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I was pleased to see the feature you ran on the problems with mental health services for young people on the Autistic spectrum and with mental health problems.

I have been experiencing problems with local services for many years now and am still constantly fighting to get my son help. He has a diagnosis of High Functioning Aspergers and just getting him a care plan was a battle.

I almost had to go to tribunal to get him the school place he needed but thankfully he got a place and was feeling better.

Recently due to him leaving his provision and moving on his mood and anxiety have got worse and I asked to be re-referred to CAMHS so I could get help from PALMS.

I was sent backwards and forwards with confused letters and no follow up calls until recently when I did a phone consultation with the service. The adviser said she couldn’t tell me how long it would be before I received any help and it could be weeks or months.

To add insult to injury she then told me to get any help from them I had to attend a full day parent workshop which wouldn’t be until the middle of September.

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I don’t see how it’s ethical to offer help but only if the parent attends this. As well as being highly patronising, seeing as I think I know what it’s like to look after a child on the spectrum and how to help him, it’s not practical for working parents, especially as I am self-employed. It comes across as blackmail as well.

His GP surgery wasn’t much help either. I needed to get a home visit due to him not wanting to go to the appointments and they said they didn’t do them. After I asked about district nurses they admitted they may be able to but probably couldn’t.

After pushing them, they then said they would call me to arrange one but it never materialised so I’m still chasing.

I am a big fan of the NHS but so many young people are being let down by this incompetence it’s truly shocking.


Deva Close, St Albans

In your report about Thameslink’s new timetable (Herts Advertiser July 20) resident Martin Gee is quoted as saying that the current St Albans - St Pancras “fast trains are 17 minutes”. I don’t recognise this figure today. 18/22 minute journey times are spread throughout the day. Estate agents often trumpet a 20 minute run. And these are on a good day!

To see a start to stop time of around 17 minutes you would have to go back to the late 1980s, or to that temporary tunnel blockade timetable of 2004/5. That was into St Pancras high level tracks - a much easier run in, and out, for services.

The London end of the Midland Main Line has become much busier since then with intercity expresses, more, with more to come, Thameslink services, as well as existing freight trains moving about. In other words, congested.

Which is why the threat of that rail freight depot near Radlett, with its additional freight trains injected into future timetables, should really be troubling Mr Gee and his fellow travellers.

Beware those who claim more freight onto rail is good and can always be fitted in, with new tracks and connections built at random.

The former is indeed laudable. The latter does not automatically follow.

It doesn’t here particularly on those already busy tracks in the Kentish town, Cricklewood and Radlett sections. Who hasn’t experienced delay somewhere here on their daily commute?

If the rail freight depot goes ahead, stand by for engineering works disrupting the new service and more ongoing operational upsets.

MPs Anne Main and Oliver Dowden are so right to keep pressing Network Rail to publish details of timetabled pathways (Herts Advertiser July 20 also) and how it will manage the project competently. Something it struggles to do so often.

Even the new “realistically” 22/23 minutes fast journey time could become a thing of the past. Please don’t say that you haven’t been warned.

ERIC ROBERTS Fishpool Street, St Albans

So Thameslink finally have come clean that their Midland suburban downgrade project is to mean longer journey times - apparently 22-23 minutes to St Pancras. Then of course you have the eight to nine minutes walk to the underground.

Then there is the current fleet of ‘viehwagen’ trains, the most uncomfortable on the network.

I am old enough to remember the old diesel service, which offered journey times from St Albans to London of around 21 minutes as well as a fast interchange with the tube. Apparently the steam service used to comfortably beat 23 minutes.

Back in the 1980s, the newly electrified service into Moorgate gave us the best train service in the country. Now downgraded by stealth.

We hear a lot from politicians about the benefits of competition, so please can East Midlands trains be permitted to compete with Thameslink please?

The mainline St Pancras station offers a virtually seam-free interchange with the tube, and there remains an option to expand the station by building platforms to the west of the station in the former cab rank area.

Modern day diesels can comfortably outperform the electric service by virtue of being able to use 110mph for the whole of their journey without having to cross over to the slow lines around West Hampstead and continuing their journey at a snail’s pace.

The subsidy to East Midlands trains could also be cut and we would have a vast new range of destinations such as Matlock, Derby, Sheffield etc, all a relatively short journey time from St Albans and Harpenden.


Station Road, Harpenden

St Albans District Council’s proposed Strategic Local Plan (SLP) may have collapsed at the first hurdle over their failure to meet the duty to co-operate requirement.

However, the Crown Estate still intends to apply for outline planning permission for 2,500 houses on the area known in the SLP as “East Hemel”. This is, in fact, in Redbourn Ward and nearly 400 acres of Green Belt would go.

Needless to say, Redbourn Parish Council is not happy at the prospect of losing huge swathes of countryside between Redbourn and Hemel.

The question has to be asked: why build so many houses, all in one place, as far away from the rest of the district as possible? Was this a planning decision, or, as seems more likely, a political one?

Redbourn was clearly hung out to dry in the SLP. The district council should now move quickly and produce a new Local Plan that is fair and honest, as well as ‘sound’ in planning terms.


Chairman, Redbourn Parish Council

In response to the suggestion of district councillor Mike Wakeley on the subject of a Land Added Value Tax to pay for infrastructure is this not what Section 106 Agreements, and any successor, is designed for? Perhaps he is proposing an additional tax to add to any 106 Agreement monies.

Mr Wakeley also seems to overlook the fact that any tax made on developers is not paid by the builder but by the subsequent owner of the property. It does appear that councillors do live in a world of their own where money comes from a blue sky and not from taxpayers directly or indirectly.


The Secretary of State for Health has told the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, which pays for much health and social care in our area, that it must save £45 million to balance its books.

To do that it the NHS Auditor has told it to stop spending on services that it is not legally obliged to support, such as Langton and Sopwell Wards and Nascot Lawn, so the HVCCG can hardly be blamed for their closure.

However, the CCG is now proposing to concentrate spending on the treatments and services that have the most beneficial effect and to reduce spending by restricting access to some other treatments and services.

For example asking obese people and smokers to get fit before non-urgent surgery; no longer normally providing gluten-free food on prescription; no longer normally providing cheap over-the-counter items on prescription; providing female sterilization only in exceptional circumstances; providing male sterilization only in exceptional circumstances.

Patients and members of the public can find out more and leave their views at

I urge you to find out more about these proposals and to tell the HVCCG what you think.


Chair St Albans and Harpenden Patient Group

A huge thank you to the 945 runners who on Sunday July 16 raced through a rainbow of colour, took on giant inflatable obstacles and got soaked in a pit filled with foam at Luton Regional Recreation Ground, raising an incredible £40,000 to date at Keech Hospice Care’s Colour Dash.

With an electric atmosphere, Keech Hospice Care’s Colour Dash saw 42 colour bandits cover the participants from head to toe in multi-coloured powder paint as they ran the 5km course in aid of the charity, which cares for children in Hertfordshire with life-limiting and terminal illnesses.

Once again, the generosity of local people has been amazing. We are so grateful to all of our supporters without whom we would not be able to continue caring for people at a time in their lives when they need it most, as we rely on our community to raise 70 per cent of the £5.6million in funding we need as a charity every year to survive.


Events Fundraising Manager at Keech Hospice Care

In all my 60-plus years I have never before written to a newspaper. Living once 15 now 10 minutes away I have enjoyed The Wick for some 30 years with children and now grandchildren. Using an online petition will certainly have attracted unaffected signatories but that does not excuse the perfunctory dismissal of those of us with a legitimate interest.

The response to my email to the council contact was an obvious copy/paste answering none of my points. One of those was accepting that woodland must be managed. However, muddy paths are part of nature and should not be destroyed in the dubious name of improvement.

I am bemused by a Councillor’s suggestion that I should turn up with my gardening equipment. Isn’t Wick maintenance what I pay my council tax for? That and maintaining Hatfield Road access to Clarence Park, preventing Verulamium Lake from becoming a health hazard.... better not get into all that.

I ask the council please to spend our money on managing The Wick woodland but not on destroying it with manmade paths. And to recognise that we are entitled to a proper hearing for our legitimate concerns.