Letters, June 12, 2014

High cost of new Ryder statue

SIR – I was delighted to read (May 29) that Ryder Cup (Europe) had donated £25,000 towards the cost of the proposed statue of Samuel Ryder though I find it beyond belief that the total cost is put at ten times that figure. Even allowing for inflation I doubt if Rodin’s famous Burghers of Calais would have cost anything like that amount. But now that fundraising has been given such a boost can the council not have a re-think about the proposed secondary location and allow the statue to be placed in a prime position in front of the soon to be Museum of St Albans (the Old Town Hall). And whilst they are at it they could leave a space for an overdue and exceptionally meritorious statue of Francis Bacon and looking a little distance into the future make provision for one of the world’s most eminent scientists, St Albans’ own Professor Stephen Hawking?

PHILIP WEBSTER Townsend Drive, St Albans Unkempt verges debate continues

SIR – To all those complaining about uncut verges. I suggest, go for a walk and enjoy the grasses and wild flowers we never get to see because they are always cut short. The walk will be beneficial. The grasses and wild flowers are beneficial for the bees and wild life, which are beneficial to us. We are also benefiting from the money saved by the Council not having the verges cut so often. Which I hope they put to better use. A win win situation.

GILL SALEM Becketts Avenue, St Albans

SIR – The letter from Barry Cashin on the subject of maintaining and cutting grass verges around St Albans was very much to the point and needs to be addressed. However, there is another concern which is very important, namely the irresponsible parking and subsequent ruining of grass verges by motorists who park on them seemingly with impunity. This is a very dangerous practice and can lead to accidents when the view of motorists and pedestrians is obscured by vehicles on grass verges. Why does the local council not impose a fixed penalty for those who persist in this practice? St Albans is a pleasant place and does not need to be blighted by the irresponsible few who seem oblivious of any concern for the local environment. I have also have some sympathy with the contractors who are not able to cut the verges when their operation is obstructed by the cars parked on them.

GERALD STONE New House Park, St Albans

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SIR – I read Cllr Mike Wakely’s letter bemoaning the loss of a Tory councillor at the recent elections and I wonder if, as he is the Tory in charge of keeping the grass cut short, he may need further time to reflect on what went wrong?


Thanks for backing museum project

SIR – The de Havilland Aircraft Museum, home also of the Mosquito Museum, would like to thank all those people at the St Albans Steam and Country Show who visited our stall, especially for their generosity which resulted in adding £90 to our new £1 million appeal to build the large new hangar which was granted planning permission this year. It will enable the museum to get almost all of its more than 20 historic de Havilland aircraft under cover at its Salisbury Hall, London Colney site and assist in the restoration and preservation of this important part of both Britain’s and our local aviation heritage. The museum’s stall will also be at Shenley Village Fete on June 22 to introduce more people to our objective and the work of the volunteers who help achieve it. For details of how to make donations online, to become a volunteer, and opening hours please visit our website at www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk

MIKE NEVIN Marketing director, de Havilland Aircraft Museum

Paying the price for refuse service cuts

SIR – Surely, it will be very easy for AmeyCespa to reduce by £750,000 the annual cost of running the county’s household recycling centres. Close a few sites, reduce the operating hours, charge all users a nominal fee for using the centre - job done! Does the contract include penalty clauses for evidence of increased fly-tipping or increasing volumes of refuse placed in black wheelie bins destined for landfill? My guess is “no”, so it will be the Hertfordshire ratepayers who must foot the bill for dealing with these by-products of the AmeyCespa cost reduction initiatives, whilst AmeyCespa reaps a healthy profit at our expense.

IAN WALTHAM Aldwickbury Crescent, Harpenden

Wife’s pride in former councillor

SIR – I concur with Elizabeth Winstone’s and Cllr Mike Wakely’s letters. For decades London Colney sat under Labour, gaining nothing under their pretence that nobody cared for us. Since having Conservative representatives for just a few years we have a new road for the Irish Club on the way, a new fitness centre being built this year and a solution to our morning traffic jam put forward on top of a huge problem with damp on a council estate being sorted out. Simon Calder worked tirelessly for his community and it is to the detriment of our village that we have lost somebody who cared so greatly. The disgusting ploy of Labour using the S106 situation, when it was Labour in power in London Colney who allowed the money to be set aside for secondary schools when we don’t have one, just to win an election shows what has replaced such a wonderful councillor! Here’s praying we get him back next year!

LOUISE CALDER Norris Close, London Colney

Short of energy?

SIR – Can anyone explain why some people who consume energy drinks are then unable to summon up the strength to put their empty cans into the nearest waste bin?

MIKE LLOYD London Road, St Albans

A warning to town’s Tory powerbase?

SIR – Although in my opinion you should not have published former town councillor Matthew Peck’s latest Tory attack-dog letter it did at least obey the law of unforeseen consequences. Many readers hitherto unaware of the Harpenden Independent Partnership will now know they exist and have clearly scared the pants off the cabal of self-righteous Conservative supporters whose belief in a God-given right to run Harpenden is now under threat.

ROBERT HILL East Common, Harpenden

Praise for city’s Half Marathon event

SIR – Can I put on record my appreciation for the superb organisation of Sunday’s Half Marathon. It is a beautiful course and St Albans and its surrounding countryside never looked better. How lucky we are to enjoy such a wonderful environment, how important it is that we cherish it and vigorously oppose inappropriate development. I particularly want to thank all the race marshals, old and young (some very young), the uniformed groups and regular volunteers. Their warmth and readiness with water and other refreshment all round the course was so uplifting. Also how generous the crowds were in their support and encouragement to everyone. It is yet another great St Albans event.


Clarification over new train fleets

SIR – I am so pleased to read that First Group will not be the operators of the Thameslink franchise from September this year. The nickname “Worst Capital Connect” befits them for many reasons written over the years that they have run the service, so, hopefully the new franchisee can improve on the performance once they are up and running. Reading into your report, it is slightly erronous, namely stating that there will be three new train fleets for the new services. In fact only two new classes of surburban units are being built at present. 1) At Derby, Bombardier are constructing 29 sets (116 coaches-CLASS 387) which are due in service June-December 2015, these will operate on Thameslink routes for around 12 months. 2) In Wildenrath (Germany), Siemens have commenced construction of a new design (Class 700) of train for the combined Thameslink-Southern-Great Northern franchise. These will gradually replace the present 26-year-old trains being used on the Thameslink line and the Great Northern (Kings Cross/Moorgate) services and will operate alongside the newer trains being delivered next year. In the meantime, nine newer (11 years old) train sets are being moved from Southern Rail to Thameslink replacing our old 319s which are going to NorthWest England for the newly electrified Liverpool-Manchester route.

ROBERT JAMES Frogmore, Park Street

Lack of balance elsewhere in district

SIR – I note with interest the letter printed in your June 4 edition which laments the lack of balanced political representation in London Colney. I wonder whether the author of this letter applies the same logic and thinking to all wards in the district, for example the four wards in Harpenden, where with the exception of one independent on Harpenden town council, there is only Conservative representation? As a member of the council, it is my duty to represent all residents in my ward, not just those who voted for me, as I do in my role as vice-chair of the parish council and as I did in my previous term as district councillor for London Colney.

KATHERINE GARDNER Vice-chair London Colney Parish Council Thamesdale, London Colney

Thanks to circus for training Guides

SIR – May I through your columns thank everyone at Chaplin’s Circus who were performing in Highfield Park during the half term break. They also held (non-profit making) circus skills workshops for children. At the end of April I found an email in my spam folder from Chaplin’s inviting Brownies and Guides to attend the workshops to gain their Girlguiding Circus Performer badge. It was too late to organise anything for the half term break but, coincidentally, we had arranged a District picnic to be held in Highfield Park on June 5. It turned out that Chaplin’s would still be in the park on that date and they very kindly agreed to run a workshop just for us... 100-plus Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. The Circus crew was wonderful. We descended on them at 6pm and they soon had us split into four groups spinning plates, juggling, hula-hooping, trampolining and learning some acrobatic skills. It was a lovely evening and when they return in 2015 I would thoroughly recommend children attend the workshops and the show too. Well done to Highfield Park Trust for booking Chaplin’s and thank you once again to the brilliant circus team.

LUCY DAVIES Commissioner, St Albans East District Girlguiding

Don’t let memories be lost forever

SIR – Over recent weeks I have had several conversations with friends who have regrets at not having asked their parents more about their family stories before they died. When we are young and busy with work and our growing families, there are usually too many things to fill our day to wonder about our forebears, although the growing interest in family genealogy seems to be changing that. Such research into the family tree is a great opportunity to ask for contributions from the memories of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. This will also provide them with memory triggers and the chance to reminisce about their own early lives; it is also a great opportunity to capture their stories on video or maybe an audio recording if they are a bit shy, before they get older and perhaps begin to experience memory loss or dementia. Such interviews will also help to bring the family tree to life. The role of memory triggers was a common thread in conversations a few weeks ago, when I had the pleasure of spending time with volunteers who run Memory Cafés across the UK. The chance to meet regularly at Memory Cafés provides a lifeline for people who are experiencing various degrees of memory loss, as well as giving brief respite for their partners/carers. For a few hours each week, they can meet other people, enjoy some interesting activities and know that they are not alone in facing similar difficulties. There are an increasing number of Memory and Dementia Cafés and Singing for the Brain groups in Hertfordshire, including St Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Tring. For more information check www.alzheimers.org.uk My particular interest is using archive film to create memory trigger resources on DVD with a Reminiscence Guides. We had been testing the format of our Living Memories DVD resources in a number of Memory Cafés over the last year and the results have been very positive and heart-warming. Several people who had apparently never spoken in group conversations in the Memory Cafés before came to life when they saw different scenes and objects in the archive films and became quite animated about aspects of their early life. To much laughter one person, who grew up on a farm, described how his parents used a copper boiler to boil the family washing on Mondays and for the rest of the week used the boiler to make clotted cream for sale in the local market. No problems with health and safety in those days! You can learn more about our Living Memories crowdfunding project you might like to look at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/reminiscence-resources-for-people-developing-dementia/ By the way, if you haven’t already done so, why not ask older members of your family if they have similar interesting and amusing stories to tell. It will help to bring your past to life.

BRIAN NORRIS Living Memories project

Happy to pay more to support City

SIR – I appreciate the need for increases in ticket prices at St Albans City - I was involved in football administration for 20 years – I just hope that no players in the twilight of their careers looking for a last pay day are signed. Myself and plenty more regulars thought that the likes of Barry Hayles is not what is required. I would like to know where all those who “jumped on the bandwagon” at Chesham are on a Saturday afternoon during the season – if they showed up at most home games there would be no need for the increases. In conclusion I am quite happy to pay a bit more to cement our place in the Conference South.

MIKE PESTLE Marsden Close, Welwyn Garden City