LETTERS: Comet August 2

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, July 26.


SIR - I am a little in shock over the Lister Hospital multi-million car park in Stevenage. I am confused as to how it was ever considered for the ‘Transport and Logistics award sponsored by the British parking Association’.

The problem involves motorbikes as where the, rather small, bike park is there is no way for a motorbike and rider to exit the car park without travelling along the one-way entrance against the flow of traffic.

I am totaly gobsmacked. I went into the parking office and the chap just looked at me and looked down and said “ ummm...yes..you have to go out the in.’’ I replied: “Is the Lister Hospital trying to drum up buisiness?”

I also asked him if he would come and stop the traffic so I could leave without being hit by a car entering around the blind corner.

It baffles me that a car park that endangers the lives of motorcyclists could win any award let alone be passed by any building contractor as suitable for the purposes it was intended.

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Kathy Barton

Address supplied



SIR - Lloyd Briscoe’s marvellous letter of solidarity in last week’s Comet from Stevenage Football Club Supporters Association in support of Hitchin Town Football Club’s right to remain at Top Field has now united two local football clubs and consequently two sets of fans who should join to protect what Lloyd quite perfectly described as total “sacrilege”.

At the local derby between Hitchin Town FC and Stevenage FC on July 24 at Top Field I stood in awe at the fabulous condition of both the pitch and the ground’s well maintained infrastructure.

The ground staff, the security guys and all the many volunteers who put in countless hours of their time are to be personally congratulated by every one of us for keeping the football club alive.

Yet Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust publicly insult the work of these marvellous ground staff by telling the wider Hitchin public that Hitchin is “a few rotting huts”. What utter rubbish.

There were families with young children at the game that evening who clearly feel safe and secure in a relaxed and pleasurable community sporting environment. I also got chatting to fans before, during and after the match from both Hitchin and Stevenage who all expressed resounding support for the right of Hitchin to remain at Top Field.

Thank you Lloyd Briscoe and the Stevenage Supporters Association for escalating the campaign to protect Hitchin Town Football Club.

Jackie McDonald

Moss Way



SIR - Hitchin Town Football Club would like to place on record its gratitude for the support shown to the club in regards to the future of Top Field.

From the letters, articles and anectodal evidence we have accumulated, it is clear that the town of Hitchin has great affection for the club and its heritage.

We are especially moved by the recognition that the club is the premier sporting entity in the town and the part the club plays in the community. Like many of the people writing in the local media, we too share your love of Top Field.

Hitchin Chairman Terry Barratt said: “Hitchin Town has long been a part of the town and although not everyone comes to Top Field, it is clear that a considerable percentage of the population of Hitchin is grateful for the contribution we make. We are very grateful for the comments made in the local newspapers and other media over the past month or so.”

Neil Jensen

Media Officer

Hitchin Town FC



SIR - I notice in your report about Tim Forshew’s research into the treatment of cancer that he is described as coming from the “old” town. I was amused to note the the differentiation between old and new parts of the town still persist.

As a child of the new town I was not allowed in the house of my school friend who lived in the old town. I hope such irrational prejudice no longer exists.

Colette Evans

Address supplied



SIR - A few weeks ago Central Bedfordshire Council landed themselves in hot water over the mowing of wild flowers along the A507 Stotfold bypass. Road safety and litter picking being their excuse for this vandalism.

So you can imagine both mine and other fellow walkers rage and horror while out enjoying a summer stroll through Etonbury wood. We happened across an Amey contractor mowing down areas of wild orchids, according to him under seasonal vegetation instructions from Central Bedfordshire Council.

Thank you Central Bedfordshire Council for destroying what little natural habitat we have within this encroaching Arlesey, Stotfold concrete jungle.

William Waterman

Arlesey Road




SIR - Further to the letter from John Page in the July 26 edition of the Comet.

I think he is quite right in thinking that 80 per cent of Arlesey residents are not in favour of this development and the other 20 per cent are burying their heads in the sand, hoping that it won’t affect them too much. I think they will find that it will affect everyone, from the people who are losing their businesses and homes, to car drivers who are just trying to get out of the village in the mornings.

It is true that Arlesey needs some new life but not in the form of 1,000 new houses, with few facilities to provide all that will entail.

On looking at the letters page in the Comet, it is full of angry comments regarding Top Field in Hitchin. Come on people of Arlesey, rally yourselves before it is too late.

Ros Hurst

Address supplied



SIR - Further to the front page article ‘Pay and Dismay: Calls for cheaper parking in Hitchin’ (Hitchin edition July 26), this would certainly be welcomed by the Churchgate retailers,

While their income continues to fall in the recession, so does that of NHDC by people who have refused to pay the increased car parking charges.

At one time the car parks were fairly full throughout the week, but not so now.

There is usually plenty of spare capacity on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Stevenage already has some free parking arrangements in place and this could benefit Hitchin.

As both the populations of Letchworth and Hitchin are of similar size I cannot see why there should be differential charges.

Local authorities by law are not permitted to make profits on car parking charges to provide income.

However it appears they get round it by claiming the money is being used for enforcing parking restrictions or other transport related costs. Motorists should not be seen as a cash cow particularly when the parking helps to boost the local economy in the deep recession we are experiencing now.

Brian Foreman

Voluntary advisor to the Churchgate Association



SIR - In connection with the new policy of Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) to turn off about 80 per cent of streetlights in all of Hertfordshire between midnight and 6am, Brian Smith (letters, 26 July) states that as “a direct result” there was a collision in The White Way, Chells Manor and that Chells Manor has been “particularly badly affected”.

Brian Smith and other residents will know that the 17-strong Liberal Democrat group at HCC, including myself, opposed this policy of the majority Conservative group from its first suggestion in early 2011, we proposed alternatives to save money and organised a local petition against it. Our pleas were ignored by the Conservatives.

As the county councillor for all of Chells Division (which includes all of Chells Manor, the rest of Chells and Mobbsbury) and also borough councillor for the area, I can assure residents that my division has had a smaller proportion of lights turned off than many other areas of Hertfordshire. This is because county councillors were given the power, in their respective divisions, to decide if footpath lights (that is, those remote from a road, not all pavement lights) should be turned off between midnight and 6am, or left on all night. I chose to leave all of them on, in order to make it as safe as possible for people walking between those hours. Some other county councillors did not do this.

Also, I formally requested that some other lights in Chells Division should be left on near junctions or other hazards that I considered dangerous, including some in The White Way. These were all refused. I had no power in this matter other than to make the request (unlike footpaths).

Therefore, near Brian Smith’s home in Sweyns Mead, the only lights I could get left on were the footpath lights between Sweyns Mead and Kings Walden Rise and Sweyns Mead and The Hedgerows.

Initial police figures seem to show that for areas of Hertfordshire (not Stevenage) where the switch off has been in place for the greatest number of months, crime has dropped. I have seen no figures yet for road accidents. I wish to reassure Brian Smith (and others) that I will make sure that, in due course, we get figures relevant to Stevenage, both for crime and road accidents, and that I will pursue the issue of whether or not the street light switch off is a factor in the causes.

A few months ago, I surveyed the whole of my Chells Division, to note the numbers of the street lights along all the footpaths, which I needed in order to supply a list of all the lights I wanted left on. Therefore, all footpaths in Chells Division should be on all night. If any residents are aware of any that are being switched off between midnight and 6 am, please let me know and I will investigate the reason.

Cllr Robin Parker

County Councillor

Chells Division


SIR - Am I the only resident in Stevenage who actually likes the street lights being off at night?

I genuinely hope the people involved in the car accident on White Way, as mentioned in Brian Smith’s letter (Comet, July 18) are all ok, but wonder if it was ‘a direct result of the incredible darkness’ or the lack of appropriate precautions that was the cause.

There are many benefits to the switch off, less light pollution, better stargazing, reduced costs, better sleep. I understand there are increased risks and would hope that where the risk is greater, appropriate care would be taken, the same way as if driving in the dark anywhere else for example.

Karen Grieves




SIR - Am I alone in praising the local council for turning off some of the town’s street lights at night? Why are so many people afraid of the dark?

I find the correspondent in last week’s Comet making a claim that the lack of street lights in the White Way, Chells Manor, being responsible for a motorist crashing into a wall totally ridiculous! How is it that many thousands of people throughout the country manage to navigate their way around dark country lanes in rural areas on a regular basis without incident?

If a motorist came off the White Way and crashed then it will have been for reasons other than lack of street lighting. Probable causes being: speeding, driving without due care and attention or maybe driving while under the influence, perhaps? I for one am glad to see a reduction in light pollution every night. If some residents want them kept on then they should have their Counci Tax bills adjusted accordingly in order to pay for it.

David Stuckey



SIR - I don’t know what all the fuss is about the lights out at midnight.

I have walked home from Stevenage Town Centre with all the street lights on and could have been mugged anywhere en route and only the mugger(s) or myself would have known. Why? Because no-one else was about.

As for the car that spun off the road, that was nothing to do with no street lights but rank bad driving.

If a person cannot drive using their headlights then they shouldn’t be driving in the dark. I should hate to meet them on a country lane where there are no streetlights at all.

Owen Welch

Archer Road




SIR - For the last couple of months I’ve been pondering whether it’s just me or is everybody now blase about the many cycle pathway signs that were erected in Arlesey and Church End? Why is it that they show the distance between one place and another in time and not in miles?

Is it because nowadays young people do not understand (or not taught) imperial measurements? The amount of signs erected, anybody would think that the Tour de France came through Arlesey/Church End.

How did they work the times out? Take an average of 1,000 cyclists’ time over a distance? Good job they didn’t just have Bradley Wiggins doing their time trials.

The sign on the pavement (which is facing opposite the ‘T’ junction of House Lane and Stotfold Road) and which is facing towards the pavement has a ‘No Cycling Sign’ approximately 40 yards away!!!

Have you also noticed that since Central Bedforshire Council came into existence they have changed the signs at the Baldock turn off at the A1(M) and coming from Ickleford towards Letchworth from ‘Bedfordshire’ to ‘Central Bedfordshire’. I didn’t know that Central Bedfordshire was a county. More wasted money.

Warwick Brotherton

Address supplied



SIR - When the A1(M) Junction 9 Letchworth GC exit slip road was redesigned I was one of the first to write to the Comet in order to highlight the dangers created by the very poor visibility.

Since that time I have witnessed a number of accidents or near misses at the top of the slip road and again this Sunday I saw two drivers, parked by the side of the road, exchanging details, one car had damage to its rear bumper.

To make matters worse some drivers going into Letchworth GC ignore the left hand filter lane and drive up to the roundabout in the left hand Baldock lane and then turn left to Letchworth GC. Unless you have seen this behaviour you would expect these drivers to be turning right and therefore if you are waiting at the top of the slip road you would think you could drive on and not have another driver come across in front of you.

The over the shoulder visibility to the right when driving a van or a soft-top car is especially poor. Even though new lines were painted at the junction they had very little effect. The junction needs a total redesign, possibly with cars coming to a more right-angled junction so they have a better view to the right.

Ian Steeples


Letchworth GC