Letters October 21, 2010, part two

Bookfair returns

SIR – Our 2010 Bookfair will shortly commence in the Old Courtroom at St Albans Town Hall. It will be open seven days a week from Saturday October 23 until January 3.

The Bookfair features thousands of new books, mainly at greatly reduced prices. It is also an opportunity to visit the 1831 Courtroom where the books will be displayed amongst the benches and dock in this historic location.

During last year’s Bookfair we carried out a survey. Although we realise that there is always room for improvement, we were very encouraged by the results: 100 per cent said that they felt that the Bookfair should be allowed to continue taking place in the Old Courtroom; 99 per cent felt that the Bookfair offered good or very good value for money; and 99 per cent felt that the Bookfair featured good or very good quality books.

Ideas for including books on other subjects were very diverse, but we have tried to respond where possible. We have listed the individual comments about the Bookfair on our website (www.stalbansbookfair.co.uk) .

This year’s Bookfair will include a wider range of new books at reduced prices, and will cover many subject areas from running an allotment to Greek mythology. As usual some of the largest areas will be devoted to children’s books, history, travel and stationery items.

A special thank you to the Herts Advertiser for your past support and encouragement for our continuing with the Bookfair.

Most Read


Paton Books

Alternative view on parking payments

SIR – I refer to the letter Paying to Park written by Janet Flint (Herts Advertiser, October 14). Her first dart is flung at Abbey Station where in fact there are 32 parking spaces but very often only half will be occupied as a charge is levied. So obviously “inconsiderate commuters” (her words) will grab a free legal space where they can until it is debarred by a council scheme that is biased towards local inhabitants.

She mentions that the proposals are for a seven day, all-day system but the timing of 11am to 1pm used in Riverside Road for weekdays works quite well.

She also berates the council for creating the problem but this was in fact caused by the burgeoning car owning society.

One solution for car owners in Prospect Road would be to sell up and move to a house with a front garden and several parking spaces all free.

Alternatively they could accept that their local parking entitlement can only come with a fee.

Perhaps she could join me in trying to convince the council that the air space above the storm water balancing tank next to Argos in Griffiths Way be used to accommodate two storeys of parking.


Riverside Close,St Albans

Beaumont School plans controversy

SIR – I was pleased to see that the second attempt to push through the Beaumont School Development Plan has also failed.

It was quite obvious that the plan defied local Green Belt policies which Cllr Chris Brazier was quoted as upholding (“What I want to get across is that we are committed to protecting the Green Belt”) in the Herts Advertiser as recently as September 20.

I sympathise with the problems that Beaumont School have with accommodation, but that does not give them the right to flout local planning policies.

It was also quite obvious that the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine wanted this to go through as it would then have given them the incentive to push for development on the adjacent field site also owned by them and also within the Green Belt.

Peter Trevelyan of the Civic Society was quite right about the impact on Hatfield Road traffic which is already highly congested at peak times in addition to being an “inappropriate development on Green Belt”.

I sincerely hope that this is the last we shall see of this inappropriate proposed development.


Wynches Farm Drive

St Albans

SIR – Our councillors (the No Brigade) are at it yet again, the excellent opportunity to give one of the best schools in Hertfordshire a real boost to its facilities in sports and the education to additional pupils, only today our government say we will have a shortfall of secondary education places.

This application is being rejected for differing reasons at every occasion and as each objection is overcome, a new one found. Let us name and shame, just the last three applications who said what we don’t have to go back the whole 10 years!

We do not need to be told by the spokeswoman of the county council “we are very disappointed this application has been turned down”. We need to sort out the Nos – vote them out and bring in people who try to bring excellence back to the city of St Albans


Newhouse Park, St Albans

SIR – St Albans’ pantomime season started early on Tuesday evening at the Planning Referrals Committee meeting in the council chamber.

I thought that I was there to consider Beaumont School’s application for a new sports hall and sports playing fields. For two hours I definitely thought that I was in the right place with the overwhelming debate being in favour.

After all this is one of the county’s finest community schools, performing nothing short of daily miracles in facilities designed for 400 pupils and now accommodating 1,200.

Unlike a real pantomime there was to be no happy ending, however, as the chairman moved to sum up. He declared that he is against the principle of selling off playing fields to fund schools and would therefore vote against the application. The irony was not lost on his audience as the school currently has no playing fields and this development would create them and not destroy them.

The chairman’s principle may be morally correct and indeed a view shared by most people in the chamber, but given the state of public finances in 2010, it is as divorced from reality as Peter Pan.

This development was first proposed at the end of the last century and as Cllr Rowlands had said some two hours earlier “there is no alternative”.

So I left having been taken back to Never-Never Land. For the frustrated pupils, teachers, and local residents it is clear that they have all been here before.


Beaumont Avenue, St Albans

Tragedy of sudden adult deaths

SIR – I read with great sadness about the sudden death of an asylum seekers’ campaigner, Neil Warden, 36, in last week’s Herts Advertiser.

My close friend, Sarah Didinal, died suddenly in her sleep last June, from the same hidden heart condition – Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. She was a fit and healthy 37 year old who lived life to the full. She left behind her partner Andy and their three small sons.

Sarah and I had met in Sydney, Australia, in 1997. I am a journalist and had just got a job working at a newspaper in Sydney. Sarah wanted to get into the profession since leaving her job in banking and starting her travels. We clicked straight away and our lives seemed to mirror each other’s afterwards, from working in the media, to having three children roughly at the same time.

She died just 12 years after our meeting, at the point when she was starting out in a new career in PR.

Before she went to bed on the night she died, she posted her last Tweet: “Going to bed happy.”

Until you are affected by this devastating loss, it is very hard to describe the grief it inflicts on family and friends. Sarah loved life so much and had everything to live for. She just went to bed one night and her partner found her lying there stone cold the next morning.

I have since looked into the work charities do to help raise more awareness of this tragic condition, and have written articles about it, including the story of my friendship with Sarah. Thankfully several publications, as well as the BBC, have used my story for the best. It is the only thing I could do for her.

My greatest sympathies and condolences go to Neil’s family and friends. I know how much it hurts.


Westfields, St Albans

Commuter service should be saved

SIR – The demise of our 712 bus service to London from January 2 (Herts Advertiser, October 13) is a serious blow to many local people.

Surely the bus company concerned could cut costs to save the service? There are many options. Just two or three buses in the popular morning timings would have been sufficient rather than the eight daily runs. The problem is obviously that it is a one-way commuter type service where half the journeys are empty.

One boost to the sister 757 service Luton Airport-Bricket Wood-London would be if some of those buses, instead of stopping only at The Black Boy pub, were diverted through Harpenden and St Albans; say one per hour out of the three per hour.

The other buses then would have no need to stop at Bricket Wood and could remain on the M1. This would improve loadings for the 757 service. At the very least, reduce the gaps in the day when for some unknown reason, the 757 does not stop at Bricket Wood. At least the present 321 service is boosted to four per hour and will be a useful feeder service to the 757 since both these routes stop at the Black Boy pub.


St Stephens Avenue, St Albans

Alien visitors?

SIR – With regard to your reports of recent UFO sightings, I was highly sceptical – until last week when, on holiday in Cumbria with family, our dogs suddenly started barking furiously at the sky.

We looked out to see two bright orange lights flying at equal distance to each other across the night sky. We actually watched them disappear out of view from the back of the house.

Our first thought was that they could be paper lanterns but lanterns wouldn’t travel at such speed (about the speed of a fast helicopter), nor would they have a consistently bright glow right across the sky, nor maintain the same altitude or distance from each other.

We were also puzzled as to what caused the dogs to bark at them as they never notice anything in the sky – but did wonder if they could hear a sound coming from the UFOs which is what attracted them. Dogs obviously hear much higher pitched sounds than humans do.

They were too low in the sky to be satellites, as one reader has suggested, but I would would love to have a rational explanation!


St Albans