Letters June 9 2016

Have your say and write to hertsad@archant.co.uk

Have your say and write to hertsad@archant.co.uk - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Not the dreaded one-way system?

SIR - The recent correspondence about St Albans city centre traffic problems and the ill-fated one way system of the ‘90s is not helped with the numerous sets of traffic lights and light controlled pedestrian crossings. If one is to travel from Holywell/St Stephen’s Hill to Harpenden Road they would face numerous hold-ups... From the roundabout at the bottom of the hill first a pedestrian crossing for Westminster Lodge, then the right turn where few drivers stop in the central refuge and another pedestrian crossing, then the Peahen crossroads into Chequer Street and another pedestrian crossing, Victoria Road traffic lights, followed almost straight away by another set of lights for another crossing, then another, then the roundabout with lights in Hatfield Road and Catherine Street, followed by a further pedestrian crossing in St Peter’s Street by the old bus garage site. It can take 20 minutes to traverse all these obstacles, yet if they were electronically linked and phased together, the traffic could move forward in perhaps two surges, then the pedestrian crossings all work at the same time allowing traffic to cross or join the main flow. Perhaps the experts at Ringway could play with their computer programmes and try that for a model before spending more millions of our council tax ?

MIKE COBLEY Milton Road, Harpenden

Too little too late for bluebell woods?

SIR - I was saddened to read John Davis’s letter (May 5) about the management of visitors to Langley Wood. As a regular year round visitor to Heartwood Forest, rather than an ‘annual pilgrim’, my perception of the intervention was that it was, if anything, too little too late. Initially the trust simply put up posts marking certain paths and blocking others through areas they wished to protect, and they roped three damaged areas where there was clearly hope that the bluebells in them could recover reasonably quickly. Presumably this proved insufficient, as they have recently added more roping. It would be good if all visitors took notice of advice and guidance. Sadly this is not the case, and it only takes a small minority to do irreparable damage to a fragile ecosystem. Indeed it would have been helpful if the trust had done more much sooner, as a great deal of damage was done in this last very wet winter by people trying to keep out of the mud. In places it became impossible to work out where the true path went, even for those who wear appropriate footwear and would willingly stick to it. The notices explaining the value of preserving the existing bluebells for the development of the forest are both informative and interesting. I have no children of my own, but I am passionate in my hope that there will still be beautiful places for future generations to enjoy.

ROSEMARY CAPON Drakes Drive, St Albans

Gearing up for the EU Referendum

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SIR - I write too as someone who is concerned about the alienation of young people living in St Albans from what is the biggest political decision in years; whether the UK should remain in or out of the European Union (EU). As it stands under-25s are twice as likely not to be on the electoral register as the population at large. According to the Electoral Commission almost 30 per cent are not registered to vote. There is no doubt that this is a generational vote. The last time the British public was asked to directly vote on the Europe Union was 1975. In 2016, the choice to remain or leave on June 23 defines the future of young people, who will ultimately have to live with our decision. Secondly while there are plenty of people who will argue whether on balance we are better off ‘in’ or ‘out’, if the vote on June 23 does not reflect the view of all sections of our society, then the system is broken and the legitimacy of the outcome undermined.

JANE CLOKE Spencer Gate, St Albans SIR - Simon Grover paints a very simplistic picture of why we should stay in the EU. This largely unaccountable organisation has not filed any accounts for 20 years and is the refuge of unelected bureaucrats and failed politicians on fat cat salaries and pensions. Like Mr Grover I do not have a crystal ball, but one thing I am certain of is regardless of the referendum result the EU will eventually descend into utter chaos. The signs are already there with Greece in turmoil and problems looming in Italy and Spain, massive unemployment and uncontrolled immigration. We are also seeing the emergence of far right parties. The surge of anti-EU sentiment is growing in other countries with a rise in populism. All it needs is a radical government with an anti-EU agenda to trigger the total collapse. I suggest we leave now and avoid the mess that is looming on the horizon.

GERALD STONE New House Park, St Albans

SIR - I would like to correct a statement made in the second paragraph of the report of your EU survey. What I think you meant to say is that Anne Main and Peter Lilley will be voting in line with 150 people out of 199,361 they represent. In other words they are doing right by 0.075 of their constituents who happen to have both the time and the inclination to read your paper and complete a questionnaire, possibly not the most representative of samples.

PENELOPE OVERTON Seymour Road, St Albans

SIR - The results of your small survey of self-selecting respondents does not necessarily represent the majority view of local residents. Opponents of the EU have always been more vocal and inclined to write about its real or imaginary shortcomings, and the response is mainly from older readers. But many local residents who work in the professions, in finance, industry or research, are extremely concerned by the damaging consequences of an exit vote. There are several contradictory claims made by different exit campaigners, both about the ease of negotiating favourable trade deals, and on the laws and regulations they want changed. Are the ‘burdens’ on employers in relation to working conditions, fair pay, safety of products, health and safety for workers and consumers, all to be reversed? Are the notional savings from cancelling our contributions really going to be spent on the NHS, rather than on replacing the generous farm subsidies, research grants, development projects and other benefits we would lose? Might it not equally have to be spent on the escalating costs of Trident, Hinkley Point, or saving the steel industry? The net cost of membership per household is actually quite small compared with the average Council Tax payments, and the headline figures have been comprehensively shown to be wildly exaggerated. The EU is not undemocratic, as we have a fairer voting system for the European Parliament than we do for our UK elections, where the dominant parties get far more seats than votes. Our Euro MEPs work hard to obtain European grants for projects in Herts and the Eastern Region and to represent the interests of Britain in negotiations. Exit campaigners ignore the negative consequences for millions of British citizens who live or work in Europe, and the effect on Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. The vote is vital for young people and women in particular, who have most to lose from an Exit vote.

GAVIN AND ROSEMARY ROSS Connaught Road, Harpenden

(Editor’s comment: Our survey on the EU Referendum is only a snapshot view of local opinions, which may of course change. It did not claim to be a scientifically accurate representation of the district electorate, but the number of responses does give a fair picture of local opinion. We will, of course, be updating the results in the weeks to come so make sure you add your views.)

Verge maintenance back on the agenda

SIR – The letter to your columns from David Kaloczi (May 26) regarding the shabby maintenance of our grass verges in St Albans was spot on and, quite frankly, I think the whole matter is disgraceful. Following injuries after an unfortunate road accidents, I stayed with family who reside in Harpenden. After two weeks I was brought home temporarily to attend to a couple of matters and upon our turning into Beech Road from Harpenden, I was immediately struck by the shabbiness that greeted us regarding all the grass verges; the grass appearing to be almost at waist level. This continued through the Jersey Farm estate, Marshalswick and right down to the Quadrant shopping centre. I just couldn’t believe how shabby everywhere looked; just as though we were in some slum area. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe we had this same problem last year and unless the appropriate authority pulls its socks up, it will probably continue and occur again next year. When are these contractors going to be taken to task or are they just to carry on with their shoddy work? Visitors from abroad must be very disillusioned when they come to St Albans, with the long-standing problem of the Verulamium lake which appears to be rather dead. Put this all together with the pathetic display of last Christmas’s lights and one can only conclude that St Albans is going right down the pan!

ELIZABETH DUMPLETON Wilstone Drive, St Albans

SIR - When the grass cutting season began we were led to believe that this year things would be better than they were last year and that the verges would be cut more often. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. My road has been cut only twice and because the grass is so long, it is not cut evenly and large swathes of it are left lying around. Also, the kerbs and gutters are full of weeds. I dread to think what visitors to St Albans think as they drive into our city. Please can we have the old contractors back next year as they cut the grass regularly and took a pride in what they did.

D SCOTT London Road, St Albans

Time for a parlay over convent plan?

SIR - Having read your report on the council’s planning committee meeting regarding the proposals to build residential property on the site of the former Maryland convent in Townsend Drive, which was opposed at the meeting by local residents, I am left wondering why the development again continues to be so difficult to reach a satisfactory conclusion. As this was the latest of several plans submitted by Beechcroft Developments Ltd which appear to have been mainly fought through the efforts of the Townsend Private Road Association, and there is a consensus that the site will eventually be developed, is it unreasonable to suggest that the waring parties sit around a table and agree how the needs of our local retired people can be helped, whilst causing minimal disruption to the households of those already settled in the immediate neighbourhood and at the same time meeting the required margin of profit sought by the developer? My own personal suggestions would be to ask those who know the answers, as to why there is a shortage of retirement homes in St Albans, and to tell us how acute the problem is. It also puzzles me to learn that the proposed flats are said to be large enough to accomodate a family, and if this is correct how many people must be crammed into the large “family houses“ presently lived in along the top end of Townsend Drive. It also seems to me that as the safe welfare of those children walking to school along that section of Townsend Drive is such a concern, a further demand for further plans would be for any further development should include as a matter of high priority that the road itself must be upgraded from its current dangerous condition as a means of access to both pedestrians and cyclists.

ANTHONY LEACH Langley Crescent, St Albans

Half a job done on pothole repairs

SIR - Re: my letter of May 12 on potholes, I thank the council for filling in five of the many holes in Stanmount Avenue, Chiswell Green, but what about the rest and the cracks? Did the crew run out of Tarmac or did they disappear into the Bermuda potholes? And still no work done on the A414 bridge outside the scout hut in Watford Road which is steadily getting worse.

D WYLLIE Watford Road, St Albans

Top work by the Abbey team

SIR – Last month I attended at the Abbey for the ‘congregational giving tea’ at which 42 different groups received cheques in support of the work they do from a total amount given of £53,500. This money is a percentage of monies given by the members of the parish community of the Abbey during a year. The groups receiving these cheques were wide-ranging. Many were locally based but several were reaching out to people in Asia, Africa and Europe. Some had religious or faith basis, many did not. There were groups representing larger, more well-known, charities and those smaller charities set up and run by dedicated people, often inspired by the experiences of one person. It was heart-warming to realise that there are so many people in our community who work tirelessly to help others. I wonder if the people of St Albans and Hertfordshire realise just how much we owe to the thriving parish community at the Abbey, so ably led by the Dean, the Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John. Whatever your beliefs, opinions or none we should be aware of the good work being done by the team of clergy at the Abbey and be thankful.

MARGARET STONE Orchard Street, St Albans

Service failings

SIR – Since March this year when bus route 51 was discontinued, replaced by 657, we have had a very poor service. Often the bus does not run at all or if it does, it is often very late. Many older people in this area have no cars and rely on the bus. Why cannot the company give a reliable service?

MAURICE HATCH Cell Barnes Lane, St Albans