Letters June 30 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

History favours Pré

SIR - Steve Gledhill (Pray, why Prae not Pré, one wonders? June 16) raises an interesting point. He may be surprised to learn that the term Pré has not been in use for decades but for many centuries. Indeed since the founding of the priory of St. Mary de Pré for leporus nuns by Abbot Warin in the late 12th century. This small priory was built on both sides of Watling Street, the old Roman road, the course of which runs through the modern day Gorhambury estate. While the location of the priory is not shown on Ordnance Survey (OS) map Explorer 182 it is recorded on the 1883 six inch map OS series Hertfordshire XXXIV one and is marked as being adjacent to Churchyard meadow. (Interestingly the English translation of St. Mary de Pré is the Blessed Mary of the Meadows.) Looking out from here across the River Ver you can see the building which now houses the Prae Wood Arms. The building was constructed in 1838 for Lady Frances Cooke Grimston. The contemporary records show that the house was called Pré House. However, the 1883 OS map uses the spelling Prae for all occurrences of Pré eg Prae House, Prae Wood, Prae Mill and records the priory as being the Church of Mary de Prae. Presumably the renaming was done by OS to anglicise the acute é in the Latinate name. So which should it be? Pré or Prae? Mr Gledhill will be pleased to know he has weight of history on his side and it overwhelmingly favours Pré over Prae.

BOB BONNINGTON Arretine Close, St Albans

WelHat justifies their village scheme

SIR - Further to your article about the Symondshyde site (June 16), I wanted to write and explain some important points. The public consultation undertaken in January 2015 asked for views on sites already put forward to us, and gave residents, landowners and developers the opportunity to suggest other sites so that we could consider all possible options. We hosted two drop-in events in October 2015 to update everyone on the new sites, including Symondshyde. Gascoyne Cecil, the landowners, also held a 10 day charrette in February this year. Residents have asked us to consider new settlements as an option to meet the demands for growth and this site could provide much needed housing, as well as new facilities and infrastructure, including a primary school. As many of your readers will understand, if we don’t deliver the right amount of growth our plan will not meet the needs of future generations, or gain the approval of the planning inspector. I understand people have concerns about the pressure new homes will place on existing transport networks and services, and I want to reassure your readers that the ability to provide supporting infrastructure has informed our decisions when identifying the most suitable sites. We’re liaising closely with Herts county council, the NHS and other agencies to ensure all necessary improvements are made. It is important we balance the demand for growth with the need to protect the environment, and we have reduced the size of the site to ensure there is a buffer between development and the wildlife area. The council’s plan must reflect the needs of local communities and I would like to reiterate that everyone will get the opportunity to have their say when consultation on the Draft Local Plan begins this summer. Comments received will be considered by the planning inspector during public examination, and final decisions will be made on which sites to include in the Local Plan. I hope this has been helpful in explaining our reasons for identifying this site and our commitment to involving residents at every step along the way.

CLLR MANDY PERKINS Executive Member for Planning, Housing and Community Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Confused by delays

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SIR - On Monday June 20 my train journeys between Harpenden and Farringdon were both frustrating and confusing. First, the GTR app had again decided the 8:06 should be renamed the 8:07. It does that sometimes, not sure why. Anyway, when I left home the train was going to be a few minutes late,.By the time I got to the station it had been cancelled so I caught the 7:54 semi-fast that was running about 10 minutes late. As we left West Hampstead, the lights went out but we continued in to the tunnel gradually losing speed and eventually stopped at Kentish Town where the driver announced we had a technical fault so would be delayed for a short while. After passing through the train, doing what was necessary, he then told us there had been a problem with the pantograph so the power had been turned off and after getting the all clear, then a green signal, we moved on after being stationary for about 20 minutes so I arrived at work 30-40 minutes later than I should have. Then, before leaving work that evening, I checked the app and GTR were announcing disruption would continue until 19:00 due to earlier power problems, which they confirmed had been resolved at 09:05. When I arrived at Farringdon, it was packed. I could not get on the first train, people were literally oozing themselves between the doors as they closed. So I got on another semi-fast, normally eight-coaches but on this day only four. Now this is where I get really confused - how does a 20 minute loss of power ending at 09:05 continue to cause cancellations and delays of 20-30 minutes as late as 19:00? From my own experience, GTR/ NR are only too willing to stop a train short and turn it round when running late so why was it going to take 10 hours to make up 20 minutes. Worse still, checking on line, I see the delays are going to continue to 22:00 (though notices are only saying 19:00 (app) or 20:00 (web). No doubt GTR will blame NR and the unions, the unions will blame ‘management’ and NR will blame GTR. Result - nothing happens as usual. So I suspect I am not alone in wanting answers to some specific questions: Why does the government not force the rail regulator to use its teeth to bring about change? If the regulator is powerless, which individual in government a) approved an unenforceable contract or b) signed off an enforcing authority that is unable to do its job or c) is sitting idly watching the system fail? Why is the opposition not taking the government to task over this? In or out of Europe, Britain will never be Great unless people do the job they are paid to do, be that driving or maintaining trains, managing the rail system, drafting and enforcing contracts or governing the country. So come on, stop blaming each other and get on with running a first class railway!

BRIAN HYAMS Wroxham Way, Harpenden

Time to join forces over air traffic

SIR - I refer to recent correspondence regarding aircraft low flying over the district. It is unfortunate that this is now creating potential conflict between communities, with the St Albans resident complaining that recent changes in air corridors had moved them away from Harpenden and nearer to St Albans. Unfortunately this plays into Luton Airport’s hands as it divides opposition to what is a district-wide problem. As I understood it at the time, the change to the flight path that is used by aircraft taking off westwards but to destinations in the east or south , would be instructed to fly more strictly along the already established vector between Harpenden and St Albans which should have prevented overflying either of these places or indeed Sandridge or Wheathampstead where I live. However, I can well believe that there has been more over-flying St Albans because it is quite clear to me that a significant number of aircraft are not sticking strictly enough to this route. I have personally observed planes repeatedly low flying directly over Wheathampstead and heading north-west or south-east depending on wind direction at take off. It seems to me that these were taking the obvious short cut to save fuel and time. Most, if not all, were from a well known budget airline. Luton would say that these were probably not flying directly overhead but I am quite sure and confident that they were and that this would be clearly seen in the airport’s logs of flight patterns if these were available to view. These low over-flights are a genuine nuisance and will get worse as Luton Airport continues its expansion. They become particularly irksome during the summer months when the greater number of early and late flights disrupt sleep. What is needed is concerted action from all communities to prevent Luton Airport playing one against the other and to ensure they enforce control over the airlines that operate from there and to ensure that Luton Borough Council, who own the airport act to make sure the operator does this.

ANDREW ROBLEY Necton Road, Wheathampstead

Not EU red tape to blame for donation

SIR - Leslie Freitag is not correct in stating that it was Brussels red tape which prevented him from donating blood. One of the main tools for EU regulation is the directive. These are normally quite general documents outlining the basic objectives of the regulation. It is then up to the legislature in each member country to decide how to implement them within their legal framework. The two basic objectives behind EU regulation of blood donation are to ensure that donated blood is good quality and free from infections and that the health of the donor does not suffer. Hopefully even the most fervent Brexiter can accept that someone requiring a blood transfusion anywhere in the EU needs to feel confident that the blood they receive is suitable and that some common regulation in this area is a good thing. The relevant EU directive specifying eligibility of blood donors states that people over 65 years may donate with the permission of the physician in the blood establishment. There is no specific upper age limit. The UK regulations regarding blood donation state that anyone up to the age of 66 will normally be eligible to donate. The normal age limit for a first time donor is 66. Between 66 and 70 someone is eligible if they have donated before. People over 70 may donate provided that that they have donated within the last two years. If, as he implies Mr Freitag has been a regular donor and donated within the last two years then the supervisor was simply wrong in telling him that he was too old to donate. His statement that his records have been deleted suggests to me that possibly it is more than two years since his previous donation in which case, if he is over 70, he is no longer considered eligible. Regardless of the details the reason is due to the regulations implemented by the UK not the requirements of Brussels. The EU has become a modern day bogeyman blamed for any regulation or rule that people do not like regardless of whether it is actually responsible. The EU does not get everything right but many of the highly publicised examples that I have checked are indeed tabloid myths. Others arise because of the way the UK has implemented them, “topping up” the basic requirements of the EU directive with additional stricter requirements. There are other cases where people simply misinterpreted the relevant UK regulations.


Every voter should be equally valued

SIR - I took a keen interest in all aspects of the EU Referendum campaign and was very disappointed by a story recounted by Cllr Sandy Walkington (both at a hustings event and again in an email) about a 75-year-old man who claimed that he (the 75 year old) shouldn’t be voting in the EU Referendum because, ‘it wasn’t about him’ (i.e. old people). The clear inference here being that Sandy completely agrees. Can I just say how incredibly patronising I feel this is, not just to old people, but also to young people and everybody in between. Old people have a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to bear on any political debate, their contribution in the EU Referendum was vital. And if younger people find themselves disagreeing with the older generation then they are perfectly capable of organising themselves to vote and to make the counter arguments; they don’t need a free pass from their elders. One person, one vote. Everybody’s opinion equally valued. As for the idea that we should heed young people’s feelings more just because they will be around longer to live with the consequences of big decisions, what rot! Old people care just as much about the world they are going to bequeath as young people do about the world they are going to inherit. To have a politician, albeit a minor local one, try to discourage a whole section of society from expressing their opinion at the ballot box because they’re going to be dead soon, really is outrageous. Given that voter disengagement is such a problem in this country the only message Cllr Walkington should be putting out there is, “Whoever you are, please vote!” What next? Will he be asking people without degrees and good jobs not to vote because they might make the wrong decision (‘wrong’ in this case being defined as not agreeing with Sandy). I wouldn’t put it past him.

NICK CHIVERS Jerome Drive, St Albans Lost hawthorn

SIR – White hawthorn in May has blossomed profusely along the roads in the countryside this spring but sadly a more rare red hawthorn is missing from alongside Grove Road. It must have fallen victim to the ‘tidying up’ of the verge adjacent to the allotments and the children’s play area earlier this year. Would the authority responsible for its demise consider planting a similar one to bring back the colourful blossom which has enhanced each spring?

DOREEN COPAS (MRS) Leycroft Way, Harpenden

Lake of shame

SIR - Recently we had friends who lived in St Albans 25 years ago, they have not been back since. Some of the family took several small children down to Verulamium Park to see the lake. They came back very soon saying how awful it was, it smelt terrible. What has gone wrong with the lake? It used to be such a nice place to wander around with the family and children, feed the ducks etc. Surely St Albans council can find some money to help improve the lake? Does it need dredging? I have lived here since 1974 and to my knowledge the lake has not been cleaned in that time, maybe I am wrong. Would someone from the council like to correct me?

MARILYN HILL Jersey Farm, St Albans