LETTERS: Comet August 1

THE Letters in the Comet on Thursday August 1

FALLING FOUL OF RECYCLING SYSTEM

Sir - This week we fell foul of the Council’s new three bins, one box recycling system for the first time. One of the families had placed recycling in the grey bin without removing it from the plastic bag we collect it in. As a result that bin was not emptied, but I found it very interesting how we were informed of our heinous crime – an expensively laminated tag was hung on the offending bin. So shiny was the tag the refuse collector could barely mark a cross with his biro next to the box describing our misdemeanour. This begs two questions; how much are these laminated cards costing the council when something much cheaper could easily be used, and which bin should I put the card in to ensure my bins are collected next week?

MATT BRENT

Address Supplied


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ELEMENTS OF THE COUNCIL’S NEW RECYCLING SCHEME

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Sir - I write at the request of your reader, Mr Amos, who would like clarification on elements of the council’s new recycling scheme. We introduced the recycling of plastics and cartons at the kerbside this summer, along with textiles, to increase residents’ opportunity to recycle. We really appreciate people’s efforts in embracing the new scheme. Early indications are that the amount of waste we are sending to landfill has significantly decreased and recycling has gone up. Good news for the environment and for council taxpayers in helping control the rising costs of waste disposal. The introduction of the new service has prompted a number of questions as to what can and can’t be recycled, particularly around recycling of plastics. As a reminder, plastic bottles, tubs, pots and trays can all be put in your grey mixed recycling bin, but please remove any plastic film lids first (eg, the sort found on packets of cooked meats or ready meals). We also can’t accept rigid plastics such as children’s plastic toys, or plastic garden furniture – please recycle these elsewhere, such as at your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre. Finally, please do not put plastic bags in with your recycling as we can’t recycle them and therefore your bin may not be emptied. If recycling bins contain plastic bags, the contents will be classed as ‘contaminated’ and the whole vehicle load could be sent to landfill. We are unable to accept plastic bags as the machines which sort your recycling can become jammed by them. The only exception to this is when recycling textiles, which should be placed in bags at the top of your recycling bin. The textiles are then taken for reuse and the plastic bags disposed of separately. Details of what can and can’t be recycled can all be found on the council’s waste pages on the website www.north-herts.gov.uk

Cllr PETER BURT

Portfolio Holder for Waste and Recycling

North Herts District Council

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GOLF CLUB ANGER

Sir - We are truly appalled, amazed, distressed and angered to read in the Comet this week that approval has been granted for the development of Letchworth Golf Club, in the face of more than 100 entirely valid and legitimate concerns and objections.

Much emphasis has been placed on the impact this development will have on Queenswood Drive, but the disruption it will cause to traffic using the A505 should not be overlooked.Traffic taking this route will be severely impacted by 65 HGVs joining them on a daily basis during the morning rush hour, traffic coming down Letchworth Hill is slow (at best!), especially since the retiming of the traffic

lights at Walsworth crossroads. The excess traffic caused by these additional vehicles could, we fear, irritate and anger other road users who might be encouraged to find alternative routes into Hitchin, causing further traffic problems elsewhere, most probably via the Great Wymondley approach into Hitchin. In addition to this, traffic along the Willian Road will be controlled by traffic lights; again, further adding to traffic congestion and delays. Please could everyone cast their minds back to the diversions that were in place during roadworks and improvements in recent years and consider whether they’ll be happy to live through this again for at least a year for the sake of redeveloping a privately owned member’s only golf club.This is all without mentioning the damage these HGV movements will cause to our already painfully potholed roads.

EMMA and PAUL McKENZLE

Address Supplied

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COMSTRUCTION TRAFFIC

Sir - How interesting that a resident of Aubreys – who lobbied hard against lorries in their area – Mike Dandy of Greenway and Terry Hone, councillor for Letchworth South, all now agree in your pages that now construction traffic will not inconvenience them at all, “the right decision has been made regarding expansion at Letchworth Golf Club”. Apparently that now implies, “and to hell with the residents of Hitchin” who have been lumbered with the extra traffic they lobbied so hard to avoid. Not only will those of us who will live on the direct route of innumerable lorries every day for more than a year suffer noise, atmospheric pollution and inconvenience but it will be interesting to see the effect on traffic on Cambridge

Road which is already overloaded due to the pinch point at the railway bridge. This unnecessary expansion of a leisure facility at the expense of the quality of life of those of us who have no interest in it is a complete disgrace.

JOYCE DONALD

Hitchin

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NEW CANDIDATE

Sir - Cllr Sharon Taylor is well known locally and nationally for her many jobs in local government but I suggest virtually unknown as Labour’s current choice for the general election in 2015. Her skills in time management can only be admired. I have counted seven jobs so far. Two as a county and borough councillor, another as leader of Stevenage Borough Council, a further as county Labour group leader, not to mention deputy chair of the Local Government Association and deputy leader of the Association’s Labour Group. Recently she unexpectedly popped up as a member of the newly formed Police and Crime Panel that keeps tabs on fellow county councillor and police commissioner, David Lloyd. Although it is difficult to see how Cllr Taylor can perform all of her local government roles well, my main concern centres on Labour’s ineffective local parliamentary campaign as now there are less than two years to the general election. Stevenage’s Tory MP has been allowed to make all the running in local political issues, particularly in Labour’s traditional strength – the NHS. As I believe it is essential Stevenage returns to Labour in May 2015, Cllr Taylor should stand down immediately and allow a new selection of a candidate who is both willing and able to devote the time and energy necessary to campaign for success in the general election. This would also remove the current inherent conflicts of political interest between borough responsibilities and preparing to be the constituency’s MP that will increasingly confound Cllr Taylor as we approach 2015.

PATRICK NEWMAN

Chancellors road

Stevenage

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LOCAL LABOUR PARTY

SIr - On Thursday last week, many of the residents in Martins Wood would have received a survey from our local Labour Party. Now I would never support Labour, not after the mess they have left Stevenage in over the years they have dominated the borough council. But even by their lowly standards, this ‘Sharon Taylor’s cost of living survey 2013’ is utterly ridiculous. I am not talking about the bias questions, which is fair play in politics, but the stupidity and lack of understanding in the final three questions. In questions nine and 10 they ask what party you support and who you voted for in 2010. Instead of using the correct term Conservative, they seem to use “Tory”. Now Cllr Taylor may not know this but the Tories were dissolved in 1834, so she is asking if anyone supports a political party that has not existed for over 100 years. But the best example of Labour intelligence is saved until last. Question 11 asks ‘would you prefer a Labour or Tory (Conservative) government?’ but as I stated before, in questions nine and 10 it asks what party you support and who you voted for in 2010. So would common sense dictate that if you selected Tory (Conservative) for example that you might just want a Tory (Conservative) government? But no, Cllr Taylor cannot deduce that from the previous two questions and must ask us for a third time. Finally, just to point out the obvious, what have these final three questions got to do with a ‘cost of living survey’ anyway? There is just no sense or logic put into this bias document, rather like their policies in many ways. If she wants to win the next general election she might want to actually put more thought into what she writes.

BRET FACEY

Stevenage

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NO REPLY

Sir - A few months ago I received a letter from Stevenage Borough Council regarding the decoration charge for sheltered housing. The information was that the charge was to cease as other ways of covering the cost had been found.If, as a paying tenant, I wished to receive a refund of payments already made, I could do so by sending an email to that effect.Having sent FIVE emails to them, none have been acknowledged or answered. So it seems getting money back from SBC is difficult or nigh on impossible. Conversely, if money is owed to them, they are soon on the case pursuing arrears. Perhaps they need to employ someone to monitor and reply to emails! It would be nice to see if they respond to this letter.

STEPHEN HOBDEN

Address Supplied

PUTTING JOBS AT RISK

Sir - Thank you for highlighting, in last week’s Comet, the concerns and worries of all the businesses and property owners of the Woodside Business Estate, off Works Road Letchworth GC. The proposal, by the Letchworth GC Heritage Foundation to ratchet up their ground rent by over 2,000 times the current annual amount can only put businesses and jobs at risk. My own business operates out of several sites in the south east and has done so in Letchworth GC for nearly 20 years. However, the nature of our business is such that we could move to a different location away from Letchworth and within the current economic climate, and squeeze on operating margins, if the ground rents are hiked up out of all proportion and we may be forced to move. I am sure that many other businesses are in the same position and any operating from property where the foundation charge a ground rent can only be similarly concerned. We employ good local people who have been with us for a long time, yet the foundation are trying to force a swingeing increase that cannot be at all good for the very local community they are in trust to help. Employment is one of the king pins of a successful and functional community and the foundation will be putting jobs at risk if they continue with this policy. Furthermore the massive legal and surveyors fees paid by both sides already in this issue would have been better spent on more worthy projects and job creation. We are hopeful that, with the greater public attention your article will foster, the Foundation will desist from the expensive and devisive legal approach they have taken and sit down with the local business people and find a fair resolution to the issue. We accept that an increase is appropriate but feel this should be fair and aligned to the aspirations, intent and spirit of the original founding fathers when the ground rent was first set.

STEVE DEBEGER

RSL Group

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BEST VALUE

Sir - It appears that Keith Berry’s letter regarding the council’s decision on Churchgate and the surrounding area was not as accurate as the Comet’s report on the meeting, also published last week. Firstly, it was clear from the published report that a vote on the recommendations was scheduled to be taken that evening, and the addendum distributed at council related to information from Hammersmatch that we had still not received when the initial papers were published. It was important that council had this information in order to make an informed decision, but due to the timing of its receipt we were not able to distribute it any earlier. More importantly, Mr Berry seem to have misunderstood the decision taken. The minutes reflect that council did not agree to “bring forward” the Hammersmatch plan, nor any other plan. What it did agree was to consider the future of the Churchgate area while awaiting the publication of the draft Local Plan, rather then wait for it to be adopted before taking further action. In the interim, dialogue will continue with any developers expressing an interest in the site, and that includes the current tenants, Hammersmatch. When the draft Local Plan is published, it is right that the council acts in its role as landowner regarding the future of the site to establish what is best for people throughout North Hertfordshire. As it would do for any site it owns in the district, the council will need to see what proposal is right for residents, and also right in terms of getting best value for the council taxpayer.

NORMA ATLAY

Strategic Director of Finance,

Policy and Governance

North Herts District Council

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BAD NEWS

Sir - As a frequent visitor to Hitchin, and a reader of the Comet, I was sad to see two pieces of more bad news for your high street. The loss of Thorntons will be sorely felt by the many who dropped in there for a little bit of luxury that we all need at times. As for the other thing, Wetherspoon, who needs it? I’m sure Hitchin doesn’t.

PETER HERBERT

London

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LOCAL PLAN

Sir - Thank you to E Walter for the letter published on July 25 highlighting the consultation that has been taking place on future development in North Herts. The consultation, which ends on August 2, will help inform our draft Local Plan, the document that guides future development in North Hertfordshire between now and 2031. As part of the consultation process, landowners and developers have submitted a number of sites for potential development and the consultation has attracted comments on their suitability. It is now up to the council to choose between the sites to find those most appropriate for development. What has been put forward includes proposed development on brownfield sites – those which have previously been developed – as well as in Green Belt areas. Based on how many new homes will be needed over the next 18 years, it is clear that development on all the brownfield sites available will not be sufficient to cater for the growth in population, taking into account net migration (the number of people moving into the district, minus the number of people who leave it). While we recognise the importance of preserving the Green Belt wherever possible, ultimately we will need to select some sites on Green Belt land if we want to provide the new homes that people will need. What is important is that any growth is sustainable. It is about getting the right number of homes in the right place. Thank you again to the many people who have helped us by contributing to the consultations. We will now work hard to prepare a draft Local Plan that will help provide for the future growth of North Hertfordshire while protecting what makes it so special.

CLLR TOM BRINDLEY

Portfolio Holder for Planning,

Transport and enterprise

North Herts District Council

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DOG REQUEST

Sir - As a local councillor and Baldock resident I was delighted when the Splash Park at Avenue Park in Baldock opened earlier this year. It has been fantastic to see the local community enjoying this superb facility while the sun has been shining over the summer. It is extremely disappointing therefore to have learned that a few irresponsible dog owners have not paid heed to the signs asking them to keep their dogs out of the splash park and surrounding play area. Not only is this a potential health risk to children, it also has the effect of discouraging the very people we have created the Splash Park for from using it.Dog owners are welcome to use the rest of the park’s facilities but I would urge the irresponsible few to please keep their dogs out of the water play area and let our young children play safely.

CLLR MICHAEL WEEKS

Ward Councillor for Baldock Town

North Herts District Council

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THREE CHEERS

Sir - On Saturday, June 22, Hitchin Branch of the Royal British Legion held their Armed Forces event and invited three Chelsea Pensioners to

join them for the day. At lunchtime that day some of the members took the pensioners to The Cock for lunch and while there a young man gave £20 to one of our members to spend on drinks for the “boys” meaning the Chelsea Pensioners, and then disappeared before anyone had the chance to thank him. Hitchin Branch would very much like this young man thanked and a thank you in the Cometwould be much appreciated in the hope this young man reads it.

MARY PROWSE

Hitchin Branch

Royal British legion

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