Concerns over ambulance response times and damage to grass verges feature on our letters page published today (Thursday).

No surprise at dangerous ambulance delay

SIR - It is too easy for some to see the shocking ambulance delay experienced by Mr Gardiner (Comet February 20) as an unfortunate but isolated incident.

In the last year there have been reports of instances of police having to take road victims to hospital. Last summer a local reporter wrote about her experience of spending a day with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST). It was clear from the article that ambulances had to be frequently diverted, as in Mr Gardiner’s case, which is a clear sign there is insufficient cover for emergencies. Recently the Care Quality Commission criticised EEAST for not meeting critical response times. MPs – Oliver Heald and Stephen McPartland – claimed the credit for getting EEAST to provide additional ambulances for Comet country but when investigated it was revealed the nearest location for additional vehicles was St Neots. Since then neither of these two have appeared to have anything to say, although it has been tottering on the edge of a crisis for most of 2013.

Worrying is the £50 million budget reduction required by 2017 through what the management call ‘efficiency savings’. It was so called ‘efficiency savings’ in the form of redundancies under the previous chief executive that has contributed to the current position.

It is time for our MPs to speak out against further cuts to this vital emergency service and lobby the secretary of state to ensure it is properly funded from year to year.

Patrick Newman

Chancellors Road



Bridge move

SIR - Concerning the present controversy regarding access to Hitchin Railway Station, there is a simple alternative suggestion.

Years ago, there used to be a path with steps and a gate adjacent to Benslow Bridge for railway personnel to access what is now the car park area at the station. Just think, if that could be officially reinstated, people from the Purwell side of the railway could have easy pedestrian access via the existing Benslow footbridge.

The big bonus would be that it would also allow those people from Wymondley Road, who now drive the long way round, to walk to the station via the footpath network. Sometimes the obvious becomes obscure.

Derek Wheeler MBE

Pirton Road



Lister pride

SIR - There have been so many stories in the newspaper about the Lister Surgicentre, now called the Treatment Centre, at Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

I had an operation in December 2013 and I was very very frightened. But the care was brilliant. Everyone was very busy getting things ready, busy here and there. The room was very sterile, with everyone wearing gowns and I had to, as is normal procedure, climb on to the operating table myself with help. As I laid there I was wondering if I was ever going to wake up again to see my son. The tears rolled down the side of my cheeks.

There was one nurse who works in the operating department called Karen Cowley. My angel nurse Karen came to me, wiped my tears and promised to stay with me until I was asleep. Karen was asked to collect some dressing but she sent someone else, saying I am staying with Margaret until she is asleep, and I will be there when you wake. When I woke Karen was next to me. This wonderful angel nurse I met again on Wednesday, February 19, as I had to go back for a small operation. Karen was with me again. This lady and all the others at the Treatment Centre, must be given recognition for their care.

Margaret Armstrong



Bin games

SIR - Has anyone else wondered if Veolia are playing some strange game or are their workers just inconsiderate?

The rules of the game might be: drop off a runner to move bins from boundary of a property to gather them in a group and block as many drives as possible = standard points.

Bonus points awarded for:

1. The number of householders’ bins moved to block a drive, e.g. on the two bin and one box day.

2. Moving two householders’ bins to block one drive.

3. Blocking a car on the drive so householder has to move as many bins as possible to exit own property.

Having emptied bins repeat the above in any combination. Bonus points if you discover that a) the householder had to move the bins to get off the drive and on their return they had to move the emptied bins to get back on their drive or b) the householder had to park in an awkward spot to move bins before they could access their drive.

Oh, and while parking around North Herts wait until a car driver has finally found a safe opportunity to overtake then move bin lorry forward before car driver has completed this manoeuvre.

Name supplied



Church noise

SIR - Regarding your article concerning the Potters House Christian Church and the protest by some shopkeepers and the Stevenage Town Centre Management Company.

I wonder if the group that had given their Christian witness had been from either the Muslim community or some kind of gay pride march or demonstration, whether these same people would be complaining or raising any objection whatsoever?

Nicholas Dyson

Address supplied


Loss of liners

SIR - I read with disappointment last week’s letter confirming the decision to withdraw the provision of bin liners.

It seems that many councillors at North Herts District Council are either unwilling to acknowledge the short-sightedness of this decision or they are struggling to remember last summer. The compostable bin liners were introduced because of the numerous complaints over the number of flies and maggots.

The withdrawal of the bin liners will inevitably result in residents using liners which are not compostable (thus forcing the waste collection teams to use landfill) or simply residents will just use normal household rubbish bags for their food recycling. Either way, this will increase the amount sent to landfill and further reduce the subsidy they receive from Hertfordshire County Council.

Justin Richards

Address supplied


Area assault

SIR - While Labour councillors are right that North Herts District Council’s decision to cut the number of area committee meetings is a bad thing, they exaggerate their attempts to stop it happening.

Last September they proposed “there should be no less than four area committee meetings a year”. At the last council meeting they failed to raise the issue and they didn’t vote against it. Since the council stopped area committees having any role in planning matters – which was done by the Conservatives but with the support of Labour – the area committees have been prevented from discussing things that most concerned local people.

Paul Clark

Liberal Democrat councillor for Hitchin Highbury


Verge rage

SIR - Re: Grass verges. Has anybody else in Letchworth Garden City noticed that an increasing number of our lovely grass verges seem to have sprouted invisible notices inviting car owners to park their one tonne forms of transport on them, thus causing deep muddy tyre imprints and hence reducing these characteristic features of our town into quagmires rather than grass and, once dried out, dangerous trip hazards.

Larger vehicles which obviously have bigger wheels use them as turning areas rather than drive a few more yards and turn in a hard-standing driveway. On top of the disgusting state of the grass verges, we also have to put up with an increasing amount of tree debris which at one time was tidied up very quickly but now is left to make our previously delightful streets into eyesores - and yet more trip hazards! What a sight our garden city has become.

Name and address supplied


Park poser

SIR - How many accidents does John Robinson at North Herts District Council know of that have actually happened inside Bancroft Recreation Ground in Hitchin?

Surely it is outside the actual entrance that accidents might occur, if any.

With a very small entry road that is not only taking car parking traffic, but people shopping at Sainsbury’s also, would it not to be a better idea to use one of the existing hard court tennis areas as a main car park for all people taking part in recreational facilities – the tennis club, bowls club, bridge club etc?

The entrance could be the main large gates that lead up to the bandstand in Bancroft at the roundabout for Fishponds Road. Surely this would be cheaper than digging up courts and grassing all over? One more point is the question of when toilet facilities for the park will be open for public use as that is stopping visitors coming to the park when Hitchin Town Bowls Club and Bancroft Hall are not open.

R Andrews



SIR - In a recent edition of the Comet John Robinson (North Herts District Council strategic director customer services) twice refers to Bancroft Recreation Ground, as it has been known to local residents since 1929.

Why is it that the £1.7 million Lottery grant application is in the name of Bancroft Gardens?

At present Bancroft Recreation Ground has four public tennis courts which NHDC has left to deteriorate and three Hitchin Tennis Club courts which are in good order. NHDC proposes to dig up all of these courts and to relay three new courts.

The well established Hitchin Town Bowls Club and tennis club will probably cease to exist if this grant succeeds. Has this been another waste of money of council taxpayers on consultants as per Churchgate?

Brendon Lee

Benslow Rise



Poor planning

SIR - The decision taken by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation permitting the development of up to 1,000 homes on the site adjacent to the Grange Estate represents a disregard for the concept of Letchworth Garden City, the protected Green Belt and the views of Grange residents. Whether one agrees that the development should go ahead or not, the decision making process is unacceptable. The Heritage Foundation itself (under no obligation to submit the plans) has set the agenda for the development, citing the nationwide housing shortage as its motive, taking priority over the interests of Grange residents. The initial idea was driven by Heritage Foundation employees and ultimately decided by its own board of governors, only a small minority of whom were elected to their posts and are largely unaccountable to the public.

In the online survey, the residents of the Grange voted against the idea of building on the site and handed the Heritage Foundation a 1,000 signature petition. They are left wondering if they have been completely ignored. The details of governors meetings are not published nor have they provided a rationale for their decision. If the governors are going to make decisions on behalf of the town, they could at least do it in a clear and transparent manner.

The Heritage Foundation is protected by its unique legal status as a non-statutory body and is under no obligation to act on any public consultation, nor do they need to justify any of its decisions. They are clearly exercising that right.

Let’s hope that when the district councillors consider the plans, they will be more willing to listen to their residents.

Andrew Scuoler

UKIP candidate for Letchworth Grange


Rubbish town

SIR - We seem to be at that stage again when Hitchin is turning into a refuse tip. The amount of rubbish in our town and countryside is overwhelming.

If you don’t believe me just take a look. The bypass from Luton and Stevenage are in a very sorry state. However I think the most pressing problem at the moment is ‘graffiti’ it is all over the place and no attempt is made to remove it.

North Hertfordshire District Council seems able to overspend £380,000 on a swimming pool that most people are not interested in but not on cleaning up the town that everybody is interested in.

R Edwards

Hawthorn Close