Letters, November 3, 2001

FCC boss explains Sunday delays

SIR – I refer to the letter from Steve Gledhill which was published on October 20, in which he complained about the problems experienced by his family when travelling from Herne Hill to Harpenden on a recent weekend.

As many of your readers know, First Capital Connect’s cross-London route is closed every weekday night and almost every weekend to allow major engineering work to take place as part of the Thameslink Programme.

However on Sundays October 2, 9, 16 and 23, trains were scheduled to run through central London.

On both Sunday, October 2 and 9, Network Rail engineers had carried out track renewals in the tunnel between St Pancras and Farringdon on Saturday.

On both days redundant rails were left in the tunnel and these fouled the first trains through the tunnel on Sunday morning.

The “shoes” which collect current from the third rails south of Farringdon, were damaged meaning that the trains were unable to collect power, and therefore could not operate south of Farringdon. On both Sundays our services were heavily disrupted until well into the afternoon.

Most Read

First Capital Connect greatly regrets the disruption that our passengers experienced.

We vigorously took up the problems experienced on Sunday, October 2, with Network Rail and were appalled when virtually the same issue occurred the following weekend. Your readers can be assured that this has been raised with Network Rail at the highest level.

Anyone delayed by 30 minutes or more is encouraged to claim Delay Repay.

Forms can be picked up at any First Capital Connect station or a claim can be made on line. The link is: http://www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/customer-care/delay-repay/


Integration & Partnership Manager

First Capital Connect

Why police car was on yellow lines

SIR – I would like to reply to Keith Webster about his picture of a police vehicle parked on double yellow lines (Herts Advertiser, October 20). I would like to make it clear what actually was happening as Mr Webster seems not to be fully informed of the police activity on this occasion.

The vehicle itself is not a ANPR maintenance vehicle but an actual operational police vehicle that is equipped with ANPR equipment to read numberplates.

The officers in the vehicle at the time were attending a call in the flats adjacent to the vehicle and not, as Mr Webster suggests, in a nearby caf�.

Emergency service vehicles are exempt from parking regulations such as double yellow lines when responding to calls and on this occasion this exemption was utilised. The police vehicle therefore is legally parked and certainly not above the law.


Two Dell Lane, Ashley Green

Pub is guilty until proven innocent?

SIR – Recently the White Horse (formerly The Pear and Partridge) in London Colney had an expensive refurbishment carried out along with a change in landlord. The pub has altered dramatically from a rundown place to a smart, clean, family-oriented establishment.

It is therefore surprising that the pub has had its licensing hours reduced. In the past the pub has had a bad name but surely this cannot be held against a new management team.

Would it not be fairer to allow the pub to carry on trading under the old hours for a probationary period and then have a licence review?

The pub has been found guilty by police licensing and environmental health before they’ve done anything wrong. It takes a brave person to invest heavily in the dying pub trade especially at this time of economic uncertainty.

The reduction in hours seems to be a rather bigoted decision by the authorities.


Alexander Road, London Colney

Praise for Anne Main’s Euro stance

SIR – May I through your paper congratulate and thank Anne Main MP for her courage in supporting a referendum on the EU and rebelling against the Government whips.

I know our MP works hard for her constituents and would encourage the residents of St Albans to show their support by writing to her with their views.

Apparently for the party leaders it is not sufficient that well over 60 per cent of British people think the EU, in its current format, is a failed experiment.


Fontmell Close, St Albans

SIR – I am neither a member nor a supporter of the Conservative Party and have never voted for Anne Main.

I wish, however, to congratulate Mrs Main on the excellent speech she made in the House of Commons supporting an EU referendum for the citizens of this country. It was one of the best speeches heard during the debate. Her defence of democracy and the right of the British people to decide our future was in sharp contrast to some of the views expressed by opponents of the proposal.

I think that we, the electorate of St Albans, deserve to hear what the views of other candidates in a future election are likely to be. Would the other political parties in St Albans tell us whether or not they will only select a candidate who is firmly committed to a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU?


Reynards Way, Bricket Wood

But Mr Lilley puts his party first

SIR – It probably comes as no great surprise that Peter Lilley, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, voted against having a referendum on our membership of the EU.

He has frequently postured as a eurosceptic at election times but when it comes to taking any positive action he will always put his party before his constituents’ wishes.

Many polls have been taken on the public’s attitude to the EU and every one has shown that well over 50 per cent of the people interviewed either want Britain to leave outright or to significantly renegotiate our position.

To refuse to give the public a chance to register their views is totally undemocratic and worthy only of a totalitarian regime.

It is significant that all three of the main political parties ordered their MPs to vote against a referendum.

When the next election is held it seems highly probable that the voters of Hitchin and Harpenden will remember just how much their defending MP cares about their views.


Saberton Close, Redbourn

Controlled parking is necessary evil

SIR – I notice that our local councillor has taken the welcome step of circulating a survey to all residents of our road to canvass our opinions on becoming a controlled parking zone.

Unfortunately I think this has become a necessary evil due to the selfish actions of several groups. We all accept a regular flow of visitors to the road, utilising neighboring business or churches. These drivers are not causing a problem as they tend to only stay for a short while.

The main offenders are commuters travelling to the train station which is a good 10 minutes walk away. I am always staggered by the ignorance of people who will dump their car on a residential street week in, week out.

On occasions cars have been left for weeks on end, presumably because the owners have taken the train to the airport and gone on holidays. We even had a camper van dumped on the road for four months over the summer!

I imagine if the boot was on the other foot they wouldn’t be pleased to have scores of strangers driving across town to their road and abandoning their cars for the day. Thus depriving residents of the opportunity to park their car even remotely close to their houses.

One of the regular offenders on our road drives a big Mercedes, here’s a tip mate, maybe buy a smaller car and you could afford to park at the station. Or better still a bicycle!

Regretfully neighboring businesses on Hatfield Road are also taking the proverbial by leaving owners and staff cars on the street. If it was the odd day no one would mind but every day! Buy a permit and park outside your own premises.

Thankfully the nursery that operated in the church on the corner has moved as this group of drivers were particularly ignorant. Finally multiple car householders from neighboring roads that have parking restrictions leaving car numbers two or three on our road.

Unfortunately there is a domino effect, as soon as Blandford Road introduced residents parking the problem on our road became infinitely worse.

If we become a controlled zone then Sandfield and Harlesden Roads will become car parks. None of this would be necessary without the selfish actions of the aforementioned groups.


Glenferrie Road, St Albans

Concerns over plans for ‘eyesore’ hotel

SIR – I was most disturbed by your front page report (Herts Advertiser, October 27) that St Albans councillors are on the verge of approving plans for a budget hotel at the top end of St Peter’s Street.

While there is universal agreement that this area is in urgent need of revitalisation, I seriously question whether this development is the solution, particularly in its present incarnation.

In a headlong rush to regenerate the area at what appears to be almost any price, councillors are brushing aside the justifiable concerns of planning officers regarding the development’s scale and design, with the result that we are likely to have an appalling eyesore that will stick out like a sore thumb.

Leaving aside the question of whether a bottom-of-the-range hotel without any car parking is an appropriate development for an important site in the busy centre of an historic city, the main issue for me is one of aesthetics.

In other words, will this building not only blend in with its surrondings but significantly enhance the appearance of this end of the town?

On the evidence of the pictures reproduced in your newspaper and the comment by one member of the planning committee that it looked like a “pre-fab”, the answer can only be an emphatic no.

I fear that if this development gets the go-ahead in its proposed format then this once elegant street will be once again be disfigured by an architectural monstrosity that future generations will rue for many decades to come.


Althorp Road, St Albans

SIR – On the front page of last week’s Herts Advertiser I saw an artist’s impression of what appears to be a very ugly five to six-storey eyesore being passed as a budget hotel – it certainly looks budget!

The sad thing is that our wealthy city is apparently so desperate to plug this part of our main street that our councillors look set to approve this monstrosity that our planning department have rejected.

We also have a school being proposed at the top end of Hatfield Road in a totally unsuitable position, no doubt because it was the cheaper option to site a school.

A better site for this school may be on the land that is currently still in ownership of Oaklands College just up the road that will become available when they finally bail out onto the Smallford Campus.

I have also learnt that Green Belt land in Bricket Wood, by the M25, that was originally given the go ahead for use as a golf course and subsequently used by the developers as a dumping ground is now being proposed for use as a retirement village.

It is not too late for St Albans Council to sort these issues out, but looking around at some of the developments that have taken place, time is fast running out – welcome to Anywhere.


Park Avenue, St Albans

Sad loss of Early Learning Centre

SIR – I am writing on behalf of my two children aged two and four who are really upset by the fact the Early Learning Centre in St Albans is closing.

I can’t understand why such a popular shop is closing just before Christmas but if it is to do with rent rises in the Maltings it’s such a shame!

St Albans now has hardly any toy shops, or reasons for young families to visit, and in the run up to Christmas I will be doing most of my shopping online.

This was not always the case as just a few years ago we had the lovely Little Wonders shop, Riders on Holywell Hill, and a Pizza Hut for lunch with the kids, but all these are now closed and now the ELC is closing as well!

The ELC was more than just a toy shop – the staff were always lovely and it was a great place for the kids to visit on a shopping trip. I would like to say thanks to the staff as they were always good with the kids and happy to help, hopefully they have other jobs to go to?


The Ridgeway, St Albans

No planes over Harpenden

SIR – Low flying planes – a correction. More misinformation from John Davis LADACAN (Herts Advertiser, October 27).

Harpenden is NOT heavily overflown by Luton planes.

When I’m playing golf at Hammonds End I can hear police sirens on the Redbourn Road and the cheers at Harpenden rugby club – no planes.

When I’m walking down the Nicky Line towards Wheathampstead I can hear the cyclists ringing their bells and dogs barking – no planes.

When I am in my garden at Granby Avenue I can sometimes just hear the trains – no planes.

When I am in the town centre there are the warnings of traffic lights changing and cars accelerating away – no planes.

When I drive along the Lower Luton Road there are no planes – until I get to Luton.

But no I too am guilty of exaggeration – sometimes I do hear a noise above me and so I look up – it may be a helicopter and yes just occasionally – a plane!

I wonder when I will hear the next one – I’ll let John Davis know.


Granby Avenue, Harpenden

Thanks for finding my missing son

SIR – Please could I thank the people who helped me in Verulamium Park last Friday lunchtime (October 28).

My two-year-old son ran out of the caf� through a crowd and disappeared into the park.

He was missing for about 10 minutes; the longest and most frightening 10 minutes of my life.

Sadly many people eating and drinking outside the caf� ignored my plight but several people (a man and two women I think) and two passing cyclists did help me and one of them found him and brought him back.

I was so relieved to see him and very grateful to the people who were prepared to step up and get involved when someone was in trouble.


Riverside Road, St Albans

White van man was knight of the road

SIR – I would like to say a brief thank you to the kind gentleman that helped me after I passed out at the bus stop in St Peter’s Street, St Albans, two to three weeks ago. He was in a white van and rushed to get me a drink from the sandwich bar. Whoever you are, thank you very much.



Hunt for old friend after return home

SIR – I’ve just moved to the address below after living in Bedford for 13 months. May I through your letters page ask that if Chris Cairncross who lived at Kent House in 2008 is still in St Albans would he be kind enough to write or call round to see me.


8 Perrycoste Court,

Taylor Close, St Albans

Zombies keep marching on

SIR – I would just like to let folks know through your paper that the legendary St Albans band The Zombies are playing at the Alban Arena on Sunday, November 27.

The Zombies gained worldwide fame in the sixties and their 1967 album Odessey (sic) and Oracle is rated alongside The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds albums.

Their single Time of the Season recently won an award for being played over six million times on US radio!

Their music will be familiar to anyone who loves sixties music or anyone who just loves good music.

It would be great if the show was sold out and we could give our local band the homecoming they deserve!


Mons Close, Harpenden

11/11/11 - a day for remembering

SIR – The British Legion are to be congratulated for the way each year they organise Remembrance Services and the Poppy Appeal for those who have fallen over the years. They remember.

The official moment when the Great War ended was on the eleventh hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (1918). I know that this falls on a weekday (Friday this year) and it may well be impossible for many to observe that moment.

However as town mayor, together with the deputy mayor and other councillors I would ask fellow residents, if possible, to support the British Legion and show our own town’s gratitude for all those in our armed forces who have sacrificed their lives for this country. Today this is just as important as it was in years gone by.

Our town can do this if those residents who are able to join us gather at the war memorial for a few minutes shortly before 11am on Friday the 11th, simply for a brief silence and a genuine mark of respect.

If possible please join us. Those who have fallen deserve no less.


Town Mayor

Harpenden Town Council

‘Over-reaction’ to injection error

SIR – Re: ‘Woman’s anguish over hospital injection error’ (Herts Advertiser, October 13).

Whilst I have no wish to undermine Ms Hossen’s situation, I feel that her “traumatised” response to a simple human error is an over-reaction.

Having had this injection three times, I am well aware of the procedure and the medical staff involved. Whilst I can understand the inconvenience and upset of having to have the procedure performed again, this is far from unusual.

These injections often fail to “take” and I myself experienced this the first time I had the procedure performed in 2009.

However, though disappointed, I was not in “anguish”, nor did I need to spend two hours of valuable NHS time in the recovery ward, as Ms Hossen claims she did.

This is despite the fact that, for me, the side-effects of repeated anaesthetics (I had four in that year alone) mean I make a slow and often very uncomfortable recovery.

Also in 2009, I had major surgery, from which I am still recovering due to complications. I myself am in the process of a complaint against my surgeon.

However, despite constant pain due to the surgery, plus numerous other complications, I am not “traumatised”, have not lost weight, or had trouble sleeping. Nor did I take my case to a local newspaper!

Today’s litigious society is increasingly playing the blame game.

However, unlike my own case, Ms Hossen was immediately informed of the mistake and received what she herself terms a “profuse” apology from the doctor involved.

To then take the case to a newspaper – even to the point of posing for a photograph – seems unnecessary and unfair, particularly as the West Herts NHS Trust cannot respond to any of her claims, due to patient confidentiality.

Let me add that I do not work for the NHS and my own experience tells me that medical negligence can happen.

However, Ms Hossen’s situation was simple human error (doctors are, after all, only human!) and was neither fatal nor irreparable. Perhaps Ms Hossen should visit a children’s cancer ward and discover what real trauma and anguish is?