LETTERS: Comet April 25

THE letters in the Comet on Thursday, April 25.

TRAFFIC SIGN BLUNDERS

SIR - Here is another example of bad planning from the amazing team that put the road traffic information signs up in Stevenage. There is one located just as you come into Stevenage from the A1(M), the left supporting post has been placed right in front of road sign for Whittle Way, so drivers can now no longer see the full road name.

Why do contractors carry on with these things when it’s obvious something is not quite right? It will always cost more money at a later date to put right, just like the cycle track post last week.

Richard Howard

Address supplied

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Most Read

SIR - As I cycled as lonely as a cloud with the wind in my face and the sun in my eyes I had to swerve to avoid a black post in the cycle track.

I refer to the decision by Herts County Council’s contractor to site one of the posts of the traffic information sign on Broadhall Way in the cycle track. The council’s answer to route the cycle track around the post and put reflective lining around the edge is nothing more than a fudge of the issue. Any cyclist cycling in a straight line on a dark evening will be doing well to avoid this post (and the kerb) as it looms out of the dark on a poorly lit section of cycle track and not only that but the reduced width will only produce a further hazard with oncoming cyclists (and pedestians who insist on walking on the cycle track).

The boys in the parallel universe that is HCC Highways Dept have spent too much time in the office playing with their Dinky cars and, consequently, come up with this ridiculous answer to put right a mistake of their own making. Surely, the answer is not to waste taxpayers’ money on routing the cycletrack around the post but moving the sign further along Broadhall Way where the grass verge is wider!

C Dudley

Address supplied

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MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC

SIR - I wish to express my sadness at the attitude of the residents of Coopers Yard.

By complaining against a mental health clinic being established, they have revealed their intolerance and snobbery. Mental ill health can affect any one of us at any time. Something as commonplace as losing your job can be enough to send someone into a spiral of depression where they need support from their community - not stigma.

I will be wary of people from Coopers Yard from now on.

Anita Diamond

Address supplied

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TOP SPEED

SIR - In response to Cllr Billing’s letter, I am in favour of 20mph being the default speed limit on residential roads. I do not believe it reasonable to impose that limit on through roads such as the A505, A600 and B656. I suspect the police will object to the plan because it cannot be enforced and Herts County Council will want to install expensive humps he wants to avoid.

I doubt that all the information he gives is quite accurate. The UK has an excellent safety record, however there has been an increase in the number of cycle and child injuries. Opinion varies on the causes but the increase is a single year blip. Pollution – especially from diesel engines – is greater at lower speeds. Catalytic converters do not function until they are warm and they don’t do that at a top speed of 20mph. Diesel particulate filters become blocked resulting in more smoke being produced.

I hope the council will not be too bound by legislation regarding signs. We already have a ‘clutteration’ of signage. Siting them high up as normal means they are not visible to slow speed motorists. When one drives slower, one’s eyes are set lower – on dipped so to speak. As we get going we look on main beam seeing signs located at six feet. Painted signs in the road are the best although paint increases skid risk, especially for two wheelers.

If he is keen to encourage walkers and cyclists, provide facilities for those groups as standard in all road “improvements”. Advance stop lines for cyclists. Site traffic lights whose sensors react to cyclists and toucan crossings (we don’t have any in Hitchin) especially where cycle tracks cross roads as on Grove Road.

Chris Bradburn

Walsworth Road

Hitchin

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NO LIGHT FEAR

SIR - Reference your article in the Comet (April 18) Crime increase “a result of part-night lighting”. I am inclined to agree with Martin Smith’s views, because I too have wondered whether the figures released reflect what is actually happening.

I have no doubt that it is attractive for criminals to be able to operate under the cover of darkness. In January, police were calling on some residents asking whether we had seen or heard anything because a car parked opposite us had theft/damage done. Unfortunately we had heard nothing, but even if we had, the area that the car was parked in is too dark for us to see anyone, so we could not have been sure that anything at all was going on. If the street light above that area had been on, it may have deterred the offender. What if that theft had been a violent assault or a rape? I contacted HCC to reference the incident with the neighbour’s car and apart from trotting out the same answer as usual which is “I can only advise you what the police are saying on their website which is that there has been no discernible increase in crime or incidents as a result of part-night lighting”.

That was followed by “it is questionable whether thieves/vandals prefer darkness or lit areas, so I cannot comment on your view that the darkness assists such people”.

My view is, that if “such people” can move around under cover of darkness, why would they choose to commit their crimes when the lights are on, when they can be seen and identified? If there is no increased crime when the street lights go off, why do the police crime prevention officers and security company people always advise householders to fit security lights on their properties? It must be very disconcerting for a criminal to creep into a pitch black garden only to suddenly find himself in a brightly illuminated one.

NAME AND ADDRESS

WITHHELD

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LEADER DIVIDED

SIR - Your headline last week, ‘Right to mourn a great leader,’ carried letters from Thatcher admirers expressing sentiments that have been given a lot of airtime these past weeks.

As someone who disagreed with her, I am one of those British people described by Margaret Thatcher as “the enemy within”, but I take no delight in her death, nor the parties that celebrated it. I do, though, understand the need of those who suffered directly from her government’s actions, and those to whom they passed down their stories, to mark the event. Their voices find little expression in the mainstream media, owned and run for the most part by those she represented. The rejoicing of the party-goers is merely a mirror image of the triumphalism of Thatcherites themselves. Margaret Thatcher was a leader who had a strong impact, but I challenge the assertion that she was a great leader. In death, as in life, she divides people, each side holding strong opinions. There are leaders who impose their will and seek to divide and conquer their “enemies”. But great leaders are people we can unite around, who bring us together. Margaret Thatcher was not one of those.

Steve Whiting

Cuttys Lane

Stevenage

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WRONG ROAD

SIR - This week we have heard Conservative Government ministers responsible for our nation’s roads voice their concern that the problem of the potholes is not being dealt with by (in the main, Conservative-run County Councils). I find it laughable to hear from local residents claiming that the Conservative candidates for our local County Council elections being held on the May 2 are telling residents that if they vote for them they will promise to “tackle” the issue of “the state of our local roads”.

Well, sorry, but voting Conservative is not the answer to the problem. The Conservatives are the cause of the problem. The Conservative run Hertfordshire County Council has failed to tackle this problem seriously for years, to the extent that our roads are in worse shape than they have ever been and in some areas they are a danger to road-users. While the Conservatives continue to cut budgets for key works the problem will not be resolved and the continuing silence from the current councillors running our county council tells its own story.

Lorna Kercher

Labour Party Candidate

Letchworth North West

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BACKDOOR CUTS

SIR - One of the backdoor cuts that have been taking place has been to grants for voluntary and charity organisations; leaving some of the most vulnerable people without support of any kind.

I do not believe anyone voted for that.

I would agree the county council must ensure grants are used properly and also that the charities treat their employees in a fair way, with union rights (unfortunately not always the case). Ideally where need exists it should be funded and provided by local government, but where this is done by charities adequate funding should be provided for this service.

While the government is allowed to steal money from local authorities, cuts are inevitable that is why all the other parties standing in this election, if they are honest, will not be able to give you assurances that funding will continue.

However the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition promises to fight the government to return the funding thereby continuing to fund the Home-Start organisation. Just using the economic argument while valid will not change their actions.

Steve Glennon

TUSC candidate Bedwell

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ROARING MEG PARKING RESTRICTIONS

SIR - I am writing to make you aware of the parking restrictions in place at Roaring Meg Retail Park, Stevenage, that are discouraging families from visiting the town.

We visited Roaring Meg Retail Park and have recently received a £100 parking charge notice from Parking Eye Car Park Management that stated that parking at Roaring Meg Retail Park in Stevenage is limited to 90 minutes free parking. I now understand that these restrictions are in place when Stevenage Football Club are playing at the nearby Lamex Stadium. On April 13 we parked at Roaring Meg Retail Park and we did not see the posters displaying these parking restrictions as they were too small and high up. We were therefore unaware that Stevenage Football club were playing at the Lamex Stadium and were also unaware of the parking restrictions in place.

Myself, my husband and two children travelled from Royston for lunch and shopping in Stevenage. We had a meal at Pizza Hut and visited Homebase and were parked at Roaring Meg Retail Park for a total of 1 hour and 41 minutes. We did not park there to attend the football, but as part of a family day out in Stevenage. For us, 90 minutes was not long enough to eat and shop. When we received the parking charge notice we were very shocked and it will deter us from visiting Stevenage in the future.

I have sent an appeal letter to Parking Eye Car Park Management and enclosed a Pizza Hut receipt as proof of our visit. I wanted to make it clear to you that the parking restrictions in place at Roaring Meg Retail Park will prevent families like us from travelling to Stevenage in the future to eat and shop. We will travel to local towns that do not have parking restrictions in place that put off genuine visitors. The parking restrictions need to be more clearly displayed, particularly outside the restaurants within Roaring Meg Retail Park and a system needs to be in place to allow genuine visitors to enter their car registration to avoid a fine.

Carol Wilson,

Address supplied

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TOP SHOW

SIR - I have had the privilege this weekend of working with over 200 young people aged between five and 25 who are all members of EDSA, a local performing arts school as they put on their showcase at the Gordon Craig Theatre.

The talent within this group is amazing and the behaviour, dedication, and friendliness of the members results in a wonderful family like atmosphere, endorsed by the wonderful teachers. Young people get such a bad press these days but having spent six very long, hot days with them this week they deserve credit for their professionalism resulting in a showcase that was absolutely amazing - if you missed it you missed something very special.

Julie Byrne

Address supplied

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SIR - I was privileged to be at the Gordon Craig Theatre on Sunday to see a magnificent show by the Emil Dale Performing Arts Group. Their ‘Showcase’ of music, dance, singing and dialogue was of the highest order. The members’ age ranged from five to 25 years and their sheer exuberance and talent shone through. Britain’s got talent? Yes especially these local performers. Well done to all who took part in producing such entertainment.

John Lee

Keats Close

Stevenage

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BUS FARCE

SIR - Have you heard from other readers about the horrendous mess Herts County Council is making of renewing over 60’s free bus passes? If not, I am surprised.

Like every pensioner in Hertfordshire my pass was due to expire on March 31. I had previously dealt with North Herts District Council so when I did not receive an automatic form for renewal I went on to their website only to find that regarding pass renewal you had to use a link to Herts County Council which I did. The reply came back almost immediately that they could not understand why I had not received a renewal form but one was in the post that night although I could apply on line which I tried but it would not recognise me.

The very next day I got a form from the Letchworth shop, completed it and sent it off . Then I had another email from HCC advising me that the reason I did not get an automatic renewal was than when details were transferred from NHDC to HCC my name was not included so they had no record of me. According to the lady in the Letchworth shop this applied to quite a number of people who had called in for forms.

That was around March 16 and to date (5 weeks later) I still have no valid bus pass to which I am entitled. I have emailed HCC a couple of times more. The first time was about 10 days ago and it took a week before I had a reply telling me they had received my application and I would get my pass ‘shortly’. They were behind because they had 180,000 applications to deal with.

Telling this sorry tale to friends who live in other counties I have learnt that in two separate towns in Northamptonshire all they had to do was go to their local Town Hall and apply and they had their passes within a few days. The same thing applied to a friend living in Buckinghamshire. From a friend in Biggleswade I have learnt that Bedfordshire have decided to stagger renewal dates. ‘Simples yes’

So why are HCC in such a mess? They knew this was coming so why did they not get themselves geared up for it. I think it is disgraceful that

(a) not all the records were transferred. We do not know exactly who was to blame for this,

(b) pensioners like myself who rely on these passes are being left without them for weeks because of their inefficiency.

Name and address

supplied

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THANKS

SIR - I am writing on behalf of my partner and myself to express our humble thanks to all the emergency services personnel who attended our car accident recently. We both had to be cut out of our car which was a very scary experience but we were both so well looked after and kept well informed at all times. We would also like to thank every single member of staff at the Lister who took such excellent care of us from the moment we entered A&E to the time we left our respective wards. We are both NHS workers far more used to being on the other side of the fence - it was a humbling experience being a patient but everyone was so kind and nothing was too much trouble ever. A final thank you too to the members of the public who stopped and stayed with us until help arrived.

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SIR - ‘Thank you to whoever tended my mother on Tuesday 16th April after her fall on the zebra crossing outside the station at Letchworth. Someone must have called the ambulance and looked after things. If you would like your IKEA navy blue blanket back, please contact me via the editor. My mother is recovering well in hospital. You were indeed a Good Samaritan.’

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