May 24 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, July 26, 2012
THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, July 26.
SIR - A £5000 platform ticket to a gravy train. I would like to draw your readers’ attention to the election in November for the new position of the police commissioner: up to £100,000/year for a part-time job. While political parties can afford the £5,000 deposit, only wealthy individuals could afford to risk standing as an independent.
So this is another fiasco in our illusion of democracy. Political parties will fight for the control of the Police force, instead of protecting these services and keeping them independent. How many nonentities will they place, only for their priorities to be dictated by Central Office?
Why can’t we just let the police get on with their job without political interference? Does everything have to be controlled by the political elite in the name of democracy?
SIR - In response to comments on your letters page last week I confirm I am opposed to the privatisation of police services.
The plan to outsource back-office functions is driven by the aim to realise maximum cost savings as quickly as possible. This is being done in haste without evidence that services on which our police rely will be unaffected.
At the meeting of Hertfordshire Police Authority on June 25, the suggestion that other options be considered was rejected. The Authority resolved that only one business case be developed for the delivery of services across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. The Chief Constable was asked to develop a case which would ultimately favour G4S, although Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Police Authorities were yet to agree. Independent members were clearly uncomfortable with this but were outnumbered by the Tory majority. It was conceded that the decision to go ahead with the G4S option did not have to be made before the abolition of police authorities. It was clear that the chairman, Cllr David Lloyd, preferred the final decision be made before the election of the new Police and Crime Commissioner.
The massive failure of G4S to deliver services for the Olympics is proof that transferring so much into the hands of a private provider is a big risk and Cllr Lloyd was wrong to dissuade colleagues from considering other options.
Cllr Lloyd has been selected as the Conservative candidate and intends to remain in his role as chairman of the authority until the last possible moment in October. If it were me, I would resign due to conflicts of interest that will most certainly arise. Cllr Lloyd is Deputy Leader of the Tory-led County Council and chairman of resources. The decisions to make austere cuts in Hertfordshire, including switching off our street lights, are in his remit.
I welcome the fact that the three constabularies have re-considered their position regarding G4S and hope the authorities will decide to look at more favourable options in their quest for making the savings demanded by the Con-Dem Government.
SHERMA BATSON MBE
Labour’s Candidate for Hertfordshire Police & Crime Commissioner, Stevenage
SIR - After seeing a huge pothole along Chells Way ‘repaired,’ I used the Herts CC website to complain of the shoddiness of the patch and showed the map location. They claimed that they could not find it. The patch has now sunk about 2ins again putting people’s lives at risk. There is splitting of the roadway which will only worsen.
What is really aggravating is the fact that I have just returned form a car trip to France in 10 days covering nearly a thousand miles. Perhaps the Highways Commission and HCC will explain why the French can build and maintain beautifully quiet and repaired class A and B roads, without any continual thumping, and we appear unable to do the same.
It is quite typical to spend the minimum for a quick repair and have to carry out the repair again and again. What a waste of time and money and begs the question; Is the Council satisfied with the work and why doesn’t management go to check the repairs are done properly? We do not have a road network, we only have a patched potholed network of poorly built and maintained roads.
SIR - For the past few weeks, the council have been switching off street lamps at night in certain parts of Stevenage to save money.
Chells Manor has been particularly badly affected as it is now pitch black at night time.
On Thursday night/Friday morning just after midnight, there was a really bad car crash in the darkness on the White Way in Chells Manor. A car span off the road and demolished a fence.
This is as a direct result of the incredible darkness on the White Way since the street lamps have been switched off. I am sure there will be more accidents to follow. What have the council got to say about this please?
CAR IS KING
SIR - I read with interest this week the article about residential car parking in Stevenage. This has been getting more and more difficult over the years, and it does not surprise me to learn that we are ranked the fifth worst area outside London.
It is stated that the length of cars has been getting longer and the percentage of ownership has also increased, which of course does not help. Unfortunately no mention was made to the increasing number and size, of commercial vehicles that are being parked in residential streets.
While I appreciate that a small percentage are used as both business and private vehicles, the majority I feel, are just for commercial use. This obviously increases the number of parked vehicles, as can be seen any night or weekend.
When did the streets of Stevenage become commercial parking areas? Obviously it cannot be totally stopped, but at least let us put a maximum size restriction on the vehicles parked. I honestly believe it would help.
NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED
SIR - Good to see Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles taking an interest in the Hitchin rail curve (report 19 July). Shame he wasn’t properly briefed.
He told the Comet that “All our railways go north to south. If Crossrail had been brought in, it would have been a piece of cake to go from my home [Brentwood] to here”.
True, Crossrail will run from Shenfield (on his way into London) but to Maidenhead in the West; however, the interchange with Thameslink at Farringdon won’t serve Hitchin until 2018. Meanwhile the tube from Liverpool St to Kings Cross takes only 8 minutes.
Or did he mean the East-West link? The Oxford to Bedford section was announced on the day of his visit, but the extension to Sandy, and then via the East Coast main line (ECML) and the Hitchin curve to Cambridge, was scuppered by a new rowing lake.
Hitchin Rail User Group is currently framing its responses to two Department for Transport consultations: a combined Great Northern/Thameslink/Southern franchise and a new ECML franchise (possibly including some Kings Cross - Peterborough services currently operated by First Capital Connect). Comments and contributions gratefully received.
Hitchin Rail User Group
SIR - A very real hazard for walkers especially Senior citizens are the loose stones and chippings which come out from individual house drives and are allowed to remain on the pavement. Our 91-year-old neighbour who still walks and shops on a daily basis and suffers falls finds it dangerous to walk over these and has to step into the road instead. It would oblige all walkers if those householders acquired a broom and regularly swept these stones back into their drives. Who needs a broom?
SIR - In response to the letter regarding cyclists on the roads of Stevenage. The main reasons cyclists use the roads as opposed to the cycle paths is that many of the cycle paths are littered with large pieces of debris, including bricks and pieces of wood, posing great danger to the cyclists and others using them.
Many people, including those using electric mobility scooters, people with buggies and small children and dog walkers use the tracks making them unsuitable for sports cyclists and those that do it to keep fit as a reasonable speed needs to be maintained.
As a motorist and resident of Stevenage, we are not used to dealing with road cyclists, however, they are legally entitled to use the roads and we should be ensuring that a safe distance is given to allow them to enjoy the roads as we do.
The many beautiful areas of countryside surrounding Stevenage are easily accessible by cycling, perhaps some of the complainers should try it. It’s a good way to keep fit and at the same time be exhilarated by the beauty of the local areas which many other sports do not enjoy.
TOP FIELD SILENCE
SIR - As a Hitchin resident who was present at the Hitchin Area Committee meeting last week I have to say that I was utterly disgusted at the stance taken by three of our so-called NHDC councillors in relation to the proposed developments from the Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust over Top Field and the subsequent proposed development on Green Belt opposite Kingshott School.
Whilst I applaud the views of the majority of our Hitchin councillors who expressed either concern or opposition in some form or another shame on Richard Thake, Ray Shakespeare-Smith and Alan Millard whom by their silence typify all that is fundamentally wrong with British politicians in the modern era.
Richard Thake practically bolted for the door in the meeting at just the very every mention of “Top Field”.
Ray Shakespeare-Smith and Alan Millard completely absolved their responsibilities as elected representatives by maintaining that because they are on NHDC’s planning committee they prefer to voluntarily gag their mouths with tape over Top field.
Yet Councillor David Billing who also sits on NHDC’s planning committee did not feel the need to gag his lips as he openly aired his concerns over the proposed development of Top Field.
The British public are sick to death of politicians of every political shade and colour, whether they be MPs or local councillors, absolving and abusing their duties and responsibilities. In doing so Thake and co are are making a mockery of those who elected them into their position of office in the first place.
Take a stand over the issues that matter. Come out of your closet on the issues that matter or resign. No one is indispensable.
SIR - Virtually a year ago, I wrote to the Comet when the Cow Commoners first registered an interest in the development of Top Field.
Since then, my views about the ancient home of Hitchin Town FC have become more polarised. Far too many old football stadia in England have been acquired and “developed” by those who are motivated more by profit than by community interests.
I was delighted to have read a letter in The Comet recently penned by Kit Galer, with whose comments I absolutely concur.
Hitchin is one of the oldest football clubs on the planet. Top Field has been their home for the best part of a century. To develop anything other than the football club on this site is tantamount to sacrilege.
The new National Football Museum opened its doors in Manchester a couple of weeks ago in a much publicised ceremony. How many people are aware that the world’s very first football museum was actually at Top Field, opened in 1956 by Sir Stanley Rous?
The Stevenage FC Supporters’ Association held its annual meeting the other week. It has over 1,000 members. As chairman of this organisation, I put a motion to the members about challenging the Cow Commoners and their proposal for Top Field and Hitchin Town FC. Every attending member supported the move.
My next objective will be to enlist the support of the Federation of Football Supporters, who have a track record of providing expertise for the protection of traditional football clubs. I should like to formally register my organisation’s interest in joining the “Save Top Field Campaign” and would want to assure you of our continuing support.
Chairman - Stevenage FC
SIR - Re your report in the Comet Thursday 19, concerns over new homes plan.
I would like to point out that in my opinion well over 80 per cent of Arlesey people do not want this development and whoever managed to push this through has done so without any thought for the locals of this village.
Its not fair to say we all had our chance to have a say as no forms or consultation leaflets were posted to many of the people of this village and many of the older generation do not have access to this kind of media and those that attended the meetings were in my opinion hoodwinked into this. The last meeting I attended no one could answer the basic questions such as what would happen with 2,000 more cars coming through the village.
They are sure to come through heading toward Hitchin and Letchworth and the only answer I could get was perhaps road calming measures will be put in.
If this project goes ahead the developers must complete the roads and infrastructural work first and it’s up to the people of Arlesey to make sure this happens even if we have to block the roads to stop the contractor from the beginning. All we get is others coming in from other areas and they don’t spend their money in the village.
Secondly we must make sure that the houses being built should be for local people to rent via the council. This affordable housing does not work only if you have the deposit to start with, the people come into Arlesey only because of the station can you imagine the problems this project will bring.
Why don’t you hold a ballot on this for or against the project going ahead. Don’t leave this before it is too late for us to have our say on this project.
SIR - Regarding Parking Cost - Comet Letters Page 19 July 2012.
Does Cllr Robin Parker really want to scrutinise every minute decision made by Stevenage Borough Council? The benefits of free parking on Saturdays in the indoor market car park would seem obvious.
The car park was always greatly under-utilised prior to free parking, and therefore the lost revenue to SBC must be relatively low.
The indoor market had been in decline for quite some time, with many empty stalls. Free parking might increase business for the stall holders and thus increase the likelihood of them staying in the market, and encourage other traders to take up stalls. The council would gain from stall rents. Through free parking the council are supporting local small businesses, something about which the coalition government bangs on all the time but rarely offers any tangible help. Cllr Parker’s rant just goes to show the depths to which the Lib Dems have sunk.
NAME & ADDRESS
SIR - My husband and I are horrified to hear that Royal Mail have withdrawn the sale of Airletters. Over the years we have struggled to buy Airletters and we cannot be the only people in the UK who purchase Airletters.Not everyone has a Computer, especially elderly people. Elderly people usually keep a stock of Airletters and it is easy to ask someone to post the written Airletter for them.
South Africa is a third world country and we communicate with families in Soweto, the rest of South Africa and Australia.
We have to use Airletters as envelopes to South Africa do not arrive, they are looking for £’s in the envelopes. Even if we write Nothing enclosed or photos only, they get stolen. Surely the Royal Mail should consider everyone, this has just been withdrawn and now we cannot write to loads of people and those we can write to in Australia we have to have each letter weighed before posting, not everything weighs the same.
We implore Royal Mail to re-consider this unfair decision.
Mr and Mrs J. Pike
Letchworth Garden City