LETTERS: Anger over axed Letchworth swimming lessons as Hitchin committee decision praised

The decision to appoint David Leal-Bennett as chairman of Hitchin area committee has been praised in

The decision to appoint David Leal-Bennett as chairman of Hitchin area committee has been praised in this week's letters - Credit: Archant

A parent has spoken of her anger about a decision to axe swimming lessons at a school in today’s letters.

Don’t we have local artists?

Would it not have been both more appropriate and more truly representative of the spirit of our town if the art competition to produce the design for mural at Stevenage railway station (Comet, July 3) had been offered to and produced solely by one of the many excellent community schools in Stevenage rather than an independent fee-paying school from Letchworth?

Richard Wallace

Trent Close, Stevenage


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Voted in to build on park?

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Now that elections have taken place and the usual councillors have been returned to their comfortable berths on North Herts District Council, we are only now told that this same council is proposing to build across the beautiful Priory Park, one of the greatly loved views and amenities of Hitchin.

This popular walking area which looks out onto hills an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty forms one of the most loved areas of Hitchin and has historic connections with the old Priory.

The park also forms a natural green space which separates Charlton from Hitchin and forms a barrier preventing coalescence of Hitchin with other rural settlements.

One wonders whether voters would have been so happy to elect the present bunch if they had been made aware of the 1,000 houses they had in store for these green fields surrounding Hitchin?

It seems that the views of local residents are, as usual, held in utter contempt by our political masters, many of whom on the district council do not even live anywhere near the Hitchin area.

Adrianne Smyth

Chairman, Hitchin and Harpenden UKIP

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Swim session axe out of blue

On Saturday I took my children to their swimming lessons at St Christopher School in Letchworth – and was handed a letter, dated June 5, confirming they would no longer offering swimming lessons from July 21.

To let me know two weeks before the end of term and back date the letter a month shows a huge disregard for the hundreds of parents and children affected.

With waiting lists for swimming lessons at both Hitchin and Letchworth leisure centres standing at well over a year, I have no hope of finding places for my three children in alternative lessons any time soon.

I am appalled that the school didn’t give parents more warning. There are now hundreds of children joining the huge waiting lists locally.

If the school valued its relationship with the local community they would have given parents and other providers more warning so alternative options could have been considered.

Clare Fowler

Browning Drive, Hitchin

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Please rinse to aid recycling

In response to a letter in last week’s Comet about a bin that was ‘too dirty to take’ we ask residents to give food containers, such as tins and jars, a quick rinse before placing them in their recycling bin to help avoid problems at our recycling facility.

Although a small amount of food residue can be removed during the recycling process, significant amounts of food can mean that the whole load has to be sent to landfill, meaning residents’ recycling efforts are wasted. Rinsing containers also helps to prevent smells.

Your correspondent should call us on 01462 474000 to discuss the situation if their bin still hasn’t been collected.

Councillor Peter Burt

Portfolio holder for waste and recycling, North Herts District Council

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Rinsing is reasonable

Any reasonable person would rinse tins for recycling. Dirty tins in a box for a week or two will start to smell, especially in hot weather – so have some regard for the man who has to lift the lid to empty the bin.

Food is wasted by people who have never been hungry, otherwise they would be more careful in what they throw away.

Name and address supplied

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Wild flowers are such a joy

Central Beds Council has been criticised greatly by many people, including me, for some of the idiotic schemes they have put into action, so it is pleasant to be able to congratulate them for once.

They seem to have realised that only mowing the edge of verges on main roads, plus junctions is sufficient for safety purposes. This means that all we have been able to enjoy golden swathes of cowslips through the spring and now wonderfully colourful mixtures of other wild flowers through the summer. It pleases residents, and of course saves money.

I do hope highways staff will strim these verges in autumn and remove the debris, so that the verges continue to decrease in fertility and the wild flowers will increase even further.

Pamela Manfield,

Astwick Road, Stotfold

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A better way to do things?

North Herts District Council chairman Councillor Lynda Needham, referring to the cross-party arrangements for the Hitchin area committee, tells us: “This is not the way things are done.”

However, perhaps things will be better, done this way! The idea of party politics coming before the best interests of Hitchin town and residents is surely not right – the parties must work together and the sharing of leadership in the Hitchin committee seems a good way forward.

The lessons of 18 months ago should surely not be lost on Councillor Needham. The Conservative and Letchworth- dominated council cabinet wanted to impose a continuation of the Simons fantasy plan on Churchgate in Hitchin. The people of Hitchin gave a strong thumbs down to that in a petition.

The councillors of North Herts then voted not to allow the Simons deal to be extended – but then the only cabinet member who had stood up beforehand to support Hitchin residents, Councillor Clare Strong, was sacked. Surely a pat on the back would have been better?

Councillors are voted in to represent local interests, not to join a cosy political club which supports its own, right or wrong.

The Hitchin committee leaders were voted in by an 8 to 4 majority. That process must be applauded and the message must be for all to work closely together in the future, with the full support of the leader of the council.

Mike Clarke,

Chair, Hitchin Forum

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Unity is to be celebrated

I am pleased that Councillor David Leal Bennett has been elected as chairman of North Herts District Council’s Hitchin area committee, even more so that he was supported by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors. The council’s leader should be pleased that Hitchin councillors are united. I wonder why she is not?

I now understand that Hitchin councillors on the board of the Hitchin Town Hall group are being asked to stand down as there is a conflict of interest. Presumably Councillor Needham will have to stand down from any trustee or similar role she holds.

Surely they don’t need to resign, just declare their interest when there is a vote?

I respectfully suggest that someone gets a grip to avoid Hitchin Town Hall and the Bancroft Recreation ground becoming a mess. The Simons project became a disaster because people were not working together and listening. I do hope lessons have been learned but have my doubts.

Keith Berry,

Broadmead, Hitchin

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Did anyone find my bag?

Did anyone possibly find a black carrier bag containing a blue and white striped shirt and some new birthday cards at the bus stop in Town Square, Stevenage, on Thursday between noon and 1pm? I have checked with the police and Arriva who have not received it in lost property. I would be so grateful if someone could return it as it was a present.

My bus was the 80 to Little Wymondley and I can be contacted on 01438 727050

Marjorie McCarley,

address supplied

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Consultation on waste

Herts County Council is currently consulting on suggested changes for our 17 household waste recycling centres, which are sometimes known as ‘tips’ or ‘dumps’.

We’ve already had more than 1,300 consultation responses and we’re keen to receive more.

The centres are run by external contractors and we’ve appointed a new company to run them. We’ve asked them to put forward suggestions to improve efficiency and save money, while improving rates of reuse and recycling and maintaining a reliable service for residents.

We recognise that some of the changes suggested may have an impact on residents and want your readers’ views on the following proposals:

l Permanently closing the centres at Hoddesdon and Elstree.

l Changing the remaining 15 sites from a seven day service to a five day service, with weekday closures.

l Changing opening times, with all sites opening from 8am to 4pm all year (except Buntingford, which will retain the existing three hours per day service).

Over the last four years, we have worked hard to deliver savings totalling £149m across the council while protecting essential frontline services.

Due to further reductions in national funding and increasing demand for key services such as adult social care and children’s services, the county council needs to make similar savings over the next four years.

If agreed, the changes suggested to our centres could mean that the service saves £6m over the next eight years.

We are aware that questions have already been raised about matters like summer opening hours, the convenience of using another centre if your closest one is closed and flytipping.

You can find out more by looking at the frequently asked questions section on our website www.hertsdirect.org/wastechanges

The deadline for consultation responses is August 3. Please visit www.hertsdirect.org/wastechanges to give us your views. If you don’t have internet access, your local library offers free access or you can request a paper copy there.

The results of the consultation will be presented to the councillors on September 19 and then cabinet will decide, having considered the responses to the consultation, whether to approve the suggested changes.

Councillor Terry Douris

Herts County Council

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Pay to silence church chimes

Regarding the Ashwell church chimes, I think that the cost of the technology to lower the decibels at night should come from those outsiders who want the bells off at night.

They are the ones who want it, so they should pay for it.

B Fynn

New Zealand

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Not ideal, but solar makes sense

Solar panels and wind turbines (Comet, July 3) are by no means the ideal alternative to fossil fuels, but at least they are long term possibilities.

Ideally, we would adopt Germany’s policy of converting every dwelling to a zero energy standard but, sadly, that is not the British way.

We do not seem to have the wit, understanding or sense to invest for the long term. We always plump for short term, lowest common denominator policies which are woefully inadequate and doomed to failure over the long term.

We all know that houses in the UK are pitifully wasteful of energy – insulation standards are inadequate and inefficient. Conservation of energy should be priority as production of energy stimulates division, fracking, nimbyism and confusion. And to be clear, photovoltaic panels generate energy even if the sun is not shining.

Eric Blakeley

Glebe Road, Letchworth

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Your correspondent concerned about plans for solar farms in North Herts will be pleased to hear that the Department of Energy and Climate Change consultation is pointing away from large solar farms and towards building-mounted solar photovoltaics.

As he notes, there is no such thing as clean energy for grid supplies.

Quite apart from the manufacturing, we don’t have a zero carbon global economy – so every pound spent, added in subsidy or derived in profit has its own carbon and resource impact.

Better arguments for investing in renewable energy – and more importantly energy efficiency – are resource depletion and the diminishing energy returns from extracting fossil fuels.

Chris Jones

Letchworth

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