Letters, May 9, 2013

Elections aftermath

SIR – In the 10-seater minibus taking our new representatives to their first county council meeting, two seats are reserved for the Labour victors in St Albans North and The Colneys.

Labour secured 19.4 per cent of the total votes cast. Three seats are to be taken by the Tories (34.1 per cent of the votes cast). The remaining five seats (50 per cent) go to those advocates of ‘electoral reform’, the Lib Dems, who amassed an almighty and overwhelming share of the total votes cast of, er, 28.5 per cent. It will be interesting to see their next campaign on reforming the voting system.


Alexandra Road, St Albans

SIR – I would like to give my sincere thanks to all my supporters in the county election.

Having spent many weeks canvassing and meeting residents in Park Street, Chiswell Green and Bricket Wood, I was able to contact around eight thousand residents.

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I could not have achieved this number if it was not for the incredible support I had, from a wonderful team.

They endured snow, biting wind and rain.

I want also to give thanks to all behind the scenes who made it a very positive campaign.

A big thank you to the voters, who contacted me since the election; I am sorry I was not able to win for you.


Mount Pleasant Lane, Bricket Wood

Cashin’s constant correspondence

SIR – With reference to Mr Webster’s trivial observation in last week’s letters pages regarding his perception of my “exuberance of verbosity”.

Although clearly not about a single local issue and an unequivocal personal attack that says less about me and perhaps more about himself, his letter troubles not – as all I have to say in my riposte is, with respect, learn to read and count Mr Webster!

The editor’s current guidelines clearly state readers’ letters should be a maximum of 400 words, not the 250 Mr Webster erroneously states. Now how’s that for stating in 122 words succinctly and correctly what Mr Webster took almost 130 words to get wrong in his acerbic and completely ineffective missive!?

He’s obviously a cyclist!


Green Lane, St Albans

SIR – Thank you, Philip Webster, for voicing the views of many: my friends and I have a running joke about the Herts Ad being Barry Cashin’s personal soap box!

His views are extensive, often ill-informed, and take up space where other residents might have a chance to have their own voice heard. An empty vessel makes the most sound, Mr Cashin – can I suggest you find a friend to rant to instead of exposing us to your every view on every possible subject?!


London Road, St Albans

(Editor’s Comment: We endeavour to publish all correspondence received – although admittedly Mr Cashin is very regular in his dispatches. If you want to have your comments considered for publication on these pages, all you need to do is write!)

What about the white vans?

SIR – I was returning from my computer lesson when I decided to collect my sheets from Red Spot Dry Cleaners at The Quadrant.

Like many people I parked on a single yellow line opposite them in Sherwood Avenue, but today I was caught doing this by a stern official, who didn’t appear to have a uniform like a policeman.

Maybe he could have come from the St Albans community protection team?

What I should have said to him was to concentrate your attention on to the other side of The Quadrant where big white vans are parked on the pavement so the drivers can get their food, but these vans do obscure the views of cars turning into The Ridgeway – if anyone gets caught, it’s always me!


Windmill Avenue, St Albans

A hole mess of trouble

SIR – Nick Chivers, in his letter of May 2, is correct about the shabby look of St Peter’s Street.

This confirms the article ‘Shameful state of streets’ in the April 25 edition highlighting the concerns of the Civic Society.

The hole in question was part of the digging started by workmen between April 11 and 15. The expensive Chinese granite slabs were smashed and market space was compromised.

The hole remained, accumulating rubbish and thus became an eyesore (welcome to St Albans city centre!) until April 29, when, like the area nearby, it was filled in with Tarmac.

But not before new workmen on the Wednesday came to effect repairs – only to find a market taking place. So they went away to come back another day.

They then discovered that the Chinese granite slabs had been smashed and they did not have replacements. No – surprise, surprise – they have to come from… you’ve guessed it, China. Boats from China have been said to be somewhat slow! Hence, presumably, the Tarmac infill.

It is doubtful anyone at the council monitors such things and the society has asked the question. Mr Chivers proves the society is not alone in noticing such goings-on.

How long will the rough Tarmac remain – and to what standard will the paving be restored? And at what overall cost to us?

Dear Old Flanders and Swann had a song about it called “The Gas-Man Cometh”. Nothing changes much, it seems.


For St Albans Civic Society

Fishpool Street, St Albans

Why climate change is a reality

SIR – I am pleased Richard Durrant, a self-confessed advocate of the scientific method, has taken time to respond to my letter regarding global warming. I think it may have been better had he read my letter before attacking me, since I did not put forward any explanation as to why we were experiencing this.

Your readers will be aware that there is widespread scientific consensus that global warming is occurring due to human activity, and that this activity is in general increasing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other so-called greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

Mr Durrant cites one physicist, Piers Corbyn, who does not subscribe to that view. That’s fine – debating different hypotheses using evidence is, after all, part of the scientific process.

However, may I remind him that Corbyn stated in an interview in 2008: “CO2 has never driven, does not drive and never will drive weather or climate. Global warming is over and it never was anything to do with CO2. CO2 is still rising but the world is now cooling and will continue to do so.” This is clearly an article of faith, not a scientific statement. More importantly, the final clause is self-evidently wrong.

Since 2008 we’ve had another five years (to add to the previous 23) of month, after month, after month, of consistently above-average global temperatures.

It is scientific fact that CO2 levels are mounting. It is also scientific fact that global temperatures are climbing. Whether this is cause and effect or coincidence is a matter for (scientific) conjecture.

Personally I believe that there are a number of factors at play resulting in climate change – increasing amounts of CO2 and the influence of the sun being two of them. It will however take decades before humankind fully understands how these affect long-term global warming and the more problematic issue of short-term weather forecasting.

Perhaps Mr Durrant could enlighten us, notwithstanding the below-average temperatures we’ve experienced in Hertfordshire this year, why global temperatures are escalating month on month.


Fishpool Street, St Albans

SIR – It would be unfortunate if your readers concluded that because Richard Durrant (Herts Advertiser, May 2) has had some kind of training in chemistry, they should take seriously his views on the effects of carbon dioxide on global warming.

If he was familiar with some basic chemical spectroscopy he would know that more than a century ago the great Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius showed conclusively that increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air must inevitably cause greenhouse warming of the Earth’s surface.

With no carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the Earth’s average temperature would be about -20C instead of the present +15C so even the presence of small amounts of carbon dioxide has a huge influence over our climate. I thought that these facts were conceded even by the most rabid climate change deniers; apparently not in Mr Durrant’s case.

He can scarcely deny the irrefutable evidence that carbon dioxide has increased from about 280 parts per million before the industrial revolution to about 400ppm now. It has not been higher than this for about two million years when temperatures were also significantly higher and lions roamed around the south east of England.

Strangely, Mr Durrant speculates that the “billions of tons of coal being burned in China” may influence local temperatures but does not follow through with the logic that the billions of tons of carbon dioxide produced by this burning do not stay in China but are blown around the world and influence our climate as well.

It is simple to calculate the amount of coal, oil and gas burned by people over the last two centuries and the amount of carbon dioxide produced as a result of this burning (elementary chemistry!) is about twice what has been added to the atmosphere over that period (the remainder has dissolved in the sea, making that more acid).

Carbon dioxide in the air also has the characteristic carbon isotope composition expected from the burning of fossil fuels so it is clear that the rise of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is definitely due to human activity. The present level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is virtually certain to cause a rise of 2C in worldwide average temperatures and this level is still increasing.

There is abundant evidence that we live in a warming world: average temperatures have risen by about 1C over the last 100 years and within a few years the Arctic will be almost completely free of ice in summer, the first time for millions of years. Even small rises in temperature have the potential to cause havoc not just to climate but also to weather (more droughts, more storms, more floods).

Most informed scientists and most governments do recognise the menace of global warming due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide but individuals like Mr Durrant endanger our future because they tell us that we don’t need to do anything about global warming and that it is not happening anyway.

If we do nothing then it is our children and grandchildren who will reap the consequences.


The Dell, St Albans

SIR – A letter on climate change was published last week – May 2 edition.

In this letter mention was made of the horrendous amount of smoke particles produced in China possibly affecting local temperatures. Well, we have a major source of “invisible” smoke nearer to us, in the form of Luton Airport.

Over Luton and the villages to the south west, Luton Airport aircraft are emitting colossal numbers of ultra-fine “nano” particulate matter (PM). Each kilogramme of fuel burnt in the widely used CFM56 jet engine, on take off, produces 2.5+ million, billion ultra-fine “nano” particles. (source – US report, Airport Co-operative Research Program report #9, 2009). Also in 2010, fuel burnt in the vicinity of Luton Airport, out to about five miles, amounted to 15,800,000 kilogrammes. If you multiply the numbers together, the total amount of these ultra fine particles is a mind boggling 39.5 thousand million, million, million, particles. No wonder our sunsets are a bit hazy these days, and that the air is a bit “murky” across the Luton bowl.

What has happened here is that jet engines have been developed to a state where visible “black smoke” particles have been replaced by “ultra fine” particles that are usually almost invisible. Further, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported in 2006 that long range transportation of particulate matter (PM) was reducing life expectancy in Holland by three years, and in most of the UK by six months (base line – life expectancy figures for year 2000).

I therefore consider that it is rather foolish of mankind to keep using our rather thin and precious atmosphere as a carbon particle dump.

Sorry for all the numbers, but like Richard Durrant, I happen to have a rigorous technical background.


Tuffnells Way, Harpenden

Aircraft noise is not as bad as claimed

SIR – At the beginning of April John Davis of LADACAN wrote of the “almost endless drone of Luton’s departing aircraft each morning from 6am until 7.30” affecting south Harpenden.

Having been woken by noisy pigeons (not planes) at 5.30am last Wednesday I decided to check this for myself and arrived outside The Engineer at exactly 6am. It was a lovely clear morning, not a cloud in the sky, with an early morning frost. I then strolled around the Common and along Limbrick, Cravells and Walkers Roads and around Eastmoor Park until 7.30.

My findings were as follows:

Only one plane was seen during this time heading west towards Redbourn too high to determine what company it belonged to.

You could hear aircraft noise not surprisingly from the direction of Luton Airport and over the period 12 planes were heard although when standing on a main road the road traffic noise made it very difficult to hear the aircraft.

During the period 26 trains were heard and were louder than the aircraft including the one flying directly overhead.

The noisiest mode of transport were motor bikes accelerating along the St Albans Road.

The noisiest airport-related traffic was the airport bus passing me on Walkers Road.

There were a few early morning joggers and dog walkers none of whom seemed remotely concerned about the car, train and aircraft volumes.

I was of course outside – for those people still indoors the effects of all sorts of transport noise would have been that much less.

What conclusions can be drawn? Perhaps this was a particularly quiet day at Luton Airport – probably not.

Perhaps the weather conditions made it seem better than normal – I dont think so, not a cloud in the sky and virtually no wind.

Perhaps the problem of aircraft noise is nowhere near as bad as some would have us believe. If this is correct then is John Davis deliberately telling fibs to try and add support to his campaign? I am sure this is not the case. Perhaps then we have seen a bit of over exaggeration allowing himself to be carried away by describing limited background aircraft noise as an “almost endless drone”.

A small suggestion to John Davis - if you are to continue this negative campaign then please rely on facts to support your case and don’t let your imagination run riot!


Granby Avenue, Harpenden

Daylight savings?

SIR – The perennially deficient Herts County Council announced with much publicity how they were going to save taxpayers SO MUCH money by turning off street lights between midnight and dawn. What they did not say is that when a street light is reported as on during the day, it will be left like that and will be “Noted for Future Ref”.

Presumably it is cheaper to leave lights on during the day, than repair the many faults.


Aldwickbury Crescent, Harpenden

Victim of bike rage

SIR – Thank you very much for publishing my letter in this week`s Herts Advertiser. Let’s hope it generates some interest and positive reaction.

Ironically, you may be interested to hear that this morning, I was physically assaulted by a cyclist who took issue with my telling him to slow down and give some warning of his approach. Fortunately, I was not injured bar a blow to the chest but it did present quite a shock.

If this is what cyclists are capable of when they are told off for their unthinking behaviour, then the dangers highlighted by my letter are even worse than I thought. I have lodged a complaint with the police but I do have to say that I am now extremely nervous about using the Greenway at all having experienced this “bike rage” attack.


Waterend Lane, Wheathampstead

PC humps warning

SIR – Walking down the Causeway in Verulamium Park today, I was bemused to see signs tied to all the benches warning wheelchair users of humps.

How fast does St Albans District Council think wheelchair users can travel when there are no similar signs warning cyclist and skateboard users of the same humps on the path? Political correctness gone mad!


St Stephens Avenue, St Albans

Stephen needs help not prison

SIR – I was saddened to read your front page story ‘Three years for aiming a gun at policeman’ last week.

Stephen Lawrence is an inoffensive individual living in his own fantasy world and loved by all who knew him. If anything Stephen needed help rather than punishment. He has a problem and he needs professional help but prison is not the right place.

Stephen has a drink problem and is, if anything, eccentric but would not hurt anyone.

Why did the police not call out the armed response units? Was it simply because they knew it was only Stephen Lawrence? I believe the police will say yes as they would not allow a likely armed terrorist to walk the streets with a gun.

For those who do not know Stephen he is a good carpenter and does when offered work ease off from the demon drink until the work is complete. He has helped many when asked.

Those who can recall Ginger Mills who walked the streets of St Albans and surrounding areas for years will liken Stephen to him, and again he did no harm with his large knife strapped to his side as it was part of his get-up as the unform, etc., was with Stephen.

The story tells how Stephen was spotted in his full army get-up walking along a lane with his air rifle. Did the police call out a full search of the area with helicopters and armed police and dogs as you would expect if they thought there was a danger? No as they knew it was only Stephen Lawrence.

And where did the police go to look for him?

They knew where the harmless eccentric Stephen Lawrence lived and went there unarmed and arrested him.

All of Stephen Lawrence’s problems are drink-related and what he realy needs is help with his drink problem, not being locked up with hardened criminals.

I truly believe that had Stephen Lawrence been represented in court by someone who really knew what his problems were, he would have received the help he needs and that is not locking him away with hardened criminals that will only make him worse.


Counting the cost of commissioner

SIR – According to Google, David Lloyd is still a county councillor, as well as being the elected police commissioner. One must be a part time job – so must the other.

The police commissioner wants a deputy for a part time job. Now he wants a full time PR guru to tell us how well he is doing.

Where is all this money coming from in this time of austerity?

£75,000 + £75,000 + £20,000 plus expenses... Look out for a rise in the council tax next year.


Bloomfield Road