SIR, — For at least the past 40 years, St Albans District Council has allowed charities to have a stall to sell gifts on the Arena side of St Peter s Street for the five Saturdays before Christmas, free of charge. I am told there used to be 10 such stalls
SIR, - For at least the past 40 years, St Albans District Council has allowed charities to have a stall to sell gifts on the Arena side of St Peter's Street for the five Saturdays before Christmas, free of charge. I am told there used to be 10 such stalls; there were certainly six for many years but as the helpers got older, the number of stalls dwindled so now only Save the Children (SCF) remains.
We have stood there in the ice and snow, howling wind and rain - even sun; our pitch has been bombed and our money has been stolen but still the people of St Albans have supported us. When I have attended national conferences I have been proud to tell other people about our council's magnanimity and I know others have followed St Albans' example.
Last year we felt the council's attitude was changing. Although we had permission for our stall, we were not allowed anywhere near the French market despite the fact that previously the French traders had welcomed us and most went home with a "Best of Britain" calendar as a memento.
This year we are being asked to pay to sell our goods despite also having to provide our own table and usually sweep the area before putting up our table. We are also no longer allowed to front St Peter's Street.
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I realise there is a credit crunch on and councillors' expenses have increased but when you realise that the £8.50 we are being asked to pay each week could provide the nutrition to save a child's life in a famine area - £1 a day buys a packet of Plumpy Nut and seven days' supply can see them over a crisis - it puts the meanness in context.
I would like to know why the council's attitude has suddenly changed. I have consulted the election manifestoes and there is nothing to warn us there, neither has any councillor contacted us. However I did read something about keeping up the traditional values of the town - I just didn't realise this meant striving to maintain our position in the bottom 10 towns of charity giving in the country as shown in last year's Times survey.
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The only difference I can see between this year and the past 40 is that we now have a LibDem council. Not that I would want to make a political point, I'm sure it is a complete coincidence.
I'm sure we will find a pitch in town somewhere and would say to our supporters, please look out for us and give us your support now we have to "save the council" before we can start Saving the Children.
Honorary Trading Secretary, SCF.