabinet seems to treat its other 22 Lib Dem councillors as voting fodder. These non-cabinet councillors effectively work within the all party overview and scrutiny committees and working parties for the benefit of the whole community.

They work with interested outside parties (the Big Society in action) to challenge the performance of in-house and external bodies on issues such as the council’s loss of residents’ information data, double local taxation of residents and First Capital Connect’s poor service. Sadly all too often SADC cabinet just steamroller over the O&S committees’ recommendations.

Purely personally I wonder whether the O&S committees could completely replace Cabinet and their high extra personal allowances and staff expense, costing residents possibly �200k to reach expensive, flawed decisions. On Verulamium Park, the Friends of Verulamium had to raise a petition about Cabinet’s failure to address the dead trees in the park.

I suggest that in the spirit of the coalition government’s drive for localism, the Friends of Verulamium run the park with the funding and minimum necessary supervision by the district council, similarly for the St Albans allotments and other parks with a local body/parish council.

As for council housing, housing associations seem fully capable to run the housing stock, promptly repairing and replacing buildings. The new Localism Bill has a facility that the St Albans Civic Society could be fully on the central planning committee, Harpenden/Redbourn/Wheathampstead Societies on the plans north committees and similarly for plans south, again with minimum necessary council officer support.

It is a personal idea and staff would need to relocate closer to their communities (two have already painlessly moved to Harpenden Town Council) but there could suddenly be floors in one wing of the Civic Centre available for a three-fold increase of St Albans museum.

This could attract tourists and visitors following their excellent Stanley Kubrick exhibition. St Albans’ cultural heritage includes that it was the home of Stephen Hawkings of international black hole fame; of Nicholas Breakspear the only English Pope, of Francis Bacon, of a great Abbey, of the Magna Carta, of golf’s Ryder cup fame, of Civil War battles and of early filming industries and almost without a proper museum. There could even be an art gallery.

Best wishes for 2011.


Shadow cabinet culture and heritage councillor,

Oakfield Road, Harpenden

Flying visitors

SIR – I read with interest the item in the Herts Advertiser of December 23 about the “rare birds” (red kites) seen flying over Chiswell Green.

Maybe not quite so rare, as over the past six and a half years that we have lived on the Verulam Estate, I have frequently seen a red kite (sometimes two) from my kitchen window.

They can often be seen flying over the estate and I have also seen them near the Bluehouse Hill/King Harry Lane roundabout when driving along Bluehouse Hill as well as the Batchwood area. I believe they may be “residents” on the Gorhambury Estate.


Claudian Place, St Albans

The kindness of strangers

SIR – Thank you to everyone who offered help when I fell on ice at the junction of Beechwood Avenue and Hatfield Road on Monday, December 20.

A very special thanks to the S1 bus driver who held his bus up to help. Also Wendy, off-duty paramedic, Nicky, paramedic, and neighbours who supplied blankets and heat pads as I waited for the ambulance. Everyone’s kindness will never be forgotten by me and my husband.


Hatfield Road, St Albans