Stop this fighting

PUBLISHED: 10:46 08 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

Your front page article Warning shot , which you could otherwise have billed as the Stuart Kenny v Raymond Smale all-in wrestling bout, illustrates the grave dangers to our Garden City of what seems to have become open warfare between Letchworth Garden C

Your front page article 'Warning shot', which you could otherwise have billed as the Stuart Kenny v Raymond Smale all-in wrestling bout, illustrates the grave dangers to our Garden City of what seems to have become open warfare between Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and Letchworth Garden City Council.

In fact, in the short time available between my reading it and writing this, the couple of Foundation governors and the couple of Garden City councillors I managed to speak to denied that, respectively, Mr. Kenny and Cllr Smale spoke for them!

Clearly, although Mr. Kenny has done well for our Garden City over the years and both Cllr Smale and he have it genuinely at heart, for the good of our Garden City, this warfare must not be allowed to continue. The 30 Foundation governors and the 24 Garden City councillors, all of whom, generally speaking, are sensible Letchworthians, need to get a grip of their respective organisations.

Might I make a suggestion to the 30 governors of the Foundation? It is that, in a genuine spirit of wanting to co-operate, they invite all 24 town councillors to meet for a friendly, informal discussion about our Garden City and how the total 54 of them can co-operate to improve it, rather than simply sitting back and allowing the warfare to continue.

If the 30 governors are so entrenched (or terrified!) that they will not invite the 24 town councillors to meet them, come along town councillors, again in a genuine spirit of co-operation, invite all of the 30 governors to meet you and receive the thanks of the people of our Garden City!

ANTHONY BURROWS, Pixmore Way, Letchworth Garden City

* Have we created a monster? Most people were delighted when we got a town council - independents gave the political establishment a bloody nose. It was going to be lean, inexpensive to run and provide an effective voice for the people.

But it was born of one man's hatred of the Heritage Foundation. It costs us nearly £200,000 a year. For what? It does not run or manage anything useful. It has merely tripled local council representation. And it continues to pursue its founding father's single issue agenda. Now some members, with delusions of grandeur, want us to buy them an £800,000 headquarters building. Not content with that, they want to take on the Heritage Foundation to abolish or wrest control of the Scheme of Management. Even if it were a good idea, which it is not, an unsuccessful case could cost us people of Letchworth dear.

The Scheme of Management has served us well to protect against some awful development where the planning system would have been left wanting. Such development includes: monstrous and inappropriate extensions; ghastly out of character plastic windows; and concrete front gardens.

The scheme is currently operated by independent professionals - not parish pump politicians with vested interests. But, if I have a criticism of the Heritage Foundation, it is that it has not been tough enough on wayward development.

We must not abandon the Scheme of Management. Nor should we hand it over to the local planning authority. But worst of all, God forbid, should we let the town council have anything to do with it.

Leave the Scheme of Management as it is. We are fortunate to have the Foundation to protect our unique town against the excesses of selfish owners and/or those without any appreciation for the built environment.

Is it possible to have a petition and new referendum to abolish the town council?

NIGEL SMITH, The Arcade, Station Road, Letchworth Garden City

* As if throwing away £800,000 of our money on obtaining offices for themselves was not enough, Letchworth Garden City Council is now planning to embark on a course of action against the Heritage Foundation that looks guaranteed to land us all with having to stump up the money for some large legal bills. Last week David Guess asked if there 'is any way of voting not to continue to have a town council'. I sincerely hope the answer to his question is 'yes'.

BERNARD HALTER, Letchworth Garden City

* I write in response to the article 'Warning Shot' in the edition of March 1, because the reporting is inaccurate.

You asked me, as town clerk and spokesman for the council, for a response to the statement from Stuart Kenny that you highlighted in your article. This I was happy to do.

My response to you last week expanded on the conversation that we had on February 9 and explained that the Town Council's initiative was one of fact finding, not of challenge, and the initial response from the public was evenly balanced between those who supported and those who opposed the practicalities of planning controls in the hands of the Heritage Foundation.

To your discredit you chose only to quote from the last few lines of my press release and concentrated on a personal statement made by a member of the council. In your article of March 1 and also your front page article of February 15 you chose to use unauthorised and personal statements from a member of the council and represented them as being council policy. This is potentially damaging.

While this personal badinage was obviously titillating and sells your newspaper, it grossly distorted the real message - that the town council is attempting to address a matter of real concern in the town.

Another matter that has appeared recently in your pages concerns the former Elim Church, our current home. It is true that the Town Council made an offer to purchase the building in June 2006. Our offer was rejected. Contrary to letters and reports on your pages the council has no mandate to make any further offer since then - we hope to move to a town centre location in the next few weeks.

Richard Bowran, Town Clerk, Letchworth GC Council

* EDITOR'S NOTE: We do not aim to titilate, only to provide the facts as we have them. The Comet has on numerous occasions explained the role and aims of the town council and will continue to do so in an impartial and accurate way. What we will not do is be dictated to by a clerk who demands that we speak to him first when seeking the views of a councillor. Like the citizens of Letchworth we demand free and unfettered access to all councillors on all matters of business - in future we will not waste the cost of a phone call for the people of Letchworth - we will be calling the councillors direct.


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