LETTERS: Comet August 23

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, August 23.

RESIDENTS’ PARKING

SIR – To the shop owner who complained about their staff having to pay car park fees whereas before they used to park down Hollow Lane for free.

Historically, because of workers leaving their cars there all day, it has been impossible to find a parking space near our home even to unload heavy shopping and quite often we have to make two journeys to and from the car to our front door up the hill. Disabled people also need to be near their home for hospital visits, getting out in the community.

Throughout the day there are many vehicles that need access to the homes along here for there are elderly people who require short visits from carers, nursing staff and day ambulances for pick up. Where do they park if town centre workers are taking the spaces?


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There are also maintenance vehicles regularly visiting which are rarely able to find a parking spot which made it difficult for them to negotiate heavy equipment, sometimes walking the length of Hollow Lane to do so.

Some delivery people have refused to deliver because of the long walk between where there vehicle has found parking and the home it is delivering too. Large vehicles have had no choice but to double park in the middle of the road which could be a danger.

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The council has provided free parking for people who work in the town on the opposite side of the road so if occasionally you have to pay to park your vehicle then join the rest of us.

Name supplied

Hitchin

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FLYTIPPERS

SIR – The flytippers have struck again.

Twice in a week in Douglas Drive, Stevenage. Last week it was a baby’s cot, a filthy mattress and two bedside tables. Today I noticed a black bag, some toys and household items. If the person who dumped this had half a brain, the street was full of black wheelie bins out for collection this morning and these items would have gone in there easily.

Stevenage Borough Council always pick up fly tips very promptly after a report is made, but I do object to my council tax being used to clear up after these ignorant lazy (insert your own words here) especially when there is a perfectly good council tip a short drive away.

I cannot understand the mentality of a fly tipper. Can someone explain it to me?

Louise Ross

by email

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BY-ELECTION TURNOUT

SIR – I was absolutely astonished by the turnout at the last two by-elections; Sandy Parish Council 14 per cent, CBC Langford/Stotfold ward 17 per cent. Is there a winner here? A majority in excess of 50 per cent is not more than 10 per cent of the electorate. All I see is a great loss of democracy.

What does it take to encourage people’s participation in our Democracy? Perhaps we should re-define modern democracy, being such a misunderstood word, as the political system of minimum participation and limited responsibilities by the most.

After having exhausted all the sad excuses I have heard such as: “It’s a summer holiday;” “ I can’t find my card;” “It makes no difference to me;” “I’d rather go to the pub;” “I refuse to vote,;” “I don’t know who to vote for, they are all the same;” “I don’t like any of the parties;” “I don’t like any of the candidates;” “I can’t be bothered;” etc, the point is that the few who made the effort to vote have made the decision for the full 100 per cent.

In ancient days, the ruling by the few was called oligarchy, and perhaps it was the most hated political system ever. I accept that rulers in those days came from a certain political class, however, there is some insanity here. Today, the rulers do not need to impose themselves to the masses, but the masses have elected to be ruled by the ones that participate in the democratic process. In other words, democracy becomes a voluntarily oligarchy for the ones that give up their right to participate.

However, if you try to take away from people what they voluntarily give up, the right to determine their future by selecting their representatives, they should in theory fight back. In other words, they want the right without any obligations to participate in any form of democracy.

Is it selfishness perhaps?

They refuse not only to contribute to any solutions, but not even to know about the problems. A total apathy, in other words.

In psychology, apathy is regarded as a safety valve. If you accept there is a problem, you have to do something about, but if you put the head in the sand, the problem goes away. You are safe and problem free. Then you could have a good moan about everyone and everything because the ones that participate in the democracy did not provide you with enough facilities. What does that make you? Irresponsible? Immature? Most certainly, disrespectful to the ones that gave their lives for the right of vote.

The words of Plato, the great philosopher are so current: “The price of not participating in the democracy is, that you are governed by your inferiors”.

George Konstantinidis

Greens Close

Sandy

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MP OVER FARE RISE

Sir – Rail fare increases.

I was surprised to read Stephen McPartland’s comments about increases in rail fares in last week’s Comet (Passengers face unfare hike in rail ticket prices).

It is his party who, having got into bed with the Lib Dems, make up the Government. Their strategy continues to be that users of the railway should foot more of the bill for its running costs, through increased fares. The increase is set using a formula of July’s Retail Price Index (RPI) figure plus an additional three per cent. Perhaps Mr McPartland could spend his time more wisely by actually doing something constructive to limit these fare increases rather than complaining about them.

He also talks about the council’s rip-off car parking charges. Perhaps he should look closer to home as to why these charges have gone up. Maybe it is as a result of the increased financial burden his Government continues to place on local authorities.

Robert Beahan

Durham Road

Stevenage

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CENTRE HELP

SIR – I would like to say a big thankyou to the team that work at Ditchmore Lane Resource Centre in Stevenage, which helps people with mental health issues.

This team has helped me over recent times and has helped me to stay safe and now to finally move on in my life. They are really caring and are all very highly trained and always have good advice. Sadly this service is shutting its doors on Friday, August 17, to its service users.

The services that they provided have been put out to private tender. So thankyou and farewell to the Ditchmore team you will be really missed by many.

Name and address supplied

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LISTER PARKING

SIR – Lack of user-friendly parking for wheelchair users.

I should like to add my voice to the complaint recently aired in the Comet about the challenge of negotiating the new hospital car park.

Parking on the fourth floor and negotiating the lift, double doors, metal ridges, etc, and trying to reach the main building is not an option for me. I use the drop-off area because I need to use ramps to get our heavy wheelchair from the car and need enough space to do this without obstructing others. I can’t rely on hospital wheelchairs as they are not often available.

What also concerns me is that on the last two occasion I have used the car park, I have been stuck at the exit barrier with a queue of irate people behind me and not being allowed to leave. The last time this happened I was told I am allowed just 15 minutes to get out of the car park after paying, so at least I now know the answer is the additional stress of getting my disabled husband, the wheelchair and the ramps in the car before making another trip back to the parking meter and paying!

While 15 minutes may be ample time for an able-bodied person, it is not enough for two septuagenarians, one the carer and the other disabled, having to cope with all this, plus the additional parking.

I reiterate that parking at the (excellent in all other respects) Lister hospital is totally lacking in user-friendliness for the disabled. Unlike shopping and leisure car parks, going to the hospital for vital treatment is not something one can choose to do or not to do.

Zena Diamandis

Blackmore

Letchworth GC

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BLACKSPOT CALL

SIR – With reference to your correspondent Barrie Woods (Comet letters, August 16), I must agree with his opinions regarding the A1(M) junction with Letchworth Gate.

A fatality at this blackspot would result in an investigation as to its cause. Should the cause of the fatality prove to be the design of the junction then Hertfordshire Highways would, I’m sure, be instructed to make alterations to prevent reccurence.

If we look around Letcworth GC we see evidence of safety cameras, pedestrian crossings and traffic calming measures at points where, sadly, fatalities have occured.

My point is this. Scores of drivers have complained to the council about the A1(M) junction. Many more complain about it but don’t write in. The police have said that the junction “is flawed”. Therefore the word ‘negligence’ comes to mind. Should a serious accident occur at this junction, more than likely from someone who has never used it before, could Hertfordshire Highways be held negligent? So many people have informed them that the junction is dangerous could the opinion of these people be used as evidence against the council?

I have no legal training and this is just my opinion, but if I were to face a QC in the High Court to answer questions about ‘that junction’, I’d like to make a detour.

C Cattermole

Radburn Way

Letchworth GC

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HAVE YOUR SAY

SIR – It is widely known that North Herts District Council is planning to demolish Bancroft Hall and not replace it, and that many of its current users have expressed serious concerns about the prospective loss of this vital community space in Hitchin town centre.

The impending redevelopment of the site of the former Post Office and sorting office in Hermitage Road and Portmill Lane presents a golden opportunity for NHDC to assert its influence and require the developer, Whitebarn Developments (Hitchin) Ltd, to include on the site a modern, environmentally- friendly, versatile community hall to replace Bancroft Hall.

Instead, the development brief provides for a mixture of residential and retail properties, a hotel and restaurants – all of which are, presumably, potentially very profitable for Whitebarn Developments but which do not take into account the needs of the community.

Many of the regular users of Bancroft Hall are dependent upon public transport, so the fact that the Post Office site is on Hermitage Road – one of the major bus routes through the town – would be an enormous advantage. The central location would also be convenient for cyclists and pedestrians, and the car parks in Portmill Lane would accommodate the needs of motorists.

I would urge readers to participate in the consultation that is open from now until September 18. Like many local consultations, the link on NHDC’s website is difficult to find, so it may be helpful to mention that readers can:

- Attend the public exhibitions at the Community Office, 27 Hermitage Road, between 2pm and 8pm on Friday, September 7, and Tuesday, September 18, 2012;

- Inspect the consultation documents at Hitchin Initiative (27 Churchyard, Hitchin), Hitchin Library (Paynes Park, Hitchin) or the NHDC Council Offices (Gernon Road, Letchworth GC); or

- Visit the website http://www.sorting-office.whitebarn-dev.co.uk

If the development brief is not amended to include the provision of a community hall, readers could request that the money payable to NHDC as a result of the development (under either section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010) be specifically earmarked as a contribution towards the cost of building a replacement town centre community hall on a suitable site.

This is an opportunity for the community to make its views known by urging NHDC to engage in some joined-up thinking that will enable Hitchin town centre to continue to meet the needs of the people of the town and the surrounding area.

Dr Stephanie Pywell

Nutleigh Grove

Hitchin

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PURSE FIND

SIR – I would just like to say a very big thank you to the kind person who found my purse at the leisure centre swimming pool changing rooms on Wednesday, August 15, and handed it in to reception.

It wasn’t just the money and inconvenience of losing my debit card but it also had my return bus ticket in there and saved me and my six-year-old son a long walk back to Stotfold! Many thanks again.

Sonia Mitchell

by email

STORE HELP

SIR – My elderly aunt and I would like to say a big thankyou to the two gentlemen who came to my aunt’s rescue when she stumbled and fell backwards trying to get to the escalator in Tesco, Stevenage town centre, on Wednesday, August 8.

Without their help she would have fallen back on to the hard floor and the outcome would have been far more serious.

Our thanks also to the staff at Tesco who made her comfortable while she waited for an ambulance, and to the first operator who checked her injuries and confirmed no serious damage.

Mrs J Macleod

Unwin Road

Stevenage

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