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A random set of events have set me thinking this afternoon. I know many people are fed up to the back teeth of politics and have little or no appetite for an election. I for one, despite being highly interested in politics, simply do not know who I will vote for. I do however have great concerns for the state of our country, and I am not meaning our relationship with Europe.
The random event took place during my run this morning. Half way along the Harpenden Road, near Ayres End Lane for those who live locally, I noticed a middle aged white man lying prone in the nettles. I was a bit unsure what to do, but didn’t feel I could just ignore him.
As I approached, if I’m honest, I thought he was dead. He wasn’t. He was breathing, his head in the nettles, his mouth badly cut. He responded quite quickly to my taps on his leg. When he woke he was evidently confused, and slurring his words. He was very upset, very emotional and confused.
After a bit of a chat it emerged that he had just been released from prison, had, according to him, been left in Harpenden by police last night, and was worried he needed to meet his probation officer that afternoon. We got in touch with his probation officer, who wasn’t expecting him, and couldn’t really do anything. I phoned an ambulance, and the paramedic arrived within five minutes, and could not have been more professional.
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It emerges that David, who is 48, is pretty well known to the services locally. He has a drink problem and significant mental health problems, and although he could not have been more thankful to me, he can become violent. He is banned from various places of refuse on account of his drinking. All the ambulance man could do was offer him a lift. There is, apparently, little that can be done for him.
I suspect and fear that David will spend a night sleeping rough soon, and won’t wake up. He clearly has a multitude of problems, and the emergency services are bouncing him from one place to another. I spoke to his father, who lives in Leicestershire ironically, and who according to David has cancer. I got the impression that the father simply did not know what to do with his troublesome and troubling son.
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David had a bottle and a half of wine on his person, and little else. He could not have been more grateful to me for stopping, so I asked him for a favour. I asked him to try and stop drinking. Bless him I suspect it is not in his power to do so.
So what’s my point? Well I imagine David needs intense and specialist treatment, which would no doubt cost a fortune, and which would not seem to be available right now.It rang a few bells with me, because the cuts, or increase in demand, depending on which way you look at it, on social care and the NHS are impacting our life with Dom, and those of many families we know.
I think we need to spend more on dealing with the root cause of issues such as mental health and alcoholism, or else our public services are only able to apply sticking plaster when far more comprehensive therapy is required. To do this those of us who can either need to pay more tax, or we need to spend less on other things.
I hope, but don’t expect, that the political parties will outline detailed plans for the economy. What they will spend, how they will pay for it, what they won’t fund. At least then we could try and make an informed choice at the General Election. As I say, I’m not holding my breath.
I dare say some will say that David has made his bed of nettles, he must now lie in it. I suspect without intervention he will be dead soon. But I would like to think we are better than that in this country. Let’s try not to forget David.
DAVID JOSEPHS By email
I would just like to add my observation of repairs carried out to potholes on our roads in Hertfordshire.
It’s something I’ve seen time and time again for some years now and I think it’s the reason why our roads are constantly being patched up. It’s a simple and relatively inexpensive quick addition to the repair that is missed.
The join between the repair and road is not sealed at its edge. This allows water to seep in, freeze and crack open the tarmac. Even without frost it is more likely to break up just with traffic.
If you take a look at repairs down West Common in Harpenden they are sealed and have lasted years.
Perhaps readers could keep an eye open and see how many potholes they can spot that haven’t been sealed? Then report it to the county council because we are wasting money every year with this false economy.
“Don’t leave us. We love you, and we need you”. That’s what Europe’s newspapers wrote to the UK in mid-June last summer. Chains of kisses were sent across the Continent to the UK, in the hope it would vote to stay. On the night of the poll, Germany’s football commentators lined up ready to joke, “All right, the England goal in the 1966 World Cup was a goal after all”.
What happened in Britain last summer has galvanised the twenty-seven countries working together. There is a renewed sense of purpose. The UK has done more for European unity than a thousand summits. Public approval of the EU is up.
I am impressed by the European Parliament on June 28 2016. Especially the words of Manfred Weber MEP, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and Guy Verhofstadt MEP. See: tinyurl.com/hapsdkq.
So Barry Cashin has yet to appreciate the benefits of EU membership? The wonderful things that have been achieved by the countries in Europe working together?
I am delighted to invite him to “Pulse of Europe” in High Wycombe on May 7.
Pulse of Europe is a citizens’ gathering, run by volunteers, to celebrate international friendship and the successes of the EU. It’s an idea that has spread rapidly in towns and cities across the Continent, because until now only negative voices have been heard in public.
I would also give him a copy of John McCormick’s book, Why Europe Matters.
Organiser, Pulse of Europe, High Wycombe Member, European Movement UK
I have campaigned for lower speed limits in St Albans and Harpenden for over 30 years. The council must have a file of my letters inches high! Eventually they took notice and 20mph signs were erected in many streets. Success!
However, it is quite obvious (as Rob Pearman eloquently writes) there is a need to extend the zone and to install speed cameras in roads like Marshalswick Lane, Sandpit Lane, St Albans Road and others where speeding and overtaking at speed is allowed without sanction.
Following hot on the heels of notice of the closure of Barclays Bank at The Quadrant, comes notice of closure of the Sub Post Office within Martins Newsagent at Beech Road.
When the Post Office closed their branch at the corner of Spencer Gate some years ago, I wrote to the head postmaster in St Albans asking him to open more counters at The Quadrant. There was no response.
There are four counter spaces here but there has never been more that two open at any one time.
Surely, common sense dictates, that now that this office will have to cope with all the customers from Barclays Bank as well and those from Beech Road, the time has come to fully staff The Quadrant Office?
Slimmons Drive, St Albans
So it looks like we’re set fair for May in June. A snap election has been called and strategically, the lady has it about right. She should see her majority rise from 17 to somewhere stratospheric so parlous is the opposition at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve voted all colours in previous elections but could one really have faith in the Lenin-capped, “down tools brother,” CND lovin, shell suit wearing (no apologies for the number of commas here!), stuck-in-1974 buffoon that we have in the scrawny body that is Jeremy Corbyn.
The last Labour Government stole from Peter to pay Paul and left a bankruptcy note confirming it on their way out.
If Jezza and his merry band of unknowns (except for the remarkably talented Diane Abbott of course) ever got their grimy hands on the keys to Number 10, we’d be back in Europe before you can say, “stick it up your Juncker,” striking by noon and bankrupt by bedtime, borrowing from day one to pay for even more mass immigration and funding all kinds of weird and wacky (but still useless) initiatives up and down the country (mostly in the northern heartlands.).
What has a Liberal ever done except been a dab hand in how to stymie real Government, know the lyrics to Kumbaya and marvel at the knitting patterns for cardigans in Woman’s Weekly?
From Jeremy Thorpe to Paddy (I’ve got a view on everything, media tart) Pantsdown to Nick (Autotune fail - look it up on YouTube) Clegg, they now have as their glorious leader, Tim, err, Tim, err, Tim somebody to lead their merry band of nine towards political obscurity.
And the lemmings of St Albans who proudly parade their orange “Vote Lib Dem” diamonds on smart Marshall-paved driveways know that but still keep faith in the remote hope that one day, yes one day, Tim err somebody might form a Government (in the national interest of course) like his predecessor Clegg.
And then there’s the Scottish shrew Sturgeon (strange name as it has its roots firmly south of Hadrian’s wall).
Seeking power at any cost, autonomy at any price and so wrapped up in the European flag, she has more chance of deciding her nation’s future than downing a whole bottle of Scotland’s finest malt in one, she is a non runner from the start.
As for UKIP, I fear their time is up. Their job is done, thank you.
So there you have it. Five weeks to go and the runners and riders are now on the campaign trail proper.
You might not like it. You may disagree that we should be holding yet another election again so soon, you may be screaming for Lord Sutch to be reincarnated, but it’s your democratic duty to vote.
Whether you choose the leggy Tory shoe model with the grey graduated bob, old Lenin and his cap, Tim err Somebody or the English lady with a Scottish accent, it’s your call.
Just get out and vote on June 8. This one’s going to be a cracker. I thank you!
Green Lane, St Albans
SIR - I was surprised to see Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for St Albans Daisy Cooper claim in their recent newsletter (for St Peter’s Ward) that “the future of UK-based airlines is unclear amid fears they could be barred from flying to and from European countries after Britain’s exit from the EU”
It remains possible to fly from the Russian capital Moscow on the majority Russian state owned airline Aeroflot non-stop to European cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels, despite Russia having annexed part of Ukraine - two years after it co-hosted the Euro 2012 Football Championship - and being subject to European Union sanctions as a result.
As such, much as I enjoy taking the ferry over to Dublin, I expect I’ll still have the commercial airline option post-Brexit.
Charrington Place, St Albans