Your letters to the Herts Advertiser...
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I was pleased to see the extensive nature of the coverage given to the issue of air pollution in your issue of 11 August (pages 14–15). Toxic pollution is a serious issue for humans and other species alike. A major missing element of the coverage, however, was the role of citizens – your readers – in helping to reduce levels of pollution. While it may make us feel better to lay the blame on heavy goods vehicles, each of us also has a part to play in reducing the amount we use our cars. Let’s support public transport, let’s favour activities local to us, and – for those of us who are able – let’s walk more.
In addition, by reducing our demands for possessions, renovations, and long-distance transport of excessively packaged food, we could all help reduce the road usage of heavy goods vehicles. We could also, through these same means, help address another of the environmental points raised in the 11 August edition (“Recycling row” on page 8). Nowhere in the piece on the capacity of brown bins does it mention that there is a responsibility on citizens to reduce the amount of unnecessary waste products through making more environmentally sound choices as consumers (e.g. reducing the purchase of luxury items and moving away from our current throw-away culture).
The council is giving the residents of St Albans a timely nudge that we are making too much waste. A collective ignoring of that nudge would be bad for us and devastating for the rest of life. And to give some perspective to the “row”, my wife and I do not even fill one-tenth of our brown bin on a fortnightly basis. It is staggering to us that there could be people buying, and disposing of, enough non-recyclable goods every 2 weeks to more than fill a bin of that size.
As part of our desire to give the rest of nature a fair share of the Earth, we have also committed to not having children. Increasing human population is driving both of the issues described above.
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The demolition of Radlett Fire Station to make way for luxury flats, sandwiched between the Midland Mainline cross-London Thameslink route and the busy A5183 Watling Street, signals the final nail in the coffin of any hope of Radlett fire station re-opening.
The inauguration of the Radlett Fire Brigade took place on August 3 1905 at Radlett Parish Hall, in front of a large attendance. The engine was later christened by Miss Florence Miller, who broke a bottle of champagne on the fore-axle wishing at the same time “God speed and good luck to the Radlett Fire Engine”. The vicar was thanked for the loan of his coach house to house the engine in.
On December 1 1906, a new engine house situated on Watling Street at the bottom of Park Road, built by the voluntary labour of the officers and men of the active brigade, and in which the engine had just been housed, was prettily illuminated with lanterns and fairy lights. (Radlett Parish Magazine January 1906).
The fire station as we know it today was built on the same site in the late 1960s and remained operational until its closure by Herts County Council on October 23rd 2006, with the loss of 14 retained firefighters and against massive opposition from local residents and one of the biggest campaigns Hertfordshire has ever seen, to stop it.
A 7,000-plus signature petition collected by myself and representing over 95 per cent of households in Radlett and almost every business, asking for it to be re-opened, which I had addressed to the 39 members of the Conservative County Council who voted to close Radlett Fire Station, was actually answered by the Chief Fire Officer and simply brushed aside with this terse two line response: “I have considered the petition alongside the Integrated Risk Management Plan and data since Radlett Fire Station closed. I can see no reason to change my advice to the County Council.”
The fire station has since stood empty for just short of ten years, but its demolition this week has certainly dashed any hopes of it rising from the ashes.
My great grandfather and grandfather were founder members of the brigade so it is a bit more personal to me. But somebody stopped me in the street recently, who knew the lengths that I had gone to to try and save it, said “I see they are pulling down your fire station,” to which I replied, “No, they are pulling down our fire station, it is as much yours as it is mine”.
None of us has have received a refund in our council tax, for a service we are still paying for but have lost and everyone knows that we now have to wait longer for an engine to arrive in Radlett if a house catches fire, than we did when we had our own crew on hand, with their local knowledge, serving our community for 100 years.
The loss of this service in Radlett 10 years ago can only be a bad thing, especially since it had become clear that it was closed to enable the land to be sold off in the current ‘fire sale of public assets’ and because it was land which the whole village believe was donated to the community by Charles Part for the specific purpose of housing a fire station.
Park Road, Radlett
Your article on air pollution shows that our council is incapable of doing anything positive about it other than have further studies.
I have the independent report ‘Air Quality Review & Detailed Assessment 2008’ commissioned by our council from AEA Group plc. It was presented to our council in December 2008 by Marios Valiantis, an air pollution expert, together with a Powerpoint presentation showing graphs of different vehicle at various speeds.
He then spent about an hour answering questions from officers and councillors. What came out of all this was the obvious need to discourage unnecessary traffic entering the town.
One scheme which almost came to fruition was to ban cars from Chequers Street and St Peter’s Street from 7am to 7pm, only allowing buses, taxis and cycles. This was done with advice from the county traffic engineers’ research over three years.
Councillors were nervous as any restriction on the use of the sacred car by the public scared them. Braver towns pedestrianise the centres of their towns and discouragecars by making central car parks expensive. Many use restricted delivery times.
Banning cars from the middle of our city is pretty mild but it would be a start. I live in Spencer Street and never drive along St Peter’s Street to get to my house from any direction.
If you need to go to a car park you would not use St Peter’s Street to get to any of the central car parks unless you were lost. Otherwise cars are driving straight through.
Our council has 260 spaces reserved free for staff and councillors in Bricket Road car park.The public has to pay to park there, not only does our council lose the revenue from those free spaces but it has hindered several planning applications to develop this very valuable publiclly-owned site with much needed housing. Perhaps some of your readers have views about this?
Spencer Street, St Albans
Alan Bunting’s letter highlights the problem of pollution at the Peahen junction viz: there are 12-14 buses an hour northbound up Holywell Hill, taking up the best part of a square kilometre of road space. Add in school buses, coaches, lorries and cars, and you have all-day traffic jams and pollution.
Reversing the S4/5 and other buses to run southbound down Holywell Hill and northbound up the underused and less hilly Cottonmill perhaps to the station, could reduce pollution and road space congestion without any real loss of service.
If we diverted through traffic around the city, that could also effectively traffic calm the entire city for the cost of a few signposts, making it a much nicer place to live and work?
Potters Bar and St Albans Transport User Group
Janet Barrett complains that her brown wheelie bin is too small for the purpose. I too have been issued with one and it has at least 10 times the capacity I am ever likely to need.
So the council’s policy of one size fits all is clearly inappropriate and should have been considered more carefully.
I have written twice to the council requesting a much smaller bin, or permission to use one of my redundant boxes for disposal of my landfill waste, but am still awaiting a reply. Meanwhile I am left with a bin that is far too large and difficult to accommodate.
Homewood Road, St Albans
Your article on the latest controversy over the brown bins and Richard Shwe’s claim that it was only after much research that they were introduced to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
Living alone when the black bins were introduced many years ago, I opted for the smaller version. I now have a much larger brown bin so perhaps the council services head of communities is trying to get me to send more to landfill or is there a smaller version of the brown bin it has not told me about?
Amberley Close, Harpenden
In the Sunday Times dated August 7, I read a very courageous letter written by Becca Dodge from St Albans. In the letter she describes how she had to travel 400 miles to Glasgow in order to get ‘the life-saving treatment’ she needs. She say that in the four months she had been treated at the Glasgow unit, there have been five other patients from Hertfordshire, sent there by the Hertfordshire community eating disorder service.
I have read that there is an alarming rise in mental health disorders among young people, including eating disorders.
I understand that there are plans to replact The Stewarts, purpose-built in the 1980s on the Harpenden Memorial Hospital site with a ‘Health and Wellness Campus’. Surely it would be far better to convert the existing Stewarts building to a residential centre for young people in Hertfordshire with mental health disorders.
There are many very generous people in Harpenden to raise month for the conversion of The Stewarts, and the running costs would be less than the cost of outsourcing these vital services to far parts of the country.
Harpenden Rise, Harpenden
Can I elaborate on the idea of abstaining every now and then from buying a coffee and donating the money to cleaning the lake?
Not being a coffee drinker I can’t follow the example but it strikes me that a crowdfunding website could be set up to allow concerned citizens of St Albans to contribute a suitable small sum to get the clean up moving more quickly. Does this sound feasible?
Riverside Close, St Albans
I’m seeking a kind-hearted person who lives in the St Albans or Harpenden area who plays the violin would be willing to accompany me to visit someone who is in the psychiatric hospital at Beacon Lodge which is on the road near Waitrose near the King Harry pub.
This arrangement would be on a voluntary basis and to demonstrate the violin to somebody who is a patient there and also would profit from such exchange of listening to music.
I’m sure there is somebody out there and I look forward to hearing from you.