LETTERS: Backlash from tennis club members over council plans for Hitchin park

There are concerns over the redevelopment of Bancroft Gardens in Hitchin

There are concerns over the redevelopment of Bancroft Gardens in Hitchin - Credit: Archant

Tennis club members have been hitting back at a council over plans for a park in this week’s letters.

Ball in council’s court over tennis future

SIR - While the Bancroft Park plans are attractive there is no benefit cost analysis, it has ignored current users who number almost 100 & many mothers with young children who may not realise that the slide and swing area are to be removed. It is also contrary to the council’s own criteria.

1) Under the NHDC web page for recreation and sports the Bancroft Park show four tennis courts, despite the project board’s own statement for tennis as “ better facilities for everyone & maximising use of facilities for everyone”

The courts are going to be removed and replaced by grass.

2) In the park’s web page it states that Hitchin Tennis Club manages three courts. This is incorrect because the land was leased to the club, who built the courts, installed flood lighting and maintained them in good order without council funding. Something the council could not manage with their four courts. These three courts are to to be destroyed.

3) A stream of funding is required to maintain the new facility, including park attendents covering day and evening use. How?

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Will an entrance fee to the park be required? Will the cafe be viable without all weather children’s slides and swings separated from older children during the winter months when the water feature is turned off? Will the public be charged for using the new courts when they are available free in Letchworth?

Will the club be provided with enough court times for their needs all the year round and still leave enough for enhanced public use?

Will its members be prepared to pay differently from the public, knowing that their past investment has been destroyed?

The cost to community charge payers is undisclosed and why a rushed consultation has taken place just to make a target date set by the lottery. Surely these uncertainties need answers before the advantages and disadvantages can be assessed by coucillors and the public before our money is spent?

D Salter

Laurel Way

Ickleford tennis member and council tax payer

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SIR - As someone who has been playing tennis in Hitchin for many years now, I was incensed by the recent announcement of plans to demolish the four public courts at Bancroft Park in Hitchin.

The proposal goes on to suggest that the three, separate, private courts and clubhouse (run by Hitchin Lawn Tennis Club) should be moved to a new location within the park and made available for public access. The details of how this facility sharing would be managed have not been specified.

I have played on both the public and private courts many times. The users of the two sets of courts have quite different requirements, but both will be significantly disadvantaged by the proposed plan. I believe that any member of the public looking for occasional access to tennis facilities will find that the options have been dramatically reduced.

The four public courts have been left to fall into a shocking state of repair by the council, but despite this they are frequently occupied by a wide cross-section of users. I think that the proposal would put off many of these people from picking up a tennis racquet. The four public courts should be repaired and run properly, not demolished.

Additionally, the private club is well run and a great asset to Hitchin. I believe that the proposal would put the club’s existence in extreme doubt. The club has recently built a new clubhouse and resurfaced all three courts. At the very least, demolishing these excellent facilities, to then reinstate them 30 metres to the left seems like a shocking waste of money.

Ben Lait

Gaping Lane

Hitchin

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Wind wishes

SIR - I have to say that your correspondent living in Bedford Road, Letchworth, is, I would venture, somewhat limited in their view of wind turbines in Arlesey.

He believes they are beautiful, but does not, I notice live adjacent to one. A study about to be released by the LSE has shown that values of houses within 1.2 miles of large wind farms are slashed by about 11%, which means that an average house costing £250,000, would lose more than £27,000 in terms of value. Houses within half a mile of a small wind farm will be reduced by around seven percent. Even those within two and a half miles will experience price reductions of around 3%. Quite a penalty to be imposed on others just because he finds them ‘beautiful’.

Now of course I will be accused of being in favour of fracking. Yes, I find wind turbines to be an eyesore, I do believe their imposition to be politically motivated and they are an investment only undertaken by ‘green’ energy businesses because of the ‘green’ subsidies and not because of a sustainable sound business case, where business profit is retained and used for investment.

However, if we are promoting renewable energy, the notion of which I am in favour, then it is worth remembering that the UK has the best wave and tidal resources in Europe, an asset that has the potential to provide a considerable proportion of the UK power demand in years to come. Wave power refers to the energy of ocean surface waves and the capture of that energy to do useful work - including electricity generation, desalination, and the pumping of water (into reservoirs). There would be significant developments for this technology if the same degree of political and environmental will was applied in the same way as for wind power. This is unlikely of course as proponents are not able to point out a generator under the waves. It appears that much of the renewable debate is based on self-serving’ motives rather than a real view of appropriate, effective and efficient use of renewable resources. If we were serious about saving energy, we would insulate our houses and use fuel effectively.

Name and address supplied

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Beggars’ belief

SIR - Why is it, when I enter my town via the station I am greeted by groups of beggars asking for my hard earned cash, following me to the car park in town?

I thought begging was illegal, as is intimidation. Then, once I’ve dodged the wasters, I am greeted by groups of ‘teenagers’ in their 20s offering me abuse and yet more intimidation.Come on Stevenage, pull your socks up and tidy yourself up. You’re becoming embarrassing.

Phil Shafe

Address supplied

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Shop shock

SIR - Recently I walked from the Marshgate car park through to Park Place in Stevenage and a photograph of the sign above the walk-through which advertises the shops on offer beyond.

Apart from Farm Foods, which appears to be a separate banner added after the original sign, not one of the 11 businesses advertised still operates out of Park Place.

I suspect this might constitute some sort of offence, but even if this is not the case it surely indicates the need, obvious when you reach the shopping area, of a much needed refurbishment of the whole area.

Jeff Owen

Address supplied

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Parking mess

SIR - North Herts District Council has presented residents of the West Hill and Grays Lane area in Hitchin with badly prepared and botched plans to remove commuter parking from their streets.

This is based on information gathered in 2011, before the impact the enlarged Samuel Lucas School would have on the streets.

The most congested parts of the area will have double yellow lines and residents are going to be allowed to apply for permits. Residents in other areas, which will no doubt suffer when commuters look for other parking areas, will have single yellow lines outside their homes, banning all day parking but with no option of buying permits.

Councillors and their officials obviously assume that people have ample parking on their front drives. This is not always the case. What happens to residents if they do not go out every day and take their cars or even dare to go on holiday and leave a car on the road? Come back to huge parking fines?

Get real North Herts and see how people live.

Christine Gray

West Hill

Hitchin

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Toilet travesty

SIR - Regarding the article in the Hitchin Comet last week about access to the toilets in The Arcade in Hitchin - it is not only disabled people in wheelchairs and on scooters that are having difficulties, I have seen people with walking sticks also and mothers with children in buggies struggling.

After the article, I went on Facebook, another comment was made from an able-bodied person who also found the doors too heavy.

The problem was first brought to the attention of the councillors in June last year and to employees of the council in November and December. The problem was demonstrated physically, but still nothing was done. There are several ways this could be achieved, but I cannot see that contacting the manufacturers would solve anything.

Ken Burton

Address supplied

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Lazy louts

SIR - Today I witnessed Stevenage Borough Council’s ‘Street smart’ team clearing a wooden pallet and wood from behind a house in Bude Crescent by the park, which some might say is OK but this could quite easily have been cleared by the tenants of the house.

It infuriates me that we pay our taxes for people to be lazy and not dispose of their own rubbish. I contacted the council to say I was disgusted to be told there was nothing that could be done if it was reported as ‘fly tipping’ they had a duty to clear the rubbish. I’d like to ask, does this mean we can all dump rubbish at the back of our gardens or anywhere else and report it as being ‘fly tipped.’ I don’t think so do you?

Name and address supplied

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Rail waste

SIR - Thank you for your article which I read with interest today, highlighting the work that Network Rail have put in place over the past three weeks at Knebworth Station.

Whilst the purpose and thought behind this work is highly laudable, the actual result is unfortunately seriously flawed.

Due to the complete closure of the platform access and exit points to platforms two and three, by new railings, commuters at Knebworth are now at increased risk of an accident. Surely not what Network Rail intended.

The railings now force all commuters to squeeze on to the much narrower platform one (the yellow safety line is closer to the steps than the edge of the platform here) at Knebworth. During peak morning traffic this platform is crowded.

Furthermore, no thought seems to have been put into the fact that platforms two and three are irregularly (with last minute platform change anouncements) also used by trains swapping tracks. Clearly the discomfort of elderly and less able bodied travellers, who are now forced to stressfully walk half-way down the platform before they can even reach the right platform and train, is the last thing on Network Rail’s mind.

May one ask who on earth dreamt up the idea of blocking exits and access points to half of Knebworth Station? If the railings were set back from the exits it would make perfect sense (creating an obstacle to anyone rushing out from the steps).

Jay Munro-Michell

Knebworth commuter

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Bad law

SIR - I want to bring to the general notice what the government’s new gagging law is about. It introduces new rules that would prevent non politicians from speaking up on the big issues of the day.

Loads of charities and campaign groups have spoken up about it, not just 38 Degrees, but groups from the Royal British Legion to Oxfam and the RSPB.

Despite how vocal civil society has been about the problems with this law, the government has been trying to rush it through without proper scrutiny.

Politics is too important to leave to political parties, and in a healthy democracy everyone should be able to express their views. The Lords made positive amendments to the new law, which the Commons have now voted down. Disappointingly, Peter Lilley was one of those who so voted.

George Woolhouse

Radcliffe Road

Hitchin

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