A demand for Debenhams to be based at Stevenage town centre and dismay at the closure of a dementia support service have been among the opinions published on our letters page today (Thursday).

Debenhams should be in the town centre

SIR - Regarding last week’s article about the plans to open a Debenhams department store in Stevenage, what fantastic news except it’s going to be on the Roaring Meg Retail Park and not the town centre. I think it would be a massive blow for the town centre, and I’m sure most would agree. Stevenage town centre desperately needs a department store like Debenhams.

If it came to the town centre I’m sure it would attract other investment and regeneration. It would then attract more mid range stores and shoppers that don’t normally come to Stevenage.

Unfortunately the multi million pound town centre redevelopment which was planned was scrapped last year but we were reassured in a quote from Stevenage Borough Council in the Comet on 25/05/12: “However, regenerating the town centre is critical to the future of Stevenage and remains a key priority for the council. We are therefore actively and urgently considering a number of options to bring forward new opportunities for development.”

So what has happened? The land around the bingo hall, leisure centre and Swingate which was included in the regeneration scheme would be ideal for a department store. Also there is The Land Registry building laying empty.

If it does open on Roaring Meg I believe it will kill the town and end any possibility of future redevelopment - people shopping on the retail park aren’t going to come to the town. If Roaring Meg get Debenhams they will possibly get other new similar stores or may even attract some current town centre stores away from it. This can’t happen as it will be such a mistake and missed opportunity for the town centre.

Stevenage Town Centre Management Company, Councillor Sharon Taylor, Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland and Stevenage Borough Council need to get involved in this if they want any future for the town centre. Maybe they could comment?

Name and address supplied


SIR - Why can’t Debenhams open in the town centre?

I’m fed up with all the pound shops, discount stores, betting shops and pawn shops. We need a department store - it would give the town centre a new lease of life. It would hopefully kick start some regeneration throughout the rest of the town centre.

I believe if it opens on the Roaring Meg Retail Park it will be the final nail in the coffin and it will just continue to decay and go downhill.

Mandy Smith


Address supplied

SIR - Love the news about Debenhams coming to Stevenage though I would much prefer it to be in the town centre along with maybe some other new stores and a refurbisment of the current town centre. It needs to be brought up to date to make it competitive with other towns.

Opening on a retail park will have a negative effect on the already ailing outdated town centre.

Jane king

Address supplied


Sad loss

SIR - I am writing regarding your article, in last week’s Comet, ‘Pilot dementia support service cut after a year’ to express concern and dismay at the loss of such a vital local service.

It is an essential service and, removed so suddenly, has and will leave carers of dementia sufferers in our community feeling abandoned and left struggling to cope as there is no equivalent service in our area.

Tia Davolls has had a hugely positive impact on my family, often going above and beyond what is necessary, in her role as an admiral nurse, to offer emotional and practical support to my mother who cares for my father. There are many more people in a similar position.

Nobody should be expected to cope alone. If my father had cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or many other conditions, he would automatically be assigned a specialist nurse. Why should dementia be excluded? Dementia is a heartbreaking condition for families to deal with and Tia’s knowledge and understanding have been invaluable through very difficult times for us.

With so many people being diagnosed with dementia, it is ludicrous to remove a service which has been working so well and helped so many local people. I hope somebody, somewhere, will rethink this situation as we desperately need an admiral nurse.

Polly O’Brien

Wisden Road



SIR - I write with great sadness in response to the article in last week’s Comet ‘Pilot dementia support service cut after a year’, in which you outlined the removal of the local admiral nurse who provides support to families affected by dementia in Stevenage, due to an apparent lack of funding.

This service has provided many local families with a crucial lifeline, offering them support, guidance and comfort in sometimes very difficult circumstances. My father suffers from a number of complex medical problems, alongside dementia, with my mother being his main carer.

Over the past year, Tia Davolls has worked tirelessly, liaising with professionals and attending meetings on the family’s behalf, negotiating the bureaucratic hurdles faster. To withdraw her services in such a manner means there are local carers who will be deprived of someone who has become, for us, an essential lifeline, a first point of contact for practical advice and support and a champion on behalf of all dementia sufferers and their carers in the local area.

Sophie Brown

Hawthorn Hill

Letchworth GC


Town issue

SIR - You published a letter from Cllr Paul Clark last week. I don’t know why he wrote it or what he hoped to achieve in a fairly pointless attack on the North Herts Labour Group’s commitment to area committees at North Hertfordshire District Council.

The main problem is that in saying that we did not raise the issue at full council he has actually said something that is a complete untruth. If he did so in error then an apology would be good. If he did so deliberately then he has misled the press and Comet readers and done a great disservice to the reputation of local government and local councillors.

The correct position is that North Herts Labour Group has a long history of support for area committees and has been active over many years in looking for ways to engage better with our constituents.

I enthusiastically chaired Hitchin committee for 12 years during which time we introduced the regular Town Talk, and invitations to local groups and individuals to come and talk to us about the valuable work that many people are doing to support the community in hundreds of ways.

We ensured that the Hitchin town centre manager has a regular debate with the committee and that county councillors as well as district councillors are invited to participate in important local discussions.

In my budget speech to full council on February 13 I cited the planned reduction in area committee meetings as an unacceptable cut and one which would damage the councils engagement with local communities and groups. It is still my view.

Judi Billing

Leader of North Herts Labour Group

Councillor for Bearton Ward


Paper trail

SIR - Why are Letchworth GC residents so obsessed with compostable bin liners?

I’ve never felt the need for them as I wrap all compostable food waste in old newspaper. I’ve become so adept at making parcels of rubbish I could get a job in a fish and chip shop.

What’s more, I can honestly say maggots have appeared in the brown bin only once. So come on Letchworthians, show some initiative; recycle your newspapers and food waste all in one go and stop grumbling.

Janet Joseph

Ripon Road



Mystic power

SIR - I have always considered myself something of a sceptic when it comes to famous clairvoyants, however having just read the Gordon Craig Theatre’s latest brochure, perhaps I need a rethink.

Following Derek Acorah’s enlightenment tour next weekend is ‘Jackson - Live in Concert’ the next night. Derek’s certainly aiming high!

Beverly Hanshaw

Address supplied


Plea for 20

SIR - On Sunday I had a leaflet put through my do about adopting a 20mph speed limit throughout Baldock. I can see the sense in areas where there are schools, but the leaflet proposes a blanket 20mph throughout Baldock.

Baldock has already been spoilt by the so-called do-gooders getting Baldock High Street made narrower, losing a lot of character of the town. Imposing a blanket speed limit of 20mph will only take us back to the early 1960s before the Baldock bypass. Such a low speed limit will only cause more congestion adding to more pollution in the town.

Already we have badly designed traffic lights at the Weston Way/Letchworth Road junction. If these lights had been designed so that one set was in Weston Way and the next set where the pelican crossing is in Hitchin Street and the last set in Norton Road there would not be the long queues stopping traffic emerging from Norton Road. A staggered junction like this has worked well in Much Haddam since the 1950s.

If a 20mph speed limit is needed, introduce it at certain times when the roads are most active with school traffic not when workers are already queuing to get through the town. Queuing traffic causes frustration, frustration causes accidents.

Len Lucas

Address supplied


Train pain

SIR - I note First Capital Connect (FCC) say the planned new ‘Class 700’ trains will provide 15% more seats from Hitchin and 10% more from Stevenage in the morning peak.

These new trains are designed for when our line is connected to the Thameslink tunnels through central London.

However pictures of a mock-up of this train I’ve seen show seats that are rather squashed together and have insufficient leg-room. The model displayed at Stevenage station on Wednesday, February 26, confirmed this. There are also fewer seats in some parts of the carriages presumably to leave more space for passengers to stand.

It seems this train is being designed to cram as many passengers in as possible for short-distance journeys through central London, rather than seeking to cater for longer journeys too. Instead of more standing space, it would surely be better to provide more seats, which have more space. The increase of seats will be more than FCC currently plans, and passengers would also experience improvements in comfort.

And standard class in the trains have no tables or drop-down tables in the seat backs that current trains have. Where will passengers put cups of coffee, food and other items?

P. Walker



Refuse route

SIR - Firstly, I would like to apologise to your reader from Ickleford who has experienced problems with the blocking of their driveway by our refuse crews. Unfortunately with the running of such a large-scale service we do from time to time experience issues of this sort.

However, I would request that your reader and any others who are experiencing problems of this nature, get in touch with the council directly on 01462 474000 or by emailing service@north-herts.gov.uk, so that we can investigate and take appropriate action.

I would also like to address Justin Richard’s letter about the council’s decision to withdraw free compostable caddy liners. Mr Richards expressed concern that residents would inevitably end up using non-compostable bags, however I would like to reassure him and others that compostable bags are widely available in supermarkets and retail outlets.

As long as they display the seedling logo, they can be accepted by our composting facility. Alternatively food waste can be placed in the brown bin loose.

Keeping our neighbourhoods clean and free from graffiti also fall into my portfolio, so it saddens me to read R Edward’s letter which states that ‘no attempt is made to remove it’ by the council. Whenever an incident of graffiti is reported, the council will investigate and take action to remove it.

We work with the police to assist them in their investigations so that they can catch the perpetrators. Again, I would urge people to get in touch directly to report any instances of graffiti so that we can take the appropriate action.

Cllr Peter Burt

NHDC portfolio holder for Waste, Recycling and the Environment