Letters, January 31, 2013, part two

Thanks to street cleaners

SIR - A big thank you to the street cleaners in St Albans. By the time I got to St Peter’s Street at 8am on Monday January 21, they had cleared paths through all the pavements and side streets and were still hard at it with their shovels and brooms, keeping all the paved areas clear of snow and ice.

D BORLEY

Cornwall Road, St Albans

Welcome support for charity concert


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SIR - Isabel Beyer and Harvey Dagul would like to thank the stalwart people who attended their charity concert on Sunday January 20, battling their way through icy and snowy conditions to raise money for “The Fund For The Future”.

The founder of the charity, Mr John Peters, told us that £450 was raised at the event. Isabel and Harvey would also like to thank the Herts Ad for their kind help with the publicity.

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ISABEL BEYER & HARVEY DAGUL

Birchmead Close, St Albans

Other side of the coin

SIR – I would like to remind D. W. Lawlor and those who have read a one-sided letter concerning “…backing for Palestinians” that it was Israel who originally handed Gaza over to the Palestinians.

When Israel vacated Gaza it was the Palestinians who destroyed houses, farms and the infrastructure Israel left behind.

This can hardly be described as “totally inhuman and immoral” on Israel’s part.

Before the intifada [uprising] Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians (some of whom still have Israeli citizenship) managed to live and work together without the need for Israel to protect itself from suicide bombs and rockets.

We are often fed unbalanced and biased information through the media.

Israel is a small democratic country surrounded by large Muslim majority populations and militant Islam seeks to eliminate its very existence.

No wonder Israel needs to protect itself.

All the above aspects should be carefully considered before being too quick to condemn Israel out of hand.

JOANNE TREDINNICK

The Ridgeway, St Albans

Generous donations

SIR – I am writing through your columns to express Rotary’s appreciation for the generosity of St Albans residents in our winter charity collections.

Our red-caped collectors received over £5,000 from the public, all of which will go to needy local individuals and charities.

On their behalf we are grateful to all for digging deep in times of austerity and for ensuring that the New Year will be a happier one in result.

Once again our thanks for your generous support.

GEOFF BEALE

President, Rotary Club of St Albans Verulamium

Some signs are a waste of space

SIR - I agree entirely with last week’s article on pointless road signs. Signs should give direction or warn of significant safety risks.

Sadly too many are faded, or concerned with cameras or low risk events. 25 per cent of lights on the North Orbital are out and roads filled with potholes. On the A4147, there are no signs warning of animals running into the road, which has caused accidents.

My favourite are the two at Waitrose, the same age as some councillors (pictured). One is illegible and the other has a penalty less than a day’s airport parking.

PAUL SPELZINI

Potters Bar and St Albans Transport User Group, Parkland Drive, St Albans

Crossings which put pedestrians at risk

SIR - I read with sadness of the death of the young lad at a Pedestrian crossing in London Colney. It prompted me to highlight at least two other danger spots in London Colney.

I have an 89 year old neighbour who in his bid to remain independent crosses the Barnet Road each day to get to Sainsbury’s petrol station in order to purchase essentials.

Herts County Council created a place for pedestrians to cross though you do so at your own risk (pictured below). Each time I see my neighbour crossing my heart stops, he tells me sometimes his does too and he is often only successful in crossing due to the generosity of the motorists.

Not far from this crossing is another, the one to McDonald’s on the Bell roundabout which actually crosses the slip road for junction 22 of the M25. In designing both roads it would seem no one considered the risks posed to pedestrians, perhaps they intended it to be a new form of extreme sports?!

GORDON JACKSON

Eskdale, London Colney

We must not invoice the innocent

SIR - I refer to Ms Dumpleton’s letter of January 24 accusing me of supporting criminals because I am against charging for police cell time and it’s administrative cost. Can I make clear the following:

I am Ms, not Mr.

I said criminals should be charged or given fixed penalty notices if they have offended.

I said invoicing the innocent, those who are questioned and then eliminated from enquiries, or the many ill who are taken in for their own safety is wrong.

Watching edited “highlights” of a police programme is not very accurate research and those who are not thugs are not shown!

Far from never having been a crime victim I have been a victim of crime, including assault and burglary, five times in my life. Not once did the police show any interest.

Far from championing criminals over victims I worked for the Crown Prosecution Service for 18 years. Trust me, I wish I could erase much of what I had to see and deal with from my memory.

Maybe Ms Dumpleton should read letters properly before ranting at those she clearly knows nothing about.

KIM THORNTON

St Leonards Court, Sandridge

Support High Street’s fight for survival

SIR - Thornton’s, Jane Norman, Isis, Swanns, The Real Sports Shop, JD Sports, Woolworths, Springfield Pharmacy, Game, Dusty Violet, Past Times, La Senza, The Sony Shop, Jessops and soon to be Blockbusters.

And that’s just a few of those I whose names I can remember off the top of my head! There is no denying the changing dynamic of the high street is causing a very stark and depressive look with the number of retailers going down faster than men in WWI trenches!

With equal stoicism, diehard retailers have done their level best to compete in a market now dominated by the internet and increasingly savvier and lazy consumers who have given up on the idea of traditional shopping and social contact in favour of couch consumerism by mouse! It is all so very sad. And what has the council done to stem the tide of store closures? Sweet Fanny Adam!

Instead, business rates continue to rise faster than domestic utility charges and punitive rents conspire to wring the life out of already customer-starved retailers.

Just what incentive is there for any business, large or small, to want to continue to serve an increasingly dismissive and flippant buying public when the council it depends on for some latitude in such unprecedentedly difficult times feels the need for rental increases by IV?

The high street of any town is its pulse, its heartbeat. Stem that lifeblood and you risk, as our council and many others with similar actions, stultifying growth and reducing consumer appeal by hosting streets of boarded up units.

The simple answer is to buck the trend by encouraging, not killing retail business. That means a moratorium on all retail rental increases and offering incentivised occupancy of those already redundant retail units to artisan and specialist small business people.

At the end of the day, consumers deserve the high streets their shopping habits create and the combination of changing consumer habits together with the short-sighted greed of local authorities makes a heady blend that will, if it carries on much longer, result in a retail vista that in 20 years time, looks vastly different from today’s line up; an Orwellian blend of “told you so” units comprising domestic accommodation, cheap budget hotels, multifarious charity outlets and £1 stores, one or two die-hard major name chains with the occasional smattering of coffee shops who only survive by virtue of the fact that you can’t buy a meal out or drink a cup of latte online!

BARRY CASHIN

Green Lane, St Albans

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