Letters, January 10, 2013

Menace of the pavement cyclists

SIR – After reading the letter that M Horan wrote to the Herts Advertiser on December 20, I felt I must write about my experience.

On Wednesday, December 18, at about 6.45pm, I was waiting for friends to pick me up (I am 84 years old and have been making teas and drinks every Wednesday and weekends for the St Albans Scout and Guide Gang Show) at the bottom of Sandridge Hill, by a set of steps, on the pavement. A girl aged between 16 and 17 years old came riding down, at high speed, on the pavement (with no lights on her bike). She didn’t see me and knocked me forcefully, face and body down, to the ground. Luckily I didn’t get knocked into the road (St Albans Road can be very busy).

The girl said: “I didn’t see you”. I have a severely fractured finger on my left hand, which is heavily strapped, my hand and wrist is badly sprained, a cut top lip which needed a stitch and a sore graze in my mouth. I have bruises on my arms and I am very swollen. I was suffering from shock for a few days but I am now getting my confidence back. I will have to have physio in the future on my fractured finger because when it heals, it won’t be straight.

J ANSON


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St Albans Road, Sandridge

Perils on the pelican crossing

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SIR – It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of a man hit by two cars on a London Colney pedestrian crossing.

I regularly cross on a pelican crossing opposite the Fleetville Post Office in St Albans and on several occasions have had to hop clear of cars driving through whilst the green man is still on. I feel sure that nothing will be done until there is another death!

Just what is wrong with the drivers in this area as I regularly get them indicating left at a roundabout then driving straight on? I am now quite disabled and cannot move as fast as the drivers would like.

ALISTAIR GRANT

Linden Crescent, St Albans

Protect the little children?

SIR – Regarding the article (December 27) about children of Beechwood Park School raising money for Keech Hospice, surely children should not be burdened with worries about such things as childhood terminal illnesses?

It only increases their anxieties and causes disturbance.

I’ve no doubt that much illness is caused by fundamentalists of various types, who enjoy causing suffering for those they call “sinners”. Humanity is becoming the fastest growing industry.

Children should not be demoralised by being made aware of so many tragic aspects of life, or be used by commercial institutions for publicity.

L BARWELL

Old Watling Street, Flamstead

More signs than sense?

SIR – I see that “too many road signs” has been in the news recently.

I’ve always been bemused by Highfield Park Drive, which has more than 40 signs on separate poles in the space of around a quarter of a mile, along with different coloured tarmac and painted road markings, including give way signs, all of which are there to indicate which half of the footpath is for cyclists and which for pedestrians. Also, the attached photo doesn’t make any sense either. What a waste of money!

STEVE WATERS

Hazelwood Drive, St Albans

Get your priorities right Mr Lloyd!

SIR – It seems Mr Lloyd, PCC, has come up with the bright idea of charging those who end up in police cells. Since when has policing been a money making business?

As most of those held overnight are there due to mental health problems that mental health services won’t deal with at night, is he suggesting a fine for being ill?

Does he realise that those who have committed an offence already get fixed penalty fines or sentencing in court? What gives him the right to impose further summary justice? As for those who face no action it could be said they can sue for false imprisonment if not charged. Being sent a bill just might push people into taking this avenue and end up more expensive than Mr Lloyd thought.

As Mr Lloyd was chair of the police authority I suppose we can’t expect any positive changes in Herts police under his tenure. However it would improve the service if he concentrated on important issues. Such as an independent oversight of complaints against the police. Upholding just 2.5 per cent of complaints is clearly a joke. Ensuring sex offences are all investigated fully and charges brought unless there is a very, very good reason not to. Getting the police out of scruffy black clothes and looking like officers again. Tracking officers’ movements to ensure they are patrolling rather than visiting girlfriends on duty (yes, they do this!).

Following the example of a Bedfordshire inspector who cut crime by ensuring officers could not be in stations unless they had a good reason to be there. Ensuring crime is recorded accurately – such as the theft of a vehicle not being recorded as “no crime” which happened to me. All this on Mr Lloyd’s watch and all he can think of to do is invoice the innocent and the ill at great administrative cost and, as it stands, illegally.

Well done Mr Lloyd. Just as well you consider this a part-time job. Just think what you would come up with if you were concentrating full time on this lucrative post.

K THORNTON

St Leonards Court, Sandridge

SLP must be pushed through quickly

SIR – Appreciating your editorial comment that the Lib Dems voting to stop and seriously delay the Strategic Local Plan (SLP) may not have directly caused the Planning Inspectors to have done a U-turn and be minded to approve the huge rail freight terminal but please ask yourself the following: when the same Planning Inspectors heard the information of the SLP delay would that have helped stop rail freight? The answer appears clearly no.

If the Lib Dem and Labour councillors cause a huge hole in our city’s local planning defences do not be surprised if other strong forces with different agendas march in and destroy much of our Green Belt, together with innumerable developers after a windfall of £990,000/acre for housing increased land values from agricultural.

The central government “extelligence” of the planning system seems to have evolved to be difficult and expensive to developments in order to balance this financial pressure.

It wastes huge amounts of time and money rather than re-directing it positively, helping compensate local residents and building new infrastructure. Planning red tape rules seem to treat the symptoms rather than the causes of this national problem.

I would personally like Section 106/CIL (local development payments) monies larger and to be able to go towards developing new affordable employment, high technical industrial sites perhaps on the BRE and Rothamstead Research sites.

We need to absorb and positively control the strong developer pressures and keep the SLP moving as it has a long and strict timetable. Otherwise we also risk losing millions of pounds of Section 106 monies that is helping build Batchwood sports centre (possibly £1m from section 106 monies), Cotlandswick Leisure Centre (£350K), Westminster Lodge, the Town Hall museum, Olympic beach volleyball, playgrounds, etc., etc. Labour councillors may not understand the timetable on this.

Please Herts Advertiser and Lib Dems we should not fight the next election now (as seems to be happening in Europe and America) putting residents’ amenities at risk but work together to resolve this. This was done with several Labour councillors on the new Cotlandswick leisure centre. Yes new factors will appear but perhaps we can find opportunities from apparent disasters and may need to make changes but surely the sooner the Planning Inspectors see our draft SLP document moving forward the better.

CLLR MIKE WAKELEY

Conservative District Councillor

Oakfield Road, Harpenden

Beer available across the district

SIR – I have just seen Roger Protz’s article on the Hare and Hounds and BoB beer (Herts Ad, December 27) – a very nice write-up.

Can I just correct one of the things that is said in the article please – while I am certainly looking forward to working closely with Daryn at the Hare and Hounds and he is keen to make the BoB beers regularly available, it isn’t an exclusive arrangement and the beer is already available via other outlets (shops, plubs and clubs) and will continue to be so.

Thanks.

MARTIN SLAUGHTER

The Private Brewery of BoB

St Albans

Pickles’ decision proves the truth

SIR – Congratulations Eric Pickles! You have proved what many people have told me is true: Don’t believe what politicians say!

I refer, of course, to your pre-Christmas decision to give the go-ahead for that rail freight depot near Park Street, St Albans – in the Green Belt. This despite your reported pledge – see Daily Telegraph headline and article, October 8, 2012, “Green Belt is safe in our hands”.

You admit that the development would be “inappropriate” and “cause further harm through loss of openness and significant encroachment into the countryside”. Also that it would “contribute to urban sprawl” and “cause harm to the setting of St Albans”. Yes – indeed. Rail depot I doubt, a lorry-served are more likely. Didn’t you see and learn when you visited St Albans in November to plant trees that our railway is a very full and troublesome commuter route?

It seems to me you have been “sat on” by your Treasury colleagues, Planning Minister Boles and Chancellor, not to mention PM, who appears determined to wreck both Green Belt and countryside.

You have ensured I will never vote Conservative again – I suspect I am not alone.

ERIC ROBERTS

Fishpool Street, St Albans

Mixed messages over rail fares

SIR – The decision by First Capital Connect to raise rail prices by 3.9 per cent is indeed bad news for local rail commuters and the comments of Chris White and Sandy Walkington condemning these rises must be shared by local people who now find the extra money to pay for their travel.

What is omitted by them both is that they campaigned for the Lib Dem party at the last General Election on a promise to cut train fares when in government, which Nick Clegg now plans to increase by 28 per cent by 2015.

How can this be? I find it all very confusing , maybe they have had a limb transplant at Leeds General Infirmary , this could explain why one hand does not appear to know what the other one is doing.

TONY LEACH

Langley Crescent, St Albans

Behind Beds for recycling

SIR – I have read recently of plans by St Albans council to expand recycling facilities to include plastic margarine and yoghurt pots.

A family member of mine has recently moved to Stotfold and I am astounded by the amount of items that Central Bedfordshire Council recycle, including polystyrene, worn out household textiles (clothes, towels, bedding), all types of plastics (including cling film and carrier bags) and drinks cartons. All of these items can be put in residents’ bins.

Why has St Albans council taken so long to expand recycling facilities? They have a long way to go yet.

JEAN DAY

Sherwood Avenue, St Albans

These landlords aren’t our friends

SIR – David Rankin has accused me in your letters column (December 20) of representing a “consortium of landowners”, and contrasts the so-called consortium with rational Tories and Lib Dems.

If only the Tory council were rational landlords. I’d describe them as very flexible friends when it comes to their so-called flexible tenancies.

Good landlords don’t increase your rent every few months, or every two or five years as the Tories propose. If you get a wage increase, or just a cost of living increase, or work overtime, you get means tested and if you’ve worked hard and smart and bettered your income, you get rewarded with an eviction notice.

Good landlords are supportive of families and partners. If you acquire a partner, or if the partner gets promoted, you get given a maximum of only two or five years before, again, you get means tested and if your partner’s increased your income, you get rewarded with an eviction notice.

The residents of Notting Hill and Downing Street are apparently obsessed with the problem of blinds on council estates: whose blinds are up and whose are down.

The quiet man, whom the Tory right ridiculed when he was their leader, wants to support tenants who work hard, who work smart, who better their income, who support their children and who stick with their partners. Locally the councillors are pushing in the opposite direction.

Cllr Julian Daly wants to dive head-first into the morass of right wing prejudice by joining a tiny cohort of dotty councils who implement these crazy one sided tenancy agreements. His illustrious namesake, Tom, gets medals for diving. Let’s hope nobody gives him a gong for writing these dodgy contracts, or even, is it too much to hope, that he looks before he leaps and thinks better of jumping in head first.

TONY WAITE

Holywell Hill, St Albans

No hidden agenda over Colts scheme

SIR – Can I assure Mr Bunting (Letters, January 3) and local residents that there is no hidden agenda behind the proposal to provide a home for Harpenden Colts Football Club on land owned by the county council off Roundwood Lane in Harpenden. In fact the Colts, Hertfordshire County Council and I have been completely transparent in setting out these proposals.

The county council in its lease of the land to the Colts has indicated the wish to designate a part of the land as a reserved school site and the area of that reserved site has been clearly marked on the plans shown in the two public consultation exhibitions.

If Mr Bunting would take the trouble to look at those plans he would see that the area in question would only accommodate a primary school.

If and when it became possible, the idea would be to move to this site the Roundwood Primary School, with its nursery class, which currently shares a campus with the senior school and more to the point a narrow entrance which has to accommodate a large number of coaches, cars and of course senior school pupils arriving on foot. Any decision to place a school on this new site would be subject to a separate planning application.

Yes, if I had been a resident of Faulkners Field I would probably have objected to the proposal because it would mean a change in the view that I had enjoyed for many years from my back garden. That would not mean that my objection would be justified in planning terms or outweigh the benefits offered by the scheme to the wider community. Can I add that not only are the proposals an acceptable use of the Metropolitan Green Belt under St Albans city and district planning policies but the long term lease to the Colts would protect the area from more unacceptable development.

Following the consultation I have to say I have neither heard nor read anything that would change my view about supporting these proposals.

Harpenden Colts Football Club provides the opportunity for some 760 young people (both boys and girls) between the ages of six and 18 to train and play soccer. At a time when we are encouraged to support the Olympic legacy and amidst concerns that more and more of our young people are becoming obese it must be good to provide facilities for them to benefit from exercise as well as the discipline and team building of organised sport.

I am also sure that if and when planning approval is obtained for this scheme there will be organisations at both national and local level willing to provide financial support.

BERNARD LLOYD

County Councillor

Harpenden North East

What a load of rubbish!

SIR – It is almost as predictable as Santa arriving on Christmas Day that the paladins, the name given to the communal bins at flats, will not be emptied around Christmas.

One of the difficulties is no one knows what day they will be emptied as the holidays change the usual collection day, another with no emptying an overspill of rubbish occurs.

And so it was at Eskdale this Christmas... On realising by the Saturday morning that the bins that are usually collected on a Wednesday had not been emptied I phoned the council on December 29. No service available and not available, the message said, until Wednesday, January 2, 2013. Ok it seems we go to the out of hours service.

Out of hours say, ‘refuse is not dealt with out of hours, only environmental matters and housing repairs.” I say, “Refuse is environmental, particularly if due to overspill bags it attracts an influx of vermin to the environment.” I cannot convince, though I leave my details for what I term the raffle, you will be lucky if you get a response. I did not get a response.

It was later when I did speak to someone that I also learned the council had instructed its staff to take a day of their leave on New Year’s Eve to facilitate a whole council closure. I am not clear why this reason was taken but by doing so it cut off a public service on a working day. It also meant you could not get through to refuse, when it did open, unless you stayed on the phone for eight minutes, not really acceptable in my book. I could have presented Radio 4 hourly news twice in that time!

I am pleased to happily report that by Friday the rubbish had been removed, after an interval of two weeks and two days.

GORDON JACKSON

Eskdale, London Colney

No excuse for dawdling along

SIR – There is something distinctly ethereal about driving along the Harpenden Road. It is very much a twilight zone of the motoring kind so let me tell you why.

Whether your journey is from St Albans to Harpenden or t’other way around, and irrespective of the speed limits leaving each town increasing from 30mph and 40mph, there is something about the majority of the stretch of the journey – that which is clearly signposted with national 60mph speed limit signs – which seems to have no effect on drivers whatsoever. Whether it is little old Elsie from Harpenden in her Fiat 500, Agnes of St Albans in her pristine, garaged, 10-year-old silver Nissan Micra, or their male counterparts like good old uncle Albert or Sidney from the bowls club.

Each, when they hit the long stretch marked 60mph all appear to drive at a constant, unwavering, consistent, boring and, quite frankly, dangerous 38.63mph

I am no boy racer, not by a long chalk and do not advocate breaking the speed limit. However, I draw the line at the concatenation of traffic created (mostly by overly cautious octogenarians from wherever they may domicile), who feel it appropriate to clog the main arterial route from St Albans to Harpenden and vice-versa with a driving speed that, at 20mph below the prescribed and permitted, would bore a sloth!

Could it be that “must-hear” cliffhanger episode of The Archers that is so compelling, or the relaxed drive to their shift at the charity shop?

Don’t get me wrong, younger people, too, are just as guilty of slow-worming it as older folk; both seemingly with reflexes or other that has some kind of autonomic response which prevents proper use of the accelerator pedal the minute they hit Harpenden Road!

To me, it is one of life’s great enigmas – and although there may well have been some serious accidents along this road in the past, the speed limits haven’t changed in years and if speeding were an issue, whatever the age of the protagonist, the police would surely have installed speed cameras by now.

With the number of Elsies, Agneses, Alberts and Sidneys all driving their one-litre milk floats at 38.63mph though, a set of speed cameras on the Harpenden Road is probably not on the agenda whether the guilty offenders of slow driving are 18, 80, male, female, hermaphrodite, Albanians, Harpendenites or other.

I just wish people would chivvy along a little more and understand that 60mph means you can go 60mph, not 20mph less! I thank you.

BARRY CASHIN

Green Lane, St Albans

England prevails in district census?

SIR – The recently published 2011 Census results show that St Albans has 78,019 people (or 55.5 per cent) who have stated they have only English national identity. A further 15,174 people (or 10.8 per cent) stated that their national identity is ‘English and British’.

In sharp contrast with this over 66 per cent being English there were only a mere 30,770 people (or 21.9 per cent) who claimed to be “British only”.

So far as the trend across the whole of England is concerned St Albans in fact has a slightly lower percentage of English than is usual outside of the big cities, being probably affected by the atypically non-English demography of London.

So the tired old British political establishment parties (and the newer British nationalist parties like UKIP and the BNP) better watch out or the rising sense of “Englishness” will sweep them away – just as “Scottishness” is doing in Scotland!

ROBIN TILBROOK

Chairman, The English Democrats, Ongar, Essex

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