Letters, January 23, 2014

Messages of thanks

SIR – We would like to thank all of the donors, volunteers, and customers who have kindly supported and made the Oxfam Bookshop in St Albans a success over this past year. Thank you to all our donors for your generous gifts of books and vinyls throughout the year, our amazing team of volunteers of over 70 people that give their time to help in our shop and to our customers for all the purchases they have made and for choosing to shop at Oxfam Bookshop. We really appreciate your support and your donations are key in helping us raise funds for Oxfam. We know that you understand that we are able to recognise the value of your donations and we are grateful that you have chosen to support us. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to another great year in 2014.

OXFAM BOOKSHOP ST ALBANS Catherine Street, St Albans

SIR – St Albans Lions Club would like to thank the people of St Albans and Hatfield for their generosity during our Christmas collections. The sum of £3,000 was collected and this will be used to help local worthy causes. The money will be distributed to either individuals or organisations in and around these two towns. If readers are aware of any personal needs or deserving causes requiring help or assistance please email details in the first instance to williemartin@hotmail.co.uk and the request will be forwarded to our Services Committee for consideration. The motto of the “Lions International” organisation is “We Serve” and the St Albans Lions Club strives to live up to this motto on a local basis.

WILLIAM MARTIN President, St Albans Lions Club Hunt Close, St Albans

Canals scheme is pie in the sky

SIR – In last week’s letters, Jill Mills, (St Albans Green Party) is sadly mistaken in thinking that new canal networks would help alleviate flooding. It seems she does not understand the principal nor operation of canals. Canals are largely standing lengths of water with practically zero flow. Indeed if they had any significant flow they would be unnavigable. Rivers, brooks, ditches and drains flow, and by doing so help drain our land. Canals are static to enable barges, etc., to trundle along them. Indeed many “flow” up and over hills using flights of locks. Ms Mills’ also suggests that new canals and moorings would make affordable and pleasant choices of a home. Is it not exactly this desire for ‘pleasant’ homes close to rivers that are much of the cause of flooding? We seem to have an insatiable appetite to build on flood plains, then seem surprised when the water cannot drain as nature intended and even surprised when our homes are overcome by water on what is/was a FLOOD PLAIN. In my view, much better we build on higher land, but I suppose that is now reserved for wind farms! Ms Mills’ suggestion to use the canals for freight is also pie in the sky. Yes, cost per ton per mile would be cheaper than by road, but probably not much in it comparing canal to rail, but does she really believe that many freight companies would accept an average speed from source to destination of perhaps 2mph, based on maximum barge speed of around 4mph, but reduced to zero speed for at least 30 minutes at each lock transit. Ms Mills desires to see a canal between St Albans and Berkhamstead. If it was built from the Grand Union at Berkhampstead, and passed by the Ver at Verulamium, I can assure that if all the locks were opened to drain flooding, then most of Verulamium would quickly disappear under about 75 feet of water, that is how much higher The Grand Unon is at Berkhamstead!

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PETER SWINSON Cambridge Road, St Albans

Pavement parking plight needs solving

SIR – I am very keen to know what the St Albans council’s planning department are going to do to resolve the problem they created in respect of “pavement parking” outside the Pinneys Flats in Station Road, Harpenden. Station Road is an extremely busy highway which finds itself clogged on a regular basis due to the incompetence of those in the planning department who allowed a totally unrealistic amount of parking in relation to the amount of residences built at the aforementioned complex. The criteria for a one-bedroom property should be for two vehicles and for a two-bedroom apartment a minimum of three vehicles. These are not unrealistic figures and do not allow for visitors. We know greedy developers want as little parking as possible so they can profit from such excessive overdevelopment but unless our local planning authorities get to grips with this problem pavement parking will become the norm. I have said it before and I reiterate the statement that I wonder sometimes what oils the wheels of our council when it comes to planning matters.

GRAHAM MAJOR Lower Luton Road, Harpenden

Inefficient rubbish collection

SIR – On a recent Saturday we put the bins out as the date had changed from Fridays due to the Christmas break. Obviously because of the busy time and Christmas holiday, we had more rubbish than usual (we are a family of five) so not all the bags fitted into the one bin we have. When this happens I put the extra bags on top of the bin. For some reason this time, the bin men put the extra bags onto the pavement and left them there. Now we have a wheelie bin which is again going to be overflowing next time because they didn’t clear all the rubbish. Is there some kind of ridiculous health and safety law which bans the bin men from picking up bags on top of the bin? It’s hardly an effort when the rubbish van is right there to put them in also. They just leave a mess and extra rubbish to be picked up next time. Hardly efficient or sensible.

LAURA BERRILL Deva Close, St Albans

M25 connection makes good sense

SIR – Such a sensible letter from Mike Cobley suggesting a connection off the M25 to the proposed rail freight depot thus substantially reducing HGV movements on local roads. Opponents of the depot have said previously that the Highways Agency ruled it out. Presumably on the grounds of cost? Who one wonders paid for the work relating to Rupert Murdoch’s printing plant in Enfield on the M25 mentioned by Mr Cobley? The Dirty Digger himself or the taxpayer? Bet the Highways Agency ruled that this idea was impossible too when first approached! They are by the way a government agency, not a law unto themselves. Interestingly the county in what it may think is a subtle handling of the matter have ruled out a station to serve Napsbury – in the latest county structure plan it has disappeared. Not only would this prevent staff at a freight depot coming by rail, it impacts on homes in the Napsbury estate as well as London Colney in both potential value and access, were the stadium not to mention the 7,500 homes built on this “green field” site the traffic impact would be far worse without a station.

LESLIE FREITAG Cravells Road, Harpenden

Rerouted service to improve efficiency

SIR – I refer to the letter from C. Bambridge (Herts Ad, January 9). Mr Bambridge asks readers to explain how reducing the frequency of the Unobus services will increase reliability. He appears to have a particular interest in the 653 service and although I’m not sure that I can explain the link between a reduced frequency and reliability, I do have an idea as to how that service could be improved. The service is essentially one that connects St Albans with Hatfield and then to Welwyn Garden City. However, as a frequent user, I’m always baffled as to why, as the service trundles out of St Albans, rather than turning right along Sandpit Lane, it makes a lengthy detour around the Jersey Farm estate often collecting only a few odd passengers. If the service were to be rerouted in this fashion, cutting out this unnecessary detour, I calculate that 14 minutes would be shaved from the journey time, equivalent to a 19.5 per cent efficiency saving. In these times of austerity we need to find creative solutions and this suggesion, whilst perhaps not finding favour with Mr Bambridge (who, from his address, appears to live in the vicinity), would reduce carbon emissions and increase both the frequency and reliability of the service.

KEN SURBAWS St Stephens Avenue, St Albans

Road repairs are already scheduled

SIR – Further to Julian Davis’ concerns about the condition of Dalkeith Road in Harpenden (Herts Advertiser, January 9), I am pleased to confirm that it has been assessed for inclusion in the 2014-15 draft programme of carriageway repairs which the county council has published on its website www.hertsdirect.org and which is also available on http://davidwilliams.yourcllr.com. Given the history of repairs to the road, my concern is to ensure that it receives a truly durable surface and that the work is completed as soon as possible. In anticipation of the impact of winter conditions on our roads and pavements, further enhancements to the county council’s online highways fault reporting system mean that it is a very convenient and effective way for us all to report problems with the network and secure their timely resolution.

DAVID WILLIAMS Hertfordshire County Councillor for Harpenden North East Orchard Avenue, Harpenden

Shelling out for LPG

SIR – On Monday, January 13, I bought LPG gas from Redbourn Shell garage. I don’t normally buy from here as it’s too expensive compared to BP – roughly 8p more – but my two local BP garages’ gas pumps were not working and I was slightly desperate as I didn’t want to keep guzzling petrol. Like BP Shell are offering 5p off a litre of petrol/diesel/LPG if you buy any two items of confectionary. I purchased 94.82 litres of LPG, 500ml of Lucozade at £1.79 and 750ml of Buxton Water at £1.15. The total price of sale £73.01 but looking on my receipt I didn’t receive my discount. The cashier said that I had to purchase the 1.5 litre of water to qualify at £1.49,but as I pointed out it doesn’t state that anywhere in your 197 displayed adverts (exaggerated, a lot) in and around the garage. So I called Shell Ltd and vented my disappointment to somebody called Jacquelyn in India who in turn called marketing back in the UK and they eventually offered me a £5 petrol voucher, which I refused (idiot) maybe as a stand for the common man! If I had qualified my savings would have been roughly £1.42. Now the moral of the story is don’t buy into any offer, even LPG from Shell, as I would have saved myself just under £8 at BP without the offer!

SIMON HARVEY Lowbell Lane, London Colney

Top marks to FCC

SIR – I am an infrequent traveller on FCC from St Albans towards London (no more than a dozen times a year) and an even more infrequent contributor to your letters page. Although up to now I have never experienced major delays on any of my journeys, I have it seems frequently read of complaints from travellers on this line. As most will know from the news, last Friday there was major disruption due to the overhead conductors coming down. I arrived at St Albans station unaware that there were no trains running to London, but the staff at the entrance told me and directed me to a special rail replacement coach which took me to Hatfield to catch a train to Kings Cross. For the return journey in the rush hour there were still no trains running to St Albans from St Pancras, and I caught the train back to Hatfield from Kings Cross. This was very crowded, but FCC were aware of this and declassified the First Class section so seats there were available to all. On arrival at Hatfield passengers for St Albans were clearly directed to a queue of rail replacement coaches already waiting for us. Full marks and congratulations to FCC for way they coped with a major catastrophe caused by circumstances outside their control. At no time did I have to ask a question about my journeys; all information for passengers was given without asking. Thank you FCC.

PAUL DOUGLAS Meautys, St Albans

A strange objection

SIR – It seems strange that Cllr Brazier objects to a mere 22 houses on the Chester Nursery site at Smallford when he allegedly suggested the development of 350 homes on the Oaklands College site north of Sandpit Lane.

GRANT PEERLESS Ardens Way, St Albans

Championing the Catholic church

SIR – I was somewhat surprised to read the letter in your columns last week (Herts Advertiser Letters, January 9) from S. Adams claiming my using the plight of Philomena Lee for the purpose of promoting my book On Looking Back. It is a real mystery anyway how this book ever came to be written in the first place as at that particular time, I had no ambition to write, with my life being so busy… I didn’t really need this all-consuming task of writing an autobiography but in the end I gave in to this urge which seemingly would not go away. We are told that ‘God’ works in mysterious ways and I can see now that against my will, I was meant to write this book that at some future date might counteract in some small measure the attack made on the much-maligned Catholic church which has had, in the past, terrible problems but which nevertheless continues to exude great compassion. Their continuing work of Mother Teresa is a typical example of this. People who can see no wrong in themselves and blame the church for everything, is an added burden with the church having no comeback. I make no apologies for my soon-to-be published book and the review of it states: “It is a book full of compassion from start to finish and readers will find it difficult to put down once they pick it up”. I can assure Ms Adams that that there is nothing sour in my writings but if she does not condone authenticity then she should leave the book alone. I’ve always hated injustice and hope that in some way I might be able, through my book, to put right some of the indiscriminations showered on this church.

ELIZABETH DUMPLETON Bishops Close, St Albans

Cost of cheap flights

SIR – Further to the welcome Harpenden Town Council pressure on Government to get Luton Airport’s expansion plan “called in” for an independent assessment (Herts Advertiser, January 16), it’s not just the big increase in daily flights that is of concern: it is the resulting departure times. One of the main outcomes of the proposed taxiway extension, extra aircraft parking, etc., work is to allow aircraft to be “streamed off” the runway one after another from 6am every morning, including Sundays. The reason, in the words of the airport’s management, is because “it is commercially desirable” to do so, i.e. profitable. The drone of Luton planes overhead from 6am to 7am every morning is the “cost” to local residents, with no democratic input or financial gain, of all those seductive “cheap flights”. That’s the reason LADCAN too has been doing its utmost to have this greed-driven plan examined by someone other than the beneficiary, Luton Borough Council.

JOHN DAVIS www.ladacan.org