Letters May 26 2016
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Just obeying orders
SIR – Your readers may be interested to learn how the Environment (Highways) Department of Hertfordshire County Council looks after their interests. On April 20, I was returning to my home just after lunchtime when I saw a contractor’s lorry just about to leave. The two occupants had just finished decimating my front holly hedge with a chain saw, leaving quite a lot of litter on the front footpath and road (pictured above). Upon my challenging them, they said they were only obeying orders that had been issued by Herts CC to their company, Ringway Ltd, It apeared that they were responding to a complaint that had been received concerning my hedge having encroached upon the footway and thereby constituting a danger to passers by. Having not received any notification of any complaint or of any intended action by any authority, I naturally complained to the environment (highways) department demanding to know why such action had been taken without any reference whatever to the householder, ie myself. In particular I also stressed that the hedge had been left in a far more hazardous state, given that numerous sharp-edged branch stubs were now facing all who passed by. It clearly presented a greater risk to health and safety than before. I also emphasised that if they had had the courtesy to inform me of the complaint I would have attended to the matter myself and made a far better, and safer, job of it. I also contacted our local Herts County Councillor (who happens to live in my road) and she had not been informed of any complaint or of any intended action. Resulting from my first letter to the deputy director of environment (highways), I received a visit from an official from Ringway Ltd., who agreed that the job had been badly carried out. He returned with a horticultural expert who would report on what further remedial work should be done. I eventually received a letter from Environment (Highways) stating they had received an ‘anonymous’ report that my hedge was causing an obstruction which was why they had taken the action. No reason or apology was offered for not having informed me prior to their action. It also appeared that they had clearly made no effort to examine whether this ‘anonymous’ report was justified, before acting upon it. I have been informed that the HCC arborist will “carry out a further balanced reduction to the hedge to ensure that it is safe and healthy”. I have not been informed whether I shall receive prior notification of his intended arrival. Clearly such ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to anonymous reports, with no reference to any affected parties, is not only offensive but also wasteful of council tax finances. I would have done a better job at no cost.
DR J. BUTCHER Saberton Close, Redbourn
Common sense and Christianity
SIR – The letter to your columns (May 5) from S. Beaver must be the most disjointed that I have ever read and I also found it quite intimidating. First of all Mr Beaver, in my opinion, you don’t have to be an authority on the Bible to be a Christian: it’s what is in the heart that matters most. I personally love going to church on Sundays and listening to the word but I have never allowed myself to be bogged down by theology – my fellow Christians lead by example, as I try to do, but during the week I do have other loves and interests. If a person, Mr Beaver, is homosexual, it is not usually by choice. None of us can help our gender. It is those who flaunt and glorifty it who are the perpetrators of strife, ie, the devastation to the world of Aids: let’s not forget this. With regard to family planning I can only view this as being very responsible but not if it involves abortion which is totally evil and certainly the Bible is insistent regarding this that anyone who offends a little one should have a stone tied around his/her neck and thrown into the waters, Yes, Mr Beaver, this is what we are told and I fully endorse it. I can’t really believe that, as you put it, many people use abortion as a form of birth conrol as it is too life-threatening in itself. Come on please, do try to be a bit more realistic. With regard to marriage being a stronger basis for remarriage, unfortunately this is not always the case because it take two to bring this about Mr Beaver and there’s nothing quite so damaging for children as continuous strife going on around them. It is far better to part and with regard to divorce, I can’t see what that has to do with society; it’s more a personal thing and if a divorcee does choose to take a chance on remarriage, I can only wish him/her the best of luck: it’s their decision alone. Can I finish by saying that it is good to follow Christian ethics but one must put in place more than a smattering of common sense. There’s none so blind as those who don’t want to see.
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ELIZABETH DUMPLETON Wilstone Drive, St Albans
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SIR - I love Simon Grover’s optimism (May 19) that - in the face of all evidence to the contrary - the European Union can be reformed, but feel obliged to point out that as a rallying call, “The EU; it’s a bit rubbish at the moment, vote Remain!” seems somewhat underwhelming. Cllr Grover is quite right when he says we flourish when we work with other nations. NATO, the UN and the WTO (if we had a seat) are all great examples of this. He will notice however that unlike the EU none of these organisations have a parliament, an executive, a court, a currency or, in the EU’s near future, a chancellery or defence force. These are the trappings of a state and are completely unnecessary for enabling international cooperation. Furthermore I think this strange experiment where we have given away chunks of sovereignty to a putative superstate infantilises us. Just look at some of the strange claims being made for remaining; such as membership of the EU has made our beaches and air cleaner. Are EU legislators some kind of uber-beings, bestowing the gift of superior laws to us in our poor benighted islands? We have had parliamentary democracy in this country for a lot longer than the EU has been in existence - we could have passed such legislation ourselves. As for the risible claim that the EU has prevented war in Europe, even if we ignore the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, this argument suffers from a supreme case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Is it not more likely that the last seventy years of peace between European nations was due to the existence of NATO and the threat from the Red Army? The thought of Warsaw Pact forces advancing towards the capitals of Western Europe probably focussed minds a bit. So unlike Cllr Grover, on June 23 I will be voting based on how the EU actually is, not on how I would wish it to be. I urge other readers to do the same. Vote leave.
NICK CHIVERS Jerome Drive, St Albans
SIR - With reference to the letter from Simon Grover concerning the upcoming referendum, I cannot agree that there is any advantage of another (very expensive) layer of politicians. At least we can change the Westminster members every five years which does not apply to the EU’s unelected Commission. All of the achievements Mr Grover credits the EU with, were achievable without the EU. We are not in Schengen, we are not in the Eurozone and we should not be in this fiasco at all. I have spent many hours over several years investigating the EU, including attending meetings of the Bruges Group. I have received views of sufficient financial experts and entrepreneurs to convince me we would be better off out. Let’s take back control and regain our sovereignty.
DAVID WALKER Fontmell Close, St Albans
SIR - If residents of St Albans and Harpenden understandably prefer to watch football, rugby, Billions, a Guy Ritchie movie, or David Attenborough, go to the pub, buy a ticket to watch Saracens live in Barnet, cook an appetising dinner, clean the bathroom, play tennis, even brush the dog, before attempting to research The Financial Times, The Economist, Radio 4, Boris Johnson lectures, or, listening to the podcast of the Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP explaining complex analysis of American and European trade deals on The World Tonight, should we be fortuitous enough to leave the EU, in order to make an informed decision may I respectfully request constituents might engage with politics to improve prosperity, and vote to leave the “European Union”, just because I recommend it, as an everyday woman, rather than listening to Karren Brady, astronomers, astrologers, Douglas Carswell MP or, the lovely IDS?
DENISE THORNTON Hillside Road, Harpenden
No disrespect was intended after count
SIR - You were quite wrong to publish the letter about me written by Cllr Curthoys, this contravenes your paper’s request to “avoid personal attacks on individuals”. It was a nasty slur on my character, for I feel an apology is due. To set the record straight - I do not do flouncing. I have cordial relationships with members of other parties both on polling stations and at the count and have shaken hands with successful Conservative candidates at previous counts. It was nearly 3am, many candidates had gone home and most were not staying on the stage long enough to shake hands. My ankles had begun to swell up as I had been on my feet all day and I was feeling uncomfortable so I wanted to sit down as soon as possible. I stood on the far edge of the stage and the presiding officer obscured my view of the rest of the candidates. I left the stage unaware of any handshaking. I did speak to the other candidates briefly later in passing. Making unwarranted slurs on the character of others is not the sort of politics I respect. I would be grateful if you would set the matter straight by publishing this letter.
JILL MILLS Sandridge Road, St Albans Value for money from contractors?
SIR - Following on from your article “High cost of lights upgrade” I am not surprised given what appears to be the random way in which these lights are being upgraded. Sandpit Lane has had random lights along various sections upgraded, if there is a technical reason for this as it appears rather haphazard. I tried for over a year to get the contractors who were supposed to be cleaning the streets to get them to clean the gutters in our street and actually ended up doing it myself because despite repeated visits it seemed to be beyond them Also on Sandpit Lane the grass verges were up near waist level in recent weeks, I was pleased to see a convoy of lawnmowers finally descend on the area. As the lawnmowers went off into the sunset the mess left behind was apparent. Are we really getting value for money from these companies running what are fairly basic services?
DAVID KALOCZI Park Avenue, St Albans
Overflying flights debate continues
SIR - I follow the various correspondence on Luton Airport’s expansion with interest. I must be the only reader that acknowledges that having a local airport can be good thing and that it is time that some balance was brought to the debate. The airport has many positives including access to cheap flights for business and leisure purposes to all manner of exciting destinations, and being 10 minutes down the road negates the need to travel to other airports. The airport provides employment to hundreds of local people, and for the national economy every Airbus bought is a set of UK manufactured wings (Easyjet operate over 200, with another 200 on order). So, as a consequence of flying from the airport as a passenger I contribute to aircraft movements, and will therefore put up with aircraft overflying my house. I am neither a NIMBY nor hypocritical to the point where I participate in air travel yet refuse to tolerate the aircraft noise that aircraft produce. I have no interest in fobbing off aircraft noise to St Albans, Sandridge or anywhere else for that matter. There is nowhere in south-east England that is immune from aircraft noise anymore. Can we also rid the myth that all the aircraft overflying our area are inbound or outbound from Luton. Many are from Heathrow (northbound and trans-Atlantic traffic) and Stansted (westbound departures). See for yourselves on www.planefinder.net where live aircraft tracking can be monitored. Aircraft will occasionally veer from prescribed tracks usually due to meteorological or collision avoidance reasons. Aircraft noise over Harpenden has certainly reduced over the years even though actual movements continually increase. This is partly due to some changes in routings: northbound departures off the westerly runway no longer do an almost 360 degree left-hand turn over the town and departures from the easterly runway which then route over Harpenden towards the Henton navaid to the west are at much higher altitudes. There has been some speculation/scaremongering that the traffic associated with the expanding airport will clog up the Lower Luton Road, but presumably the opening of the proposed new school will see to that, assuming of course it actually gets built. Presumably the decision-makers on this are the same lot that decided that closing Wheathampstead School was a really cool idea?
ROB CROSS Alzey Gardens, Harpenden
SIR - I refer to the aircraft noise article in your paper on May 12 and John Davis’ letter of May 19. On May 14 I was in Fishpool Street, St Albans some time between 7.30-8.45pm enjoying a pint or two in various pubs along the road. I was sitting out in one pub garden having a conversation and relaxing with friends along with many other people. During this time the only sign of aircraft was a vapour trail and no noise. Not all St Albans residents suffer from a “detrimental affect of noise pollution” or “significant noise which is disturbing”and I’d like to think that Harpenden residents will not blame all St Albans residents Peter, you are wrong, not all St Albans residents “suffer constant increased noise since the flight path change”. And as for house prices, they are on the increase, especially in Watford Road where one is on the market for £1.5m. So please don’t refer to “all St Albans residents” when this is not the case.
D WYLLIE Watford Road, St Albans