Letters, October 10, 2013

HSBC homes would be a disaster

SIR – There is, apparently, a planning application in for a housing development on the former HSBC training headquarters site off Smug Oak Lane. To my mind any redevelopment of this site other than as a sports and community area would be a disaster. To put some 150 homes on this land would totally devalue the area and also cause traffic chaos on both Smug Oak Lane and Drop Lane. I trust that there will be sufficient local objection to this scheme to prevent it happening.

LES CAZIN The Mall, Park Street Lane, St Albans More recycling woes

SIR – Following hard on the heels of the new directive regarding the use of food caddies to dispose of food waste in our green bins, we now have yet another change to our recycling habits. No longer may we put cardboard into green bins. Now, we have to cut or tear it up and either put it into our already nearly full newspaper recycling box or place it underneath, cut neatly to the same size as the box. Do the powers that be who issue these edicts live in the real world? Have they ever tried to dismantle a large, heavy-duty, cardboard box? I have just watched my six-foot-tall husband struggling, with the aid of a Stanley knife, to cut up a large, strong, cardboard carton which also contained several very heavy duty staples. It took him several minutes to achieve satisfactory dismemberment. How would an elderly, possibly frail, person manage? And if they could not, would they then have to take their cardboard box to the local rubbish tip? If, like ourselves, they lived a good few miles from the tip, they would have to use transport. If they do not have a car, are they supposed to get on and off several buses carrying said box in order to deliver the offending cardboard to the correct place? A picture of dozens of elderly people wandering around carrying huge boxes comes to mind. And talking of the tip, what bright spark decided that the place (already crowded most of the time) needed to be completely rearranged? They have in the process cut the number of spaces for vehicles to park and unload – madness! How many more recycling hoops are our council going to find for us to jump through before enough is enough?

JANET DAVIES Old Orchard, Park Street, St Albans

Parking problems plague village

SIR – I would like to add to the comments made by Robert Bolt (Village made unfriendly to cars, Your Views, September 19) regarding parking near the shops at the junction of Tippendell Lane and Watford Road in Chiswell Green. The restriction on parking at the top end of Tippendell Lane by the introduction of a single yellow line has resulted in the only legal parking spaces after 8.30am being on the hard standing area in front of the newsagent’s and the two restaurants. Not only is this area frequently insufficient for the number of cars wishing to park but, more importantly, it presents a real traffic hazard both emerging from and entering the short slip road. This is particularly hazardous if driving north and having to turn around the mini roundabout to enter the slip road in front of traffic coming up Tippendell Lane. An accident waiting to happen? I think so. Furthermore, when the hard standing area was refurbished a few years ago it seemed an ideal opportunity to drop the kerb to allow for easier parking on that area. No, the four-inch kerb was reinstated so in order to park one has to bump up the kerb causing potential damage to tyres and sensitive steering mechanisms. Some joined-up thinking needed?

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DR JOHN MATTHEWS The Croft, St Albans

No representation from councillor

SIR – I am a resident of Common Lane, one of the few to receive a letter from County Cllr David Williams on the eve of a decision-making Herts CC Cabinet Panel to select the site of a new school for Harpenden. It simply said he wanted to make me aware of county’s intention to seek approval to acquire land in relation to new school provision, and pointed me at a report on HCC website, concluding: “Once you have had an opportunity to reflect on this proposal, do feel free to contact me.” When I downloaded the lengthy document I found that it involved compulsory purchase and that two HCC panels – each requiring 10 days’ notice to register any public concern – were considering this issue the next day and a week later. It was disturbing to learn that my county councillor (Williams) was a member of the first of these, and although doubtless bound by confidentiality, would have known that his constituents would have great concerns, yet chose to leave it to the last minute to communicate, and then half-heartedly. When I read the report I, and others locally did send email questions about the project to both Cllr Williams and Peter Lilley late on the first evening and subsequently. Cllr Williams did respond to ask whether I thought local residents would want a meeting (obvious answer) but later advised he was away so any meeting with residents would need to be held after the HCC Cabinet (23) – which generally signs off any Panel recommendations. I also asked Cllr Williams to represent me at the second Panel meeting, which he did go to, and which members of my family also attended and witnessed the best example of failure to represent they may ever see. It was apparent there was no chance of Cllr Williams representing our, and other constituents’ interests and so we hastily organised a community meeting, at which a petition about failure to represent was overwhelmingly supported and presented the following morning to HCC for their Cabinet meeting. While not obliged to “receive” it HCC formally noted it at that time and, as you reported, carried on with their plans. Disgusted – certainly – it’s reasonable to expect someone who puts themselves forward to represent you does just that; and concerned – fellow councillor with responsibility for representation/localism, Cllr Teresa Heritage, has remained remarkable quiet about both the failings.

DAVID CAIRNS Common Lane, Harpenden

Apology is just not acceptable

SIR – I would like to thank the Herts Advertiser for intervening on my behalf and I would also like to thank the council for cancelling the penalty charge notice on compassionate grounds (September 26). Although to be fair this was probably the only sensible outcome under the circumstances. I would have also have liked to have accepted the council’s apology until I read the last paragraph of their statement: “So as to avoid misunderstandings arising in the future, it is important that people are aware it is a parking offence not to display a Blue Badge while parking in a disabled bay.” What does Mike Lovelady think we are? Uneducated morons? I find his comment not only condescending and insulting to my intelligence but also to all those people that come under the St Albans District Council. I did not intentionally park in the bay without displaying my badge it was due to “a small lapse of memory”. It is therefore for this reason that I reject the council’s apology.


Romeland buses debate continues

SIR – I think some of your readers may have been shocked by the tenor of the reported remarks of Mr Grant, headmaster of St Albans School in the issue of September 26. To me he gives the impression of saying “blow you Jack, I’m alright” and he appears to feel not the slightest concern or consideration for residents close to the school whose environment is being blighted by the school’s bus services. I find his comparison of Fishpool Street as a historic coaching route a touch fatuous as I do his suggestion that 600 unsupervised students might be a problem; I have no doubt that part of their education contains some element of respectful behaviour. On a daily basis in this road we have large numbers of students from St Albans Girls High School processing between the school and their playing fields who comport themselves impeccably and I don’t think that Mr Grant’s pupils would behave in any way which would bring his school into disrepute. My suggestion to resolve the problem is for the school to use the upper yard for the buses to embark and disembark their passengers. Yes I know this would mean that the staff would have to find somewere else to park their cars and then have to walk a few hundred yards to their place of employment but they might feel this a small price to pay for the safety and convenience of their students and the generation of goodwill between two sections of society.

PHILIP WEBSTER Townsend Drive, St Albans

SIR – With reference to headmaster Andrew Grant’s comments (September 26), if the dangers to St Albans School boys in walking from Westminster Lodge or St Michael’s car park are real, one can only wonder how the hundreds of state sector pupils who daily arrive safely at school having walked from many more remote locations, manage such an achievement. Equally surprising is the fact that residents of neighbourhoods surrounding those state schools are not vociferously complaining of students ‘parading en masse’ through their streets. Perhaps St Albans School could ask the state sector for some advice on how best to develop skills of independence and responsibility in its pupils?

LIZ CHARMAN Normandy Road, St Albans

SIR – As a resident of St Stephens Hill I am compelled to nip the idea of rerouting St Albans School buses to Westminster Lodge in the bud immediately. Following the pushing through of the King Harry development due to inadequate council regulations, the southern end of Holywell Hill through to St Stephens Hill and beyond has turned into a giant car park most mornings. The thought of a convoy of buses added to that mess at peak time is frankly unbearable. We already have the St Columba’s buses in the Westminster Lodge car park. Never mind children walking through an unlit park in the dark. The residents of Romeland should not shove their problem into someone else’s back yard.

JANET COULL TRISIC St Stephens Hill, St Albans

SIR – Loopy as it sounds, if it wasn’t so threatening, SADC’s idea about looping huge school buses around tiny Romeland gardens and turning the much-loved graveyard in the middle into a traffic island is detrimental to a heritage site that should be the pride of the city. The traffic flow scheme that loops the buses back up medieval George Street with all the problems attendant in that area, affects the whole of the conservation area and is designed to accommodate St Albans School whose pupils (11-18) must not walk. While it is true to say that SADC does not intend to demolish or raze this historic area to the ground, works certainly will be carried out should the scheme get the green light in November. In order to park coaches on one side of the triangle, a School Keep Clear sign and Gated Zone will be implemented (Car Parking Working Party agenda: Tuesday, July 16). Zone B parking bays on the cathedral side, already at a premium among beleaguered residents, will be despatched in favour of a two-way system into Abbey Mill Lane. Still, compact Romeland won’t be big enough to accommodate coaches that were seen swinging over footpaths during the trial run (Tuesday, June 18). This was declared a success but did not seem to take account of current movement of pedestrians including elderly people walking their dogs and mothers with prams on their way to the Abbey JMI School. Heavy vehicles manoeuvring round the hairpin bend in front of the Abbey Gateway could also put the ancient monument at risk. In particular, Romeland with its cascading green canopy, pretty white-painted cottages and historic graveyard (come traffic island) has been a public space since the Middle Ages. However, the public will be banned from swathes of it and majestic lime trees lopped and who knows what next in order to facilitate double-decker buses. Thousands of tourists, visitors and pilgrims stream through Romeland’s shady portals, especially during the summer months, as they either process to the cathedral or head for the park as well as local families, children and dogs. Surely it must contradict St Albans tourist policy to offer a reduced experience right in front of the cathedral? Cherish Romeland is the inference on the visitor information board in the graveyard which informs us that the protestant martyr George Tankerfield was burned to death and buried there in 1555. (Take heed, if this scheme goes ahead, school coaches may not be the only things ‘turning’ in the graveyard...one cold winter’s day!) SADC’s own Character Area 23 assessment describes Romeland as “a public realm; character area historically part of the medieval core of the city; small triangular site which was an important open space in medieval times; public green space and attractive footpath link to the Abbey and grounds beyond”. Hopefully, SADC will be stirred into a decision over Romeland based on democratic interest and civic pride.

JACQUI VALOTA Romeland Hill, St Albans SIR – I was dismayed to read of the seeming deadlock that has been reached in the debate between the town and the school regarding the use of buses to deliver students to the school on a regular basis which has been reported in your last two issues. I feel sure that there must be a compromise solution in this matter I would be pretty sure that Mr Grant will be able to solve what is clearly a difficult and tricky problem for all concerned. I certainly feel reassured by this personal opinion.

DR TOM WILLSON Beaumont Avenue, St Albans

Links to Scouting remembered

SIR – May I add to your tribute on the death of Brenda Swinson in the Herts Advertiser of September 26. The family were also well connected to St Albans Scouting. Her husband Cyril (died January 1963) was a prominent figure behind a number of major Scouting events in St Albans. He assisted in producing the Searchlight and Toy Soldier Tattoo for St Albans Scouts in 1934 and was a producer for the first St Albans Gang Show in 1939. He also directed the gigantic firework display in Verulamium Park to mark the 50 years of Scouting in 1957. It was almost certainly because of the success of these very large events that St Albans council chose him to write and direct the two council Pageants in 1948 and 1952. In all this work his wife Brenda was at his side giving support. Their three sons were all members of the Fourth St Albans Scout Group.

FRANK BRITTAIN Historian, Hertfordshire Scouts Not so happy about Kerry’s return

SIR – It is great to welcome back Kerry Pollard as Labour candidate for St Albans. Hopefully we can convince Tony (five wars in six years) Blair, to restand, then Gordan (end to boom and bust) Brown to come out of hiding, then we can have the “dream team” back!

MATTHEW PECK Hadleigh Court, Harpenden

SIR – I see nothing to welcome back Kerry Pollard as the prospective Labour candidate for St Albans. This man served as the MP for St Albans and he was always conspicuous by his absence in relating to local voters, except when it was election time. His recent involvement as a consultant for an international hotel group in their application to build on Green Belt land seems to be the sum total of his efforts recently. I hold no brief for the Labour party, but I would have thought they could have fielded a better candidate. As for the comments of Ms Watkinson re Mr Pollard and his supposed attributes I find Barry Cashin infinitely much more interesting in his letters to this newspaper.

G STONE New House Park, St Albans