Letters, May 26, 2011, part two

Wildlife haven destroyed

SIR – On May 18, contractors for the district council cut the hedge that runs down the side of the ex-St Albans School playing fields.

This hedge is around 300 metres long and at this time of year contains many birds’ nests. The contractors did not use a proper hedge cutter, but a huge machine with a sort of flail that splits the branches at the top of the hedge. If this treatment goes on the hedge, which is a haven for wildlife, will eventually be destroyed.

Surely cutting sites where birds are nesting should be prohibited. We are always being exhorted to attract wildlife to our gardens and open spaces and then the council allows their contractors to massacre eggs and baby birds.


Westfields, St Albans

Mencap thanks

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SIR – Harpenden Mencap is most grateful to all those who supported the 2010 Mayor’s charity events. In particular, for the enthusiasm and commitment of the Mayor, Daniel Chichester-Miles and the Harpenden Town Hall staff.

We are delighted that the proceeds are to be shared equally between us and the local Samaritans, amounting to �2,125 each. Harpenden Mencap has allocated its share towards the imminent construction of 11 independent flats for learning disabled adults in Carlton Road.

We express our thanks to all those, known and unknown, whose generosity has made this possible.


Trustee, Harpenden Mencap

Stairways, Douglas Road, Harpenden

Beaumont decision is welcomed

SIR – Avid readers of your letters to the editor pages will recollect the articles in the last six months surrounding the farcical Lib Dem stance taken by Cllr Brazier on the Beaumont School land-swop appeal (mind you it had been going on for nearly 10 years).

His politically-biased Liberal Green Belt obstructive chairman of planning casting vote has been duly overturned by the government appointed inspector.

Congratulations to Beaumont School and headteacher Ms Elizabeth Hitch. You can now look forward to fulfilling the needs of the school and enhancing the immediate community.

That five day appeal procedure in the council chambers must have added tens of thousands of pounds to the final costs of this long drawn out Verdun siege of St Albans.

But justice and the citizens’ voice has prevailed, albeit at an exorbitant cost to the taxpayer and let us hope that under Mr Daly’s new guidance the planning department, committee and designated cabinet member will exercise more practical sense than the tosh of the Lib Dem past incumbents.

And that goes for the Westminster Lodge leisure centre Burton botch! Council tax will reflect this one, mind my words!


Green Lane, St Albans

Herts Highways strikes again!

SIR – St Albans residents must by now be convinced that Herts Highways has it in for the city.

Their latest, newly-installed innovation in Sandridge Road is the Modesty direction sign (pictured right). Oh well, all will be revealed in the autumn.


Upper Culver Road

St Albans

Free school latest

SIR – Further to your recent article regarding our 11th hour protest I’m afraid we have nothing very positive to report after our belated meeting last week with Education Department officials in Hertford.

It’s not very far, the journey from St Albans, but it might as well be another galaxy. Neither does it look like an ivory tower when you get there but it might just as well be – most of the SACDC offices would comfortably fit into the ballroom (!) and staff canteen at County Hall?

HCC were not in the slightest bit interested in what we had to say. Their minds are closed – their eyes are tight shut, their fingers and toes are crossed – and everything will be fine!

They confirmed that they had now exchanged contracts to purchase the Law School site and that their agents were in negotiation to acquire the parcels of land that they did not already own.

They have no formal contract with the free school – and there doesn’t even seem to be a formula in place to establish upon what basis the school might occupy the site.

Therefore it is in effect an entirely speculative purchase – and is being simply justified on the grounds that they consider that they have done “a good deal”. That remains to be seen. They would not however disclose the price paid and it would appear to me to be a rather cavalier manner in which the Tory-controlled county council are handling public funds.

They also confirmed their expectation that Bernards Heath was still to provide the playing field – and that they would in due course be fencing off the designated area.

We didn’t meet anyone called Tony Robinson – but we might just as well have done! Their cunning plan to address our “pupil safety/traffic congestion/air and noise pollution concerns” is to insist that every child who attends will live within 300m of the school and that they, their parents and siblings will all be happy to walk to and from school – 400 times a year in all weathers.

We shall continue with our efforts to frustrate this project – and will be writing to the Department for Education amongst others pointing out the unfortunate – and unnecessary – consequences of what I continue to regard as a misguided venture.

We were advised that the free school must re-apply to the DfE by June this year for the requisite approvals. They would appear to still have many hoops through which they must jump to show that they are a viable proposition – but as you can deduce from what I have summarised above, HCC are intent on doing everything that they can to ensure that the school opens in September 2012.

The mantle of trusteeship of the City Museum passes now to the Tories as a result of the election – but I fear they are unlikely to stand in the way of the bulldozer that is already approaching from the east.

I reiterate, we are not against new school places, but I do remain implacably opposed to such an important decision (with so many unintended consequences) being imposed from above – without an iota of local consultation.


St Albans District Council

Contact is lost

SIR – I am used to receiving information, pictures and queries about some part of the eastern districts of St Albans from residents who have dipped into my website www.stalbansowneastend.co.uk

It is always exciting to explore new topics with others.

Recently I received an inquiry from a mother who lives in or near Burleigh Road, who was assisting her son in a project about the history of the house in which they live and the road – which is now on its third name since first laid out.

Having prepared a fulsome email response and then sent it, I discovered that the address presented me with an automated response indicating that the sender, my contact, was on extended leave. I am therefore assuming that my reply has not been received.

So, if you recognise yourself from the description above and would like to contact me again on saoee@me.com I will be more than willing to pass on my reply, and so enable you and your son to complete what I am sure will be a very interesting project for both of you.



Lost heritage

SIR – It is deeply depressing to read (Herts Advertiser, May 19) that the former brewhouse site in Marshals Drive, St Albans, is to be demolished to make way for a six-bedroom house.

St Albans will lose a small but important part of its past and if, as English Heritage says, the original function of the site has been so altered that it can no longer be identified as a brewhouse then that organisation, which exists to protect buildings of historic interest, is guilty of dereliction of duty: it should never have allowed the brewhouse to be altered beyond recognition.

It was common in the 18th and 19th Centuries for the aristocracy and landed gentry to have small private breweries on their estates where beer was brewed – often by the butler – for the family and their servants. Most of these ancient brewhouses have disappeared.

The only two functioning ones I know of are at Traquair House in the Scottish Borders and Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, seat of the Earls of Lichfield. It would have been important, historically and architecturally, if the brewhouse in Marshals Drive could have been restored as an example in south-east England of a building that once had an important role in the large private estate that now forms Marshals Drive and the Wick.

Your report said there may have been Roman activity in the area. That may be so, but the name of the Wick – settlement or resting palce in Old English – suggests there may equally have been Anglo-Saxon activity. The history of St Albans is not confined to the city centre. We need to protect, before it is too late, the city’s rich history in the outlying districts as well. How long before Beech Bottom Dyke is filled in to make way for more six-bedroom houses?


Charmouth Road, St Albans