Letters, May 26, 2011, part one

Public sector is far too bloated

SIR – Having lost faith in the integrity of most of our politicians some years ago, and having no particular affiliation to any one party, I am pleased to see that Mr Cameron has taken the decision to embark on a full and thorough overview of the waste and inefficiency that exists in all areas of the public sector and, yes, this includes our beloved NHS.

The public sector is too large and, as a giant service industry, does not create any wealth for the overall economy. The money collected in taxes to feed this huge machine simply comes out of our much diminished pockets mainly to pay salaries, as this makes up a large chunk of each department’s overall budget.

This is fine when the service provided is of a high quality, targeted to those in most need and, more importantly, produces clear, proven outcomes that justify the investment. This is not the case at present.

Most public servants are proud of what they do and strive to provide value for money. However, they are often hampered by poorly commissioned systems, usually designed by overpaid consultants (of which there are far too many), and endless tiers of management and bureaucracy. Even worse, there are those who suggest everything is fine as it is and doesn’t need tampering with!

As in any sphere of industry, there will always be those who are better at their jobs than others. In the private sector, poor performance will not be tolerated and the same should be true of the public sector. Public servants, and I include the lowest to the highest paid, need to step back and take an honest look at their capabilities and performance in order to do what is right for those of us who pay for and use their service.

If they can prove that it is enforced working practises that are responsible for the poor performance and outcomes in so many of our public services, which I suspect is so, then I will stand right behind them and support their case.

Most Read

We should quite rightly be proud of our Welfare State, but we shouldn’t stand aside and let it crumble year on year to the point that it becomes financially impossible to sustain. We cannot allow the status-quo to remain. Change is good and it is inevitable. All of the most efficient enterprises have adapted and improved in order to remain competitive and yes, the NHS does need to compete with the private sector so that quality, efficiency and outcomes remain high..


Castle Road, St Albans

True grit?

SIR – Driving along Coopers Green Lane several times last week, I wondered what I was missing about road repairs.

Grit is applied and is so loose and unstable that a large number of notices appear warning of the danger of skidding and the need to keep to 20mph; some notices are soon struck by traffic and lie in the carriageway.

Piles of grit build up which cyclists and motor cyclists especially will do well to avoid. Two large road sweeping vehicles drive slowly in opposite directions sweeping up the grit. What is all this activity for? Does it do any good? Has the road been improved?


Clarence Road, St Albans

Relative hunt

SIR – I am looking for my wife’s, newly discovered, adopted brother.

He was born Stephen John Troup at Felixstowe Cottage Hospital on August 3, 1949. When adopted he would have a new name.

He is believed to have been raised within the readership area of the Herts Advertiser. Perhaps your readers have a father or uncle that is now 62 years old and may share the same birthday, or you may know a gentleman with this birthday. His sisters and family are looking for him.



12, Lavercombe Drive


Queensland 4503


Setting the record straight

SIR – Chris Kershaw and J. Johnes do not know the full story about the Beech Road traffic island. When I was a Liberal member of St Albans District Council, I asked traffic engineers to provide a safe crossing at this point.

Graham Ward’s letter about the council election results is exaggerated. The Lib Dem share of the vote was reduced but it did not collapse completely. The Tories do not have an overall majority.


Marshalswick Lane, St Albans

Musical masterpieces

SIR – Your music critic John Manning is to be applauded for his excellent and regular reporting of local orchestral and choral church concerts: most recently the performance of Brahms German Requiem at St Albans Cathedral on Thursday, May 12, by The Purcell School for young musicians.

His description of the “outstanding performances” was perhaps an understatement in my view.

The excellence of the 150 choristers and 50 members of the orchestra – all mainly teenagers – could only be judged by the overall stunning sound and balance so impressively controlled by their conductor Quentin Poole.

Undoubtedly it was one of the Cathedral’s finest concerts in recent times. Hopefully, with the asistance of John Manning, your newspaper and others the next similar concert to be performed by The Purcell School will be attended by many more concert enthusiasts. They wont be disappointed.


Corinium Gate, St Albans

Dawn of a new era

SIR – May I congratulate you on publishing letters, not just from PoolTooSmall supporters, but also from many people including our councillors from right across the political and social spectrum.

It is all part of our democracy and it was clearly reflected on Election Day. A new District Council administration began work last week and we hope they review all projects across the board, not just Westminster Lodge, and bring in sensible change for the better, where appropriate, together with value for money.

We live in momentous times – this is the first major ruling party change at SADC in 20 years. My family and I attended mayor making last night for the first time – an enjoyable and historic occasion that has stood the test of centuries.

I just pray the new team have courage and wisdom, listen to the people and rule to benefit all our people, our children, grandchildren and theirs yet to be born.



Trumpet call for local icons

SIR – Further to Professor Cooper’s letter regarding the commemoration of St Albans’ famous citizens such as Samuel Ryder and Francis Bacon – the latter’s father Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal for Elizabeth I, is remembered with a bust by James Butler RA at St Albans School.

However the city has always been shy of its role in history yet has over the centuries produced many famous figures, none of whom appear to be commemorated publicly so perhaps now is the time to arrest the situation and do something about it.

Names such as Adrian IV, the only English Pope, William Friese-Greene, the pioneer of cinematography, Myland and Hampson, past Olympic Medal winners, and Tommy Gould, VC, a hero of WWII.

My own particular favourite is Sir William Spencer-Wells (1815-1897), the eminent surgeon whose skill and design of the Spencer-Wells forceps for use in ovarian surgery revolutionised the surgical practice and over the years and still in use worldwide today, has saved the lives of thousands of women. As was said at the time, “the benefit he conferred on surgery and humanity is incalculable.”

So perhaps there should be a little trumpet blowing.


Norbury, London

Parking plight

SIR – I am very happy to see that there is to be another Laughs in the Park at Verulamium Park in late July.

However, now that at least half of the Westminster Lodge parking space has been requisitioned for the new Leisure Centre project, I do hope that the council will provide sufficient parking facilities, not only for those attending the shows and firework displays but also for the many regular visitors to the park.

I also hope that Traffic Enforcement Officers will be on hand to control the large amount of traffic as it arrives rather than just issuing penalty notices to anyone who inadvertently parks their vehicle in the wrong place.

Incidentally I have just received a copy of the St Albans 2011 Festival brochure and see that the site of the new Westminster Lodge Swimming Pool, now firmly closed to traffic, is still shown as a car park. Someone not been doing their homework?


Check for a UK charity number

SIR – I regularly receive charity bags from the company mentioned in your article of May 12. What really concerns me is that it uses an insignia identical to Breast Cancer Care, so anyone donating would be under the impression they were giving to this charity, which is patently not the case.

Please ask your readers not to donate unless the bag carries a UK charity number, which by law should be displayed on the bag.

I also wonder, as the three main supermarkets in St Albans all have large car parks, whether they would consider getting together with the local charities, and arranging a ‘drop and shop’, where donations could be deposited at a designated space in the car park.

This would save donors negotiating the tortuous parking in the town centre, with the associated risk of being given a parking ticket whilst donations are dropped off – I speak from experience!

Charity shops have already reported donated items being stolen outside trading hours, so this would prevent this pilfering as well.

The recession has impacted on most of us in one way or another, and it would be a real shame if charities were to shut up shop because of the fantastic work they all do on extremely limited resources.

I’m sure we all hope this does not happen, but in these straitened times we mustn’t forget that whilst charity begins at home, it does not end there.


Colney Heath Lane, St Albans