Letters, June 27, 2013

Questions over airport bus

SIR – I am writing to express my disappointment that our local bus company, Arriva, has decided that from the end of June the 321 bus will no longer service Luton Airport. In future passengers will have to alight at Luton Railway Station – quite possibly with a number of luggage cases – and board another bus to get to the airport.

When asked why this decision had been made a customer service representative said that it was because Arriva had lost the contract with EasyJet and no longer had rights to travel inside the airport. In the same breath I was told that another bus – Service A – would be running into the airport. This seemed somewhat contradictory and ill-thought-out and a subsequent conversation with Luton Airport confirmed that local buses still have every right to travel inside the airport and that the airport was disappointed that Arriva had made the decision to stop the 321 service.

Our local 321 bus service to St Albans, Watford and Luton is none too frequent at the best of times and all too often buses just do not turn up – particularly at Southdown which can be bypassed if buses are running late.

Come on Arriva do us the courtesy of telling us why you are making this change and better still reverse your decision. The public and the airport would be grateful.


Field Close, Harpenden

Most Read

Pesticides ban is most welcome

SIR – For once the EU seems to have got the ban on neonicos right. Professor Lin Field seems concerned that the decision was made through political lobbying far from it, at last common sense has prevailed. In Italy where the government has taken decisive action, deaths of honey bees in winter fell by more than 50 per cent in three years.

1960s – Organochlorines such as DDT accumulated in the food chain. Outcome crashes in bird population. Evidence overwhelming but government and chemical companies said no definite proof. Finally banned after 30 years.

1970s – Organophosphates, originally nerve gas, was then applied to our countryside to kill insects. Cause for concern when it got into streams and rivers killing aquatic life. Banned in 2007 after 60 years.

1980s – Pyrethroids used in sheep dips. Estimated 1.5 billion insects and pond creatures were killed. In addition 400 million litres of waste was sprayed on to fields causing untold destruction of butterflies and bees. Banned in 2010 but continues in other parts of agriculture.

Atrazine interferes with the bodies hormones. Banned in 2004 after 50 years.

Endosulfan is one of a number of endocrine disrupting pesticides that are oestrogenic [giving rise to more female characteristics]. Banned globally in 2012.

Who knows what damage has been done to humans by the use of these chemicals. Surely it is better to err on the side of caution. Think every time you bite into an apple what’s in it or on it.


Leycroft Way, Harpenden

Battling to save our beleagured bees

SIR – British bees are in serious trouble, and that’s bad news for us in St Albans, for farmers and for our economy. Without bees, food prices would rise because pollinating crops by hand would cost over £1.8 billion a year.

A comprehensive Bee Action Plan is urgently needed to protect all 267 species of bees and the vital role they play in pollinating our food crops, gardens and countryside.

A Bee Action Plan is backed by over 200 MPs from all parties, businesses from The Co-op to B&Q and we’ve been overwhelmed by support from people in St Albans. They have sent hundreds of postcards to David Cameron expressing their concern, schools have planted bee friendly flowers and local gardeners have been buying pollinator friendly plants.

The Government says it is listening and is expected to unveil new proposals soon. Our MP Anne Main hasn’t signed a statement backing a Bee Action Plan, but we hope she will soon.

We urgently need a proper Bee Action Plan that tackles all the threats bees face, including pesticides and habitat loss.

With our Government’s help, we can make sure bees are here to stay.



St Albans Friends of the Earth

Restore the passing loop on rail line

SIR – I was very interested in the letter by Sanjay Kulkarni (Herts Advertiser, June 13) re the passing loop at Bricket Wood.

During the days of steam trains I fired and drove on the branch. We used to work a morning seven-coach train from the Abbey Station to London Euston.

From the branch we ran into No 8 platform at Watford before departing for Euston. Let’s hope they can start it all up again.


Swallow Lane, St Albans

Ridgmont Road trees decision

SIR – Re Herts Advertiser, June 13: Ridgmont Road’s station car park trees – ONE, Barry Cashin’s barking – NIL.

Excellent result. Well done residents – and FCC.


Fishpool Street, St Albans

SIR – Your correspondent Barry Cashin and your readers may be interested to know that provision was made, in the Midland Railway (New Lines and Additional Powers Act) CAP ccxlv of July 25, 1864, to screen the railway from Ridgmont Road before the railway or any houses were built.

This was probably to prevent the railway locomotives frightening horses on the road.

Clause 34 of the Act reads: “And whereas Richard Grove Lowe is or claims to be the owner of the land on the deposited Plan 26 in the parish of St Peter in the county of Hertford Part of which will be required for the purposes of one of the railways by this Act authorised to be made: and whereas the said Richard Grove Lowe is under covenant to construct over the said land a road which was proposed to be extended therefrom into the Victoria Road numbered 29A in the same parish: and whereas the construction of the railway will render impracticable the construction of part of such covenanted and proposed road it is expedient that provision be made for the construction of a road in substitution for the said part of such covenanted and proposed road.

“Therefore the Midland Railway Company shall construct and maintain along the western side of the railway, where the same will pass through the said land and of the work connected therewith, a road to commence by a junction with the said covenanted and proposed road and to be extended therefrom to and terminate by a junction with the said Victoria Road, such road hereby provided throughout its entire length to be a width of not less than forty feet and sufficiently fenced and screened from the railway and no building shall be erected within 15 feet of the western side of the road hereby provided.”

It seems this proposed road was to eventually connect the Pondyards and Chipping Barnet Turnpike (London Road) with the Reading and Hatfield Turnpike (Hatfield Road). The curved layout of Grosvenor Road was probably built to ease the gradient for horses from whichever way they came.

It also brings into question the legality of the railway authorities blocking off Ridgmont Road.


Jennings Road, St Albans

German market is an excellent idea

SIR – I was very annoyed to read that 100 market traders have signed a petition opposing plans to bring a German market to St Albans.

I think it is an excellent idea and St Albans council should be warmly congratulated on examining the initiative.

I doubt very much the claims that it would affect the trade of the regular market traders; quite the reverse in fact because, if properly promoted, it should attract many, many more visitors to the city centre than are normally seen on a Saturday, and so everyone should benefit.

It’s also likely that the German traders will sell completely different types of goods to those normally on offer at the market and so they will pose little or no direct competition.

On a completely different point concerning the market, can anyone explain to me why some market traders are allowed to leave such a filthy mess behind them when they leave?

While many traders are scrupulously tidy, taking all their rubbish with them when they go or placing it in litter bins, others make no pretence to clearing up any of their rubbish, dumping large quantities of it on the pavement for council staff to sweep up (and for us council taxpayers to foot the bill).

If I were to discard even a sweetpaper in a public place I could have no complaint if I were prosecuted, so why don’t such rules apply to market traders?


Hatfield Road, St Albans

SIR – Oh dear, so the market traders don’t like the idea in case it takes away custom from them. Do they not realise that if anything it will probably increase it?

I have never heard our market traders complain about the Italian and French markets and some of these have run side by side with our market.

A German Christmas market would bring extra revenue to the City, it would increase tourism just look at places like Bath and York. Tourists would come to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, drink in our pubs and pass on their recommendations to families and friends.

It is for a short time once a year, and the general market that we have is already well established. So I think that their concerns are groundless. Most people coming for the German Christmas market would be coming to buy things not available in usual markets. As for the “elderly” walking up from the Cathedral, I would think those coming for the food market would go there anyway, and probably not bother with the Christmas market.

The market traders would still have every day the week before Christmas as most German markets start and finish well before Christmas, as these traders like to be home in time for the festive period.

Having travelled to many Christmas markets both in the UK and abroad, if I am honest, I resent having to pay travel costs, when we have our own lovely city!

We have a beautiful city that we should be proud off with a lovely Cathedral, we should be shouting this from the rooftops. I have lived in St Albans all of my life and the one thing that I have thought for a long time that could improve our city, was a Christmas market and at long last someone has come up with the idea.

The only thing that lets St Albans down, is the lack of parking and the cost. Surely that once a year it would be possible to make parking cheaper and therefore get more people into our wonderful city?


Sunnydell, Chiswell Green

Missing the point over rail freight

SIR – Regarding the letter from David Stonebanks (Rail terminal may be boost for traffic).

I feel David Stonebanks isn’t fully aware of the traffic chaos that the proposed SRFI will cause. Sure, it will remove lorries from the roads leading from the ports, and I’m sure the good people of Felixstowe, Folkestone and Southampton will be most grateful for this. But the “final deliveries” will require an extra 3,400 lorries and around 7,500 light vehicles to use the local roads. This does not constitute taking “a few hundred off”.


Napsbury Lane, St Albans

SIR – Perhaps Mr David Stonebanks has got the wrong end of the stick (Herts Advertiser, June 20). The SRFI may reduce long-haul road traffic but as he said in his letter, rail freight terminals “can only be used if there are facilities at the other end of the line to get goods back onto the road for final deliveries”, and there is the rub.

This part of Hertfordshire is not appropriate for a SRFI. Although the M1, M25 and the A414 appear to provide a suitable trunk network for outgoing and incoming goods, they are already overburdened during peak hours both with through traffic and local traffic from this densely populated area.

The problem reported by Kerry Smith relates to the southbound slip road for the M1. It is substandard with tight corners, two-way traffic and two local roads joining it, both with queues forming, especially in the morning.

Sometimes in the case of Mount Pleasant Lane half a mile or more of solid traffic sits waiting. This slip road and the M1 will be the main access for the SRFI lorries to a large part of north and west London, thus there will be a significant increase in traffic on it.

More pain therefore for Kerry Smith and her fellow drivers queuing to get out of Bricket Wood. The highways authorities seem unwilling to do anything about the current situation. They may be forced to act if the SRFI at Park Street is allowed, taking more Green Belt in a major restructuring or possibly resiting of the junction.


Newlyn Close, Bricket Wood

Wrong place for Free School?

SIR – With reference to the proposed Free School on the site of Vaughan Road and Victoria Road, Harpenden, I am puzzled as to why it is thought a good idea to place a school here.

I hope that St Albans district council will visit this site on a few occasions during the day and into the evening to observe the activity here before making a planning decision.

They will see that there are already times during the day when these roads are congested and blocked.

On each busy corner of the junction of Victoria Road and Station Road we have two fast food outlets.

Victoria Road is already often reduced to one car width by legal and illegal parking. Opposite is the vehicle access to the police station.

At the bottom of Vaughan Road we have food outlets and a busy shop. Likewise this road is therefore regularly reduced to one car width and blocked by legal and illegal parking. The top end of Vaughan Road meets the railway and is a dead end.

There are parking bays on both sides of this short road also reducing it to one car width. The school entrance will be at this spot.

Add to this up to 420 pupils being dropped off/picked up by car at the school approximately between the hours of 8.30am and 9am and 3.30pm to 4pm.

Human nature being what it is, most drivers are in a hurry at these times and they want to drop off as near as possible to the entrance.

The result is obvious – gridlock in the area.

This site must be developed to produce a useful and productive unit but is it sensible to put a school here?


Grove Avenue, Harpenden

Clarification over Martham Court

SIR – In your article ‘Rocking pensioners storm up the indie chart’ in the Herts Advertiser of June 20 you state that Martham Court is a care home, but it is not.

They are flats for people over 55 many of whom still work and live quite independently.

Anchor do have care homes but ours is independent living.

We would be grateful if you could put this right.


Martham Court, Harpenden

Pink coloured buses are not right here

SIR – Concerning pink buses, glad to see we have new red buses up our road, Tavistock Avenue, but pink is not a suitable colour for our streets.


Tavistock Avenue, St Albans

An outstanding performance

SIR – I was pleased to read John Manning’s favourable report regarding the outstanding performance given by the St Albans Chamber Choir last Saturday.

Thanks to the Venue section in our paper, I had taken note and decided to attend this concert and I have to say that it was excellent even though I would not normally go anywhere to listen to unaccompanied singing but the performance was so enjoyable that I hardly noticed this fact.

The rendering of Ian Clarke’s stunning Orange Dawn by the flautist, I found particularly lovely and nostalgic but then in complete contrast, the Italian Salad had me laughing in my seat and was a wonderful finish to the evening.

The size of the audience, I’m sorry to say, did not do justice to this impressive concert. It was certainly worthy of a far larger number of people so concert lovers, please take note.


Wilstone Drive, St Albans

No winners in park photo row

SIR – Re: your story about the mother admonished for taking pictures of her own children at the Verulamium Splash Park.

I find it galling that another apparent Jobsworth should attack a mother for innocently snapping her own children at play although see both sides of the argument.

Many years ago when my own children were much younger and at play in a children’s park in St Albans, I actually caught a pervert, an unkempt old man, taking pictures of the children hanging upside down from climbing frames.

After tackling him, I obviously wanted to do what most fathers would do in the same situation but saw a policeman on his beat walk by so handed the man over to him to deal with.

I was told that taking pictures of a park, even with young children in it, is not a crime and had I actually carried out my intended action of smashing the man’s camera, it would have been me, not the pervert, up in the dock for criminal damage! And his intentions were obviously disgusting!

Whilst I sympathise with this mother who was only innocently taking happy family pictures of her children playing, I can empathise with the Jobsworth who approached her given recent instances of perverts lingering in the area.

Perhaps we should do two things here. One, make it a crime in all circumstances to take pictures of children, whether they are your own or not, in a public area where other children are also playing lest one be accused of being a paedophile or two, ensure that such public places are properly policed with officers empowered to take cameras off of dodgy looking persons (not bona fide, legitimate mothers out with their children) and either rip the film out the cameras or if digital, delete them.

I feel so sorry for poor Lisa Williams who was doing as any normal parent might do with their own children – take her kiddies’ pictures as I have done with my own over the years – but also feel sympathy towards the Leisure Connection employee who, quite rightly, perhaps wanted to protect the childrens’ privacy given the fact that there had been illicit goings on recently.

It is a terrible tragedy that our society has become like this now but is a sign of the times I’m afraid and something very difficult to deal with without offending the wholly innocent.


Green Lane, St Albans

Mixed messages over Green Belt

SIR – The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was not slow to confront a group of travellers when they decided that the place to pitch their caravans was a cricket pitch in his constituency near Mountnessing in Essex.

He confronted them and asked them what they thought they were doing but not being satisfied with their answers he called the police and local council to deal with them. They were then evicted using the full force of the law.

The cricket pitch is on Green Belt land.

Mr Pickles said (Daily Mail, June 13): “After having seen the trouble this has caused I’ve never felt it more important to protect our Green Belt land and the communities who live around it.”

I know that this government has taken stringent action to prevent the illegal encampment of travellers – especially on Green Belt land – and that may be very commendable but Mr Pickles in his statement is concerned with the protection of “our Green Belt land and the communities who live around it”.

That would seem to imply all Green Belt land and we would support that argument.

That then begs the question, why is Mr Pickles not just as determined to protect the Green Belt land that is subject to the monstrous plan to build a rail freight interchange on the Old Radlett Aerodrome at Park Street.

Not only will this destroy that piece of Green Belt land but it will also have a huge detrimental effect on the communities who live around it and that includes not just the immediate communities of Park Street, Colney Street, Radlett and London Colney but the whole of St Albans and its environs.

There does not seem to be any consistency in what Mr Pickles says on the one hand to what he practices on the other. We will be urging Mr Pickles to reflect on his words and do the right thing and refuse the application before it goes any further.


Councillor, St Stephen Parish Council

Park Street Lane, Park Street, St Albans

Child at risk?

SIR – A letter to the cyclist I see every day near the King William IV lights. Congratulations sir, I applaud your wise choice to wear a cycle helmet. This is after all optional at the moment. However, I hold my breath with fear for your child.

This small creature is dragged behind you in a canvas and alloy construction, just a few inches above the road and not within the line of vision of a driver. But why oh why, dear cyclist, does your child not wear a cycle helmet? why would you risk the health and safety of the most precious item in your life.

Words fail me.


Marshalwick Lane, St Albans

Red light to cycling lawbreakers

SIR – It was refreshing and reassuring to read the letter of June 20, from Mr Ball, himself an experienced cyclist, deploring the ignoring of red lights by his fellow cyclists.

May I add that it is illegal to cycle on the pavement and this too needs to be enforced. Pavements are for pedestrians. If the roads are too dangerous for cyclists, the excuse often given, then by all means use the pavement, but dismount first.


Boundary Road, St Albans

Park worker flouts cycling ban

SIR – I was amazed to read your article (Herts Advertiser, June 20) about the gentleman who “arrived on a bicycle and started to shout” at a lady “across the Splash Park”.

How very interesting that this man was so keen to enforce the photography rules, yet he was not concerned to be seen cycling near to the Splash Park. The local laws prohibit cycling anywhere in Verulamium Park, unless one is directly travelling along one of the two cycle routes. Neither cycle route runs so close to the Splash Park that the lady could have even been seen. Can I suggest that this gentleman should refrain from throwing stones in glass houses? Or are double standards part of the service that we get for paying taxes?

I personally found his cycling infringement more offensive than the photography. It may, of course, be the case that the local laws have been suspended. If this is indeed the case then I must say that I don’t recall the removal of such laws featuring in the sham of a consultation, and why then would we the tax payer spend hundreds of thousands on the paths anyway? The promised signs are now lagging six months behind the creation of the paths. It is time that our authorities acted to make the park safe again.


Kings Road, St Albans