Letters, May 1, 2014

Unjustified hike in parking fees

SIR – I have been using the Keyfield terrace car park for many years. I found same very convenient as it is central, open and easy to use. I was very surprised when I parked the car on Friday, April 10, to find that the fees have gone up dramatically. Standing puzzled in front of the pay machine studying the changed fee structure I also learned that the half hour and one hour option have disappeared and regardless of the duration of the stay, the customer is now requested to pay a minimum of £2.80 as opposed to 60p for the half hour slot or £1.20 for one hour. Has the car park service changed? Has car park safety been improved or have the CCTV cameras that are installed but do not function been repaired? I failed to see the changes of the car park service but would be pleased to receive details. In the commercial world a four times increase for a product would require a dramatic improvement of the quality of the product. Is this the case? Like many others who live in St Albans I always found particularly the half hour option very useful for a quick shop in town or half a glass of tap water or lemonade in one of the pubs nearby particularly after a hard day at work. I would appeal to the council to review and more importantly justify the massive increase for what appears to be an unchanged service and to reintroduce the half hour and one hour parking option.

CHRISTOPH EGLE Springfield Road, St Albans

Praise for our Mayor’s hard work

SIR – We, the public, cannot know what official invitations have been sent, and not accepted, but we do see slots filled by an energetic and dedicated Mayor. How can you blame her for doing her job? Would you rather the events passed by unmarked by ceremony? We say thank you Annie Brewster!

ROSEMARY STEVENS Worley Road, St Albans

SIR – The most gracious and hard-working Cllr Annie Brewster is the Right Worshipful Mayor of the City of St Albans and its surrounding District, the senior Mayoralty in Hertfordshire. This Mayoralty was established by King Edward VI’s Royal Charter in 1553. It covers St Albans and the Wards of Harpenden, London Colney, Colney Heath, St Stephen, Sandridge, Wheathampstead, Redbourn and St Michael with a population of about 140,000. Harpenden Town Council was formed in 1989 and the chairman of this council was given the title Harpenden Town Mayor. It has a population of about 30,000. These figures give some indication of the comparative levels of commitment and responsibility needed to be undertaken by the two Mayors. To see Cllr Brewster’s photograph in this newspaper several times each week indicates a fraction of the number of engagements she undertakes on our behalf. I believe the number was over 400 in her first six months of office. The Grove House charity shop in Harpenden comes within the St Albans district and Cllr Brewster has been a keen supporter of that charity. Consequently she was invited to open the new shop. What was she to do? Decline? Of course not! Both Cllr Brewster and the Mayor of Harpenden Cllr Rosemary Farmer duly attended and did their duty. I applaud Sheila Satchell’s support for her mayor (Our Invisible Mayor, Herts Advertiser, April 10), and I’m sorry she’s fed up, but a few facts cannot go amiss.

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NORMAN DAVIES Beresford Road, St Albans

Thanks for helping with dogs rehoming

SIR – We would like to extend our thanks to members of the public who donated funds at Dogs Trust’s event at St Albans market place on April 10 and 11. It was fantastic to see so many supporters interested in rehoming dogs and keen to know more about the charity’s work. We raised a total of £397.53 which will go towards the care of the many dogs awaiting new homes at our 18 rehoming centres across the UK.

LAURA NICHOLAS Dogs Trust Dogmobile Assistant Manager

Landgrabbing close to home?

SIR – I read with interest in your April 17 edition about the good work the youngsters at Sir John Lawes school had done in highlighting the issue of “land grabbing” in developing countries. It did strike a chord with me in that maybe it is not only in developing countries that these problems arise. I wonder if it is so very different from Herts County Council threatening to compulsory purchase land from a working and active farmer in Batford and deprive them of their livelihood now and in future years in order to build a new school on the plot (and then maybe sell off some of the surplus land once purchased for housing – no doubt to one particular and very active building company in the area who seems to be running the council’s new home building programme for them).

ALEX COLLINS Salisbury Road, Batford Backing the indies

SIR – Yes independent stores are what give character to a High Street not chains. It is not absolutely the case that shopping online is cheaper. We all pay more tax because Amazon pay less. But more importantly what value do you place on the time hanging around waiting in for a delivery after shopping online? Shop locally and support independent traders not the boring chains and supermarkets! So much more fun finding and supporting the one-off shop or café. St Albans will benefit in the long term. It’s why The Odyssey will be so much more an asset than a multiplex cinema.

JONATHAN DEVEREUX Barnfield Road, St Albans

Parish snub over youth shelter bid

SIR – Whilst very pleased that the young people of Sandridge are to get a mobile youth shelter, and that the trial in Wheathampstead went so well that the parish council have now installed a permanent one, I am extremely upset that my own parish council (London Colney) have been so stubborn that we now can’t have one. Myself and others identified other locations but the parish were adamant that it could only go in their chosen site. The residents of this site were against this so now it has been scrapped. The sites we identified were not so populated so could have been perfect. If only I could tell everyone on the front page of a taxpayer funded parish magazine that gets posted through every letterbox in London Colney about this. Alas I’m not the chairman of a parish council.

CLLR SIMON CALDER Norris Close, London Colney

Plane changes are not such good news

SIR – It is premature, and misleading, to regard these route changes as a major benefit. I am about two miles from the westerly flight path, and I can still record 60 decibel (dbA) noise levels in my back garden at times. I doubt I will hear much, if any, benefit at all in my part of north-west Harpenden, In any case, beneficial changes could soon be eaten away by bigger, heavier, noisier and more frequent flights; and as we have recently seen, pollutants do not respect county, or even national, boundaries!

COLIN WEAVER Tuffnells Way, Harpenden

SIR – I fear your April 17 headline (“Welcome end to plane noise”) is over-optimistic. Although a welcome move, the proposal applies to only one (westerly) departure route and will have no effect on Luton’s main easterly departure route, which has plagued for example Wheathampstead and Harpenden over the Easter period (along with northbound Heathrow departures a bit higher up!). The reason for the claimed big reduction in people overflown is the result of starting from, as your published radar tracks show, a wide scatter over north Hemel, Redbourn, south Harpenden/north St Albans and concentrating them on to a much tighter line using GPS-style navigation; so at least we’ll then know where they should be! But as we’ve noted before, the downside is that the noise is then concentrated over those few living in rural areas. However, since this represents the only positive suggestion initiated by the airport itself (rather than imposed by various regulations) during the 100-plus meetings I’ve attended over the years, I personally am broadly supportive, particularly now we’ve persuaded them that Swanwick (Southampton) Air Traffic Control shouldn’t direct Luton planes off that narrow track until after crossing the railway. A cynic might say this proposal is simply a cunning ploy to buy off opposition to their proposed further doubling of passengers, with a further increase in the sensitive 6-7am (or earlier?) departures, and the creeping increase in bigger (noisier?) aircraft. On that front, one small recent achievement is that two LADACAN members have, with others, persuaded the Government it is they who should decide on the proposal, not Luton borough council with its hefty financial interest, hence the current hiatus. Meanwhile the proposed solar energy development you recently reported on will at least provide us with some carbon-free power as a (tiny!) compensation to the massive quantities of CO2 Luton and other aircraft pour out into the atmosphere, with its climate implications.


Why it’s crucial to vote on Europe

SIR – The trees are in full bud and people seem to be wearing more sunglasses than scarves. That can only mean one thing. No, not the advent of spring but the imminence of the European elections on May 22. The footslogging volunteer force, a time-hardened bunch whose only qualification for the job is a stout pair of Clark’s and a Teflon-like skin have begun trudging the streets on their annual quest to wake the dead in us to come out and vote for their respective parliamentary candidates, in this case, European ones. Usually, I would say it doesn’t matter - let the turn out figures drop to even lower lows – but I’m afraid that this time around, it does, very much so. This was exemplified with the recent TV debates between UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage and tree hugging Liberalist Nick Clegg aka DPM, where poor Mr Clegg’s ineptitude and unsuitability for Government office was exposed brilliantly by Farage’s “man in the pub” speak and common sense. Sadly, the Greens (who are they?) and the current Prime Minister declined to attend the debate. Lord Sutch, I’m given to understand, was attending a bash up in that great Loony bin in the sky so sent his apologies. I digress. I carry no political affiliation and as far as I am concerned, the whole lot of them can go and drown in a VAT of Brussels’ best European-sanctioned brandy but on a very serious note, there are massive problems in this country associated with Europe which, unless we have sufficient representation to address them, will continue to blight the UK society and economy and drain our resources and freedoms even further. We all know what those issues are and it does not need a public letter in the local rag to outline them. Suffice it to say, come May 22, please do not file your voting card under B for bin. The future of this nation, if not for yourselves but your children really is at stake. It is that important. So please, continue to ignore the Clark’s wearing, Teflon skinned die-hards who always seem to disturb your Corrie with precision timing, but please also do not forget to exercise your democratic right to vote. It’s what millions gave their lives for in two World Wars. I thank you!

BARRY CASHIN Green Lane, St Albans

Not so happy with state of St Albans

SIR – I was amused to read the article that was printed in your paper a few weeks ago in which the person was praising how wonderful and beautiful St Albans was and comparing the shops to London. Was she wearing rose-tinted glasses – maybe she was. I know it is wrong to hark back to the days when St Albans was a beautiful city but I feel I must as I was born and bred in St Albans. I have watched the city deteriorate year by year although growing up here, we took everything for granted. From getting off the bus in Catherine Street, you had a High Street with every kind of shop you could wish for from bakers, fishmongers, greengrocers, shoe shops, ironmongers, fashion shops and department stores. Also the High Street was lined with blossom trees and that was when the city looked wonderful. Now it has no character and last year there were no hanging baskets. Did John O’Conner forget to put them up? When you walk past the old Registry Office in Civic Close which has now been derelict for years, it looks disgusting where they have boarded up the pathway. It is like a rubbish tip. When the time comes for the police station to be demolished, the district council should be looking at getting a department store built on the site. Just imagine how much trade it would bring into St Albans and help other retailers within the city. What would also help is what I suggested to a local councillor two years ago which is to have a meeting with all the landlords with empty shops to make rents cheaper for people to open their business without the fear of going bust plus bring business rates down for the properties. When you visit other cities you can see and visit individual shops like we used to have here in St Albans. This district council needs to wake up and listen to what people want for our city – no more coffee shops. As we are nearing to local elections, would-be councillors should listen to people on the doorsteps about their grievances, especially with regards to pavements which are also in desperate need of repairs. You only have to walk down in the Market Place, where you have to walk with your head down all the time, as you will trip and give yourself a nasty injury. Why is nothing maintained any more – because these people in power only know how to waste taxpayers’ money instead of using it to benefit people.

MRS M. S. PATERSON Liverpool Road, St Albans

Use an alternative to BHS loos

SIR – Re Barry Cashin’s letter (Herts Advertiser, April 17). In answer to the BHS loo crisis, what is the matter with using the public toilets almost opposite BHS down past the council offices. They don’t have to go upstairs and when I go there, it is always empty.

JILL LITTLE Sandfield Road, St Albans

Still a big demand for allotments

SIR – I am an allotment holder at Sandridge Road Allotments and as a former committee member, I know that for years there has been a waiting list for new plot holders that has not dropped below 80. I have been reliably informed that the list of applicants has been lost, so empty plots are not being filled. Publicity from your paper might encourage people who had previously applied for a plot to recontact the council. Having empty plots could encourage the council to suggest that allotments are no longer required. Recently many councils have been granted permission to sell off allotments, many of which had been cultivated for decades and are incredibly fertile, producing excellent crops.

CHRISTINE GRAVES Monks Horton Way, St Albans