Letters, January 17, part three

Welcome backing for Palestinians

SIR - The generosity shown by the people of St Albans and Harpenden for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (Your Views Dr RD Leigh, Herts Advertiser December 20) in collections at the beginning of December, is particularly important because it reflects the rapidly increasing awareness in your readers of the dire plight of ordinary Palestinian people resulting from the Israeli military blockade of Gaza and the occupation of Palestinian lands.

Even basic health requirements of well-over a million people are severely restricted or prevented by the military occupation, which is illegal under International law and is totally inhuman and immoral. That such injustice is caused by a close ally of the UK is intolerable.

The recent overwhelming UN vote recognising the Palestinian State will be welcomed by so many as showing that the International community recognises Palestinian rights. However, the situation is getting even worse as Israel, in response to the vote, increases seizure of Palestinian homes and land and strangles Palestinian attempts to lead a life of even a limited dignity. Learn more and support humanitarian efforts to help the Palestinians via St Albans Friends of Husan by contacting friendsofhusan@gmail.com.

DW LAWLOR


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Burywick, Harpenden

Thanks for festive collections support

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SIR – Through the auspices of your newspaper the St Albans Lions Club would like to thank all those people who so generously supported our Christmas collections helping the club to raise almost £4,500, which once again will be distributed amongst the many deserving causes within our local community.

The spirit of Christmas brings out the very best in people even in times of hardship and allows our club to extend some joy to those who are genuinely in need of help.

The club would like to apologise to some of the residents of Jersey Farm where our street collection takes place.

On the evening of Wednesday December 19 Father Christmas was unable to visit the streets leading off Sandringham Crescent due to a technical problem with his sleigh.

Happily this was rectified next day and all his remaining activities for the season were fulfilled.

Many thanks to all the community in which “We Serve”.

WILLIAM MARTIN

President St Albans Lions Club

Debating the merits of animal poo

SIR - As I write this I’m watching Eden TV about the African wilderness, and they just said: “fertised by mountains of hippo dung, a rich variety of wildlife exists at the bottom of the lake”.

So what has hippo poo got that makes it an important source of nutients, whilst the ducks in St Albans, according to the Liberal Democrat propoganda machine, poo nuclear toxic waste, killing all life in Hertfordshire?

MATTHEW PECK

Hadleigh Court, Harpenden

Celebrating Uncle Albert’s centenary

SIR – May I please seek your assistance in publicising the following event?

On February 9 Dr Albert Ludford who taught geology and geography at the Park Square campus of what is now the University of Bedfordshire will be 100 years old.

Some former colleagues and more former students are organising a celebration of this at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford on Saturday April 6.

“Uncle Albert” as he is widely known to his friends lived in Harpenden from 1955-1990.

He came to Luton in January 1955 and worked in the science department teaching a range of student ages and needs in his subjects.

Especially important was that for part-time London University external degree B.S.C which included biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics, which later broadened to botany, geography and zoology and also subsequently computing.

Whilst there is a strong mailing list for full-time students reading the London degree full time contact with part-timers is much weaker.

It is these whom we would like to contact if they are interested.

A letter or email to me will get them into the network.

Dr Ludford, a widower, now lives in Malvern and asked that the date be fixed when people can travel more easily.

DAVID COOPER

(Luton College lecturer 1960-1995)

The Old Manor House

Loddington, Kettering

Northamptonshire NN14 1LA

No room for politicians’ rants

SIR - Each week your letters page features a number of epistles from our elected councillors, many haranguing each other on some perceived issue of the day.

Could I suggest a separate section or column where they can laud their achievements and denigrate their disingenuous opponents? Perhaps it could be called something like “Why I am Right: Your Politicians’ Views”, leaving the “Your Views” section of your paper to be just that: the views of your readers, not the politicians whose voices have many other perfectly adequate media from which to be heard?

Perhaps you could also publish a league table of whose comments are published most frequently in the paper? My own back of the envelope method suggests there is a core of letter writers in the city. Maybe if the rest of us shouted louder we would be heard more? Perhaps you could start a campaign? Just a thought.

JOHN GILLIGAN

St Michael’s Street, St Albans

Booking fee is a waste of money

SIR - Owing to the continuing lack of a cinema in St Albans, for some years we have been regular attenders at the Alban Arena to watch films.

In the past I have always bought our tickets in person at the box office. I recently thought that I would try their website and online booking facility.

I began the booking process which involved two concession tickets (£5 each) for three films - an overall total of £30. On reaching the payment part of the process I was staggered to discover that there would be a “commission charge” of £1.25 per ticket - which would be a total of £7.50, equivalent to no less than 25 per cent of the value of my tickets. This seems to me to be completely unjustifiable. Even booking West End theatre tickets you would not expect to encounter a 25 per cent booking fee. The Alban Arena also charge £1 to post the tickets (the National Theatre “only” charge 70p). Needless to say I abandoned my booking.

Sadly the Alban Arena could learn a lot from Campus West at Welwyn Garden City. We also regularly see films there. They offer a much more extensive programme of films and their on-line booking system is a delight to use. There is no “commission charge” and one can simply print off the tickets.

The Alban Arena is regularly wishing to consult with their potential customers to determine how they can increase their audience size. Well for a start surely they should remove these ridiculous “commission charges” and also how about offering a better programme of films?

We have often attended the Alban Arena when there has been a pitifully small audience and the last thing they need is any further disincentives.

DAVID LANGLEY

Hamilton Road, St Albans

Flexible tenancies are justified

SIR - As you are aware under the Localism Act 2011 the council has a statutory duty to implement a new tenant strategy by January 15 which must include details of the council’s approach to flexible tenancies to take full effect by April 2013.

During 2012 extensive public consultations have taken place, the consultations have been generally positive. Over 70 per cent of respondents were in favour of flexible tenancies, with the proposed term for a new tenancy being five years for new tenants with existing arrangements unchanged.

In early November the cabinet considered the New Tenancy Strategy and agreed to the recommendations.

The decision of the cabinet was called in by the chair of scrutiny for discussion on December 11 with any recommendations of the committee to be referred back to cabinet, at the meeting this was changed to full council despite advise from officers that this decision conflicted with the legal statutory duty of the council, this was carried by the casting vote of the chair. A compromise amendment to refer back to cabinet and set up a working group to review any unintentional consequences of the policy was also defeated on the casting vote of the chair.

The main objective of a tenancy strategy is to make best use of the council’s housing stock for the future, prevent homelessness, improve choice and meet the true needs of individual households.

It cannot be in the interests of anyone in need of housing, to continue to offer new tenants an outdated system of “lifetime tenancies” that bears no relation to the actual needs of residents.

It can only be fair and right that if and when circumstances change for those who have benefited in the past from the support of the council, they are encouraged to make changes, which will benefit residents still awaiting the start and the support that they once enjoyed.

I cannot believe that the majority of existing and new tenants would not support this sensible and wholly proportionate strategy. It is very difficult to justify to residents on a housing waiting list that lifetime tenancies should be continued indefinitely. Which incidentally is also the view of our neighboring councils.

In light of the above events an extraordinary meeting of the council had to be convened on January 10 to resolve the issue.

I would once again reiterate that none of the proposed changes are retrospective and only apply to prospective new tenants.

CLLR BRIAN GIBBARD

St Stephens Ward

Ragged Hall Lane, Chiswell Green

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