LETTERS: Comet August 9

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, August 9.


SIR - I totally agree with Ian Steeples’ letter last week about the A1(M) junction 9 exit slip road to Letchworth GC.

I too have written a number of letters to the Comet since the junction was redesigned a few years ago. I am totally amazed that nothing has been done to rectify the situation. The chances of a redesign of the junction seem remote so I repeat, put a “no left hand turn” sign at the traffic lights on the right hand lane and this way you create an illegal manoeuvre should drivers continue to turn left from the right hand lane.

While I am about it having driven through the Walsworth Crossroads on numerous occasions I cannot understand why there is a traffic light filter at the left hand turn to Letchworth off Woolgrove Road. When the lights are green your path is not necessarily clear as traffic will be coming from the right on the A505. There are faded dotted white lines on the road to show caution and a small ‘give way’ sign but a green light to a driver unfamiliar with the town could result in a collision.

Solution, remove the left hand filter lights at the Walsworth crossroads and erect a larger ‘give way’ sign to warn of oncoming traffic. Put a ‘no left turn’ at the A1(M) junction 9 exit. Two problems sorted in one instance.

Lives are being put at risk so copious meetings are not required to discuss these decisions, both are no-brainers. I am sure there are enough residents in both Letchworth and Hitchin who will hopefully agree with me about these junctions.

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Keith Entwisle

Baldock Rd

Letchworth Garden City


Sir - Ian Steeples writes about the A1(M) exit slip road at Letchworth.

Owls can turn their heads to see behind them. They are the only drivers safe to use that junction. When I was trying to get permission for my bungalow where the site is eight feet below road level, I was told by a highways engineer that the exit must be roughly level and at right angles to the road. Of course, highways engineers set the standard for everyone else, but they do what they like.

I have been asking for safety improvements to a footpath that I use regularly. They won’t do anything until somone gets hurt. I don’t want to be saying “I told you so”, and I certainly don’t want my wife saying “He told you so”. It’s not a lack of money, it’s a lack of common sense. They’ve just spent tens of thousands on decorative, cosmetic changes at the junction without addressing the underlying safety issue. How did we manage without a green cycleway? How did we manage without a multicoloured kerb? They’ve laid dimpled paving so that a blind person can tell where they should cross. It’s not safe for someone with reasonable eyesight, it would be suicide for a blind person.

I am told that pedestrians can be seen by drivers there - but if all drivers avoided everyone they should see, then pedestrians would be safe, but pedestrians do get killed by reckless drivers, and we can’t stop them.

I have added a note to my will that if I get finished off at that junction, then my family are to spend what’s left in my estate to employ the best lawyers to sue Herts Highways for far, far more than it would have cost to do the work I want.

David Stonebanks

Chequers Bridge Road



SIR - Ian Steeples (Letters 2 August) is quite right about the dangers of the Letchworth bound slip road at J9. The problem is exacerbated by selfish drivers, who do not think that lane markings apply to them, turning left after passing through the lights. But his proposed solution is wrong.

Changing the approach angle will make the matter worse, as drivers will be unable to accelerate easily into Letchworh Gate, as a filter lane is meant to facilitate.

What is needed are No Left Turn signs on the traffic lights, to make it clear to drivers they should not perform that move.

I understand the police opposed that suggestion, presumably because they would not want to be held accountable for enforcement. But the discouragement would greatly improve the traffic flow.

Gary Nye

Address supplied



SIR - I note that Tesco near Hitchin station wants to open for longer - just to ensure it makes a few more pounds and kill off the local competition.

After a few months of opening, let’s review the facts: Parked cars now block the road regularly, they also use the bus stop and take valuable spaces in the short term car park at the station. Drunks now haunt the area as the booze is cheap and teenagers readily buy alcohol to take on the train. Home owners nearby have had their lives made a misery and delivery trucks have nowhere sensible to stop, so are forced to park in the road causing traffic problems.

And this is all due to the planners allowing a shop in a location that is totally unsuitable. Hours should be cut, not extended and if the local council was ever proactive, it would investigate how this farce could have happened.

On the plus side, commuters save themselves from walking 100 yards to the nearest shop to buy some milk.

Name and address supplied



SIR - I would like to post an open letter to Hertfordshire County Council.

Street Lighting first came into force in Pall Mall, London in 1807. Electric Street Lighting was first introduced in this country in 1875. Over the years the type of light that comes from our street lamps has changed until what we have today which is called white light and I am sure at the time this was hailed as progress. Over the years it has been recorded that eminient Criminologists have studied the relationship between crime and the fear of crime and street lighting. All agreed that good lighting has a positive effect.

Surveys have also revealed that ‘white light’:

Gives better colour rendering (for police identification).

Makes a reduction in residents fear of crime.

Encourages and aids mobility of pedestrians during the cover of darkness.

Increases reaction time of drivers by up to 50% which improves road safety.

Improves the night time street scene and the overall quality of life of its residents.

What’s going to happen when the clocks are altered. All those people who go to work in the dark, paper boys and girls delivering papers. Is their safety going to continue to be put at risk?

What will they expect us to do next?

Sylvie Lawrence




SIR - I feel moved to write following last week’s article in the Comet about problems with ophthalmic care at the Surgicentre, Lister.

I’m a totally blind person.

Two weeks ago I had a routine follow-up appointment at the Surgicentre to check on the progress of glaucoma in my left eye.

The consultation itself was unproblematic; informative, unhurried, authoritative, sympathetic and respectful.

Unfortunately the care and competence of the support staff before the consultation was staggeringly deficient.

It was as if they had never met a visually impaired person let alone a blind person.

Basic good practice in the guiding and helping of the visually impaired were embarrasingly lacking.

Even the common sense that one might expect to be present and available was absent among the bare minimum of staff and training was clearly toe-curlingly (or toe-stubblingly) absent.

I have experienced much better practice in places such as railway stations and museums; places that you would expect would look to ophthalmic surgeries as beacons of at least good if not best practice.

Frustratingly the short-comings in the support services at the Surgicentre, Stevenage can be corrected very quickly, easily and cheaply, but worryingly these shortcomings added to those raised by last week’s Comet article, if true, suggest a deeper, more difficult and expensive systemic problem.

David Johnson



SIR - I have been in the Surgicentre for my second hip replacement and I was discharged on August 2. This is the third time I’ve been in there for hernia and first hip and this week I read your report in the Comet.

I think it’s time for something good to be printed about the Surgicentre.As I was saying I have been in there three times on floor four and five which is Swift Ward and I can tell you from doctors, nurses, receptionists and cleaners to tea ladies, all the team could not have given better care.

There’s never been a problem with my operation or my recovery and I have never had an operation cancelled. The staff are very caring and on the ball top marks.

Edward Gordon

Moss Way



SIR - Since moving to Stevenage in 1972 we have heard some complaints about Lister Hospital.

Our experience has been positive.

My husband was very well cared for on emergency visits during the last years of his life.

Recently my neighbour rushed me to A&E for treatment to a crushed finger joint.

A nurse examined it, sent me for an X-ray and explained the damage.

Next a doctor from plastic surgery saw me and decided that it needed treatment.

Early next morning my finger was stitched and repaired in the unit.

This was followed by a splint and dressing being fitted, with subsequent visits and hand therapy.

It was very impressive and effective.

All I can say is a profound thank you for the excellent professional and caring service.

DB Worthy

Address supplied



SIR - Sixty years ago, in September 1952, about 80 eager 11-year-olds, including me, started at Letchworth Grammar School and I wondered in this Diamond Jubilee year how many of us were still around the area to perhaps get together for an informal gathering.

If any of these names are familiar to you, you were in that class: David Glennister, Barbara Lane, Anna Bland, Diederik van der Werff, John and Peter Yates, Marion Rusted, Joyce Harding, Anthony Bullard and Francis Carter to name a few. If you are interested in a get together please contact me on lgsclassof52@btinternet.com or send me a text to 07788954374. If you are in contact with anyone outside our area, please pass this on.

Dave Thompson




SIR - Having read Mr Smith’s letter, Comet July 26, relating to rail improvements it prompted me to write in.

From the time of Dr Beeching and for many years afterward the brief of the rail network was to serve London and the major cities and everybody else was to drive or get a bus.

If your community was a village or hamlet in most cases you became isolated.

In the UK the MOD holds thousands of acres of land that just sits idle, part of the Beeching Act should have mothballed ‘railway land’ in a similar way.

Now that the Oxford-Cambridge link is up for discussion once again I wonder how many locals remember the rail links this area lost.

Bedford to Cambridge crossing the ECML at Sandy.

Bedford to Hitchin, Bedford to Northampton, Harpenden to Hemel, Hatfield to Hertford, Hatfield to Luton and Dunstable, St Albans to Hatfield and even Buntingford to the south.

After years of little or no investment we now have the HS2 project to run through the Chilterns (with a link to the West-East route via Bletchley).

As areas in the south east now have larger populations than when they had railway stations in the late sixties, we are now looking at rebuilding what we already had.

Look at Arlesey, station closed in 1959, the town grows and got a new station in 1988.

And to Mr Smith of the rail user group, there was a time when you could have walked down the hill from Meppershall and caught a train at Shefford to Hitchin or Bedford.

Neil Thurstance




SIR - The number of single-use bags handed out in the UK has gone up again over the past two years. In 2011 we used eight billion plastic carrier bags. That equals 254 bags handed out per second. This is a tremendous waste of valuable resources that often results in litter, and can be lethal to wildlife on land and at sea.

Sadly this is a very English problem. England is where the growth in bag use is happening, and we are the only country in the UK that does not require shops to charge for bags and isn’t actively considering introducing a charge.

When Wales introduced a 5p bag levy in 2011, single-use bag use fell by between 70-96%. Ireland did it in 2002 and the number of single-use bags fell by 90%, as well as the amount of bag litter.

Some shops are already doing this voluntarily but the only way to make a real difference is for the Government to make sure England is not left behind, and introduce an English bag levy. The money raised can even be spent on clearing litter, not making shops money, as happens in Wales.

That is why I am supporting the Break the Bag Habit campaign run by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage. It’s simple to add your voice to this campaign by visiting their websites and writing to your MP.

Edel Ryding

St Albans Rd