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I admit to being rather stunned to read that Cllr Mary Maynard was emotional during a meeting of St Albans council’s planning committee. She was apparently in tears regarding the plight of children trapped in cramped, noisy and damp accommodation locally.
The lack of any affordable housing in the district is indeed a severe problem and she is right to acknowledge that. She is also correct to suggest that we build small homes that people can afford to live in.
The reality of the housing crisis is this; the rot started with Thatcher and her unashamed vote winning policy of Right to Buy.
Successive governments have done little to rectify this situation but there has been a significant lack of care adminstered to this issue by Cllr Maynard’s party of choice, the Conservatives.
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To add some context to this with regards to Right to Buy; since 2012, 54,581 council houses have been sold. There have been 12,472 council houses replaced in this time period (figs DCLG).
There is no such thing as affordable housing here or anywhere else in the south-east. There has been a dereliction of duty by SADC in my opinion - and many others - for failing to carry out the correct procedures in putting a sensible Local Plan together to address the housing needs of this area for the future.
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- 10 Tributes paid to former St Albans City goalkeeper Lee Bozier
It is not genuinely in Conservative blood to be concerned for the less well-off. The tragedy of Grenfell has more than shone light on that fact.
Even the issue of a new football stadium gets booted around more than any balls at Clarence Park. This truly highlights a lack of ability for the committee and councillors to work effectively at a cross party level.
The Lib Dems are more than guilty of sitting on their hands - I suspect that will become their next election pledge here when people realise that being anti-Brexit is all they have.
If Cllr Maynard feels true compassion and empathy for the less well-off trying to make ends meet then she should question her colleagues about Universal Credit and the pain and suffering that it has imposed on the most vulnerable in our society.
The fact that we have and need a foodbank here in St Albans should be of utter shame too.
The Conservative disregard to all of this is a national disgrace - there is good reason they are known more commonly as the Nasty Party.
Sve your tears please councillor, try voting and upholding the nurturing and caring standards of a different party. LIZ MCCANN By email
I have been resident in Herts for much of my life and I have seen road traffic volume increase a great amount over the years - is it a wonder the roads are in such a shameful state of repair?
I often use my car to drive the roads around Welwyn, St Albans, Hertford and to Luton.
During these journeys I often come across roadworks, although rarely do they seem to be for repairing road surfaces, but for utility services instead.
This is surprising because our roads are becoming a disgrace to the people of this county, and yet nothing seems to be actually getting done to fix the issues we face when using our bicycles and motor vehicles.
A quick look at the online ‘fixmystreet’ for your area and the HCC online fault reporting system will give an excellent indication of the problems that road users are dealing with on a daily basis.
Surely the potential danger of accidents being caused by these potholes and lack of road markings, especially for cyclists, would be enough to raise some immediacy to make a fix - even if it’s a quick one.
Perhaps the rising cost of insurance claims for personal injury and vehicle damages, might put some more urgency into remedial work - of course, the fault normally needs to have been reported first for any claim to likely be successful.
Please report the faults that you come across on our roads when they are dangerous, we really need to make the county council understand that more needs to be done.
I am sure the highways teams who we see out on the roads working, are doing as much as they can, as quickly as possible, and I thank them for their work.
We know that many cuts have been made to public services, I expect ighways is no different, but these should be accounted for by now with better working practices and forward planning.
The fact that many of the county’s roads are going to be even more busy in the future, with the increases in population expected, suggests this is a problem that is going to get even worse over time.
NAME & ADDRESS SUPPLIED
I read that Mary Maynard gave a passionate argument in support of the Draft Local Plan that could see an extra 700 homes built on the Green Belt in Batford.
There didn’t appear to be the same passion to provide affordable homes when the Gleneagles Hotel or the Harpenden House Hotel were being redeveloped.
I wonder if any passion was shown by ensuring a percentage of the homes on the site of Pan Autos in Southdown will be affordable?
As Batford faces losing its fields to a huge housing estate, as we are crammed even closer together, as our already busy roads face the prospect of an extra thousand cars clogging them up and as our infrastructure continues to creak, I wonder if someone on the council will give a passionate argument on behalf of Batford?
Barley Rise, Batford
Having just read that Luton Airport Parkway Station is being “improved”, I have to ask yet again, why is there no passenger lift at Luton Station??
It’s ridiculous - St Albans Station has had several makeovers in recent years but Luton lurks in the dark ages!
We had occasion to alight there a couple of weeks ago ( not on our original plan) and it took us 20 minutes to exit the station as my husband is disabled Heaven knows what happens if a wheelchair user is forced to change there! How can this be acceptable for a town of this size these days?
Answers gratefully received!
Overstone Road, Harpenden
So the bully-boys are at it again! Those of us who have actively stood against the monstrous rail-freight terminal for well over a decade have heard HelioSlough and their agents throw several big money legal threats against anyone daring to jeopardise their profit-making venture.
It very strongly appears that in 2014 Pickles caved in to such threats, thinking that he would be less endangered by St Albans council than by big business financial clout. Nothing else adequately accounts for his irrational and unexplained U-turn in granting planning permission. Fortunately for our locality, St Albans council has consistently been made of sterner and more honest stuff.
The latest HelioSlough bleatings really are pathetic. Realising that their profit (at our cost) is slipping away in the face of the county and St Albans councils’ preference for housing on the Radlett site (40% of which would be ‘affordable’ – and a pity it’s not nearer 80%), director Gareth Osborne tried to argue that the housing proposal makes the Local Plan “inherently unsound” (Herts Ad June 7).
Why? – when the Local Plan desperately needs sites for a staggering 15,000 houses over the next 18 years, but definitely does NOT need a large, ugly, noisy, pollution-producing and road-clogging rail-lorry (or more probably lorry-lorry) monstrosity. Lacking any logic or reality, small wonder his pitiful contribution was ignored by our council.
So now the big-money legal threats have been wheeled out again, that if the council continues to include the site as housing in the Local Plan then HelioSlough “will be forced to consider all possible remedies including a possible legal challenge to that process” (Herts Ad June 7). We’ve seen it all before. ‘Remedies!’ The only remedy is to recognise the totally inappropriate siting of the piece of land that they are so desperate to get.
And why are they so desperate? After nearly a decade of Anne Main’s attempts to extract any kind of sensible train-scheduling plans from the Bedpan Line operators, nothing has emerged.
Considering the current troubled state of that service it is derisory to suggest that all would be well with the daily addition of a dozen near-kilometre-long relatively slow goods trains mixed in, to say nothing of the expensive and disruptive track and tunnel enhancements required.
So the railway aspect of the interchange is little more than a dead duck.
Then considering the almost total gridlock that would be caused by thousands of lorries in and out daily plus workforce and service vehicles, it is not difficult to envisage HelioSlough, once they have got the land firmly in their grip, throwing up their hands and admitting the operational difficulties and converting the whole site into – you’ve guessed it – a housing scheme!
Only this time they would be in the driving seat to shape the development to maximise their profit, not to meet local ‘affordable housing’ and other needs.
Small wonder HelioSlough will use any argument, however silly, to try to grab the site.
In the face of this, our message to St Albans and county councils must be to continue to firmly put local needs at the forefront.
And if HelioSlough’s reactive behaviour and legal bullying involves our council in financial commitments, as it has in the past, then it is well worth the cost to maintain the quality and integrity of St Albans and district.
IAN M LaRIVIERE
Park Street, St Albans
I was interested in Alan Bunting’s observations of the differences between Luton and Dunstable Hospital and St Albans City Hospital.
For many years the L&D has had a medical executive committee, made up of senior doctors, to work alongside non-medical hospital managers.
I suggest that as a result the hospital managers at the L&D listen to, and respect, their hospital staff, the majority of whom are more highly trained and have more expertise than the hospital managers.
Sadly this is not the case at other hospital trusts, including St Albans.
Harpenden Rise, Harpenden
What a superb concert held at St Albans Cathedral by the Hertford Choral Society on June 9. ‘Sea music’ was the theme, and the St Albans branch of the RNLI was given permission to hold a retiring collection which raised £321, a welcome contribution in support of the gallant work undertaken by lifeboat staff.
Thank you very much to the Choral Society and cathedral staff for sharing their success.
Chairman, St Albans RNLI