May 20 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, April 26, 2012
THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, April 27.
TESCO HOURS UNSUITABLE FOR TOWN
SIR – Local Tesco developments continually gain publicity and infamy. Fred Miller’s letter last week (Council helps Tesco get what it wants) was pertinent.
Tesco’s scouts secure smaller premises, to absorb residual trade. In Stevenage, we lost battles before they began when the Old Town Waitrose was targeted and Nisa at Chells. Rumours spread whilst development proceeded secretly behind hoardings.
Mr Miller correctly claimed local councillors and planners are grossly disadvantaged against legal wizards like Tesco. To the lay person this is legalised chicanery. He excluded three factors that undermined opposition in Stevenage. First, objections may only be raised on specific prescribed concerns, known and circumvented by Tesco. Secondly, if councils refuse planning applications from powerful businesses like Tesco, they risk being “taken to the cleaners” through compensation charges that they dare not pass onto residents. Thirdly, I quote Cllr Vickie Warwick (Comet June 9, 2011), relating to opposition in Chells: “To the dismay of many local people and businesses, the pub’s owners sold the lease to Tesco who, because of current planning legislation, need not apply to Stevenage BC for permission to open a store on the site. Tesco can set up shop without consent, or consulting local residents.”
In Chells we fear that previously losing the rent office, bank and Post Office, Tesco will further reduce viability of many valued smaller shops, already struggling with council rents.
Tesco aim to attract customers from other outlets. Mr Miller pleads, “What else can you do?” Profit is the sole motive, and we all have a vote. I quote from a letter published June 16, 2011 with which I agree: “Well I for one will never give any branch of Tesco my hard earned pension; they are just a money grabbing company who care not for anyone, only to make money on the backs of others.”
SIR - In follow up to Stephen Chapman’s letter about the inevitable parking problems that the proposed Tesco store will cause at Hitchin station, as a resident living within Hitchin station, we have to park a 10 minute walk from our homes and if we park in the station drop off zones to drop off our shopping and don’t immediately move our cars, risk getting £60 parking tickets.
However it will inevitably be the quick parking used for the car driving customers to this proposed store that will add to the already gridlocked traffic in the evenings.
Tesco have also applied for extended opening until 11pm, seven nights a week.
As local residents we already have to deal with the noise and rubbish generated by late night revellers going to and from the station. For Tesco to become a focal point for buying alcohol, cigarettes and food through to 11pm is going to make them a very unpopular neighbour.
As residents living just 50 metres from the proposed store, we weren’t made aware of any planning application to change the building usage from office to retail, but did get letters asking if we had any objection to the signage and ATM.
Does this mean that the planning consent for a change of use wasn’t required? Hitchin is a country town with character and with no other shops in the town open until 11pm, I do hope the planning committee make the right decision and don’t allow a vast retailer to break into the town with opening hours that are totally unsuitable.
KEEP IT BRITISH
SIR – I was reading a magazine article recently about a woman and her family who were having a short holiday in Norfolk.
On one of the days they went on a tour of Sandringham House and at the end of the visit went into the gift shop to
purchase a memento of their holiday.
They declined to do so however when they discovered all the gifts were made abroad.
Surely in the royal households of all places one would expect the souvenirs to be made in this country. It made me wonder what we British actually own or produce anymore.
I understand that even the tickets for the forthcoming Olympic Games were printed abroad. I am far from being xenophobic but what is this once great
country of ours coming to? Fly the flag – street parties for the Jubilee – celebrate our Britishness – Jubilympic mania – I think not.
SIR - With regard to the proposed move of Letchworth War Memorial from its present site and your correspondent’s “shock” at objections to this plan (Comet April 5), let me clarify the Royal British Legion’s position.
War memorials were placed in town centres to remind people of all ages and generations of the huge cost in lives lost in preserving the freedom we enjoy in this country.
Of course it would be more convenient to move the memorial to a quiet corner of the Broadway Gardens where it would sit in splendid isolation and away from normal footfalls.
It is said it’s inconvenient where it has stood for about 90 years and upset some development plans, and the nuisance of shutting the road for an hour on Remembrance Sunday, with all that involves.
It was and is inconvenient that our young men and women have been called upon to leave their families and loved ones to fight for their country’s freedom in two world wars and other conflicts since, but they did and still do, many making the ultimate sacrifice and we need always to be aware of this.
The Royal British Legion is charged with helping to ensure our heroes are not forgotten. A dog is not just for Christmas and Remembrance is not just a day in November but all the years.
Hon Secretary Royal British Legion
SIR – I think we should congratulate the Letchworth Heritage and NHDC for the new paddling pool in Norton Way South, Letchworth.
It is pleasant to look at and to use, for children, especially.
SIR - In response to the letter from Ms Skitmore with regards to Howard Park I am surprised at these observations and feel the letter attempts to represent other parents feelings.
We are very pleased with this new area and note it caters for children’s play both young and old in a none traditional way.
Firstly there is a swing which caters for more than one child at a time. However this is not your traditional play area.
The fencing is sufficient for a parents supervised play area. We have a two year old, if our child could get near the road without us noticing, we as parents have an issue. For once it is great to see a play area that allows our kids to discover the world around them and learn about the dangers too.
On the subject of shade, the play area for small children is in the trees. The whole park itself is surrounded by large woodland trees which will provide much shade in the summer months. Also this is free outdoor play.
This park shouts out to me take responsibility for yourself, something that society is missing. Children need to play freely while learning about the dangers the world around them presents. Adults need to enjoy the world around them while taking responsibility for the actions of their family and themselves.
This park is great and encompasses safe play, with freedom for kids and a sensible balanced approach to safety and parents responsibility.
SIR - On behalf of the passengers of the Stevenage number 10 bus, may I say a huge thank you to all those who made it possible for the Saturday service to be reinstated. Everyone is delighted.
SIR - It’s a pity Phil Gilmour doesn’t know quite as much as he thinks he does about the No.10 bus story, or my position on its funding.
Far from being a recent and shameless campaign, Mr Gilmour is obviously oblivious to the fact that I have worked on this campaign in one form or another for four years, and have requested, attended and argued hard at several meetings at County Hall on this exact subject. Indeed, his suggestion that we contribute some of our own budget to this is a little belated as he wouldn’t know that I have suggested this myself a number of times and, just two weeks ago, was looking to do just that from my own budget. He is further wrong in his belief that the interest will wane after the elections - since it hasn’t waned in four years I’d like to know why he thinks it might now.
As it happens, another councillor has come up with the money and I for one am glad for the users that this has happened. I look forward to working with all the relevant parties to find a sustainable package of funding going forward and reiterate my interest in sharing any such budgetary burden, but ultimately the best sentiment comes from Chris Danpure of the Bus Users Group - use it, or it will be ever more difficult for future funding to be found.
Cllr James Fraser
SBC & HCC
NAME CHANGE INSULT TO SCHOOL
Radburn Primary School, I was shocked and dismayed at the decision to change the name of the school to Garden City Academy. This decision seems to me to be an insult to the generations of children whose first steps in education were at Radburn, their parents and school governors who supported the school enthusiastically and also to the dozens of dedicated staff whose efforts throughout many years created a quality school in the often difficult circumstances of that part of the town.
I meet dozens of children in the town and they all love to chat about how good Radburn School was for them - whatever the know-it-alls at Ofsted may think.
It would seem to me that the decision to change the name was taken without thought to the history of the school and its place in the
history of the town. The current academy drive is a recent fad thought up by the coalition government to feed its hidden agenda to remove all schools from local authority control and undermine national pay and conditions of service. I hope sincerely that this fad is speedily condemned to the dustbin of history.
While I am sure the current staff and governors at Radburn had little alternative to becoming an academy at this time - they stood no chance given the current Ofsted regime and underhand government tactics - the school’s decision to drop the name Radburn should be a matter of great shame.
What is wrong with the name Radburn Academy? And what will the other Garden City schools be called when they are forced into or choose academy status?
SIR - With the recent hosepipe ban starting I wonder how Letchworth can continue to have their children’s play fountains still running. I’m sure they would fall under the category of ornamental fountains and therefore be on the list of ones that should be turned off.
SIR - I am very concerned about the street lighting turn off. Is it known which ones? There is a very serious health and safety issue affecting the garage light behind me (block number 1-8 Broadview Stevenage) The other side of the fence at the back after some rough ground has a 12ft drop. Unless the light remains on this will not be visible and there is also a sub station at the bottom. It is only the garage light and the street lights in the road behind (Wornham Avenue) that allow it to be seen clearly. I am very concerned about this. Please can you advise who to ask about this or can you check it out?
Mrs C. Langston
SIR - I feel I must commend the letter from Bernard Maddox in last week’s Comet entitled ‘Wind Worry’.
To my mind he has adequately summarised this particular ludicrous position we find ourselves in with regard to wind farms.
Most importantly, he correctly states no wind equals no electric, therefore we must, of course, have total back-up ready to go at all times.
I understand our government has authorised the building of more non Co2 Nuclear power-stations to this end, excellent move. (note USA run a Nuclear powered aircraft carrier for 32 years without refuelling. Now, that is sustainable). Again, most importantly, the UK produces less than 2 per cent of the world’s Co2, so why are we suffering with all this cost, upheaval and unrest. For very, very little gain, if anything I suggest.
SIR - The now regular and vociferous feature on windfarms in your letters column overlooked that any new nuclear built here will not be licensed to load-follow.
Any new nuclear cannot back up the wind as your regular correspondent wishes us to believe. New nuclear - if it is ever built - will be competing with wind farms to be the first on call.
However, your regular anti-wind column seems to be going national. I mean, last week we reviewed a wind proposal near the Isle of Wight: will renewable energy in post-Fukushima Japan be next?
CUT THE TREATS
Sir - The Hertfordshire Waste Partnership say it is necessary to replace charities with for-profit companies on council clothes bank sites in order to make money to preserve front line services.
I trust these front line services will include the council’s (secret) hospitality budget as the idea of councillors having to replace their favourite Beef Wellington with Dave’s Pasties is one step too far.
BACK THE BORO
SIR - Stevenage Football Club’s home victory against Brentford last weekend has put them back in the top six in league one and given them a fantastic opportunity for promotion to the championship.
Stevenage Football Club have shown themselves to be a role model in the football league with their “it’s never over until it’s over” attitude with their 100 per cent commitment in every minute of every game they have played in recent seasons. Not only is the quality of their football of an incredibly high standard but the professional conduct of the SFC players leaves many other teams currently in the league in the shade.
In particular, captain Mark Roberts and manager Gary Smith should receive commendation for the outstanding role they have played in steering SFC through an adjustment period with their predecessor having recently departed from the club and leaving no one in any doubt that particular individual was not solely responsible for SFC’s success - but it has been more to do with the quality and commitment of the players themselves and the club as a whole.
As an avid follower of football the whole of North Herts should get behind SFC because they have a very realistic opportunity in the next few weeks of promotion to the Championship.
SIR - The damning CQC report on the Surgicentre (see Comet 19th April) confirms the experience of many patients including my own 13-year-old son.
It is not generally known that the Surgicentre is part of the global construction and facilities management corporation, Carillion, which has not provided these surgical services before. Shamefully the origins of this form of pernicious privatisation can be traced to the previous Labour Government. Now the coalition have embedded this type of provider in the Health and Social Care Act. The best thing for prospective patients would be if Herts PCT terminated the contract and handed control to East and North Herts Trust which has the proven management and clinical expertise.