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I write in response to your printed communication from Alex Thomas regarding an article recently featured on gender dysphoria.

A very angry sounding Mr Thomas writes with foaming mouth and shaking hands I imagine if his tone is anything to go by. Quite why people have to be so enraged by this topic as a bystander to it beggars belief.

Mr Thomas claims to be an advocate of “treating children with compassion”. I am certainly glad he is not my father.

He did concede that there was “not a huge amount wrong” with the article but then felt the need to drag his politics into the mix by stating that “it is fashionable nowadays to identify as transgender” and “victimhood causes people to identify as oppressed minorities for social gain” - both of these he states are “blindingly obvious if you glance at the culture of the political left”.

Mr Thomas: you need to put down your blue rosette for a few minutes and think about your statements.

I am sure they were offensive to many who do believe in treating people with compassion rather than just pretending to.

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This is a very sensitive subject and must be a minefield for both children and parents to navigate.

Whilst in some cases children will mature and identify with the body and gender they were born in, some don’t.

They face a lifetime of scrutiny and bias and any waffle from you linking this topic to politics and fashion is both unhelpful and downright insulting.

Stick to what you know; at a guess banging on doors for the Nasty Party?


I am astonished that despite my previous letters in this column, John Wigley, chairman of St Albans and Harpenden Patient Group, continues to avoid discussing the concerns that I previously raised and many of us experience when we have to travel to Watford General Hospital for appointments, treatment and visiting friends and relatives.

Mr Wigley, stop trying to simplify everything by saying we must back West Herts Hospital Trust’s plans to redevelop St Albans Hospital otherwise we will lose it - this is a ridiculous scenario for you to be championing!

St Albans residents are served by West Herts Hospital Trust with our A&E hospital at Vicarage Road, Watford.

When a person needs to go to hospital for emergency care we don’t have the choice of St Albans and this won’t change under WHHT’s plans for the next few decades and longer.

WHHT may have plans to redevelop St Albans Hospital but these are not set in stone and let’s be honest the site is now so small it cannot be expanded beyond the limitations of the land it sits on.

Campaigners for a new centralised acute services hospital are not seeking to shut St Albans or Hemel Hempstead Hospitals but only that we find a better solution to enable all West Herts residents to have good access to their acute care services hospital.

WHHT’s plans to redevelop Watford General Hospital are within the same SOC (Strategic Outline Case) to redevelop St Albans Hospital. It will take more than a decade to redevelop these hospitals, cause disruption to hospital services and even then we will still end up with our A&E hospital being in a hard to get to location and built on a sharp slope!

Will the redeveloped hospitals resolve all the shortcomings of the current buildings and have the capacity to cope with a growing and ageing West Herts population? - I doubt it very much!

A new centralised acute services hospital might even be in or near St Albans but first we need WHHT to go back to the drawing board and reconsider the new hospital option.

Mr Wigley talks about a hypothetical vote for backing WHHT’s plans to redevelop St Albans Hospital - Mr Wigley, this isn’t the Eurovision Song Contest! We are dealing with life and death issues here and by allowing our A&E hospital to remain at Vicarage Road we are putting lives at risk.

Talk to the residents that you represent and ask whether they are happy with the location of Watford General Hospital. Then explain to them why they must endure over a decade of disruption as their A&E Hospital is redeveloped (WGH) and our exceptional hospital staff are asked to carry on as normal despite all this work going on around them!

We must stop living in the past by trying to preserve all three of our ‘past their sell-by dates’ hospital sites. We need the vision to secure a better long-term solution for the provision of health care in West Herts than what WHHT currently propose.

ANDREW LOVE Warren Road, St Albans

I walk in Verulamium Park daily and have done so for approaching nine years. Today the so-called boating lake is a pitiful stinking bowl of mud and bird droppings.

I asked the park ranger what the problem was. It is apparently a combination of the actions of the water companies (Affinity and Thames) reducing the flow in the River Ver, the lack of maintenance expenditure by the council that you are members of resulting in the sluice gates in the lake jamming and being inoperative and a “lack of rain”. Only the latter is outside people’s control.

Rather than raising money to build more children’s playgrounds, could our councillors perhaps use the powers vested in them by the local community to sort out this long running disgrace?

The only upside to the current situation is that it resolves the long standing question of whether or not the lake is supporting an eco-system or if it just a sewer for bird droppings. There is no living thing in sight in the puddle that was once a pond. The lake is dying.


St Michael’s Street, St Albans

The Herts Advertiser has recently highlighted some of the problems for delivering our health services and in particular the finances of Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) and provision of respite care at Nascot Lawn.

However, there are other issues relating to the HVCCG which commissions and pays for health services, including the hospitals, in West Herts.

In particular there is concern about failed privatisations. A contract was given by the HVCCG to Concordia to provide services such as echo cardiograms outside hospital.

Indeed Concordia representatives came to a meeting of members of Hertbeats (the Cardiac Support Group for St Albans area) to tell us how wonderful the new service would be. It wasn’t and the contract was withdrawn.

Everyone will know of the inadequate performance of Private Ambulance Service which affected some Hertbeats members as well as so many others left stranded at home or hospital. HVCCG was going to give this privatisation the sack at the end of the contract, but the company went into administration. Volunteer drivers and the regular ambulance service have been left to pick up the pieces.

We now know that HVCCG has not accepted a bid to keep musculoskeletal services in-house with the NHS, but given a contract to Connect. These services include physiotherapy. This could be another worrying privatisation and further fragmentation of what is supposed to be a National Health Service.

HVCCG has been unable to give assurance to Hertbeats that it will be able to continue to run its four exercise classes a week in the Maple Physiotherapy Unit at St Albans Hospital as it does not know where Connect will locate physiotherapy services for St Albans! Hardly a clear contract?

Further there is no guarantee that the gym where the classes take place in the hospital will remain. Hertbeats pays considerable rent to use the gym (for over 20 years now) so that heart patients who have completed their rehab, can continue exercising. The NHS itself does not provide exercise classes beyond rehab.

It is unfortunate that the performance of health including Watford and St Albans Hospitals “requires improvement” according to the Quality care Commission.

However, from the experiences of our Hertbeats’ members the Cardiology Department and staff at Watford are certainly excellent, as are those responsible for the ‘rehab service’ in St Albans hospital. Let’s hope that the latter remains within the current Physiotherapy Maple Unit in our hospital.

BRIAN YORK Chairman, Hertbeats

Mendip Close, St Albans

I read with interest the report of the crowdfunding campaign by the Abbey Flier Users’ Group to investigate and promote a second train on the line and thus a more frequent service between St Albans and Watford.

Where the two trains should pass on the single track is a no-brainer. The overall journey time is 16 minutes. Bricket Wood is eight minutes away from each end. Therefore the trains should pass there.

A second platform solution is suggested. This could prove to be expensive and thus prohibitive. A cheaper option might be as introduced on the Truro-Falmouth (the Maritime) line at Penryn.

There the single line’s two trains pass each other using the one, slightly extended, platform. The loop’s points come in midway along this platform enabling services to pass and head off in each direction.

Supported by the county council and The Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, the more frequent service has seen passenger numbers soar.

The units on the Abbey Flier route are unlikely to be of more than four carriages. A similar operation could work at Bricket Wood and thus provide a 30 minute interval, even a peak 20 minute frequency, service.

Much depends on Network Rail and the county council. Unfortunately the latter procrastinates on its alleged commitment to the line and any passing loop, coming out every now and then and wasting time and money with yet another survey like the recent dedicated bus lane scheme. Cllrs Walkington and Giles-Medhurst please sort this out at County Hall.

An efficient fare collection and inspection system by the franchise operator is an absolute must. I wish the Users’ Group well on this initiative and every success. However, please don’t spend precious money on the obvious and overlook what can be seen as a best practice elsewhere for free.


Fishpool Street, St Albans

With respect, if D Wyllie (November 16) is fed up with the exorbitant drop-off charge at Luton Airport, he/she and others could do those plagued by its noise a favour - and not use it! An alternative for some journeys is Eurostar from St Pancras (with its much shorter check-in) followed by the ever extending network of hi-speed rail lines across the Continent.