Letters, July 18, 2013

Concerns over migrant campers

Sir – I was very interested to read last week’s front-page story about the “campers” who have taken up residence in woods on the edge of the fields next to the old M10. My house backs onto those fields and I once stumbled across their campsite whilst out running.

Several thoughts occur.

For the police to state that these migrant laborers can’t be arrested because trespass is a civil offence is factually correct but also a dull point to make. These people are almost certainly working in the black economy, paying no tax and with no worker’s rights (and probably taking the work of a potential legitimate employee). Can the authorities not investigate what work they are doing and for whom? Almost certainly some laws are being broken here.

Also are the Borders Agency or immigration officials not keen to investigate? I’m no expert, but surely to be allowed into the country, even if you have the appropriate paperwork, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have somewhere to live and are capable of supporting yourself?

If nothing else, they must be a case for criminal damage, what was once a pleasant bit of woodland now looks like a landfill site.

I would like to make clear at this point that I’m not actually writing this because I want to stigmatise or criminalise these people (even though I will admit to being affronted by an embryonic shanty town appearing a few hundred meters from my house) but because I have their welfare in mind too.

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People like this are easy prey for criminal gangs. Remember the recent stories of slaves being found at traveller sites? Migrant workers like these are particularly susceptible to that kind of abuse.

Do you think if they had an accident at work it would get reported in the accident book or there would be any chance of compensation? Because I’m not so sure. Or if their “employer” decided not to pay them at the end of the week, would they have any mechanism for redress?

And what about their personal health? They’re living next to what was recently designated as a motorway and they have no waste or washing facilities. It must be taking years off their lives.

I cannot believe that the various agencies could not easily solve this problem if only there was the will, so thank you Herts Advertiser for putting it on your front page and hopefully providing the necessary spur.

N Chivers

Jerome Drive, St Albans

Thanks for great floral display

Sir – What a wonderful sight our flower beds are, this year. What clever person chose the beautiful mauve alliums for the roundabouts?

Such lovely big round flower heads, and they last for ages and give the bees a treat, as well as us.

Jane Kelsall

Avenue Road, St Albans

SIR – Alliums everywhere! How lovely to see all our public spaces displaying these purple/mauve globes. Now the wild flowers are coming through, even better. Well done John O’Conner on behalf of our council parks. What shall we order for next year?


Hillside Gate, St Albans

Don’t judge by people’s looks

SIR – I would like to take issue with the letter in the Herts Advertiser (July 11) entitled ‘A bad day at the office and on the road’.

However bad your day is and who upsets you, and I have had a few, it is very unkind to describe a girl as a ‘dumpy girl, face ugly and hard’. How must this person feel when seeing this in print, especially today when girls feel pressurised to be blonde and beautiful?

I feel for this girl mentioned in the letter as I was always being criticised by my father many years ago about my looks or lack of.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED (at Editor’s discretion)

More on aiport the bus service

Sir – Re the demise of airport bus services.

Bob Gunning says the Green Line 757 airport service contract ended. Not what I have heard. The route was a commercially run service, rather permission to park buses was summarily cancelled with a couple of weeks notice.

The previously John Crowhurst urged Luton Council to allow 757 use the airport. The airport is owned by Luton but the revenue from their Spanish management is their prime interest.

The airport company out of the blue asked Arriva to tender for what it had done for 33 years. Arriva thought it a paper exercise unaware another operator had been approached who offered more. National Express! Happiness all round.

Well not quite Arriva were then locked out of the airport. Reminiscent of an industrial dispute more in common with trade unions. The last few yards of road being deemed “private,” though no notice says so. Bet every reader thought it the Queens Highway?

Since then Arriva continue to operated from Buckingham Palace Road with a shuttle into the airport, National Express run out of Victoria Coach Station. NE offer just one intermediate stop, Marble Arch. Nothing for Bricket Wood. Integration not being on their radar when it comes to transport provision. Seems they learned nothing from running railways which perhaps explains why they ignominiously handed back the keys of East Coast Railways prematurely. The government-run franchise is now doing very well contributing £174m to the public kitty last year.

If it had been a timetabled transfer of operations Arriva would not be taking LLAOL to law over sudden loss of trade. They could of course have made all their drivers redundant. Instead they have set up a new service from Luton Town Centre. The 321 funnels into the new shuttle up to the airport.

No publicity locally? As the service only touches St Albans district that may account for it but Bricket Wood ought to have been sufficient to bring it to the fore especially as if Arriva pulled the 757 they would have no direct connection with London. The media locally ignored the Arriva 712/3 service until it was about to be withdrawn. Ever seen journalists on the buses?

Arriva certainly deserve much criticism on occasions and could now at least ensure far more of the reprieved 757s serve Bricket Wood, even trying to run some off peak through Harpenden and St Albans to test demand, but they certainly don’t deserve to be treated as they have been by Luton Airport.

Extract from Arriva boss re their court action:

“The decision to prevent Arriva – but potentially allow other operators to serve the airport – is confusing for both operators and customers. It prevents a level playing field for bus operators, something which we are challenging strongly through legal proceedings against LLAOL, and is not in the best long-term interest of passengers. Henry Williams Arriva Regional Arriva Manager.

Leslie Freitag

Cravells Road, Harpenden

Shock at college site development

SIR – I was horrified to read (July 11) that the council’s Plans (central) committee had given permission for a monstrous over development on the Oaklands College city campus on the grounds of a large proportion of affordable housing being included. I fear that the delight of Cllr Clegg and his colleagues may be short lived when they see the completion of the horrendous carbuncle in the virtual heart of the city. I wonder if they have forgotten that one of the main reasons for their being elected is to represent the best insterests of the population at large? I wonder too what safeguards they have insisted upon to ensure that the “affordability” factor remains constant and that the tenants have some prospect of not finding their accommodationn somewhat less affordable when periodic rent reviews occur?

With such a decision in their favour the developers may well be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect that their appeal against non-determination of their previous application for even more flats has every prospect of success. I can only hope that their hopes do not materialise.


Townsend Drive, St Albans

Labouring the point on party

SIR – There is no shortage of food in this country. But the government plays almost zero role in providing it. In countries where the government is the sole provider of food to purchase (North Korea, Old Soviet Union), there and terrible and regular food shortages.

Healthcare is overwhelmingly provided by the government in this country, and as we found out this week there has been a high death rate in the NHS for a decade and a resulting cover up.

The Labour Party has a stated aim, to represent ‘the workers’, and its union members/masters. It was not set up to represent the public at large, or the consumer, or elderly ladies dying in secret with no family or union rep, to stick up for them.

The Labour Party sticks up for teachers, not parents and children. This is a dangerous movement.

Matthew Peck

Hadleigh Court, Harpenden

Celebrating our wonderful park

SIR – Recently I have succumbed to taking time off work for a ‘bad back’, a complaint I have been fighting for over a year.

Having rarely taken any time off throughout my teaching career of 26 years, it has been a difficult and big pill to swallow!

However, despite the pain and consequent lack of mobility, I have managed to escape the confines of my own home and find solace in St Albans’ park. It’s a park that I regularly walked through but normally in a rush or preoccupied with pressing thoughts, and as such I failed to recognise how lucky we are to have such a beautiful expanse of green space in our city.

Sitting, or rather lying, on the hill near King Harry Lane, I have been re-struck by the splendour of the view, with of course St Albans Abbey presiding magnanimously over the city. I have come to realise that it’s not a view to be taken lightly!

In the recent hot weather, the park has also been a haven for many, with families picnicking, playing rounders and simply enjoying the sun. It?s a lovely sight to behold! And it isn’t just the people, if you look above, red kites can be seen soaring the warm skies.

But for me the park has been like an old forgotten friend who has provided some comfort and enjoyment in these somewhat ‘back-troubled’ difficult days!


Deva Close, StAlbans