Letters, January 9, 2013

Westfield is wrong place for Mencap

SIR – I am at a loss to understand upon what basis Mr Fisher, trustee of Harpenden Mencap can refer to the “town council... reflecting the opinion of the community at large” re. the proposal for Harpenden Mencap to presence itself on Westfield (Letters, December 19). Where is his evidence for this suggestion? I am unaware of any data suggesting that this “community at large” has given its opinion that the Westfield site is an appropriate place to put people with special needs. Indeed, we have been told over and over again by the town council that the ‘’community at large’’ wants to put affordable/key worker housing on the land for “local Harpenden people”. When exactly did they change their mind? And could we see some tangible evidence, please? If they were to be consulted, which I suspect they have not been, and appraised of the isolated nature of the site, the proximity of teenage groups that hang around the area often late into the night, with subsequent incidents of anti-social behaviour, combined with the great distance from the town centre, the infrequent bus service, and lack of any proper infrastructure, the “community at large” might suggest that it is actually a highly unsuitable place to locate any group of people in “greater need” and a potential recipe for disaster. We, the local community would certainly suggest this. But then, the council does not consult us, do they?

CAROL HEDGES Harpenden Independent Partnership Coldharbour Lane, Harpenden

SIR – While reading your letters page I had an epiphany… I understand Mencap’s need for another location for respite care, however Westfield is not, in my opinion, a suitable location. Why? There isn’t the necessary infrastructure in place; an infrequent bus service, one small convenience store and the local doctor’s surgery is some distance away. I have a daughter with special needs and I’d love nothing more than to have respite care on my door step but I wouldn’t choose to use Westfield.

So where do Mencap go? What about the now disused library site? It’s in the town centre close to a doctors surgery, shops, parks and transport. Perfect. What about the free school plans to go there? Well once again it’s not, in my opinion, a suitable location for a school. Just the dropping-off and pick-up of children would be enough to throw the High Street into chaos. If you don’t believe me just try and park when the local nurseries have parents dropping-off and picking-up and thats not nearly the same volume of traffic/people. Food for thought?!

ELISSA BAIRD Willoughby Road, Harpenden

Shameful comments about Philomena

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SIR – I was greatly disturbed to see that Elizabeth Dumpleton used your pages to promote her own book at great cost to Philomena Lee. Ms Lee gave her personal story in your interview and has a right to her opinions, based on that story. Her comments about the Catholic church reflected her own experience, and were therefore entirely valid to the interview. Elizabeth Dumpleton’s experience was very different and is also a valid and interesting story to tell. However, she turns her story sour by making some very judgmental comments about Ms Lee which are unjustified and do not serve her, or the book she promotes, well.

MS S ADAMS Park Street, St Albans

Calling time on elderly drivers

SIR – I have noticed a lot of letters recently have been regarding Harpenden drivers, namely “yummy mummies” in 4x4 vehicles. Whilst I agree many 4x4 drivers do have a king/queen of the road attitude, many other drivers lack manners, due care and attention and respect for other vehicles. I refer to an elderly gentleman who scraped and dented the driver’s side door of my car in a supermarket car park in Harpenden, and then proceeded to drive off without inspecting the damage or leaving his details. I hope he realises that what he did is a criminal offence. If a person can do that much damage by just reversing out of a space, then I question whether that individual should be driving at all. I think the Government should pass a law stating that people over the age of 70 have their driving reviewed.

PETULA HANSON Bewdley Close, Harpenden

New options for rail freight access

SIR – Have I missed a point in the long-running argument about the Park Street rail freight terminal scheme? The opposition to this development scheme centred on the increase in traffic along Watling Street and Park Street village, yet the M25 adjoins the site, but why is there not to be a direct access? The developers appear to have to construct a circuitous route for the juggernaut trucks weaving on and off minor roads, the old North Orbital Road and the awful M25 junction at London Colney. When Rupert Murdoch’s printing empire moved to Enfield, the M25 tunnel section was widened to three lanes so his trucks had unimpeded direct access to the print works. With the amount of unused land exploited by Redland (now Lafarge) and railway land surely there must be enough room to connect direct to the motorway system. There will be work for many years to come in the area and yes, maybe even space for future housing developement and peace could return to the village of Park Street, with just the occasional lorry passing through ? A new M25 access is a small cost to pay for a business opportunity for the community, the council and the county.

MIKE COBLEY Milton Road, Harpenden

Growing dissent at district’s bus stops

SIR – I am rarely moved to write a letter such as this but, due to lack of movement by Uno’s buses, I feel I must. I said to myself “Bambridge, you must write a stiff letter to the paper”! However, a lack of cardboard has led me to scupper this idea and communicate with email instead. Anyway, I wander. The reason for this email is to add mine to the growing number of dissenting voices heard at the bus stops of St Albans and environs as well as various social media outlets regarding the decline in quality of the Unobus service which, increasingly less frequently, delivers us to our homes and the region’s outposts. You are probably aware that during September 2013 Unobus revised a number of their routes which appears to have had the effect of making a vast proportion of buses late (and non-existent) and a vast proportion of commuters frustrated, angry and late. Various complaints have sometimes been answered and Unobus resolved to review the timetables in order to improve the reliability. There was much celebration. It came as quite a surprise to me, therefore, that when I saw the revised timetable (of the 653 service) to be implemented in January 2014, there were actually FEWER buses planned during peak morning rush-hours. Being a public spirited fellow, I took it upon myself to advise Unobus of the printing error on the timetable but was astounded, possibly flabbergasted, I am not sure, to be told: “The new timetable does have a reduced frequency this will increase reliability by giving the buses more running time.” Now, I don’t claim to be one of Britain’s great minds, but a reasonably intelligent type nonetheless. However this response has left me questioning if I am actually as bright as I had told myself. Apparently, a failing, unreliable bus service reduces the number of buses (by about 40 per cent, I should add, to give readers the full picture) and this will make the service more reliable. Well, I have approached this conundrum from all angles and, alas, I am unable to see how this works. I should be grateful if any of your readers – maybe a brainy prof from the university – could solve this one for me and post their findings to this paper. I await enlightenment.

C BAMBRIDGE Aldbury Close, St Albans

Messages of thanks

SIR – Once again the people of St Albans have demonstrated their tremendous generosity in supporting our Rotary Charity Appeals at Christmas. More than £5,000 has been raised, some of which has already been used to support the Salvation Army in providing meals for those in need, and also to buy Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. Many other charities will benefit from this money during 2014. On behalf of all those people whom you have enabled us to help, our sincere thanks.

TREVOR MILES President The Rotary Club of St Albans Verulamium

SIR – Shortly before Christmas I tripped and sustained a very heavy fall at the bottom of Station Approach in Harpenden. Several people rushed to assist me, and I would like to thank them and one gentleman in particular, who made sure I was all right before continuing. Their help was much appreciated.

ROGER THORNHILL Ambrose Lane, Harpenden

Cluster bomb style of resurfacing

SIR – As I live in a close off Aldwickbury Crescent I was quite please when it was resurfaced but it led me to query what are the criteria for resurfacing? Aldwickbury Crescent and other roads that I have noticed have been resurfaced had very reasonable surfaces before resurfacing whereas Dalkeith Road looks like it has been “cluster bombed”. It is impossible to travel five metres along the road without encountering a patch or pothole. After the first frost many of the patches have lifted leaving tyre/wheel/tracking damaging holes. As this road is on a bus route and is an access route to two schools perhaps someone from the Highways Agency can explain to the people of Harpenden what are the criteria for resurfacing and why Dalkeith Road is perennially ignored?

JULIAN DAVIS Altwood, Harpenden

Lack of respect for Mayoral office

SIR – I was rather taken aback by the unnecessary objection taken by one of your correspondents, James Nowak, to our excellent Mayor wearing her chain of office (Herts Advertiser letters, December 24). As Mayor, Annie Brewster is not primarily representing herself but, as First Citizen of St Albans, is representing the civic authorities and the British Sovereign. The Mayoral chain of office is a traditional statement of this fact, and brings some welcome colour and pageantry to the events that she officially visits. Mr Nowak is fully entitled to his opinion about this badge of office, but to express it in the way that he did is not a little disrespectful and rude, whether intentionally so or not. So, Annie, carry on wearing your chain while you can!

IAN LaRIVIERE Park Street, St Albans

Market musings

SIR – I could not agree more with the comments of one of your readers in last week’s Herts Ad – ‘Christmas Market not up to scratch’. “A bit of a misnomer” would sum up the first attempt to stage a “German”-style Christmas Market in this beautiful city. I, too, felt let down by its presentation, content and atmosphere. No magic, no sparkle, and the only festive “spirit” on offer appeared to be Glühwein and Feuerzangenbowle. So, Darren Butt, you can rest assured there is at least one other person who shares your disappointment.

DORIS STIDSON Beechwood Avenue, St Albans

SIR – How predictable that one of your readers should write in complaining about the Christmas market (Herts Advertiser letters, January 2). I visited it almost every day and thought that for its first year it was a fantastic effort. I loved everything about it. The ‘sheds’ were wooden chalets. They were decorated with fairy lights and foliage. When it was dark the effect was magical plus the delicious aroma of mulled wine wafting around the Abbey. My impression was ‘wow’, what a great event to get you in the Christmas spirit. The positioning of the chalets in the Vintry Gardens was correct, the Abbey providing a stunning backdrop. I’m sure if all the chalets were by the Abbey, they may be open to vandalism, graffiti, etc.. The Vintry Gardens provides some security. I am also really sad now it has all gone and cannot wait for next year’s market. Why can’t people appreciate the beauty and effort that went into the Christmas market instead of knocking it? Stop complaining please. Also Barry Cashin, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant is great. Delicious food, vibrant, fun and reasonably priced. Have you ever eaten there?


Prospect Road, St Albans