Letters, October 7, part one

We must not forget our elderly folk

SIR – St Albans District Council is closing Batford’s Leacroft sheltered housing for development by Housing 21 working up a new flexi-care scheme for older people. I expect that SADC are also gaining money for their financial pool from the sale of the land. However, I wish they had better understood the plight of its previous residents in the closing years of their lives.

It took Harpenden town councillors, particularly Cllr Caroline Vincent, and county and district councillors to improve the initial attitude that SADC appeared to take towards these members of our society.

When some people lose their hearing, others their sharp eyesight, others their mobility, it is easy to spot. But some lose their ability to plan ahead, or plan for change, especially when they have little in the way of funds.

Some are completely confused when old friends or acquaintances die, and their life falls apart, some are totally distressed when the layout of accommodation changes or as in the case of some Leacroft residents, they are moved to a not so familiar part of town with everyone around them new. They have no old friends. How easy do any of us find making new friends when we are stressed?

It may be that this section of government is not the expertise of district but more of the NHS or specialist charities such as Mencap. With the change of a social housing repair firm and cut backs, it really isn’t definite that social housing companies will succeed in future. They rely heavily on the government funding of benefits. Let’s not have a repeat of Leacroft.

Town councillors’ area of government does not cover these services and they were totally fed up of having to help and from a town perspective being sidelined. They gave a little comfort and support to the residents.

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The Lib-Dem-controlled SADC’s main interest seemed just clearing the whole site for development. It appears sad that more understanding did not take place on the plight of these residents.


Town and District Councillor

Oakfield Road, Harpenden

Got �1.8million in spare change?

SIR – Reading the Herts Advertiser, it would appear that anyone in St Albans with a spare �1.8million could either pay for the refurbishment of the Odyssey Cinema, pay for the council’s funding shortfall, or buy a nice house. Funny old world, isn’t it?


Napsbury Lane, St Albans

Praise for NHS

SIR – These days we seem to hear of nothing but problems in the NHS and the treatment of the elderly.

My father passed away this week after a long period of intermittent hospitalisation and being bedbound for the past two years. He expressly wished to be cared for at home, where he lived alone, as he had a fear of hospitals and care homes, and I would like to express my admiration and heartfelt thanks to all the people involved who moved heaven and earth to ensure that his wishes were met. My particular thanks go to those departments who arranged his care, to the district nurses in St Albans, and especially to the community matron who showed a sensitivity and understanding of my father’s feelings that far exceeded simple professionalism. My sincere thanks to all of you.


Address supplied

Northern pride

SIR – I am a “northerner” but spend long periods in St Albans.

I sadly wonder why Labour councillor Eileen Harris describes your high street as looking “like a sad northern town”.

Did she really need to use “northern” almost as a metaphor for dereliction and ugliness.

Has she really got a true interpretation of the north? Although large parts have suffered vast industrial closures, the northern town I come from is just as leafy as St Albans and boasts a far superior shopping area.

Do you think an apology may be forthcoming?


Harrow Road, Middlesborough

Top Ten

SIR – An open letter to Paul Davidson, Company of Ten.

Yesterday, I set to and wrote a blistering letter to the Herts Advertiser in which I raged against the council’s careless attitude towards the Company of Ten, both with regard to the recent parking fiasco and to the long-running difficulties in respect of the Westminster Lodge development. I had planned to copy it to you and to Mr Donald of the council.

I re-read the letter and frankly it depressed me to be writing something so negative, especially after I had so enjoyed Tuesday’s performance of Hay Fever. What a great cast and set – the final scene was a joy – and the costumes were superb.

I therefore decided that I would be better employed in writing to you in praise of the Company’s continuing positive presence in St Albans, providing top-class, self-supporting entertainment for a very modest cost to the theatre-goer.

Most towns and cities would be delighted to have such a long-standing treasure on their doorstep and so I am copying this letter to the Herts Advertiser to reinforce their positive press, which already acknowledges the Company of Ten.

I am also sending a copy of this letter to Mr Donald of the Council. I am not quite sure why I am doing this. I don’t want to score points, but merely try and stress that something that is good, hard-working and that enhances society should be supported and cherished. After 70 years, the Company of Ten would leave a big hole if it were to wither now due to neglect from those in positions of local power.


Cambridge Road, St Albans

Excellent service

SIR – It was a pleasure for me to attend the Hearing Aid Department at St Albans City Hospital on Thursday, September 23. I needed a new battery holder for one of my hearing aids. I had my hearing aid quickly repaired by a cheerful member of the department.

I reflected, as I walked the short distance back to my home, how lucky I am to live so near to the hospital. Also, how my life has been enhanced by well-designed and most effective hearing aids and the support provided by the very caring staff at the Hearing Aid Clinic.


Waverly Road, St Albans

Better parks in posh parts of district?

SIR – I have been a St Albans council taxpayer for 11 years now and have just moved out of the Abbey conservation area to the Camp/Cunningham area in order to afford a bigger family home.

May I just say how appalled I am at facilities for children here (parks around the Camp area in general).

None of the open spaces have swings and slides for toddlers – just old goal posts and patchy grass.

I used to live opposite the Brickie, New England Street and Victoria Park, Folly Lane where both had brand new swings, slides and climbing frames replaced during recent years.

Are there plans to give the Camp area children’s play facilities that match those of the “posher” ends of town, after all I am paying the same in local taxes?

This is a great area to live and deserves a better share of the council’s parks budget.


Thirlmere Drive, St Albans

Incompetency clause?

SIR – You can’t imagine my delight in knowing that chief executive Daniel Goodwin states that in an attempt to restructure the council any appointments will be made on a competency basis (Herts Advertiser, September 23).

This brainwave would suggest that previous appointments have been based upon incompetency which, incidentally, is something that I have often suspected.


Southdown Road, Harpenden

Plane truth

SIR – As an aviation enthusiast I find it quite amusing that people in Harpenden seem to be complaining about aircraft noise.

Planes are usually noisy when they land or take off so they will be low. If people don’t like planes, why move near an airport?

I was at Duxford on September 5 and if Mr Weaver wants to hear aircraft noise, then maybe we should get the F-16 Fighter jet to fly over his house as then he would have something to complain about.

Oh and by the way, yes Luton aircraft do fly over my flat, but they don’t bother me.


Hatfield Road, St Albans

Get a move on!

SIR – What does the word “slow” mean to fellow Herts Advertiser readers?

Perhaps it makes you think of a relaxing trip on a canal boat or a delicious meal cooking gently in the oven. Maybe you enjoy a particular piece of slow music or are fascinated by slow-motion film.

To me, I’m afraid, the word means the speed with which Tesco is refurbishing the houses it owns in London Road, St Albans. It’s been so long I have forgotten when they first promised to make these properties available for local people to rent.

Occasionally, a skip or some workmen are seen outside the well-built and attractive houses (numbers 71 to 85) but somehow the job never really gets going!

I have noticed, however, that Tesco, through its property development “front company”, Spen Hill Developments Ltd, has found time to apply for planning permission from the district council to demolish some of the buildings it owns on the former Evershed’s site and put in place a 15-space car park, apparently for the use of residents of Inkerman and London Roads (planning reference 5/2010/1743).

Come on Tesco! Do get a move on with doing up those houses and make London Road a more attractive gateway to our city.


London Road, St Albans

Bad smell hanging over town council

SIR – Here’s a how-de-do!

Publicly, Harpenden Town Council seems united in pursuing its misgided master-plan to sell off the former Westfield Allotment Garden site to developers, despite no agreed access route and regardless of the wishes of the local community.

So far, so bad.

However, during the past two weeks, members of WAG (Westfield Action Group) have fielded phone calls and emails from various councillors suggesting strongly that not all at the town hall actally agree with the plan.

Support has been voiced for the campaign to restore and renovate the former Common land for the benefit of the whole community, and assurances have been given of future help.

Are some of our councillors revolting?

Ironically, these are the same individuals who put their names to the long, ranty, badly-written and rambling letter the town council sent to newspapers, put on its own website and, bizarrely, placed on the website of a local business enterprise forum. (By the way, how did you get on with the letter dear readers? I gave up halfway through paragraph two).

In the opinion of this correspondent, the actions and conduct of HTC are now beginning to smell less of roses, and more like the animal excrement the roses are grown in.


Coldharbour Lane, Harpenden