Letters, July 15 part one

Power returns to the people

SIR – The new government has spoken and their vision of the ‘Big Society’ is where power over planning decisions is given back to local people at local level.

Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield MP, Minister for Housing and Local Government, in his speech on June to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, clearly pledged that: “Rather than being told what to build and where – residents of villages, towns and cities will be able to develop their own vision for their area.”

This policy was confirmed in the statement by Chris Brazier in the Herts Advertiser (June 10). It would seem then, that all our concerns about the development of the Green Belt can be allayed

Large numbers of St Albans residents spoke to the council last year in the public consultation, in the preparation of the LDF Core Strategy Document.

The council listened and in January removed all Areas of Search within the Green Belt from future development. It would appear, then, that as the ‘Big Society’ is alive and thriving within St Albans, the Green Belt is safe.

How long the Green Belt stays safe however, seems a difficult question to answer. The council, lacking any firm direction from central government, is moving forward and continues to consider which areas of Green Belt could provide possible development sites in the future.

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The process that they are using to do this work is identified in the Core Strategy and Forward Planning Programme published by the council on June 1.

This document clearly states the current uncertainties around future planning decisions and identifies the timetable and process that the council is adopting going forward.

This document is available on the council website and is open for all to access. The council acknowledges the need for further consultation over any decision. This will take place in July and November.

In July 2010 “officers, members and stakeholder groups” will be consulted in order to progress to a “light touch” consultation in November 2010.

The council faces a difficult situation as planning policy is continually changing and being reformulated under the new coalition government.

Therefore, St Albans residents need to remain vigilant and continually exercise their newly identified ‘Big Society’ rights. We need to petition, question and challenge our council over decisions around any possible Green Belt development.

It is local people not developers that should decide future development. The new government has spoken and given us our role; will our council continue to really consult and listen?


Is it finally time to get out of Europe?

SIR – John Butler’s letter (Herts Advertiser, July 1) is right to warn us that the EU is going to expect even more money from Britain even as we are being warned to expect 25 per cent cuts in everything, including local services.

Perhaps the answer is for us all to tell the coalition government that one of the laws we want changing is the one that binds us into the EU!

Mr Butler’s letter, however, is wrong when he suggests that our MP Anne Main will find her loyalties stretched over her “Euro scepticism”.

Before the 2005 election I was in correspondence with Mrs Main regarding the EU. Because she told me in her letters that she also was “Euro sceptic” I voted for her. Subsequent events and correspondence over the next five years showed that her “Euro scepticism” was only to be seen before elections. Her letters during this period gave the impression that they had not been written by a constituency MP but by Conservative Party Central Office! Not surprisingly I did not vote for Mrs Main at this year’s election. So I do not expect Mrs Main to suffer any problems with loyalty as, if she follows true to previous pattern, she will simply follow the party line rigidly.

The real problem we have is that both the Labour and Lib Dem parties equally follow the line of surrender to Brussels.


Reynards Way, Bricket Wood

Parking plight

SIR – I write in response to your article regarding the problems being caused by inconsiderate parking at the bottom of London Road (Herts Advertiser, July 1).

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe it is still a criminal offence to “cause or permit a vehicle to stand on a road so as to cause an unnecessary obstruction” under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

Which begs the question, why haven’t the police done anything about it? Presumably, they have powers to issue penalty notices to those vehicles causing such an obstruction?

I would not hold my breath that Herts Highways or the district council will be doing anything about it in the foreseeable future, judging by the swingeing public sector cuts recently announced by the government.

In the meantime, having witnessed two near misses along this stretch by impatient motorists, how long will it be before there is a serious accident caused by this inane double-parking?

As for those commuters leaving their cars there, if they are too doltish not to anticipate the chaos they cause, perhaps they should not be on the road in the first place.

It’s awful enough travelling in from the outskirts, and trying to find parking, without negotiating this superfluous hindrance as well.


Colney Heath Lane, St Albans

SIR – In your article about parking on London Road the impression was given that the residents were concerned about the situation.

Having spoken to several of my neighbours (and we live directly opposite the part of road in question) I must say that most of us actually welcome it. It has slowed down the traffic on the road and also provided much needed parking.

Prior to making Approach Road and Ramsbury Road “residents-only” parking, it was difficult but possible (like much of central St Albans) to park near our houses.

However after this change it became virtually impossible during the day. What had been an inconvenience for those on Approach Road and Ramsbury Road was solved by creating a massive problem for those living on London Road. Parking on the opposite side of the road has relieved this.

We would support further traffic calming measures for this road and better thought and consultation on the implementation of further residence parking zones.


London Road, St Albans

Plague of flies

SIR – I surely cannot be the only St Albans resident to have noticed the stomach-churning increase in large flies hanging out in our gardens in recent weeks.

Relishing the warm weather as an opportunity to feed the kids outside and indulge our barbecue with some action I was thrilled to get our first al fresco meal of the year on the table. I was not quite so excited two minutes later when we were all fending off these creatures from our plates.

Certain that there must be a dead animal somewhere on our property I invested in net covers, only to find dozens of the scavengers under the nets, crawling all over our food.

The penny finally dropped today when we forgot to put our bins out and had to take our refuse to the tip. The size and quantity of the maggots in the bottom of the bin were enough to ensure a constant supply of this nuisance for the rest of the summer.

We, like everyone else in the district, restrict our waste output to cope with fortnightly collections. However in this hot weather there is surely a need for extra service to avoid what, quite frankly, could become a serious health risk. Is it just coincidence that children in our schools are literally dropping like flies with sickness bugs at the moment?



Winter discontent

SIR – I am appalled that Rooftop Theatre has been forced by killjoy neighbours of the wonderful Kingsbury Barn to abandon its production of A Winter’s Tale, one of Shakespeare’s most charming plays, there and retreat to the no doubt inclement open air.

Perhaps a spokesman for said neighbours could kindly explain exactly what it is they object to?

Even more worrying is what this means for the future.

Are we to have no more cultural events in the Barn? No chamber music, recitals, talks, readings? It would be a tragic loss.


Fishpool Street, St Albans