Letters July 1

Shouldering the European burden

SIR – Your readers may be interested to learn that over the last 12 months the European Union has published no less than 2,756 pieces of legislation. This is equivalent to one piece every three hours during that period.

Much of that legislation did not even go through the EU Parliament, but it will all have been nodded through into UK law by our Westminster Parliament.

It is a fair bet that none of it ever featured in any of our current MPs’ manifestos.

Our current MPs will soon have a far more embarrassing job on their hands when the EU Commission demands that the UK pays a proportion of the bail-out fund for the Greek economy.

This is the treaty over which David Cameron was going to give us a referendum, but has since reneged over.

The long-suffering British public is going to have to endure severe austerity measures in order to pay for the profligacy and incompetence of the last Labour government, and possibly for the Greek one as well.

Most Read

Our supposedly Euro-sceptic MP Ann Main may find her loyalties stretched in the coming months.


Saberton Close, Redbourn

Charting Chiswell’s disappearing green

SIR – Reading the recent letters from Dr Robert Wareing and Rob and Brenda Kember (Herts Advertiser, June 3 and 17) , I felt that I had to put pen to paper as I also feel very strongly about the creeping erosion of the Green Belt, particularly in Chiswell Green.

We moved to Chiswell Green in 1982 and although we were surrounded by motorways, we felt that the triangle of Green Belt land provided a lovely green space to walk dogs, ride horses and I could do my carriage driving in the lanes safely.

In the last 25 years:

1. Cuckmans Farm was sold and land that was farmed has been broken up, some sold as potential building plots and is now an eyesore. The remaining land is now St Albans Polo Club.

2. Butterfly World has been built on what I thought was Green Belt land but planning permission did not seem to be a problem. There were more butterflies in the field than there are in captivity.

3. The turkey farm in Chiswell Green is now going to have fishing lakes (and maybe more) with increased traffic and is another money-making enterprise.

4. And if the developers get their way, Windridge Farm will soon be a housing estate or commercial development.

All of this development is only about one thing and that is MAKING MONEY and the residents do not seem to be particularly bothered.

Just because we are close to the M25, M1, A1(M) does not mean that St Albans and the surrounding areas should become so overdeveloped and polluted that the quality of life for residents is so bad that they do not wish to continue to live here.

All of the above besides the cloud hanging over Park Street regarding the proposed rail freight depot.


Park Street, St Albans

Mail misery

SIR – I wonder if you are aware of the appalling postal service provided to St Albans residents by the Royal Mail? Despite several complaints, I continue to receive wrongly-addressed mail, and I am sure I cannot be alone in this.

For example, in just the last two weeks, I have received five pieces of wrongly addressed mail – one of which was a neighbour’s payslip! I also received an item of badly damaged mail; this letter, containing confidential information, had been re-opened and resealed – presumably because it too had been sent to the wrong address.

Further, complaining to Royal Mail is near-impossible. Their website is incomprehensible, as is their phone system.

The above incidents are by no means isolated and are in fact regular occurrences in my home. I am curious to hear other horror stories from residents?



Allotment’s fate

SIR – What a fickle friend and contrary companion is our town council, most of the time looking after us grockles with care and common sense, and occasionally hitting peaks of perfection such as the Common Discovery Day recently.

However the council’s occasional relapses into its bad old ways have re-emerged over the proposed social housing development at Westfields.

Once a common in its own right, and until recently an allotment ground, this green lung on the north-east fringe of the town must be the most inappropriate location for building anything, other than an eco shelter for reinstated fruit and vegetable plots, anyone except a few obsessive councillors could have invented. Why so?

There’s no established vehicular access. Of the three alternatives under consideration since 2002 when the council first tried to steamroller this idea through the planning system, none could possibly be acceptable to the people who live there – each is a cul-de-sac or in the vernacular, a no-through road.

Does anyone at Harpenden Town Council – strapline “Closer to the Community” – imagine it’s acceptable to assume residents who have bought or leased properties in peaceful locations with no passing traffic will lay down waving their legs in the air over a plan to destroy their quiet environment? Has anyone at the council actually consulted the local community?

The land under consideration was, until recently, used as allotments.

Demand dropped off (with or without official encouragement?) and the council has confirmed it’s capable of being developed for another use.

Haven’t they noticed the demand for allotments has increased exponentially; and shouldn’t the council be trying to encourage more of us to live off the land?

The former allotment land is on a steep slope. Even if an access were acceptable and given the legal green light, the development costs will be staggeringly high and the new dwellings would overlook neighbouring back gardens.

Which housebuilder, social or private or combined, would risk going ahead when capital is hard to secure and justify, with a huge infrastructure undertaking before the first bricks have arrived on site, via a resident’s scratched car where the existing access is already too narrow for heavy commercial vehicles?

The town council has claimed the development will be social rented housing for local people in need. In this context ‘local’ would mean anyone on the district council’s, or a housing association’s priority waiting list, and in some cases the latter wouldn’t necessarily be in the district at all.

Since it is not a housing authority, the town council would have no influence over who would occupy the new dwellings.

Mixed messages have been coming out of the Town Hall. Some councillors have stated publicly they intend to raise �1 million from the sale of the land, others have said there’s no specific project or use for the windfall, in which case why sell the land at all?

If either of the two favoured “ransom strip” access routes were to go ahead, following the landmark Stokes v Cambridge case, half the proceeds of sale would be assumed by St Albans council.

There is no context for a housing development in this particular location.

However, and most scarily, once a road access and the principle of development were established, it’s the blink of an eye to see the rest of the Westfields Recreation Ground covered with houses and the amenity of several hundred households, not just a handful, changed forever.

If it’s not acceptable to build houses on farmland at the back of Bloomfield Road, it’s surely not acceptable for the town council even to be considering the sale of fertile former allotment land where the local residents would be a lot more disadvantaged and inconvenienced than the founder members of the Green Belt Association.


East Common, Harpenden

Silence in the library?

SIR – I’m sure if Dan Chalkey is studying for his A levels he should have the intelligence to work out that if he doesn’t want to be disturbed by “Baby Rhyme Time” in the library on Tuesday mornings then he should avoid the place.

But then again I know they don’t teach common sense on the National Curriculum. It’s depressing to see the general anti-child bias in UK society starts so early. I suspect if, in the fullness of time, Dan has children himself he will look back at his letter with embarrassment. The world doesn’t revolve around A level students.


Flora Grove, St Albans

SIR – I have some sympathy with Dan Chalkley’s letter of June 24 entitled ‘Quiet please!’, in which he complains about a mother-and-toddler group singing in the Maltings library whilst he is revising for his A levels.

I do question, however, both his wisdom and motives in airing his rather pompous grievances publicly in the pages of the Herts Advertiser. Has he attempted to talk to the group concerned? has he discussed the matter with the library authorities? Surely he has exacerbated the matter by trumpeting his views thus?

I am sure we will all join Dan in hoping that he and other students obtain the grades they seek, but perhaps it is timely to remind Mr Chalkley that life is not just about qualifications, but also about dialogue, negotiation and, where required, gentleness of spirit.


Hill End Lane, St Albans

Bar bill

SIR – Recently some friends and myself went to the Waterend Barn/Lloyds Bar in the centre of St Albans. We were told there was an admission price of �5... for a pub! Does anyone else think this is outrageous?


Hatfield Road, St Albans

A grave disgrace

SIR – On Saturday, June 19, I put pots of flowers which I had planted on four of our family graves in Westfield Road Cemetry Harpenden.

When I returned on June 23 to water the flowers in the pots on the four same graves, I discovered that someone had stolen the pot from one of the graves.

I found this extremely distressing and could not believe what I was seeing. How could anyone stoop so low? I hope the person/persons who did this can live with their conscience, after doing this nasty dirty deed.

I hope you will be able to print my letter, many thanks.


Bowling Close, Harpenden

MP Lilley defended

SIR – The letter from Kim Thorrnton criticising MP Peter Lilley seems rather harsh. I’m sure he had good reasons for not signing the early day motion in respect of the Palestinians.

I have found him to be a great constituency MP. On two separate occasions, Mr Lilley has been kind enough to help my family, once in an immigration matter involving a foreign visitor and once as a result of a telephone scam. In both cases, he went to a great deal of trouble on our behalf to pursue the issues to a satisfactory resolution.

I have never been a staunch Tory supporter but as long as Peter Lilley is my MP, he will get my vote!


Jersey Farm, St Albans