Risk of building

PUBLISHED: 12:12 13 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:28 06 May 2010

On May 18 at the town centre development meeting held in the Spirella Ballroom, we raised the question of the risk to the Heritage s charitable objectives of taking on a project of such magnitude. In response both Mr Kenny and Mr Scouller acknowledged the

On May 18 at the town centre development meeting held in the Spirella Ballroom, we raised the question of the risk to the Heritage's charitable objectives of taking on a project of such magnitude.

In response both Mr Kenny and Mr Scouller acknowledged the potential risk and publicly stated that before any formal action was taken the entire proposal would be vetted by the Charities Commission as regulators of the LGCHG. (Mr Kenny's actual words - "Before I press the button all plans will be approved by The Charities Commission").

Despite these assurances, it has become apparent that the independent retailers, whose livelihoods are most at stake through this proposed redevelopment, are still bereft of any firm proposal from the LGCHF in terms of alternative accommodation and/or compensation.

Furthermore, to add to the uncertainty, the LGCHF have repeatedly refused to allow scrutinisation of the 438 declared responses to their public consultation. It is understood that given the unique status the foundation holds, they are not obliged under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to publish these results. This can only reinforce public concern.

The traders' frustration has resulted in them resorting to running their own public survey to gauge what Letchworth shoppers and residents really want. After all, there is no point in them fighting their cause if public opinion does not support it.

In response to news coverage of this survey, Mr Kenny has come out gloves off publicly declaring that he looks forward to submitting the necessary planning applications and associated requests to NHDC for compulsory purchase orders 'not long after my return from God's own country'.

Is this the response we should be afforded by the Director General of an organisation whose raison d'etre is to carry on for the benefit of the local community?

Also at the meeting on May 18 it was clearly stated that plans would now be worked up and detailed project costings formulated. Given that the plans were to be substantially changed to accommodate the lowering of the height of the building, a subterranean car park and a pitched roof, have these changes now been factored into the project costings and have they been approved by the Board of Governors?

This is a question that the Governors must answer as the voice of the community.

Your attention is drawn to all the letters of objection that have been published in The Comet newspaper. These provide substantive evidence to suggest that replies sent by the public to the LGCHF in response to their consultation were not in favour of such radical redevelopment.

Most would agree that our Town Centre needs a degree of revitalisation but not at the expense of losing the unique character of The World's first Garden City.

What are you - the Governors - doing to preserve our unique and historic character?

M GRAY AND C HARDY, Letchworth Garden City

* Shoppers love traffic-free areas. Wouldn't it be great to have a calm, attractive centre in Letchworth Garden City? If Eastcheap were pedestrianised, the central area could be planted with mature trees with benches below for meeting and chatting. Also, with a quieter street, customers could continue to enjoy pavement cafes and browsing the secondhand bookstalls. We could even install half-a-dozen semi-permanent stalls (at the eastern end) to be used by the local community on different days: on Wednesdays gardeners could sell plants, on Fridays the WI could sell produce, and we could have a marquee on Saturdays for children's storytelling. Without traffic the possibilities are endless!

Sheila Rhodes, Cashio Lane, Letchworth Garden City

* Is Mr Kenny (Heritage Foundation) applying for the post as the first Scottish dictator?

I refer to his callous letter in The Comet last week. Not only does he clearly wish to ignore strong public opinion, but he gleefully wishes to destroy the livelihoods of many longstanding shopkeepers by looking forward to issuing compulsory purchase orders.

I wonder how many Letchworth residents' signatures are required to impeach this man? He must be an embarrassment to his fellow Heritage Foundation board members.

Does he not realise that compulsory purchase orders should be the last resort, not used to bully and frighten small shopkeepers who are getting in the way of his plans to cram hundreds of flats into this small area? Now the results of his consultation also seem rather dubious, many are left wondering if he has proved a need for this development and if North Herts District Council should refuse both his planning and compulsory purchase applications?

Mrs JOAN KETT, Letchworth Resident and Shopper

* I pen this letter as a former resident, born and bred, of Letchworth, now living in Arlesey in response to the Director General of Letchworth GC Heritage Foundation, Mr Stuart Kenny, and his letter headed Letchworth fact from fiction.

The issues surrounding the redevelopment of the town centre have been debated here in these pages, on the street and in every home for quite some time so I will refrain from retreading old ground.

The closing paragraph of his letter however was full of smugness, arrogance and a desire to provoke reactions amongst those who are still against what the Heritage Foundation is proposing (the majority of residents I would suggest). To state that he is looking forward to applying for the Compulsory Purchase Orders was a statement designed to inflame rather than assist the current strength of feeling within the wider community.

It's playground bullying politics that I would not have expected from a person in his position.

It gives the impression of a Foundation and its officials that do not care about the residents of the town they represent and whose interests they are meant to uphold. God only knows what those in the wider community must think of all this debate when it is clear that the Mr Kenny and his associates do not really care what public opinion is - they are forcing the plans through anyway.

NEIL OPPEGAARD, Arlesey

* Mr Kenny will give religion a bad name. By claiming that Scotland is God's own country he suggests God lacks judgement. We all know this is not true. He may have chosen Scotland in the distant past but then he heard the bagpipes, realized his error and gave the title to England.

That is why there is an army of Scots living here in the South.

PAUL JOHNSON, Brandles Road, Letchworth Garden City


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