Letters, November 15, 2012, part two

Why Colts plan is unacceptable

SIR – In this week’s Herts Advertiser, in connection with the Colts FC playing field proposals (pictured), Cllr Bernard Lloyd accuses me of having a “wild imagination” in my assertion – made in my letter published in the previous week’s paper – that the proposed development might lead to eventual redesignation of those 32 acres as building land.

If my imagination is wild, I can assure him that all the residents I have spoken to in Roundwood Lane, Falconers Field and the surrounding area of north-west Harpenden, share the same apprehensions, be they wild or otherwise, regarding future use of the land.

I note Cllr Lloyd’s contention that turning this huge area of unspoilt countryside into playing fields is “an acceptable use of Green Belt land”. Acceptable to who? I would suggest only to those with little or no feeling for Harpenden’s rural character or with a vested interest in plans which would despoil that character.

In the Herts CC leaflet distributed to those attending the first exhibition at Roundwood School, we are told that “the plan identifies a possible reserve site for education use… at a future date”. “Education use” is obviously a carefully chosen choice of words, being a coded reference to the building of a new school, to which there would be even more vehement objections for countryside desecration reasons.

That statement implies that the alleged requirement for 11 football pitches, for use by Colts FC, is a temporary measure, which immediately raises the question of how would the Colts’ requirements be met in the longer term. In any case we should be told how frequently those 11 pitches would be in simultaneous use, in order to justify such a number.

The whole issue of provision of football pitches for Colts FC is questionable. We are told the use of the proposed New Farm facilities would be mainly on Saturday and Sunday mornings. If that is the case, why cannot existing playing fields attached to schools under Herts CC authority, notably Roundwood School’s extensive facilities, including the large field between Medlows and the New Farm fields – which are, by definition, only in use from Monday to Friday – be utilised at weekends by the Colts?

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A quite different but no less important aspect of these unwelcome proposals is that relating to the wider environment. The loss of 32 acres of arable land, as projected, would, a decade or two ago, when large areas of land were required under EU rules to be “set aside”, have created minimal concern from an agricultural productivity point of view. But today, in the face of a growing UK population needing to be more self sustaining in food production, British farm produce is greatly in demand.

On a personal note to Cllr Lloyd, several people I have spoken to have questioned whether his own support for the proposals would be so strong if, hypothetically, the farmland concerned was the no-less attractive area immediately adjacent to Hartwell Gardens?

In summary, among those of us living close to the New Farm site, there is universal outrage, not only at the threatened loss of amenity (to use 21st Century jargon), but at the numerous other implications set out in my letter published by the Herts Advertiser on November 1.


Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden

No respect for woods

SIR – It is not only a deadly fungus that is putting much-loved trees at risk (Herts Advertiser, November 8). Lack of Government respect for safeguarding our woods and forests also poses a threat.

Nearly 11 per cent of Hertfordshire has woodland cover and one in five Hertfordshire residents lives a short distance from a wood he or she can walk in. If we are to maintain or improve this state of affairs, new Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson needs to do one simple thing this month: say yes to the 30 recommendations in the Independent Panel on Forestry Report.

At a stroke this will make a huge difference towards the planting of new woods (like Heartwood Forest at Sandridge), and careful restoration of ancient woodland. In Hertfordshire alone, 29 ancient woods have been threatened by developers over the past 10 years.

More information about the situation in Hertfordshire can be found at the Woodland Trust website (http://bit.ly/Uvj9Uy). Readers of the Herts Advertiser can help convince Mr Paterson and Forestry Minister David Heath that England’s trees need their protection. The website explains how to reach the politicians who matter.


Woodland Trust, local media volunteer for Hertfordshire

Cyclists putting themselves at risk

SIR – Following the recent accidents involving Bradley Wiggins and his trainer, I would like to urge all cyclists and pedestrians to realise that we motorists really want to see you.

Please could you wear reflective garments and have much brighter lights on your helmets and bicycles. The tiny lamps, even those flashing types, are no better than fairy lights on a Christmas tree.

Car headlights, especially the halogen ones, are much brighter these days and it is often almost impossible to see the lamps or the cyclists, who are invariably dressed in dark clothing, on the roads.

Pedestrians, especially school children whose uniform is also dark, would be well advised to carry bags with bold reflective strips as they are also difficult to see against the headlights as they try to cross busy roads.

We really want to see you, but please help us.


Waverley Road, St Albans

SIR – Through your paper please can I send a message to the lady cyclist who was riding her bike around “cricketers corner” on Harpenden Road, St Albans, last Tuesday evening, at around 8.30pm, then turned left into Townsend Drive. For your own safety – and that of other people – PLEASE do not cycle in dark clothing at night with no lights. You put yourself and other road users in danger.


Batchwood Drive, St Albans

No time to swim at new Lodge pool?

SIR – Great to hear the larger, better Westminster Lodge is now open. The problem is when do the hard-working residents of the area who work during the day time actually get to visit and have a swim in this new pool?

The timetable is just as unwelcoming as the previous Lodge. Unless my eyesight is dodgy, according to the timetable, it is heavily laden with clubs such as Salmon Club and Underwater Hockey.

What about the hard-working people who just want to go for a gentle swim? Well there is an hour and a half on a Tuesday evening, or most of Friday evening... very flexible!

From my experience the Borehamwood Swimmimg Pool is great for residents and they always make sure half of the pool is open the whole day for the public to use. If I’m having to help pay for the New Westminster Lodge using my council tax it would be nice to be able to use it at a time that is convenient. Why oh why do these clubs and schools get to take over the pool... can’t they use the sub aqua club in Cottonmill Lane, or see if any local schools with a pool could allow them some time in the evenings?

Absolutely disgusting St Albans Council/Everyone Active! Actually EVERYONE ACTIVE? Not unless you belong to a swimming club!

Until this changes I think I will continue to go to The Venue in Borehamwood where everyone is welcome at all times of the day!


Park Street, St Albans

Neglect to blame for lack of visitors

SIR – I refer to your report of Thursday November 8, entitled ‘Where are all our new visitors?’. The answer is a no-brainer and it’s high time that local administrators of this city and county asked the same question.

One only has to see the state of the disgraceful roads into St Albans – unkempt grass verges, unpicked litter and a disgraceful level of disrepair of the roads. I have raised this matter several times over the last few years with the key councillors in this matter – Aislinn Lee and Stuart Pile, the county councillors, responsible for the local area and roads. And the response has been absolutely dismissive.

The key entry road A405 into St Albans has been classed as a “rural swathe”, simply to avoid grass cuts. Absolutely irresponsible and shameful. The shabby state is for all to see!

The only thing blessed for this city is history, but with the complacence and neglect shown by such councillors, this will only hasten the downfall of this once great city, something the tourists have already shown. And the county council is trying its best to hasten this with its callous attitude, and its support for a rail freight terminal, and incinerator and other such damaging developments!


Watford Road, St Albans