Your letters to the Herts Ad...
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While it seems nothing immediate can be done to improve the lamentable timekeeping and overcrowding of the trains themselves, there is one simple and relatively cheap change that Thameslink/Network Rail/SADC could make that would instantly improve many commuters’ lives: namely, widening the woefully outdated Ridgmont Road exit from Platform 4.
Nothing makes the heart drop after a stressful and inevitably delayed commute like the scrum of passengers waiting to squeeze through this stupidly narrow station exit.
Since the new 12-carriage trains came into service, the problem has gone from annoying to just plain dangerous, with customers increasingly being squeezed back from the scrum and towards the express trains flying by on Platform 4. Unless things change, I fear there will be a nasty accident sooner or later.
I imagine with long-term proposals to redevelop City station, plus the usual inertia from the powers that be, they will argue there is little point making short-term improvements, despite there being ample space to do so behind the existing bike rack area.
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It would make a lot of passengers’ difficult commutes significantly easier though and thus should be seen as an easy ‘quick win’ for the otherwise hapless Thameslink and Network Rail.
At the very least, they should lock the barriers open when a busy train is arriving, which would also help the situation. It’s not like fare-dodgers are masochistic enough to travel on peak hour services anyway, let’s face it!
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Instead, I expect yet another round of the usual ‘not me, guv!’ pass-the-parcel between the three wise monkeys of GTR, Network Rail and SADC...
TOM JENNINGS By email
On February 15 I attended Park Hall in Harpenden to view the artists drawings, etc. of the St Albans council proposals for the developments in Rothamsted Park.
At the time that I was in the hall, I would say that there were some 15 or so other members of the public also present to view the plans. I understand from a neighbour who attended on Thursday 16that the numbers were similar.
Were we to err on the very generous side, we could estimate and say that approximately 100 people attended on each evening.
Given that the town population, with surrounding villages, is some 35,000, it follows that at least NINETY NINE per cent of that population had no wish whatsoever to view the council’s proposals.
These proposals, were they to go ahead, would destroy much of the natural beauty and character of the lower park and it is surprising therefore that there is such public apathy.
However, given these facts, will the local and St Albans councillors:
1 Please recognise this and concede that there is NO public appetite for or interest in these proposals.
2 STOP proposing continued development in Harpenden town centre.
3 STOP the continued spending of taxpayers’ money on grandiose consultant and architects plans. ( It is likely that these proposals have already cost us taxpayers a very large amount of money).
The overwhelming majority of us, it would appear, would very much like to be left alone, to enjoy the facilities that we have without being threatened with continual town centre development.
VICTOR LOWRY Amenbury Lane, Harpenden
I refer to correspondence on the rights or wrongs of our MPs’ responsibilities on Article 50 voting by personal conviction versus their individual constituency wishes.
As regards the referendum vote we should be aware that, if the result had been gauged by constituency, splitting the popular vote down shows that the result would have been 401 to 231, i.e a 65 per cent to 35 per cent Brexit preference.
The eventual House of Commons vote on implementation of Article 50 was 494 to 122, i.e. an 80 per cent to 20 per cent approval, reflecting the MPs’ acquiescence to the will of the people as shown by the referendum. It’s called democracy.
ROGER JONES Park Street Lane, St Albans
I won’t be alone in being dismayed at the sudden closure of the steps in Clarence Park.
The reason given was the perpetual 21st century fall-back of the harassed bureaucrat, health and safety.
But that isn’t the real issue. The council has had plenty of opportunity to plan for the funding and instalment of replacement steps. They have signally failed to do so.
Now we are faced with seemingly indefinite closure, no budget announced for replacement, and worst of all, denying mums and many commuters a safe and enjoyable route through the park to the station.
Instead, they are forced onto the pavements of busy public roads. Not good enough: at the very least, we should be told, now, of detailed plans for reopening or replacement.
IAN MAGEE Address supplied
My husband has just spent several days cutting back brambles and undergrowth growing up by the footpath which runs near our house.
For his pains he has been rewarded with a large collection of polythene bags containing dog waste.
One bag even carried a notice saying “Thank you for picking up your dog litter”!
What is the point of picking up dog waste, putting it in a bag and then leaving it for ever in the bushes?
You lazy lot. Take your dog waste home! If this continues, my husband probably wont bother cutting back the scratchy thorns and will leave them to poke you in the eye.
MAGGIE Harpenden (Full details supplied)
I live in Park Street Lane and if push becomes shove I would prefer housing on the old aerodrome site.
It would be nice to keep it as Green Belt but I don’t think this is going to happen.
Houses are desperately needed in St Albans and I mean HOUSES with a good percentages given over for affordable housing NOT APARTMENTS.
MARIAN BLENCOWE By email
As an independent campaigner against the proposed SRFI development, I am a little surprised that the Herts Advertiser is jointly running a poll with STRIFE regarding the preferred use of the Park Street Green Belt.
I do not feel that a poll researching readers’ preferences for just two outcomes has any value and is highly unlikely to affect the final decision of the county council should SEGRO finalise an offer for the Park Street Green Belt which they need to acquire to build a SRFI.
The poll offers your readers to state their preference from two options : Strategic Rail Freight Interchange or housing development
Option 2 requires St Albans district council to release the Green Belt from their strategic local plan. This SLP was in the process of being updated until the Planning Inspectorate intervened after concerns were raised by neighbouring councils regarding the lack of consultation over cross boundary developments.
It is highly unlikely that St Albans district council would entertain the thought of removing Park Street Green Belt from their local plan when the jointly commissioned independent review of the district’s Green Belt identified the land as a “Strategic Gap”.
Further to this, to release the Park Street Green Belt would possibly lead to the council being taken to court by developers for not granting planning permission for land deemed less important by the independent review of the district’s Green Belt.
I would also ask why the poll doesn’t have other preferred options like a new hospital or sports and leisure complex/facilities. These two options appear to be more realistic than a housing development for the reasons that I have given above.
I also feel that STRIFE would do better by keeping their excellent campaigning solely to making a case to Herts county council that they do not have to sell the Park Street Green Belt to the SRFI developer. In my view the poll is blurring my perception as to what they are fighting for.
The county council’s fiduciary duty is not as clear cut as only having to accept SEGRO’s offer just because it is the only offer on the table.
The county council’s accountants and financial advisors should be fully aware that a full financial appraisal should be undertaken to assess which options open to the council offer the best return over the 30 year life of the SRFI. There are so many hidden costs that need appraisal before the council is in a position to decide what is best for the county and its residents.
This process in itself will take a considerable time as much information has to be collected to reach the right conclusions.
Also, this is quite a unique case where a developer has obtained outline planning permission from the Secretary of State despite the district council refusing planning permission and the local county council owning the land in question.
Fiduciary duty should be far more than just selling to the highest bidder as the county council have a duty to Hertfordshire residents to consider all aspects and residents concerns before agreeing to sell the Park Street Green Belt for use as a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange
ANDREW LOVE Warren Road, St Albans