Letters, September 26, 2013

Obvious flaws in cycle path scheme

SIR – Your issue of September 5 gives much prominence to “the problem cycle paths of Verulamium Park”. The article describes in detail the problems that exist and your editor’s comment quite rightly refers to a “flawed project” until the problems have been resolved. Sadly I anticipate it is now very unlikely they will be resolved in the foreseeable future. Most of the problems have been previously identified by correspondents to your paper over the last few months, all highlighting the danger and risks to all users but particularly young children, the elderly and the disabled. In fact the majority were even identified at the design stage well before the project commenced, by representatives of the Friends of Verulamium Park, St Albans Civic Society and Verulam Residents Association. Regrettably their recommendations and advice went unheeded. The whole concept of shared pathways in such a relatively small and busy park was always likely to be flawed notwithstanding the clear errors that have been allowed to be incorporated in respect of surfacing material, speed humps and inadequate width. No amount of tinkering is likely to change that situation. As for the cost of the project – a staggering sum close to one million pounds – all provided by the developers of the King Harry Park development (Section 106 contribution) which is now close to completion. This contribution was intended specifically to improve the highways in the immediate vicinity of the development, particularly King Harry Lane and King Harry junction, recognising the additional traffic which will be generated from the 300-unit development. Instead our council considers it right and appropriate to use this fund for the new cycle path thereby avoiding any significant improvements to the highways which was supposed to be an essential requirement. How can that possibly be justified? In consequence I predict with certainty the traffic congestion in King Harry Lane and at the King Harry junction will inevitably increase particularly at rush hour times. I just hope that the many frustrated motorists will be happy in the knowledge that our council have generously provided a new cycle path close by for their benefit if only they would abandon their vehicles and get on their bikes.

JOHN LIDINGTON Corinium Gate, St Albans

In defence of 4x4s

SIR – In his rant against 4x4s Barry Cashin was slightly incorrect on the highest figure for car tax. It is £490 not £470 but that is of course for the highest CO2 emission factor, I for example have just paid £225 for my 12-year-old Jeep Cherokee as there is a sliding scale for all cars starting at almost zero emissions. Having an allotment plot at Nunnery 2 which until recently had grass tracks and the very real prospect of getting bogged down in a Nissan Micra I decided to get a four-wheel drive as vehicle recovery insurance doesn’t cover off-road situations. The roominess of the vehicle is also a great help to an arthritic compared to having to slide down into smaller cars. His point about parking spaces is quite relevant but judging by the generous space allotted to family cars and the disabled, it can’t be a question of trying to squeeze in extra spaces. I think that the layout planners were using the guide issued by Department of the Environment where the figure is 4.8 x 2.4 metres.

JACK HILL Riverside Close, St Albans

SIR – Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, The great Barry speaks and will broach no interruptions or contradictions for whatsoever Barry sayeth is to be gospel. No one shall drive a bigger or better car than Barry’s for such cars are bound to have been bought on borrowed money (Barry knows) and the driver will be indebted for the rest of his days. Think ye too of the countless potholes caused thus creating infinite discomfort to the great Barry who knoweth everything about everyone (has he hacked the HMRC computer for all our monetary details?) How else can he knoweth so much about us? At least he only took a column of space to tell 4x4 drivers what a scourge they are and how they cannot possibly have earned their monstrous car. Just recently he took two whole columns to tell us that pound stores are not all they are cracked up to be so that’s a slight sign of improvement. But do watch this space. I am sure further edicts will be forthcoming and woe betide any of us who fail to recognise that if they are issued by the great Barry then only infidels will dare to disobey.

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PHILIP WEBSTER Townsend Drive, St Albans Victim of vicious dog attack has his say

SIR – Following proceedings in St Albans Magistrates Court and the subsequent report in the Herts Advertiser on September 5, I am pleased to present my view and opinion. I have no reason to believe that the proceedings were reported incorrectly by the paper. I suffered serious injuries in a vicious and unprovoked dog attack on June 15 and underwent three operations including skin graft carried out at the Royal Free Hospital by specialists. The attack came about because I asked two men what they were doing in taking away a ladder from my house, as a result of which I was attacked by their dog and suffered bite injuries in four locations. This dog was not the neighbour’s dog. My right hand thumb was titanium wired and today after nearly three months of recovery the finger is as stiff as a steel rod and the middle joint does not move. I have been advised that full recovery is unlikely. My left arm was operated on three times and required skin transplant. The report states that the dog owner, Mr Khan, placed the ladder and the dog’s lead on the ground. The correct version is Mr Khan placed the ladder on the ground but held the dog’s lead. I never had a chance to pick up the ladder as the dog jumped at me to attack when I was near enough. The report further states that the dog “clamped it’s jaws on his forehead, thumb and forearm”. The truth is, I suffered injuries on the right thigh, followed by the left arm, forehead and right hand thumb in this sequence. The truth is that neither of the guys helped much and Mr Khan and his friend walked off while I was on the ground in the alleyway adjacent to my house not as stated “after I had managed to get back in my house”. I was never given any paper towels as stated in the report – where would paper towels have come from anyway? Why this case required three sessions in court when Mr Khan pleaded guilty for keeping a dog out of control in a public place in the first session is beyond my comprehension. Is this not a waste of public money? Chairman Livsey agreed “with a heavy heart” to a destruction order. I hope from the bottom of my heart that Mr Livsey will never again have a chance to impose such lenient sentencing onto anybody.


Flaws in Heritage Open Days event?

SIR – I wish to express my disappointment at not seeing the council’s own hidden city centre gem mentioned in this year’s Heritage Open Days programme. I am of course referring to the 2,000 year old Roman mosaic situated in the Alban Arena foyer under the carpet. Despite the fact that the Portfolio Holder for Culture and Heritage had given assurances back in 2010, that whilst it was not at present possible to put the mosaic on permanent display, every effort would be made to put it on display during special events, for example Heritage Open Days and the Residents First event. Sadly this mosaic has remained hidden from public view ever since. But hopefully residents will be given the opportunity of viewing this mosaic during next year’s Heritage Open Days event.

PETER WARES Ramsbury Road, St Albans

SIR – I would like to thank the hundreds of visitors to St Albans Signal Box who came over the Heritage Weekend, I hope they had a great time working the signals, ringing the platform gong and riding behind the traction engine on Sunday. There would of course have been more visitors on Sunday if the Tourist Office didn’t insist on running their Monopoly game over the same weekend. The Monopoly idea is great and encourages residents and visitors to perhaps see parts of the city that they would not visit otherwise, but if you are not selected to be on the board then it diverts potential visitors away from you. Our visitor numbers on Sunday were considerably less than those on Saturday, a situation that has only occurred since the decision to run Monopoly over the Heritage weekend. Why can’t we have a Monopoly Day in the spring time when the city looks so fresh so that attractions on the periphery like the Signal Box can be left to celebrate their heritage with visitors and residents alike on Heritage Open Weekend?


Chairman, St Albans Signal Box Preservation Trust

Woodland Drive, St Albans

Praise for hospital’s day surgery

SIR – My wife and I have both had recent day surgery at clinics at St Albans Hospital where we found the treatment was excellent and the dedicated staff were very kind, courteous and could not have been more friendly. This is most encouraging in view of recent horror stories dominating health issues in the media. We have also had the same treatment in our Minor Injuries Unit and are grateful for this, without having to endure a three or four hour wait at our “local” A&E department. This city lost its then brand new A&E department and was denied an urgent care centre, so I fully support [St Albans MP] Anne Main’s recent press release urging the case for strong NHS facilities here. It is even more encouraging to hear that in a recent survey 96 per cent of patients treated here would recommend our hospitals to friends and family. Let’s hope that those directing our local health authority take note.

JOHN MORISON Claudian Place, St Albans

Welcome back Kerry

SIR – Finally some good news – Kerry Pollard is standing for Labour MP in St Albans again, a straight-talking, hard-working man who is on the side of ordinary people in St Albans. Thank goodness! But please, oh please, dear editor, could you edit Barry Cashin a bit more – he is no Keith Flett!

JANE WATKINSON Campfield Road, St Albans

Christians have their say

SIR – As someone who lives in a nation with a Christian heritage we were interested to read the four-page Muslim advert promoting the Koran. On this basis we would like to be permitted to make a Christian response. To begin with Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” No one can come to the Father – namely God, except through the Son. This can only mean that Jesus was more than a prophet. The Old Testament predicts the coming of the Messiah, his death and resurrection – all of which Jesus fulfilled. If this is true surely we should be reflecting upon our individual state before God because his return as judge is to come! The Bible at no point contradicts science. Psalm 139 says: “We are fearfully and wonderfully made as we are formed in our mother’s womb.” At the judgement we won’t be asked about the age or formation of the Earth, or even the universe – but whether we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and saviour, he who was willing to die a horrific death on a cross for the sin of mankind and rise again to give eternal life to those who believe. The God of the Bible has no wish that any should perish but that all turn from their selfish ways and live!

JOHN & JOANNE TREDINNICK The Ridgeway, St Albans

Further buses confusion

SIR – Not so many weeks ago I had the pleasure of having an article published entitled ‘Close encounters of the S2 kind’ which covered a mysterious bus company which supposedly provided a bus service in St Albans serving the area between New Greens and Cell Barnes. This has now progressed to a totally new service called the 653 now additionally serving the Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City area which unless UNO hadn’t noticed is already covered by the admirable Centreline 300/301 service. I must admit this is impressive and a decision that must have been taken over a couple of pints on a Friday afternoon, this lot of decision makers could not provide a service on its original route without taking on something else, I must admit it looks very impressive on the new timetables, which are just an update on their previous “guess what time we are coming” ones but none the less deceptive. “A Comedy of Errors” would just about cover it and if the service as a whole wasn’t disgraceful we might laugh. A relevant instance was a local lady who arrived at the Waverly Road bus stop at 6.35am on Thursday of this week clutching her slam-bang up to date UNO bus timetable to catch the 6.43am 653 bus to St Albans City Station but surprise, surprise, this duly arrived at 7.20am although it is clearly shown on their timetable as 6.43am at Batchwood Hall – “shower” does not just cover the rain! On a personal note my wife and I have waited at the Waverley Road bus stop from 8.30am until 9am for the much vaunted 653 service to appear from New Greens but the 8.30-8.45am and 9am have failed to appear causing us to catch the 301 Hemel bus which at least keeps to its timetable. Perhaps when they can tear themselves away from the bus station canteen the so-called bus inspectors can pay a visit to New Greens to find out why it takes the buses 20 to 30 minutes to turn round at that stop, perhaps it will then explain the delays, buses go up there but never return! In this age of advertising how much effort would it take of these bus companies to advertise the changes to their services, in the past week we have met several elderly people waiting in the town for their S2 bus which they have got used to taking them to St Albans City Hospital for their appointments without knowing that the service has now changed to the 653, many people having watched these go by without realising. Those of us with the grey hair and the sagging bits who are fortunate enough to remember the ‘Six Five Special’ sorry guys and gels the 653 is not in the same category!

JIM RUSHBY Batchwood Drive, St Albans

Look to the future

SIR – I read your paper every week and I despair at all the moaning and back-biting especialy over the proposed rail depot, and also the representives of the council trying to house the unfortunates of the city – more houses are urgently needed or the population will defintely have a “them and us” situation. In these hard times we need to find employment for our young, but I believe the burghers of St Albans need to look hard and long at where they will end up if they don’t look hard and long at where they are going. From someone one who loves the city but despairs at where it’s going.


Elizabeth Gardens, Stanmore

Time for new barriers at station?

SIR – Given the improvement works currently happening at St Albans City Station, surely it’s also time that the ridiculously narrow ticket barrier entrance on Ridgmont Road was given an overhaul? It simply isn’t wide enough to handle demand, especially when commuters flood off the newer 12 carriage FCC trains. The resulting crush is crazy and anyone with a pushchair or wheelchair doesn’t have a chance of getting off the platform for about 10 minutes after the train has left the station. Surely it’s time for an upgrade? There is plenty of fence space either side of the existing ticket barriers so can’t imagine it’s a lack of available room that is stopping them expanding the entrance.

TOM JENNINGS Alexandra Road, St Albans