Letters, July 11, 2013

A bad day at the office and on the road

SIR – Monday rush hour. A particularly rubbish day at work. A failed attempt at dropping my dry-cleaning off, an item from my four for £18 rejected, being offered three items for £25 didn’t fill me with cheer. Muttering darkly to myself, I pootled off home in my little Mini.

Heading north out of town, I turned right by Devdas. As I turned, a young guy stepped out into the road from the central reservation on Sandridge Road. I slowed down expecting him to step back. He continued across, sauntering slowly, staring at me with an expression of “aren’t I clever?” (Not) whilst at the same time giving me a hand gesture. I presume rudely, I couldn’t get it, he certainly wasn’t waving!

He was followed by an invisible guy (sorry, no impact), copying him, then by a dumpy girl, face ugly and hard. I looked to my right, another guy, stock-still, was staring directly at me but it was like I was looking into nothingness. A human abyss! Menacing or terrified, I couldn’t tell. I was finally able to squeeze past the girl’s huge rear (no, don’t wear those denim shorts again) and drove off shakily, playing out in my mind all those witty comments or actions I could have made.

Do these people have mums? Picking on a lone, middle-aged woman – what a great sport for the bored intellectually challenged! I hope next time that a big, tough guy jumps out and scares these people, see how they like it, but I suspect they select their motorists carefully. Me, I’ll just beat them up in the press.


(at Editor’s discretion)

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The influence of affluence

SIR – After reading your article ‘Fake sign warns of gypsy site’ (Herts Advertiser, July 4), allow me to inform St Albans readers that the Westfield area of Harpenden is NOT part of ‘affluent’ Harpenden. Indeed, it has always been, and continues to be, thanks to the neglect of the current council, a run-down and scruffy area, with no ATM, no infrastructure, and only one small corner shop.

The area is a vibrant mix of council and privately owned houses, elderly sheltered accommodation and lots and lots of flats.

Indeed, so diverse is the area, that local estate agents do not refer to it as “Westfield” so as not to frighten off prospective buyers. This, and the fact that we do not vote for them, is what lies behind the nine-year campaign by Cllrs Wakeley, Heritage and their colleagues to force a completely inappropriate development into a completely inadequate space.

I suggest any of your readers wishing to view ‘affluent’ Harpenden for themselves should take a leisurely stroll around West Common, where several councillors reside, or the Roundwood and northern outksirts of the town.

There they will observe no over-development, no cars parked dangerously on pavements for lack of garage space, no blocks of flats or towering office blocks, all built in the last 20 years, and all on former green space.

My small attempt to preserve the last remaining part of Westfield Common as an area of unspoilt recreation for local people to enjoy in perpetuity, and the adjoining allotment site as a safe haven for protected wildlife species has been blocked at every stage by these so-called ‘elected’ councillors (elected on less than 25 per cent of the vote).

I do not think this would be the case if my community was located elsewhere. Indeed, plans to build on other, more accessible and suitable green space in more ‘affluent’ areas, when vigorously opposed by residents, have been dropped.

Even now, Harpenden Town Council is threatening legal action against the county council if it does not bow to its wishes and refuse my Town Green application. Such are the lengths to which our councillors are prepared to go to get their own way, that I have been informed by a reliable source that a certain town and district councillor has stated that I will lose the Village Green application as they have a ‘friend’ at County Hall.

Democracy for the ‘affluent’, development for the rest.

CAROL HEDGES Westharbour Lane, Harpenden

Appreciation of teaching talent

Sir – I would like to thank you for the invitation to the teaching award ceremony this week.

I attended as a nominee and found it the most enjoyable and inspiring occasion. There has been much in the national media recently to demoralise teachers, so to have our local paper celebrating all that is good about education gave a considerable morale boost.

Listening to the achievements and commitment of the winners and finalists reminded me why I came into education in the first place. Hertfordshire can be justifiably proud of the caliber of those involved in the education of its young people. Thank you to Herts Advertiser and your event sponsors for bringing that to the attention of a wider audience and thank you to whoever it was that nominated me, enabling me to be part of the occasion in the first place.

Sara Head

Heartland School

Protection for the pub tradition

SIR – Protecting our pubs. We welcome Government plans to protect pub landlords against high rent and beer costs to try to shore up the ailing industry. This is something that the Federation of Small Businesses has lobbied for over a number of years.

Under these proposals, a code of practice and an independent adjudicator with the power to investigate and settle disputes would be introduced. This new code would contain mandatory rules for all pub companies owning more than 500 pubs, which are the source of 90 per cent of complaints. It will particularly focus on stopping firms abusing the beer tie, under which landlords are forced to buy beer from the pub owner instead of on the open market.

We are sure that this will also boost small British beer and ale manufacturers by opening up pubs to select independent beers.

It’s time for more choice in our pubs and a fairer deal for publicans and that’s what the FSB wants to see. We want to give drinkers more reason to head to their local pub and more freedom to those who pull the pints. Self regulation clearly hasn’t worked, and our members are paying inflated prices to the large pub companies to make up for the mistakes they made in the property boom while at the same time are not being given a choice of what they can stock.

Because tied tenants are forced to buy products through the company they are tied to, they rely entirely on the pub company to respond effectively to changing demand. Our tied publican members want to move with the times by having more local products on tap. So, by allowing tenants of the large pubcos to go ‘free of the tie’ it would help support local economies and challenge pub companies to offer a fair deal to publicans.

Charles Smith

Regional Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire

Giving a lift to station services

Sir – With reference to last week’s letter ‘Broken lifts situation situation is a joke’, which highlighted the problem of an unreliable lift on platform four of Harpenden station, please be reassured that, together with Network Rail, we are putting every pressure on the company that maintains the new lifts to address this situation which is simply not acceptable for our passengers.

It is true that new lifts frequently need time to ‘bed in’ but we would expect a much better level of reliability by now. In the meantime, our station manager has been doing his best to help people who need an elevator to reach our trains by paying for taxis to take them to the other side of the station where the lift, on platform one, has been working.

Roger Perkins

First Capital Connect

Close call on traffic congestion

Sir – In reply to David Stonebanks’ most recent letter (Solving the Park Street traffic issue).

The idea of a new junction on the M25 to serve the SRFI was vetoed by the Highways Agency very early on in the planning process. Their argument was that its closeness to the existing junctions (J21A and J22) would cause congestion. This in itself should have been enough to stop this development.

Alan Wilkinson

Napsbury Lane, St Albans

Making allowances for councillors

SIR – In his letter (Herts Advertiser, July 4) Councillor Bowes-Phipps said “allowances are reviewed and set by an independent committee”.

But didn’t this also apply to MPs?


Reynards Way, Bricket Wood

The truth about airport buses

Sir – On July 4, John Crowhurst replied to my letter of the previous week regarding Arriva’s decision to no longer provide a local bus service directly to Luton Airport. Alas John has got his facts wrong. He refers to the Greenline 757 service as ‘local’. Do tell me John where you used to catch the 757 in St Albans or Harpenden to get to Luton Airport. Not sure? Nowhere is the answer. The 757 never was and still is not a local service.

Arriva had a contract to run the 757 into Luton Airport. As with all contracts there is an end date just prior to which that contract is put out to tender. This time it was won by National Express and their service now runs from London into Luton Airport. Not too dissimilar to the 757.

The local service from Watford, St Albans and Harpenden to Luton Airport is (or was) the 321. Airport management’s attitude is that it still wants the 321 to come to the Airport. Indeed there is still a bus stop for it. There has been absolutely no need for Arriva to re-jig the 321 schedule. The 321 may not be Arriva’s most profitable route but it was the only local bus going into the Airport.

Publicity about the change has been virtually non existent – certainly nothing in the local press. Shame on Arriva who have slipped it through, it seems, without a care for local residents.

Bob Gunning

Field Close, Harpenden

Finishing up on tenancy strategy

Sir – St Albans District Council’s new Tenancy Strategy was met with furious opposition from the Labour group at full council on January 10, 2012, so you would imagine they would relish the chance to be part of the ‘Task and Finish group’ set up to iron out any issues they may have.

Alas they have pulled out their nominated Councillors and are now ‘observers’, although I’m not sure they get the concept of the word as they never stopped asking questions!

The new strategy has a long-term objective of freeing up homes for people who are in most need. As an added bonus it can and will tackle anti-social behaviour.

Housing associations and many other councils have also adopted a fixed term tenancy, and does not affect tenants in place before April of this year.

Cllr Simon Calder

Conservative, London Colney Ward

Thanks for War Memorial

SIR – I must say thank you to St Albans district council. The restoration of the War Memorial in St Peter’s Street looks great.

All members of the Armed Forces gave their lives for us, and deserve recognition. I am so very pleased.


Napier Close, London Colney

Free hand on parking places

Sir – I have often had occasion to doubt the sanity of those on SADC’s planning department (Pinney’s Flats, Station Road,Harpenden, where vehicles spill out onto this very busy road creating mayhem at certain times of the day due to insufficient parking; Leacroft Flats, where around 35 apartments have been allotted 14 Parking spaces, a recipe for adjacent overcrowded street parking; Tesco Express, Lower Luton Road, a nightmare at many times of the day).

Need I go on? Well yes I need. It seems they have given permission for a Free School to operate in the centre of Harpenden encouraging another couple of hundred cars into the centre of town at prime commuter time.

I get on well with Mike Wakely (Herts Advertiser, July 4) but I feel he is badly mistaken if he believes a one-way system will overcome the impending mayhem that will occur as mums drop their children off every morning around 8.30-8.45am each weekday.

I also fear for the re-development Lea Valley Industrial Estate when plans are submitted, another load of houses spilling more vehicles out onto already extremely busy roads no doubt, instead of creating a light industrial environment that could actually employ people and create more jobs rather than more traffic. I often wonder what oils the wheels of the SADC when you see some of the decisions it arrives at.

Graham Major

Batford, Harpenden

No votes on Green Belt building

Sir – In his letter of July 4, Cllr Chuchard continues to evade the issue of lies in his election literature.

Whatever weasel words he uses about Cllr Beric Read, in his literature prior to the May 2 election, Cllr Churchard also lied about me and my fellow Councillor, Salih Gaygusuz. Just to be clear, none of us have ever ‘voted to build 350 houses on Sandpit Lane Green Belt’.

In his letter Cllr Churchard advises ‘when you are in a hole, stop digging’ – well he knows plenty about holes. Most of his political literature features him and his colleagues looking down them. He says that he would like to get on with serving his residents, well, he’s a County Councillor and has been for a number of years. If there are problems with potholes in his ward he should do his job and get them sorted out.

Cllr Frances Leonard

Rose Walk, St Albans