Herts Ad Comment: No comment and noisy buskers

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

“No comment” is a phrase you often hear bandied about in relation to news stories, but it never fails to surprise us just how reluctant some people are to speak their minds.

The worst offenders are undoubtedly our public officials, many of whom clam up as soon as they’re elected for fear of saying something controversial or unpopular.

One recent offender, who never shies away from positive publicity, refused to comment when asked for her views on Brexit, perhaps because her anti-EU stance is completely out of kilter with the local electorate?

Of course, there are plenty of councillors who are only too happy to have their say, who stand up to be counted when called on by their voters, and whose opinions are regularly found within the pages of this newspaper.

They know who they are, and we thank them for their contributions to the democratic process.

But what about those elected individuals we never feature, who keep a low profile after winning their seats, hiding away at the back of the council chamber and refusing to say anything on the record, controversial or otherwise? Do they have any point other than to pad out the numbers at the district council?

It isn’t just councillors who are reluctant to have their say, some community groups are surprisingly tight-lipped as well.

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Design group Look! St Albans, which has in the past shown particular umbrage for not being given sufficient credit for its role in shaping the look of various city centre developments, refuses to actually comment on, yes, you’ve guessed it, planning developments.

Quite what the point of the group is if it isn’t going to speak out about developments, whether it approves of them or not, now appears uncertain.

Whether you agree with her or not, “no comment” is never a response you will hear from St Albans MP Anne Main, who has the courage of her convictions regardless of any opposition. She sets an example which many local politicians should endeavour to imitate.

The Herts Ad offices in French Row often overlook buskers, some good and some very bad.

Fortunately for us, they tend to be of an acoustic persuasion, and although the occasional warble might prove unwelcome, on the whole they can either be embraced or ignored.

Not so some of the more exuberant acts who play in St Peter’s Street, belting out their tunes through an amp, and causing no end of misery to office workers forced to listen to endless renditions of Streets of London, American Pie and the other usual refrains.

It’s all very well enjoying the odd tune while you’re shopping or out for your lunchbreak, but imagine being subjected to that limited repertoire on repeat for hours at a time.

So while many people may object to the “killjoy” nature of the district council’s proposed buskers charter, all they are doing is turning down the volume a degree, and ensuring that everybody who uses the city centre is treated with the same degree of tolerance and respect, musicians included.