Your letters to the Herts Ad...
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On Saturday May 13 in Harpenden at about 1pm, our daughter had an severe anaphylactic shock and collapsed outside Sainsbury’s on the benches there.
We would like to thank with all our hearts the general public who stepped in to help our daughter and us namely several members of Sainsbury’s staff, the off-duty nurse, the lady with the baby who dialled 999 and stayed on the phone until the paramedic arrived, the gentleman who ran to Boots to get the pharmacist who brought with her a second Epipen (as the one we had with us failed) and of course, the very kind ambulance staff and staff at the Luton and Dunstable hospital.
There were other members of the public who offered their help very kindly too.
Without all this kindness and care, it could have been a very different outcome.
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Anyone reading this letter who recognises themselves from this - thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts. Just to say our daughter is recovering well. Our very best wishes,
FIONA & CHRIS DONOVAN By email
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In your report on the proposed ‘improvements’ to The Wick, St Albans (May 4) some of the facts would bear clarification. Neither sycamore nor laurel are native to the British Isles. The former was introduced some 500 years ago, the latter in the 19th century (the Victorians have much to answer for, Japanese Knotweed for one).
Both plants can be described justifiably as ‘thugs’, in that they dominate their surroundings to the exclusion of anything else.
Sycamore has very large leaves, forming a canopy which almost totally prevents light reaching the ground. During the growing season,the leaves become disfigured by large patches of black, ‘tar spot’ fungus infection, making it particularly unattractive.
The sycamore is noted for ‘saturation bombing’ its surroundings with huge numbers of instantly-germinating seeds - ask any gardener who has a sycamore close by. Ash has the same habit, but is native and the leaf canopy allows light to reach the ground.
Laurel forms an even denser canopy with thick, leathery leaves, good only for hedges.
All parts of it are poisonous (cyanide!). The ground surface below is devoid of any plant or animal life and is not ecologically active. Rhododendron, another non-native, 19th century introduction, has a similar effect.
So I am afraid Wendy Brook’s enthusiasm for two, surly, invasive non-native plants is misplaced. As far as muddy paths are concerned The Friends of Bernards Heath (bernardsheath.org) found an effective and not over-expensive answer some years ago.
It is not clear from your report exactly what degree of “sanitisation” is being proposed for the Wick, but if Wendy would contact FoBH (01727 811414) we will be only too pleased give her a conducted tour of the Heath and show her in fact two ways that footpaths can be constructed to be walkable in nearly any weather, yet be visually acceptable.
Committee Member, Friends of Bernards HeathUpper Culver Road, St Albans
There are so many people that are angry and horrified at the proposal of adding concrete paths and cutting down trees at The Wick in order to make a much bigger pathway for contract vehicles! It is a proposal that needs to be stopped.
Many, many families and people from all walks of life come here for adventures and peace and it is a very sociable and beautiful area. With all life’s pressures it is a haven to escape to unwind and just relax.
Some of the trees have been gracing this place for many, many years and should be left alone . I cannot believe that Friends of The Wick supported this plan and even sent out a spokesperson the other day to placate locals saying ‘“it’s not as bad as people think” - sadly it is ! Any interference would be a step too far!
They argue that concrete paths will enable vehicles to manage the trees but everyone knows that professional tree people have long been bringing their vehicles into The Wick to manage the trees and never had any bother doing so .
Please as our local paper take up this campaign and add your voice to the many people who oppose this idea! It would add so much weight to this if you could continue to feature it on your front page.
SHEILA KEANE By email
There appears to be a knee-jerk reaction with a petition and poorly thought-out comment about the proposals for the improvements to The Wick and I was pleased to see the Herts Advertiser has published the opposing views.
As a newish St Albans resident (1982) with a garden that abuts The Wick I certainly approve of the plan to improve the whole area. It has become noticeably less pleasant for most users over the years and the whole wooded area is somewhat untidy, dark and very uninviting as woodland, with the area around the children’s playground particularly overgrown and dismal.
The proposal to remove invasive mature trees is most welcome. These are species which eventually crowd out some of our more original attractive trees, with sycamores in particular dripping honeydew at times and creating a sticky mess below.
Removing only 16 trees is a very small percentage of the several hundred trees in this area. They will quickly grow back and will still need regular surveillance.
A small concern perhaps is the width, 3.5 m (11 ft 6ins), of the proposed aggregate-surfaced path. This is almost a motorway lane width and seems unnecessarily wide for occasional maintenance vehicles.
If necessary, passing vehicles could easily pull to one side on a narrower track, say, 2.5 m (8ft 3ins) wide.
I fear a temptingly wider path might also encourage a repeat of a problem several years ago when young moped riders, able to pass through the gates at either end of The Wick, zoomed up and down becoming a nuisance to dog walkers and other users.
Admittedly this could be overcome by installing the type of motorbike-restricting barriers one finds elsewhere, such as on the Alban Way.
Concerns about this work being a precursor to further development of The Wick, I believe, are unfounded.
Some years ago, as I recall, the council wrote to householders with rear garden access to The Wick asking them to sign an agreement accepting that the council had “given them permission” for this access.
This implied the council could withdraw permission in the event of future building development. Access into The Wick has, in fact, been there since the adjacent houses were first built in the early 1930s and the request was quietly shelved after someone pointed out to the council that The Wick had been donated to St Albans in perpetuity for the benefit of its citizens with a condition that it should stay in a natural condition.
I think the current plans do more to restore rather than threaten this natural condition.
LEN SKILTON Marshalswick Lane, St Albans
Gillian Quill’s criticisms of the EU (Letters April 20) are correct. It is an organisation designed by the rich and powerful to benefit the rich and powerful. As she rightly says, the Single Market operates against the poor and powerless nations and also against the weak and poor within the EU.
Unfortunately, leaving the EU will not of itself resolve the problems faced by working families.
Mrs.May emphasises the need to get the ‘best deal for Britain’ but exactly for whom in Britain is she negotiating for?
I’m certain that the majority of ordinary people in Britain would like to see an end to the housing crisis with the building of thousands council homes, a rent freeze, sufficient finance for education, for the health service, for social care, for local public transport, for road and infrastructure repairs.
Secure jobs and pensions, an end to zero-hours contracts and a tax system where the super rich and big business pay their fair share of tax would also be high on most peoples’ list of priorities.
But from what I have heard from ministers these are not even secondary issues in the Brexit negotiations.
Their concern is whether they can cut a deal in which UK-based companies have access to the Single Market and whether the City of London, a euphemism for the rich and powerful, will continue to maintain its grip on world financial markets.
In or out of the EU, the problems which face working people will remain because they are inherent in capitalism.
As Mr Corbyn said in his opening General Election statement, the system is rigged; rigged in favour of the rich and powerful. Which is why we have growing inequality in the UK and four food banks in prosperous St Albans. On June 8. we will have the chance to make a change by voting for socialist policies.
DR DAVID LEIGH
Gibbond Close, Sandridge
I would like to remind the Herts Ad that not only does the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency cover two towns but also the village of Sandridge and Jersey Farm which are, bewilderingly, part of St Albans.
So whoever does represent this enormous constituency should also be knowledgeable and keep abreast of the problems down this end too which includes the huge problem of aircraft noise caused from the Luton Airport flights coming over our homes in Sandridge and Jersey Farm, which as you say correctly, was the cause of Mr Pickles’ refusing to call in the planning application for flightpath 26 Match Detling and which STAQS community group have been trying to debate with Luton Airport and the CAA.
We need the support of a very active MP who will stand up for an IANA (Independent Aircraft Noise Authority) which Peter Lilley did not agree with last year even though he did some years ago.
Jersey Farm Estate
Further to the ‘new school’ debate (April 27), we are where we are but I will always be puzzled by the chosen site - a field which slopes down in two separate directions, both to Common Lane and to the Lower Luton Road: hardly ideal for a school and its playing fields! Cynics might even say it resulted from a cursory look at the local OS Map.
Meanwhile, we must hope that the consultants charged with ‘assessing the site’ (and those subsequently levelling parts of it) are aware of not only the possible ‘Roman remains’ but also a sewer which some say was run under the field from the 1970s Sauncey Wood development down to the main road. Easy for such details to get lost over the years.
Fairmead Avenue, Harpenden
It’s not often a card-carrying, fully paid-up member of the Labour Party writes to applaud a Conservative Member of Parliament, especially just weeks before a General Election, but I would like to offer Peter Lilley a pat on the back as he prepares to retire from frontline politics.
When I lived in Harpenden, some years ago, Peter was my MP, and I had cause to visit his surgeries a few times on behalf of a foreign lady who needed help and had asked me to assist her.
On every occasion, Peter Lilley was attentive, honest, and immensely practical in his dealings with us, resulting in a happy outcome to the situation (an outcome that was by no means guaranteed). I was particularly impressed by his obvious ability to quickly grasp and manage what were complicated details.
Patently, he and I come from different ends of the political spectrum (the beauty of democracy), but credit where credit is due, and I hope Peter Lilley enjoys a happy retirement. We could have used his skills in the Labour Party!
The application for 14 semi detached dwellings on land between Hopkins Crescent and The Baptist Chapel in Sandridge was discussed by the parish council at its March meeting.
Sandridge Parish Council does not make decisions on planning applications but is able to make a comment to St Albans district council. It is the district council that decides whether an application is granted or refused. This is done either by officers’ delegated powers or by committee decision. This application is still under consideration by the district council.
The article draws attention to the district council approving plans for 15 affordable homes in Sandridge but failed to note these will be on a previously developed, so brownfield, garage site and that the development is being undertaken by a not-for-profit housing association. This development was fully supported by the parish council.
Sandridge Parish Council objected to the Hopkins Crescent application on the grounds that it is Green Belt land and therefore in conflict with the district council ’s and the Government’s planning policies which are that Green Belt land should not be built on other than in exceptional circumstances.
Sandridge Parish Council is also concerned about the potential coalescence between the village and St Albans city.
Since the parish council’s comments to the planning department at the district council, the housing department has said: “There are no details provided as to the proposed affordability of these intermediate properties.
“Generally speaking three-bedroom shared ownership properties are considered to be too expensive within the district and usually the housing department request that such units are provided as one or two bedroom properties. Not only are these more affordable, they are more suited to first-time buyers who are then able to move on from these properties and/or staircase to full ownership.”
This letter confirms Sandridge Parish Council’s understanding that the 14 dwellings would be neither “affordable” nor available for social rent, which is what is really needed to provide homes for local people “crying out for new housing (editorial)”.
SANDRIDGE PARISH COUNCIL
I was a bit surprised to read last week’s report that the Christmas market is to be extended. Having lost nearly a quarter of a million pounds since it began in 2013 one would have thought the time had come to cut our losses.
I doubt if any responsible commercial trader would continue trading for so long in order just to build up yet more losses. He might also advise that it is located in the wrong place where the worst problem is a lack of convenient parking. Let’s bring some realism to bear and call it a day before even more money is wasted.
Townsend Drive, St Albans