LETTERS: Comet February 21
- Credit: Archant
THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, February 21.
GAY MARRIAGE PROPOSALS
SIR - I am shocked and saddened at the responses from fellow Christians over gay marriage proposals.
Their underlying spite and anger does not fit with Christian ideals. They do not appreciate that marriage pre-dates Christianity, so “we” don’t have a monopoly on insisting how it’s administered. Do they really think that a loving God will smite the people of the earth because some men are in love and want to show it?
When it comes down to it, we are talking about a small proportion of a small proportion of men in the UK who might want to show their love for one another in a legal manner. Isn’t Christianity all about love? The responses printed in your newspaper so far (usually anonymously) certainly lack any love and those involved should be ashamed at their stance. What you have done is show the church to be divisive, willing to outcast people and live in the past.
You may also want to watch:
Show a little more love and you might just end up in Heaven one day.
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SIR - It was interesting to read the letters in last week’s Comet about the Government’s same-sex marriage bill.
The debate rightly links traditional marriage to Christian truth and to our nation’s Christian foundations, from which we have drifted to our cost. However, I don’t think one has to be religious to instinctively know that marriage is between a man and a woman. Politicians have no right to tell us to think marriage is something different. It has always been exclusively a union between a man and a woman, and indeed has been the only rightful context for sex, from the beginning of human history, from even before religion. Marriage (as it has always been defined) is the bedrock of a stable society. It is only in recent decades that there has been in public policy, law-making, and increasingly in some media opinion, a move away from such norms.
Effectively, this bill would enforce by law a change on how we must regard marriage, with consequences likely for those who believe in the always-held definition. Some employees could be disciplined or sacked. This might apply to any teachers who in conscience cannot endorse same sex marriage in their teaching of children if required to do so. Churches could eventually be forced to carry out same-sex ceremonies against their beliefs. Opinions may differ on the likelihood of such scenarios, but the Government’s exemptions for churches are expected to be legally challenged. The Government must know that their promises to protect churches and others from being forced to act against their consciences may be worthless.
The four out of the five Comet country MPs who oppose this oppressive law are absolutely right to do so, and deserve our support.
NAME AND ADDRESS
SIR - I am getting fed up with being called a bigot because, what is implied is that everybody who opposes gay marriage is a bigot whereas those who are for it are not.
Let’s face it there are bigots on both sides of the equation. I would go as far as to say that the majority on both sides are tolerant of other peoples beliefs and principles.
Let’s also face the fact, that whichever way one looks at it, same sex unions are not natural, if they were they could have children together naturally but the procreation process involves male and female in all species.
Sometime back it was mentioned that Christians are supposed to love their neighbours. This is true, but it also says that we should love the sinner but not the sin. As far as I’m aware, I only know two gay people but I wouldn’t pass them by in the street without saying hello, if possible.
SIR - A point of authority.
It is undoubtedly true that the basic question on gay marriage and many other ethical issues facing us as individuals and as a society is that of authority. We are criticised with these words,
“They choose their particular sectarian volume as the ultimate authority and make the ludicrous claim that their God is an authority above the secular laws of the state.”
Yet the Bible does claim to be the Word of God for all time and for all societies. The criticism continues, “They do not explain by what right they impose their sectarian beliefs on those of us who are not members of their cult.”
Churches are not cults! All Christian churches acknowledge that the Bible is God’s word to us all. It was Jesus Christ himself who ratified the Bible’s authority, acknowledging it as being the Word of God. He added that it was all about himself. Jesus claimed to be the ultimate authority that all people will ultimately acknowledge and to whom all people, including rulers, will have to give an account. We can live independently of God but we will all be judged by the ruler of the universe. The Bible doesn’t stop there though. It is primarily a book, not about ethics or judgement, but how rebellious men and women can become right with God, how individuals can be saved and become part of His kingdom.
The question we must all answer is whether Jesus’ claims are true. Are the 330 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning God’s future Messiah about Jesus or are they about someone else? Were the apostles really convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead after being crucified? Why did they give their lives to persuade the world about Jesus? Does what Jesus teaches have the ‘ring of truth?’ One way to answer this is to read through John’s gospel to see what he taught and what the sort of person he was. Is his character that of God? The Christian faith claims to be ‘evidence based’, it advanced because people could reason over its claims to be true. It is the basis of our society and law and has been the inspiration for scientific discovery. God has created a real physical world that works according to his laws. The objective historical evidence about the life of Jesus is very strong indeed. In addition, our spiritual instincts tell us that virtues such as love, truth, honesty, and integrity are eternally valid. We have these instincts because we have been made in the image of God.
We are discussing here a much bigger question than the ethics of society. The real question is the identity of Jesus. Is he God, come in the flesh as he claimed or is he a fraud. Were all his disciples and the early church deceived? Is there really a Hell to be afraid of? Is Jesus able to save us and forgive our sin and rebellion against God? Can he take us with him to Heaven, if we belong to him, as he claimed?
These are the profound issues this moral debate is based on.
Chris Jenkins - Pastor of
Bernard Palmer - Retired surgeon and minister of Christchurch, Baldock
BUS PASS FAIL
SIR - I read with interest the article by John Puttick in this week’s Comet, regarding the problems of obtaining his wife’s bus pass and the comments made by Bernard Maddox in the previous week’s Comet. We too had trouble in obtaining the renewed pass, both myself and my wife sent all details, new photos and other details that they required online back in November. I received my pass before Christmas, but there was no sign of wife’s pass
After Christmas I contacted them again and was told I should receive it within a week. On January 5 and with still no pass I again contacted them. This time I was told that details had been mislaid but were now found and would be put through. The pass was not received until February 12 some three months after the details were first sent.
To top it all off the pass had my wife’s old photo printed on it and not the new up-to-date one which was sent. What a farce.
NAME AND ADDRESS
SIR - Having read Mr Puttick’s letter I realise I am not alone with the bus pass fiasco.
I too sent my wife’s and mine in the same envelope, thinking I was saving the county paying twice.
This was a big mistake as the team are not trained to handle two applications in one envelope.
In the event my wife received two passes and not a sign of one for me.
I had to send a second application three weeks ago and when I telephoned this week they could not find it.
I was promised a call back to clarify the situation but I am still waiting.
SIR - In your report ‘Footpath access is restricted’ (Comet, February 7, page 3) you state that the gates to the perimeter path of the new Marriotts /Lonsdale Schools building, are locked at night through to morning. This is not correct.
It is true that the three gates (at Brittain Way, Fry Road and Priestley Road) were to have been permanently locked at night by decision of Balfour Beatty but, when I found out about this plan, I made objections through Hertfordshire County Council on behalf of many residents who use the gates early or late each day. I never got a reply but the locking never happened. The next I knew was that the gates had been replaced by the kissing gates.
These kissing gates were not locked either but they are entirely impossible for wheelchair and mobility scooter users to get through, as shown in the photograph you published, and as demonstrated by the local resident pictured. I immediately raised objections to these three unsuitable kissing gates, on behalf of wheelchair or mobility scooter users, or others, who could not get through them, and who were therefore being discriminated against. I am pleased to report that on February 8, they were all removed.
There is now free access to the perimeter of the site for disabled and others. However, security of the site is still a concern. I have also asked several times why the flimsy and badly set wood fence which Balfour Beatty have put all around perimeter of the site cannot be moved a couple of metres inwards, thus leaving the perimeter path outside the fence. This would ensure all local residents can continue to use this pedestrian route as they have been doing since the1960s, whilst at the same time securing the school site.
Cllr Robin Parker
TRAFFIC INFORMATION SIGNS
SIR - I was incensed to read the article in last week’s Comet with the headline “Cllrs Potty over Signs”.
The county council has this habit of spending taxpayers money on schemes where the benefit to residents is, shall we say, “not always clear” and the traffic information signs recently installed around Stevenage is just one such scheme.
I wholeheartedly agree with the Stevenage councillors who argue that any funds available to be spent by the highways department at the county council would be better spent repairing the roads, particularly following the recent severe weather, which we we all know results in ‘pot holes’ appearing in many of our roads.
I took my scooter for its first ride of the new year on Sunday and used the opportunity to view the state of the roads within my own Letchworth Wilbury Ward and saw an obstacle that awaits road users approaching the junction of Wilbury Hills Road and Stotfold Road from Bedford Road, this is clearly a hazard to bike and cycle users, particularly at night.
I strongly urge county councillor Stuart Pile to stop worrying about being “challenged by his Government” and to start to challenge his Government to provide sufficient funds to ensure that the winter damage to our roads can be repaired and that they can be made safe for all road users!
Cllr Gary Grindal
SIR - In these austere times can someone explain how the electronic traffic information boards that have recently appeared round Stevenage, are such a priority? I can think of any number of ways to better spend the money.
SLIP ROAD WAIT
SIR - For some considerable time now the southbound entry slip road at junction 9 of the A1(M) has been closed. There seems to have been little to no work carried out in the area so can someone explain why this is the case and when the road will be reopened.
I fully appreciate the road was closed whilst investigation work was carried out and to repair the barrier but fail to see why nothing has been done to rectify the issue. Having to follow the diversion does cause further delay as well as additional cost for the mileage etc. I read recently in the local press the additional vehicles from Letchworth now having to use the Baldock bypass roundabout is causing congestion.
On December 19 2012, the Highways Agency website reported the road would be closed for up to 21 days whilst safety investigations took place. The same website had a further report on the 9 January 2013 advising the lane would remain closed until further notice.
We are now into the eighth week of the closure which is not acceptable. How can a road remain closed for so long with nothing apparent being done? I fail to see why nothing is being done and it seems from my perspective it has been forgotten about and has become yet another problem for road users.
NAME AND ADDRESS
SIR - Readers in the Hitchin area should hurry to see the NHDC housing options on the council website. The proposal for Hitchin, if adopted, would not expand, alter, enlarge, or spoil the town - it would destroy it forever.
The proposal is for 7,000 plus dwellings in a band from Oughtonhead, across Charlton to Gosmore and St Ippolyts. It would increase the population by perhaps 40 per cent and the footprint of the town by the same. It would wipe out much used recreational space, engulf villages and encroach upon the hills around. The suggested new ring road would bring further environmental damage but not be able to cope with the added traffic. The existing infrastructure of our Georgian town and Victorian rail service stands no chance of coping with the population influx. The quality of life of everyone in Hitchin would suffer.
You have until the end of March to object to this abomination.
SIR - I thought this housing development nonsense was quashed when the EEDA was disbanded and New Labour’s unrealistic demands for covering East Anglia with houses was abandoned by the coalition. The country cannot get out of its economic difficulties by massive house-building programme. In any case, there are approximately a million empty properties in Britain already. Most of which are in need of refurbishment, not demolition.
The proposals for North Herts are appalling and worse than the previous ones, with little or no thought to the infrastructure required. A ‘bribe’ of a proper Hitchin bypass? That will be needed anyway when Luton expands to LBC’s quietly stated aim of 30 million passengers per year. As will a Luton-Stevenage rail link.
One question: for every acre of valuable and productive farmland lost (and plenty is going if these plans come to fruition) the food it produces must be grown on an acre elsewhere. Where? Grown and imported from the Third World, where there is already huge pressure to feed an exponentially expanding population.
British farmers do a fantastic job, but only at the cost minimal manpower and the input of high energy-use, plus huge quantities of chemicals to obtain their high yields. This is not sustainable even in the medium term. We are over ‘peak oil’ production and both fuel and organo-chemicals derived from oil will become very costly. So what will feed the people, all 40,000 of them, who are to live in these houses? If they have jobs and can afford to buy them in the first place.
Politicians and government planners appear to be detached from reality and only look at a narrow picture. The developments will doubtless be labelled ‘sustainable’, when clearly they will not be.
SIR - I wish to make a point to all the idiot drivers in Letchworth GC who think it is totally acceptable to park on grass verges.
I walk up and down Common View on most days, for me it’s a quick route to the town centre.
And on most days, there is at least one idiot who seems to think it is legal to park on the grass verge just around the corner from Triangle Stores.
May I remind this idiot and any other idiot who decides to park there that I have now taken several photographs of your vehicle(s) parked on that particular verge, and, if necessary, I will use these photographs in a court of law.
Pavements are for pedestrians, you know, people, who have to walk down there all day long, and you are not helping them by blocking the path. On the bin next to this ‘parking’ space, the local council have stuck a verge parking warning sticker, this is obviously being ignored. I am in touch with the local council, and hopefully, if they actually do their job, these idiots will remove their vehicles from said verge and we can once again walk down the path without being blocked. You know who you are, or do I need to publish your vehicle details in this paper?
Please stop parking on verges, it not only damages the environment but it also blocks the pavement.
Name and address
SIR - I am nearly 77 years old and I have been attending the cardiology department at the Lister Hospital on and off for about five years now. As far as I am concerned they are excellent and the thought of having to go all the way to Watford is appalling.
The service at the Lister has been excellent and the disruption to hundreds of patients does not seem to have been considered. As usual it’s money first, patient care last. Equate the cost of travel to patients and more vehicular pollution from cars etc.
The main problems at the Lister are the private Surgicentre and the way car parking has been handled. All it needs is senior management to be sacked and I bet most problems would be resolved. The NCP is a disaster and £6 for 4 hours is disgraceful. The system doesn’t work and machines go wrong.
SIR - Re the article on the cardiovascualr service. My wife is currently very ill in Lister. If I had to travel 30 miles to Watford and back twice a day it would seriously impact my health as I am disabled. I would find it very difficult and expensive and it would make a very distressing situation into a disaster. I agree with Patrick’s comments above wholeheartedly, where is Mr McPartland’s voice?
SIR - I was under the impression that the Lister hospital was to service the local community, but now we are been sent to hospitals 20 miles away. The choice is ok if you have the means of getting there which a lot of elderly people do not. Therefore I strongly disagree with being sent miles when we have a hospital on the doorstep.
Moving the specialised unit to Watford will be the start of the demise of the Lister Hospital. I know only too well as I’ve seen it first hand.
I used to work at the hospital in Hemel Hempsted and watched many of the services move to Watford even when we were told that nothing would move.
Hemel is now nothing more than a unit for cold work, all the money is being earmarked for Watford at the expense of Hemel. Does the word Hitchin mean anything?
Name and address
SIR - I am a Shefford resident who is about to undergo Bypass surgery at Harefield Hospital because Lister do not under take this type of operation,although all the tests were done at Lister. Following recovery from this I need to have an Aortic Aneurysm Repair which is to be carried out at Lister.
Should this transfer take place it would mean my family undertaking another series of 100mile round trips for visiting which they will already be doing during my stay in Harefield. In addition,any pre-operative appointments would also be a problem not only from the distance point of view but also the travel time and traffic congestion between here and Watford.When I attended the pre-op test at Harefield we had to book into a hotel the night before because my appointment was at 0900hrs thus ensuring we arrived in time.
I have found the service at Lister so far very good and feel the! MESCG. Should be concentrating on, getting to grips with patient care and ambulance response times rather than reducing what is a very important surgical service to not only Hertfordshire but Bedfordshire and parts of Cambridgeshire as well.
SIR - I am apalled at the propsal to move the specialised or complex vascular surgery from the Lister to Watford General Hospital.
Apart from the tremendous cost of relocating, it would be a terrible waste of the immense investment that is ongoing at the Lister which will provide a natural progression from the new A&E department through to the excellent cardiac, renal or complex vascular surgery units that already exist.
The other obvious reason would be the discomfort and time wasted on the journey to Watford after urgent surgery was found to be required, time is of the essence in such cases.
This is another money wasting scheme for unnesessary change for the sake of change and the proposal should be scrapped.
BUS ROUTE LOSS
SIR - Regarding the 90/91 bus route to be taken over by Landmark Coaches.
This is a subsidised route which is essential to the people that it serves who live in villages in North Herts especially if those villages have no other services like shops and doctor’s surgeries.
Villagers pay council tax, usually more than towns people, and cannot access any services without a car or bus service.
The proposed revised bus service for Radwell would make it virtually impossible to live there if you do not own a car. If other people are having the same problems with subsidised village transport especially on the 90/91 bus route, there is a petition to Hertfordshire County Council Passenge Transport Unit on the internet, that they can sign.
SIR - I read in the Comet dated Friday February 14 that the 22 bus route will stop running after February 28 due to the cost.
Over last year and this year the route has been bad, cutting out buses, running late, having to wait up to 40 minutes to get a bus to and from the town.
I have often seen the 22 bus in the middle of the bus station just sitting there when due to go out waiting until the No 2 Bus has taken all the passengers, then they come over, meaning it leaves the bus station empty.
A lot of the passengers no longer wait in Ripon Road for the bus due to it being unreliable.
That is why I believe the company has cancelled the bus route, and not due to Petrol prices as it must run at a loss.
When it first started, the route was very good and passengers would and could rely on the service, not now.
I am sorry for the elderly and disabled who have lost the service which could mean they will not be able to go out so often.
I know the No 2 and 3 will still run.
Yours ex PassENger
of bus 22
TOWN CENTRE REGENERATION
SIR - I share the disappointment of your anonymous correspondent (Comet Letters, 14 February) at the delay in the redevelopment of Stevenage town centre. Sadly, a large scale project is simply not feasible in the current economic climate but I can assure all your readers that the council is not ‘dragging its heels’: regenerating the town centre continues to be one of our key priorities.
Stevenage remains an important sub-regional retail centre. Store occupancy is above the national average and many of the major chains are represented here – either in our town centre or one of the retail parks. They, in turn, are complemented by the range of shops in the High Street, which is currently more buoyant than it’s been for years.
The council is working with specialist consultants, retailers and the property owners to actively improve and develop our town centre. Like most Stevenage residents, I want to see a town centre that is fit for the future, and I will continue to explore every option to help us achieve that.
Cllr John Gardner
Executive Member for Environment and Regeneration