Dimwits hit back
SIR – In his rude (dimmest of dimwits) letter about anyone who dares to challenge Stevenage Borough Council, Cllr Brian Hall tells us that Asda paid for the yellow canopy in the town centre. My guess is that Asda s customers pay for costs incurred in Asda
SIR - In his rude (dimmest of dimwits) letter about anyone who dares to challenge Stevenage Borough Council, Cllr Brian Hall tells us that Asda paid for the yellow canopy in the town centre. My guess is that Asda's customers pay for costs incurred in Asda's business and that includes payments made to persuade the council to grant planning permission. And will Cllr Hall please tell us where the decision was taken to erect this canopy - Asda or Stevenage Borough Council (SBC)?
It really does not matter where the money comes from, SBC have a duty to spend money carefully and wisely - not just waste it on anything because the cash is there. Some of us reckon that the canopy would be better placed in a funfair than in an up-and-coming town centre.
Cllr Hall also tells us that Stevenage has the lowest average council tax in Hertfordshire. Cllr Mrs Clayton, chairman of Broxbourne's Finance & Personnel committee said in her speech to the Broxbourne Council:
"For a Band D council tax of just £99.81, the lowest in Hertfordshire, residents can expect continued value for money, good quality and improving services in Broxbourne over the coming year. We will achieve this by setting ourselves challenging targets for service performance and for financial prudence. We have a good track record in both."
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The band D charge for Broxbourne is £1,208.74. Broxbourne retains 8.3% of council tax. The band D charge for Stevenage is £1,279.30 including £170.37 for SBC. Stevenage retains 13%.
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SIR - The arrogance of Mr Brian Hall reaches new heights when he refers to fellow residents of Stevenage as dimwits just because they take a different view of SBC's mprovements to the town centre .
The source of the funding of the of the improvements is really of little concern compared with the use to which it is put, and SBC seems woefully unable to decide just what style our town centre deserves and so we are subjected to an appalling mish-mash, of which the yellow canopy, having neither function or beauty, is but the latest example.
(How this canopy helps to improve a link between Asda and the town centre is difficult to imagine.)
That this council is successful in raising funds from external sources is certainly to be applauded but the uses to which it is put do raise concerns over the wisdom of the SBC planners. SBC is very good at initiating new projects but when it comes to maintenance then the story is far worse. A walk around any of the outlying neighbourhood areas will soon show the neglect suffered, neglect that in some cases the expenditure of a few hundred pounds would make a large difference. A coat of paint, rubbish removal, improved lighting etc. The trouble is such improvements do not allow our council to bathe in as much glory as the expenditure of millions on a capital project does.
No Mr Hall, we are not dimwits, we care about our town and sometimes worry about the wisdom of our council.
SIR - Obviously someone has touched a raw nerve with Cllr Brian Hall. I refer to his need to respond in the manner he did by addressing the dimmest of dimwits informing them that the yellow canopy outside Primark was not paid for by council tax payer's money, but by obtaining funds from Asda and other contributors. ('Canopy not paid for by council' Comet letters, January 11).
Assuming that this is the case, perhaps Mr Hall would like to further enlighten us dimwit council tax payers by commenting on the following:
1. If the money was obtained to "help improve facilities in the town for local people" as he claims, how exactly does the yellow canopy achieve this? It is not big enough to shelter shoppers from the rain, and appears to serve no other real purpose.
2. If, as he states, Asda donated the money to "improve the links from their store to the town centre", how does the canopy achieve this aim when their store is some distance from the town centre across a dual carriageway?
3. How much input do Asda or the other contributors have on how their money is spent, and how big is the council's involvement in these decisions?
4. Who signed off the exorbitant cost for the canopy? Was it the council, or the contributors?
We all know Mr Hall's past record in making sure Stevenage residents get value for money from their council tax. Although I am not immediately aware of them, I am sure that twinning the town with others in France, Germany, Zimbabwe and Kazakhstan and making Stevenage a nuclear free zone have personally bought me innumerable benefits as a resident. Perhaps Mr Hall would like to help me out further by addressing the above points, and explaining to this dimwit how the so called improvements are decided on regardless of how they are funded.
SIR - Those canvas streamers - can I make it perfectly clear that, whether the funds in the council coffers arise through council tax, planning gain or government grants, only a blathering blusterer would try to justify spending £58,000 on erecting 10 heavy metal posts at a busy intersection in our biggest shopping precinct just to support a few canvas strips. Unless it is intended to spend another £58,000 to remove the posts after the canvas rots, they will be there to catch unwary shoppers and children for many years to come.
I would also point out that in the end all funds derive from us as workers, tax payers and shoppers. That is why those planning gains demanded from developers are used to improve facilities in the discretion of the council, not the developers.
I do agree that most of the planning gains are well spent: it is just those canvas strips replacing a canopy that matched all the other canopies and which, if it was damaged, could have been repaired more cheaply and less garishly.
SIR - So Brian Hall thinks anyone questioning the erection of the yellow canopies in Stevenage town centre are the dimmest of dimwits.
Nice to know what our councillors think of the people paying their salary isn't it? But who is he trying to fool? It does not take a genius to know that the money, where ever it came from, could have been better spent on something that improved the look of the town centre not something cheap and ugly looking .
SIR - In response to Cllr Brian Hall's letter ('Canopy not paid for by Council', January 11), I do not care if the yellow canopy outside Primark was paid for by a sponsored welly-throwing contest, £58,735 is still an absurd amount of money to spend on an object which looks like a very early and decidedly failed attempt at flight.
That Asda paid for this monstrosity should come as no surprise. The architectural tender to design Asda's own store in Stevenage was seemingly won by a man who has an allotment near Wisbech, and who promptly produced an enormous, corrugated iron shed.
Before any more of these aesthetic catastrophes are inflicted upon the people of Stevenage, could someone responsible please remember that this town is not going to be a new town forever.
Many of us are getting fed up with having our public spaces made the arena for unsuccessful experiments in corporate taste.