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I have spent many years in the position of a senior construction executive with much experience of significant NHS projects and have been following Andrew Love’s recent letters about the redevelopment of Watford Hospital.
I concur entirely with his sentiments that West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust should ditch their plans to redevelop Watford Hospital and adopt the new build option.
Building a new acute hospital at a central location is not only important to achieve reasonable access for all of the communities that the trust serves, but it is crucial to ensure that we are provided with the optimum quality of hospital facilities and patient care during and after construction.
The trust’s redevelopment plan as contained in their Strategic Outline Case is fundamentally flawed and ill-founded.
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It stems from a collaboration agreement with Watford council and developers made over five years ago.
Trying to carry out demolition, refurbishment and overbuilding in many stages on the existing dysfunctional hospital site while it remains in operation will never provide cost savings and value for money over building a new hospital based upon an efficient clean slate design.
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The trust’s redevelopment proposals, by their own admission, will take until 2030 to build out, whilst of course, the construction of the Riverwell regeneration project takes place around it – it is a plan fraught with many serious risks, not the least to patients.
There has been a documented history of failures in the Watford estate infrastructure that have resulted in serious contamination risks and the suspension of critical services on a number of occasions.
The heavy construction works involved with the planned redevelopment would impact greatly on the fragility of the existing buildings and infrastructure.
Far from providing a fully beneficial transformation of the acute hospital as claimed by the trust, their plans contain many serious compromises.
The existing Acute Admissions Unit is a temporary building made up of connected Portakabin units. It will exceed any realistic lifespan for clinical purposes well before 2030 - and yet the trust’s plan is based upon undertaking a ‘light refurbishment’ and retaining it.
Similarly the plan is to retain the structure of the main Princess Michael of Kent block and carry out a ‘heavy refurbishment’ retaining much of the existing redundant and inefficient layout of the building. The trust admits that their proposals will not comply with current NHS standards.
In truth there are so many flaws in the trust’s proposals, both in respect of their construction concepts and cost estimates, that they would fill many pages of this paper.
By contrast I would draw readers’ attention to three new major ‘state of the art’ hospitals nearing completion, The Midland Metropolitan, The Royal Liverpool and Papworth.
In each case the relevant trusts thoroughly researched multiple options including redevelopment. Not surprisingly they found that new build on clear sites to be by far the cheapest, quickest, most operationally efficient, environmentally superior and sustainable solution.
Without a shadow of doubt WHHT should have arrived at the same logical conclusion.
I would urge readers to provide their valuable support to the petition that Mr Love has recently started for a new centrally located acute hospital by signing the petition at http:/petition.parliament.uk/petitions/202644 ROBERT SCOTT
Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building
Have any planning officers , builders officials or councillors ever tried to drive from say St Albans Hospital to King Harry Lane, or from Waverley Road to Westminster Lodge, maybe a school run via Harpenden Road and crossing to Sandpit Lane?
Have they tried to book an appointment for themselves or their children at the doctors without having to wait three weeks?
Do any of these individuals live in St Albans?
Have they tried to park in town or outside their own homes, accessing their house with children and shopping?
Have they tried to find a school that is close to their house?
Have they tried to exit St Albans on a Saturday?
I have, for the last 16 years, and in the last three years the time required for such journeys has doubled, the traffic has multiplied by at least threefold and parking is near impossible.
There is a waiting time for everything and everything is at capacity.
There is simply not enough infrastructure to deal with more housing developments, and the roads simply cannot cope.
St Albans is a lovely place to live, but like London, there are limits to everything.
There is a total lack of policing on the roads these days so bad driving habits are rife, parking on solid white lines has crept in on Harpenden Road and Heath Road, but no one does anything.
No one seems to care that you soon won’t be able to access these roads at busy periods, that emergency vehicles struggle to get past cars that almost appear abandoned parked half on the pavement and half on the road road.
I suggest someone has already suffered, perhaps died as a result of this selfish parking, and you also cannot see around these cars to pull out of the side roads and on the way to school on Bernards Heath I have seen an ambulance stuck there as a result.
What is the basic ratio per head for a police station in a city?
We had one, I suggest that is being sold for flats with massive profits!
I heard about an old man who was hurt by a passing cyclist who didn’t stop, when he was told he would have to report online or get a bus to Hatfield to report this, he sighed and said he couldn’t do that. How sad is that?
Schools, doctors, policing and roads are all basic requirements. My daughter saw three youths run out of Carphone Warehouse with various tech, and the reason they felt they could get away with it was because you see so few police or “community officers “ in town these days it was easily worth the risk.
King Harry Lane development has added maximum load on this part of town with no extra services, just a roundabout. I also suspect a lack of affordable houses, just a token purchase scheme that was available..
There is not a housing shortage, just a lack of affordable housing, but irrespective of that fact, you still have to now start to insist on incorporating new public services and road infrastructure plans in all new development ideas and proposals.
GREGG HARRISON By email
Many of those with an eye to local history would agree with Sarah Gaunt (Herts Ad, December 28) that it would be great if the painted advertisement for the Herts Advertiser on the side of Harpenden’s famous Skew Bridge could be refurbished.
But, as you suggest in your footnote, it’s unlikely to figure as a Network Rail budget priority. The fact that the sign mentions the cost of the paper back then, at twopence halfpenny, is another reminder that price inflation is a comparatively recent phenomenon.
It’s something confirmed by those old and eminently durable enamel signs advertising Oxo, Pears soap and Oakey’s knife polish etc from the same era.
They all proclaimed prices that remained unchanged for decades.
One cannot help feeling, albeit wistfully, that a return to such non-inflationary times would go a long way towards overcoming many of the country’s current economic problems.
Ridgewood Drive, Harpenden
According to SADC’s own monitoring of N02 in the St Albans area, air pollution levels are almost on a par with London, the European capital city with the highest levels of air pollution.
Readers can sign the petition started by Friends of the Earth on St Albans Friends of the Earth website, calling for St Albans district council to take concrete steps to adopt measures to reduce air pollution.
Either follow the links on the St.Albans Friends of the Earth website www.stalbansfoe.org or go to the councillors, committees and decision making pages of the St Albans district council website
PHIL FLETCHER Sopwell Lane, St Albans
As we approach the start of a new year, let it be said that 2017 has been a tumultuous time of change for many. Spare a thought for the homeless, those who have suffered personal loss, the ill, the dying.
But most of all spare a thought for those who have made mistakes. Huge ones. They say that we all learn from our mistakes. I’m not sure whether that is entirely true but we do learn sometimes the most painful lessons when we unadvisedly take actions that cause terrible hurt to those we love, both friends, family and neighbours.
In an age where marriage is seen by the young as a throwaway commodity, a few older people who should know much better do things they deeply regret.
They gain a temporary fix but lose everything that has ever meant anything to them previously.
The heart in the broken left behind can heal in time but often it doesn’t and all that is left is pain and anguish. I suppose what
I am trying to say, dear readers of this fine newspaper, is that in 2018, let not your heart rule your head, let not the greener shade of grass on the other side lead you to temptation but deliver you as the Bible said from evil.
Be kind to those you love. Be honest, gracious, truthful but above all treasure what you have and work through any issues. In an ill-advised moment of madness, you can and probably will lose it all.
I wish all readers of the Herts Ad a peaceful, healthy and positive 2018 with compassion and kindness your watchword. I thank you!
Green Lane, St Albans
Carol Hedges’ letter expresses indignation that her MP Bim Afolami didn’t vote the way she wanted in the amendment on the EU withdrawal bill.
Here’s a headline for you, “Shock horror as MP expresses opinion contrary to a constituent.”
We elect our MPs to represent us in Parliament NOT to represent the views of ALL constituents.
We elect them to make decisions based on reasoned debate not on what Ms Hedges thinks. Whilst she feels Mr Afolami’s decision is “a slap in face” swiftly followed in the next sentence by a “kick in the teeth” Ms Hedges really should calm down and face the facts that the country voted to leave the EU and we are leaving in 2019, this was the will of the majority people of the UK and it must be respected.
PS. I voted Remain!
CLLR RICHARD CURTHOYS
Hornbeams, St Albans