Letters, June 5, 2014

Election aftermath

SIR – I am writing to thank all our loyal voters in the local election; not only did I retain my seat, but Cllr Dave Winstone thankfully won Cllr Myland’s old seat, made possible by his untimely demise. We are both glad that his seat was not lost; continuing to keep St Stephen Ward totally Tory, as it has been for many years.A big thank you must also go to our band of hard-working helpers: tellers, deliverers and agent.

Cllr Sue Featherstone

Mt Pleasant Lane, Bricket Wood

SIR – It was a sad day for London Colney when the only Conservative councillor lost his seat. Simon Calder won a short term seat in 2012 and within that time, with sheer hard work and determination, has done much for the residents that he represented. London Colney now has only a single voice at local level, as now the village is completely represented by Labour councillors in parish, district and county. There is not a balanced political representation which London Colney deserves, to ensure that the best options are always considered. So, to all you London Colney Conservatives who did not vote or did not vote for Simon (maybe UKIP?), shame on you! However, you do have another chance in 2015 as there are both parish and district election to make a change.


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ELIZABETH WINSTONE

St Annes Road, London Colney

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SIR – Congratulations to Catherine Gardiner but sadness that the majority of London Colney residents have not chosen Simon Calder to continue as their Conservative district councillor. It has been a pleasure to help his actions more than just words on localism, a core belief of Conservatives at home and Europe. His actions included recently giving up time as a public bus driver to meet the Building Research Establishment on social housing in order to challenge the totally misconceived view that residents might cause most of the problem of condensation; he supported and pushed early London Colney re-development of redundant garage sites to affordable housing from anti-social attractions, he encouraged SADC on the new Cotlandswick leisure centre when the Labour councillor refused to support it at the planning committee, he asked for a new internal play-area in the centre, he pushed Hertfordshire Highways using my civil engineering expertise to re-surface roads early and consider an extra lane from the High Street to the A414 roundabout reducing the tailback, he met with Cotlandswick Rugby Football Club and acted as agent to gain planning permission for a new access onto Shenley Lane rather than the present potentially lethal one onto the A414. We even considered with him whether if Network Rail could consider rail freight then why not re-establish Napsbury Halt station on the slow lines improving access to London and property values. He was always listening to residents and chasing portfolio holders and SADC officers to sort or explain issues. One was Labour’s alarmist explanation of Section 106 monies being used just outside his area on the Samuel Ryder school but helping everyone’s kids. We fully accept the democratic actions of the majority of London Colney residents but if regrets please contact Simon, 28 Norris Close to help his soonest return; emails will now need be via mine given on the SADC website. Resident involvement is essential to local democracy as it doesn’t happen on its own. I believe that Simon has been the outstanding new local councillor and will be very much missed.

Cllr Mike Wakely

Oakfield Road, Harpenden

SIR – The ‘’story’’ of the local election result is not, in my opinion, about the failure of UKIP to win a single seat on the district council. Nor is it the minor musical chairs seat-swapping of the Lib Dems and Labour. No, the ‘’story’’ is the emergence from nowhere of Harpenden Independent Partnership, a non-politically affiliated and completely self-funding group of ordinary citizens, who managed to achieve a reasonable fourth place in Harpenden North, and a triumphant second place in Harpenden East. Despite minor hassling from local councillors on election day, it is clear that many people in Harpenden are fed up with the current state of affairs here. Every vote for HIP represents a conscious decision to move away from the three mainstream parties. This we have achieved on our first outing. I should like to thank publically all those people who were prepared to come out and back us. And to them and to Harpenden Town Council I say, in the words of a certain Hollywood star: We will be back!!

CAROL HEDGES Co-founder of HIP Coldharbour Lane, Harpenden

SIR – I write in response to Matthew Peck’s letter in last week’s edition who took issue with the Harpenden Independent Partnership (HIP), its policies and electoral results in the recent district council elections. Mr Peck is clearly either ignorant of the fact or chosen to ignore it that there were in fact two HIP candidates running in the elections with the second contesting the Harpenden East Ward. The results of this ward gave the Tories 966 votes with the HIP candidate obtaining 677 votes (more than both the Labour/Co-operative and Liberal Democrats put together) so I would suggest that Mr Peck’s comments that HIP is merely “three people round a coffee table” to be some way off the mark unless its a rather large coffee table. Let us also not forget this is a group, party call it what you will that has only been in existence for a number of months and was only 289 votes short of a Conservative candidate who had party funding and the services of a well-known (yet seldom heard on many local issues) MP Mr Peter Lilley. Unfortunately Mr Peck I’m sure will continue to bury his head in the sand and believe the local Conservative district and town councillors actually look after the needs and concerns of the local residents they serve rather than toeing the party line in the hope that their efforts will be rewarded by the higher echelons of the party they represent, thus leaving the local residents high and dry. An organisation that has no hidden agendas but to purely help and represent local residents over the whole of Harpenden is surely better suited to deal with local issues, or at least that’s what 677 people thought, maybe next time it might just be more ?

ALEX COLLINS Salisbury Road, Batford

SIR – Your correspondent Mr Peck (Letters, May 29) betrays an astonishing lack of respect for the right of anyone who chooses to get involved in the democratic process by standing for election, and even less respect for the 937 Harpenden residents who voted for Harpenden Independent Partnership (HIP) on May 22. All the more astonishing as Mr Peck used to be a Harpenden councillor himself. No doubt this kind of attitude towards democracy is why HIP candidates gathered so much support over the short period of their first campaign. Paul Howe got a respectable 13 per cent of the vote in Harpenden North, on a par with all the other candidates (who got between 11 and 15 per cent) except the winning Conservative (46 per cent). For a first time candidate this is encouraging. Over in Harpenden East however, Pip Martyn got an extraordinary 30 per cent of the vote, a very comfortable second place behind the Town Mayor’s 44 per cent. From a standing start this is a truly remarkable result. Across the country, the local and European elections saw support for non-mainstream parties increase. There is a new politics that is here to stay, whether the Harpenden Conservatives like it or not. I congratulate the HIP candidates on their success, and wish them well for the future.

CLLR SIMON GROVER

Clifton Street, St Albans

Poster thefts and Thameslink contract

SIR – I must comment on the recent reports of election posters featuring UKIP being torn down or stolen. What do these people hope to achieve? If you fundamentally disagree with a political party then your choice is obvious. You vote against it! The idiots who did this have achieved nothing, but they could have done a lot more if they had even bothered to vote. I find it quite distressing that so few people even take the time to vote whatever their political persuasion. Yes, you may be thoroughly fed up with politics, but you can change things by exercising your right to vote. Over the coming months there are many issues facing this country which will decide our immediate future, so for goodness sake get out there and vote and make your voice heard, but not by tearing down a few posters which is pathetic. On an unrelated note, I must say the editorial of last week’s Herts Advertiser was very much to the point regarding the recent award of the Thameslink contract. Many will not remember the shambles that the company which has now been awarded this contract contrived to inflict on commuters. Others will no doubt be quite happy that the franchise has changed hands with promises of better services, smarter new trains and punctuality, but don’t get too excited. The name of the game is to extract as much money out of passengers as possible. Fares will not go down. Someone, namely the commuter has to pay for their promises and I am sure that vociferous complainers like Mr Sandy Walkington et al will continue to be disappointed as nothing much will change. There will only be a new logo on the side of the trains and that’s about it! GERALD STONE New House Park, St Albans

Verge vexations from Green Lane

SIR – St Albans council is verging on madness. By that, I mean has anyone noticed a distinct lack of verge grass cutting in recent weeks? Perhaps it is the effect of central Government cutbacks or the fact that salary increases at civic centre are about to rise after years of flat-lining – but I, and I am sure a lot of your readers will have noticed the grass verges outside their homes looking more like the Amazon rainforest than the neatly manicured darlings they should be. Although only a trivial proportion of the council tax we pay, it is yet one more service (along with street light switch-offs) that goes to represent less value for our bucks as the council gradually reduces the amenity and beauty of the city we live in. Still, there are saving graces. At least the company engaged to perform verge trimming and strimming will not be around to damage my car and property (notice the guards on the strimmers face the person) leaving stones and debris free to explode from the front chipping paintwork on cars and cracking house windows. For this small mercy, I am verging on unalloyed happiness. Long may the Amazon reign!

BARRY CASHIN Green Lane, St Albans

SIR – Why are our elected local officers so intent in turning visitors away from our beautiful city. Everywhere you go around the town you are met with either two foot high grass verges or an amass of long grass cuttings cluttering the pavements and gutter. I live in Green Lane where the grass verges have only been cut once this year, that created such a mess that I had to re-cut the grass myself and have been doing it for the last five weeks, while the rest of the verges grow longer and longer. Can I claim a rebate on my council tax for the amount of petrol I am using for doing their job?

VIC BERRYMAN Green Lane, St Albans

Is pool’s fate sealed?

SIR – I am writing to know if you have any news on the fate of the hydrotherapy pool at the City Hospital. Most people I have spoken to feel it is closing now, as it will be very expensive to repair the pipe which is leaking gas, it is a very long pipe too. I am sorry if it is closing as I used to love the experiences we did in the warm water, and my ageing limbs are suffering now, due to the closed pool. But I have a bad feeling that the hydrotherapy pool will be laid to rest unfortunately and that there will be no more hydrotherapy pools in Hertfordshire, except at maybe, the private hospitals.

ROSEMARY WALTON Windmill Avenue, St Albans

Rheumatoid arthritis awareness

SIR – Often the Rheumatic diseases are thought of as ‘Cinderella’ conditions which, considering the large number of ‘serious’ and life-threatening illnesses is understandable. With a finite ‘pot’ to spend on research, obviously it is necessary to concentrate on funding some of those. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the two most common forms affecting approximately 700,000 people of all ages but, still largely misunderstood. It is an autoimmune disease which can involve the body’s internal organs as well as the joints – it to (but rarely), can be life limiting. National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society is the only patient led charity supporting sufferers, their families and health care professionals. My personal experience of living with Rheumatoid arthritis, has consisted of a lengthly unrelenting battle despite having been fortunate to have been helped every step of the way by many excellent consultants, both at the onset and since. The good news, however, is that these days with early diagnosis/treatment, this debilitating condition can be managed, often successfully, probably leading to a much better outcome. June 16-22 is the second Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week, and I would urge people to use the occasion to find out more – only by research (partly funded by National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society), can eventually help to alleviate and lessen the suffering that this potentially crippling, extremely painful illness can cause.

MARGARET WEBB Hollybush Avenue, St Albans

Give us transport system we deserve

SIR – As a district councillor for the last three years, I have heard many of the same old issues crop up time and time again: pollution at the Peahen junction, lack of parking and road chaos in the city centre, lack of reliable rural bus and train services, “death” or “homogenisation” of the High Street, and traffic congestion in the south of the district. Yet the responses seem to be point targeted rather than coordinated. There has been work on prioritising buses up Holywell Hill, calls for one-way or pedestrianised routes through the city centre, park and ride facilities at some yet-to-be-discovered brown (or green) field site, etc. Your Editor’s Comment (May 29), rightly calls for “joined-up thinking” linking bus services with trains and improvements to the Abbey Flyer line. In my opinion, what would be even better would be a desire to develop the Abbey Flyer not only into a light rail scheme but to bring it out of the railway and up into the city centre as a tram service. I believe that many of my rural neighbours would be glad to dispense with their cars and use such a tram for shopping and leisure. I experienced a similar impact in Manchester during the 1990s which was a tremendous success. I’m not a Herts county councillor, but maybe some who are would like to look into such a scheme and put their weight behind it before 2017 comes around and we get the transport services we deserve.

CLLR STEVE BOWES-PHIPPS Park Street Ward Centaurus Square, Frogmore

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