Letters, November 11, 2011

Bad news for hump drivers

SIR – I should like to thank Nick Rich (letters October 20th) for supporting my complaint about the hazardous humps in Topstreet Way and Crabtree Lane. He says that he drives along Topstreet lining up the car to cross the humps with least discomfort to himself and passengers (don’t we all?). However, I have some bad news for him.

According to the Herfordshire Highways Department, “drivers are supposed to cross these cushions (cushions!) with one wheel on and one wheel off. This may be considered a more uncomfortable ride but will slow drivers down which is the purpose for which they are installed.”

If anyone wishes to write to the Highways Department, the address is: Mid Herts Area Office, Highways House, 41-45 Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City, AL7 3AX.

Alan Hall

Gilpin Green, Harpenden

Memories of supporters

Most Read

Sir – With reference to the picture in last week’s paper, ‘Up The Saints’. The three ladies in the front are my sisters and myself. The first is Ruth, then myself (Joyce), then my twin sister Georgina Andrews (the Andrew sisters). The man in the front row, right in the corner is Joe Potter. The man in the back row, second left, is Billy (I can’t read the surname). The photo was taken at Barnet Football Ground in 1951. It was a Herts Senior Cup match. I also have a copy of that photo.

Mrs Joyce Anson

St Albans Road, Sandridge

Commemorating the fallen

Sir – There might be support for a simply worded plaque, perhaps in the grounds of St Mary’s, Marshalswick, in memory of all the victims of recent wars.

Jonathan Kiek

Woodfield Way, St Albans

Keeping to time

Sir – I can appreciate DPG Morgan’s annoyance (Herts Advertiser, October 27). A few months back I went to Grange Street Surgery for a blood test. I parked, filled out my parking voucher and walked to the surgery.

As luck would have it, there were no delays and I was in and out within minutes. Returning to my car I saw a warden writing out a ticket. I asked him why he was ticketing me and was told that I was out of time.

He tried to dismiss me when I said that I’d only been there 10 minutes. However, he had to apologise when I opened the car and showed him my voucher.

What woud have happened if I had not spoken to the warden and I didn’t have the chance to prove my case?

J Johnes

Gurney Court Road, St Albans

Support for Radlett fire station

Sir – I wholeheartedly agree with Clive Glover that Radlett fire station needs to be reopened and a review of fire cover is needed for Radlett and the surrounding area.

Radlett Fire Station was, in years gone by, one of the busiest fire stations in Hertfordshire, with around 250 calls a year. The crew not only provided vital cover for Radlett but also much needed back up for Watford’s two engines, St Albans’ two engines, and Garston and Bushey’s single engines.

In Borehamwood, my own survey of residents showed that most people believed that Borehamwood had two engines. In fact, their single engine, which now struggles to cover both Borehamwood and Elstree, including its busy aerodrome, as well as Shenley, Ridge, Letchmore Heath and Radlett, was primarily backed up by Radlett’s engine, especially on property fires with persons reported where two engines are required before the building can be entered. (There were 145 calls per year in the three years prior to closure.)

We must all now be aware of how, prior to the closure of Radlett Fire Station, the figures for arrival times of first engines were manipulated. Firstly, from eight minutes to 10 minutes from time of call and then again somewhat surreptitiously to 10 minutes from time of assigned, thus gaining an extra four to six minutes so that the closures could be justified. The fire service has always maintained that the first five to 10 minutes in a house fire are the most crucial.

History has proved that local knowledge was one of the Radlett crew’s most important weapons in the fight against fire. Since closure, other engines have been lost, or not taken the quickest routes to fires in Radlett or have even asked members of the public for directions on numerous occasions. A recent fire in Radlett in April, which gutted a home, required six engines whose crews spent three hours tackling the blaze. Had Radlett Fire Station still been operational, the results could have been much less severe.

Radlett Fire Station has now stood empty for five years, requiring Herts County Council to continually pay for private security to watch over the building, which, situated on the busiest roundabout in Radlett cannot sensibly be used for anything other than a fire station or community safety centre.

Now that sufficient time has elapsed for Herts County Council to swallow their pride and admit their obvious mistake in closing it in the first place, perhaps, and, as anyone who knows me will testify, I would be the last person to suggest closing any fire station, as crews from Watford’s new fire station can reach Bushey fire station’s ground so quickly, the best solution for all, and a get-out clause for the council, would be to re-open Radlett, preferably as a safety centre incorporating fire, police and ambulance services. This would give the residents similar fire cover to the rest of Hertfordshire at a level that a town the size of Radlett demands.

Mr S P Oakes-Monger

Park Road, Radlett

Stories of Scouting

Sir – I am writing to appeal to anyone who has been involved in the work of the Ninth Harpenden Scouts over the past 45 years. It’s an exciting time of change for the group as we have just been awarded planning permission to rebuild our hut. This is great news for us all. I felt that while we celebrate and start the hard work of fundraising, it was a good time to reflect on the work that has been done in the group and revel in some of the stories of past members.

I am in the process of setting up a website for previous Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Leaders and I welcome anyone to contact me on the email below to tell me their story and memories of their time at the Ninth. Any photos to accompany the stories would be welcome too.

Scouting in Harpenden is growing at a fantastic rate with groups full to the brim and long waiting lists for all sections. The work we do provides happy memories and good times for adults and children alike. I look forward to hearing from our past members.

Elisabeth Grover

Group Scout Leader


Falconers Field, Harpenden

There are other toy shops in city

SIR – I am writing in response to all the people who are upset at the declining amount of toy shops in St Albans.

Sally Dixon who wrote before believes that the Early Learning Centre could have been forced to close due to rent rises. However, I think it’s more likely due to the fact that the parent company of ELC is in financial trouble, hence the closures at many sites.

I run Hawkin’s Bazaar in the Maltings and although we are not officially a toy shop we have hundreds of toys, games and curiosities in stock that are ideal for Christmas and all year round. We cater for all ages including adults.

Ms Dixon also stated that ELC was more than just a toy shop, that the staff were always lovely and that it was a great place to visit. I agree, however we also always aim to provide top notch customer service and interaction and we also even let you play with most of the toys before you buy (unheard of in most toy shops!). We have many repeat customers, some of whom often just come in to see what’s new or what we’re demonstrating. We regularly have customers praising us on our helpfulness and cheeriness.

I definitely recommend that you pay us a visit, you might be surprised!

Clara Harris

Westminster Court, St Albans

A firm stance on pollution

Sir – Cllr Beric Reid is to be commended on his firm stance on the topic of the pollution on the Holywell Hill (Herts Advertiser, November 3, Pedestrianisation plan shelved).

To the best of my knowledge, he is the first sitting St Albans councillor in a majority administration to commit his council to the possibly novel concept of obeying EU directives.

The former Lib Dem administration claimed Europhiles, but closet Europhobes, had adopted the Greek strategy when confronted with the law on pollution and the council’s breach of it.

Adopt delaying tactics, commission more surveys, and propose wishy-washy unpopular diversions such as the part-time, cars-only banned, pedestrianisation of St Peter’s Street, when times are good.

That’s what the Greeks did over the Maastricht rules on government finance, and that’s what the Lib Dems in St Albans did over the EU pollution limits.

What they had planned to do when finances became tight is what the Greeks are doing – wring their hands, moan that they can’t start behaving themselves now after all these years of naughtiness, and incite their citizens to riot.

I’m sure that the Lib Dems were banking on the car drivers of St Albans to create a riot, and for the ’silly’ partial pedestrianisation of St Peter’s Street to be thrown out in the same way as the earlier one-way system hit the buffers. Then they can trot out the excuses: “there’s no money left now, the public won’t stand for it, etc, etc, moan, moan.” Then they could all have reverted to being naughty boys and girls all over again, and re-started the whole grisly cycle of inactivity.

Thank God and the EU for Cllr Read. However I’m not sure that his Tory colleagues are grateful to either God, the EU or him. Are they really prepared to do the EU’s bidding? I’m not sure. Their MP went on a bit in the Commons about the duplicity of the Lib Dems over Europe, and was supportive of the campaign to save the Holywell Hill from pollution at the time of her re-election in 2010. So that’s a good sign.

But spend serious money on bringing down the pollution levels in the Holywell Hill, or risk courting unpopularity with their core voters, the SUV Brigadiers and the Harpenden high-octane Charioteers, remains to be seen. The residents on the Hill have waited for almost 10 years now, watched the congestion increase and smelt the pollution getting progressively worse and seen the limits breached on more and more days and in more and more streets.

Tony Waite,

Holywell Hill, St Albans

Doubling up on disabled badges

Sir – I was very interested in the letter from DPG Morgan, ‘Boycotting city over parking fine’ (Herts Advertiser, October 27) because while working as an administrator for a church in Watford, an elderly disabled member of the congregation was given a parking fine because her disabled badge was displayed incorrectly too, and it took me a month of correspondence on her behalf to get it quashed.

It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that there is a very simple solution to this problem. Why not redesign disabled parking badges to make them double sided so that elderly and handicapped people cannot make the innocent mistake of displaying them face down?

Is it too cynical to wonder if this has not been done because fining the vunerable is a “nice little earner”?

Mike Martin,

Lattimore Road, Wheathampstead

Cruelty of courts

Sir – I was shocked to read the court results from the St Albans area. There appear to be many cases where magistrates are fining people out of all proportion to the offense.

For example, one 19 year old young man has fines and costs of �650 against what appears to be the relatively minor matter of travelling without a valid ticket in the St Albans area. At a time of considerable youth unemployment and economic hardship it seems that the courts have lost their sense of perspective.

I do not know this young man. I am not in any way suggesting that it is not wrong to deliberately travel without a valid ticket but just that sentencing needs to be in proportion with the nature of the offence. He appears to be one of a number of people who the courts have decided to punish in an apparently cruel manner.

If there were wider circumstances that justified this level of fine then that should be reported in order to explain the sentencing, perhaps this is just sloppy court reporting. However, from the information provided the only institution which appears to be named and shamed in these cases is the St Albans area court itself.

Stephen Rider,

Middlefield Close, St Albans

Good call over pedestrianisation

Sir – Portfolio holder, Beric Read, is to be congratulated for abandoning the plans for a trial pedestrianisation of St Peter’s Street. This is not because the majority of small shop retailers and the Chamber of Commerce are opposed to pedestrianisation per se or are opposed to any attempts to reduce traffic congestion and the ever-increasing danger of air pollution. It is simply because pedestrianisation taken on its own could only make matters worse.

I do not want to be over dramatic, but the original scheme could well have been the nail in the coffin for many shops in an already hard-hit city shopping centre. Previous experiments or simply ill-timed road works have seen in particular the smaller independent store lose as much as 35 per cent of their trade. Do people remember the disaster of the similar originally well-intended one-way scheme many years ago?

Road wise St Albans has a converging of the old A6 and the A5. It has an attempt at a “sort of” outer ring road, but no inner ring road at all. So the problem is that if you close St Peter’s Street, where can traffic go? The answer is only through narrow residential roads making life hell for some. What else could be done? Limit any cars coming in to St Albans completely. The net effect of that as Cllr Leach so rightly says “with shops closing, and they still are, what we were trying to do was stop people from going to the city centre. It just seemed silly.”

Mary Portas, TV’s Queen of Shops, recognises that a vibrant and viable shopping centre is essential for the well being of a town’s or city’s whole community.

No one who cares for the quality of life in St Albans would oppose any well thought out long term proposals for a solution to any ever-increasing traffic problem. That is why Beric Read’s approach has to be regarded as so sensible. Any solution may be very hard to achieve, particularly with resources so scarce in the current economic climate, but it is not impossible. However in seeking that solution we cannot get away from the fact that taking a short-term pedestrianisation scheme just taken on its own could lead to the disaster of a completely dead city centre.

Michael Weaver,

Clarence Road, Harpenden

Keeping things local is vital

Sir – It has come to the notice of this correspondent that plans are currently afoot to move the Herts Advertiser from its St Albans base.

From what I gather, Archant (the owner) wishes to relocate the 156 year old local paper to Welwyn Garden City or possibly even further afield.

Does it matter? Yes it does. Archant is breaking a long established tradition. Over 100 years of successful reporting has gone on in this area. Is that something we should just allow to come to an end without remark? I think not.

I want to read a paper, written by journalists based here, not one that is hands-off and centrally produced by people who have no commitment to or feeling for what is going on in my backyard. And of course, there is always the sneaky suspicion that this putative move could be the first step on the road to eventual closure. Who knows?

In a world less lexically adrift, the word “local”,when applied to post offices, newspapers and democracy might actually mean something. While waiting for this to happen, may I encourage you to write to the owners of the Herts Advertiser (address on page two) . Alternatively, the Lib Dems have a petition on their website: www.stalbanslibdems.org.uk/HertsAd Express your indignation, fellow readers. While you still can.

Carol Hedges

Coldharbour Lane, St Albans

Bit of a damp squib

SIR – What another wonderful display on Saturday from Fantastic Fireworks of Redbourn, they never disappoint.

But what a shame about this years choice of DJs. My family look forward to this event and enjoy the friendly party atmosphere that for many years has been supplied by resident DJ Harvey Allen’s Sight N Sound Roadshow.With great music and a good laser show they like to be kept warm by the crowd participation and witty banter.Unfortunately they were left cold with the lack of up-to-date music that turned into a huge advertisement for local bands.

The lack of volume, music and constant chat made it sound like a radio show of days gone by.

My children like to approach the stage to ask for requests while waiting in anticipation for the fireworks but were put off this year by the ugly cage surrounding the disco area.

What is usually regarded as one of the best family nights St Albans has to offer turned into a rather dull occasion until the wonderful firework display. As there is now such a choice of firework events in the area, we hope that Sight n Sound will be back next year to keep St Albans’ firework event at the top of the league.


Thanks to good Samaritans

SIR – May I through ‘Your Views’ thank the local couple who stopped their car on Holywell Hill on Wednesday, November 2, around midday.

I was having difficulty walking up the hill with frequent stops. Laura, it seems, got out of the car to ask if I needed help and subsequently helped me to the car when she and Mark drove me home to Watford where I soon recovered. Many, many thanks!


Nascot Street, Watford

Strike a light

SIR – Last night I discovered that all of our street lighting in Radlett has been turned off after 11pm to save money.

In fact the lights are supposed to switch off at midnight (and come back on at 6am) but in their wisdom the engineers forgot that the clocks went back and now they have to come round and reset them. More money!

In time this will affect all of Hertfordshire.

We have never been informed that this was going to happen and I personally think it is appalling!

Why couldn’t the council look at other measures such as turning off every other light or using low energy bulbs or even having sensors to detect movement and activate the light?

Do we now have to walk around with torches in our bags just in case we catch a later train home to avoid stumbling around in the dark? Will extra police be on night duty to apprehend (or deter) the would-be muggers as it will be to their advantage? Do our councillors have to suffer the same fate or have they escaped this cut?

I am really cross that we as electors had no say in this matter But we will when it comes to local elections!