LETTERS: Comet January 17

Readers this week are criticising plans to shut Wilbury respite centre

Readers this week are criticising plans to shut Wilbury respite centre - Credit: Archant

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, January 17.

DANGER SLIPROAD

SIR - I have just read about yet further closure of the slip road onto the A1(M) junction nine. Mr Chris Shaw from the Highways Agency or any of the powers that be from Herts County Council obviously do not have to travel near there.

I travel from Graveley to join the A505. The traffic queue is horrendous and can take an age to enable each vehicle to get onto the dual carriageway. So much traffic is having to use the alternative roundabout that there are also hold-ups from the A505 Royston road and B197 from Baldock. So having to pull onto that roundabout takes an age as well. I sit there for several minutes most evenings.

I also often cycle or walk to work and have to cross the A505 on foot. This is a bad enough experience at the best of times but now is positively lethal. I have been stuck there for 10-15 minutes trying to cross and seen several other people doing the same. The speed of the traffic is so fast you have to take your life in your hands to cross.


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Will there have to be an accident or death at that point before the slip road is open again?

A 50mph speed limit is far too fast for that part of the A505 and no one sticks to it anyway. So by the time they get onto the slip road they are travelling so fast. The issue is not the slip road but the speed of that part of the A505. If that traffic was calmed and forced speed reductions and cameras were put in place then surely it would alleviate the need to shut the slip road.

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Kath Pope

Address supplied

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SIR - Further to your feature in the Comet regarding the junction nine slip road closure. I would like to voice my increasing concerns regarding this highly disruptive lane closure.

I use this section of the A1(M) on a regular basis but usually during the daytime, when it is becoming increasingly clear that the new entry arrangements are proving positively hazardous. However, on Wednesday evening this week, my husband and I found ourselves on the Graveley Road during the rush hour, amidst a long queue of traffic, and we crawled towards the exit from that road on to the A505 which took over 30 minutes. When we reached the head of the queue, it was virtually impossible to pull out on to the A505 because of the volume of traffic travelling back to enter the A1 via the one remaining lane on the slip road. Motorists were becoming very impatient and frustrated, understandably, and I would suggest that a major accident at this point is imminent.

More worryingly, while we were trying to exit the Graveley Road, an emergency ambulance appeared behind us, blue lights flashing, but it could not pass on to the A505 until we had moved out into a very dangerous position in order for it to pass.

In so doing, our visibility for traffic travelling from the right on the A505 was virtually eliminated and the fact that we eventually managed to proceed on to that road without an ensuing major accident was more by luck than by judgement.

I have contacted the Highways Agency and was told that the slip road would remain closed until May 2013 ‘for safety reasons’. Frankly, the lane closure itself is the cause of far more disruption and the likelihood of a major accident occurring on the A505 must be an inevitability rather than a possibility at this stage.

To date, I have not seen any roadworks being carried out on the slip road in question but I understand that these may be carried out during the night.

In the interests of ‘road safety’ surely the Highways Agency must resolve this issue as a matter of urgency?

Jacqueline Angell

Haymoor

Letchworth Garden City

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BE FAIR

SIR - Regarding Mr Watermans’ letter and his outrage with regard to the gipsy site which would seriously affect him. All of the sites suggested will affect some people more than others.

We, as Stotfold parishioners, need to look at all of the recommended sites as a whole and not just the one which affects us on a personal level. Central Beds Council suggest there is a need for a travellers’ site in Stotfold so why not look at the area with the lowest population. I understand that Stotfold Town Council is to arrange a public meeting in the near future, this, I fear, could end up being a slanging match.

John Chapman

The Green

Stotfold

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FILM WORRY

SIR - Re World’s End filming in Letchworth last year:

Putting Letchworth on the map in this way must be a good thing, and I agree with Cllr Needham that there was a buzz about town in November and December. Our trade was not adversely affected.

However, I have serious reservations about the conduct of both North Herts District Council (NHDC) and the film company, before, during and after filming. At no stage were businesses in the town centre consulted or even officially informed of the considerable disruption which was inevitable. In fact the communication from NHDC has been precisely nil. Events planned months in advance had to be shelved at great cost - because of the sudden change in date for the lights switch-on. Other shops have been similarly affected.

On top of this, we agreed for our back yard to be used for film equipment to be set up (free of charge), involving staff having to park elsewhere for several weeks, and resulting in severe damage to the tarmac. Months later we await repairs and disposal of a huge mound of waste. They have promised to fix it, we shall wait and see. I read about compensation and hire charges for the station and cinema and feel daft for being positive and trying to help a project which will, after all, be good for the town.

Paul Wallace

David’s Books & Music

Letchworth

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SIR - Local businesses in Letchworth should be embracing the opportunities the filming of The World’s End offers them, rather than bemoaning the level of compensation (the Comet, January 10th). The shops suffering from lost sales, apparently due to the disruption caused by filming, could have taken advantage of opportunities the filming presented. For example, during the Christmas lights switch on, where stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost made an appearance during a break in filming, the town was bustling with crowds well past 6pm. I was surprised to see the shops along Leys Avenue were all closed, missing out on a prime chance to boost sales. The publicity Letchworth will gain upon the film’s release will put Letchworth on the map, and with some entrepreneurial spirit local businesses have the chance to exploit the opportunities it brings. I know I was excited by the Hollywood buzz that took over the town for a few weeks and am looking forward to seeing it on the big screen at Broadway cinema (or should that be The Mermaid?).

Dr Melanie Felgate

Howard Drive

Letchworth

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GOOD DEEDS

Sir - It was good to read of the acts of kindness in the letters page last week (finding a wallet and help with a fall) unfortunately my friend didnt experience such goodwill yesterday, following a road accident. He was knocked off his motorbike at a roundabout around 7am, the driver didn’t stop, merely mouthed ‘sorry’ and carried on with his journey. Unbelievably no one else stopped to help and he had to pick himself up and get his bike off the road.Luckily my friend was not seriously hurt and while I understand some people may be reluctant to stop on a busy road I find it so sad no-one did.

NAME SUPPLIED

Tacitus close

Stevenage

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CHURCHGATE

SIR - I’m sick to death of the Churchgate situation.

They’ve been arguing and posturing for over 10 years and every scheme is instantly critisised and thrown out. It gives the impression that Hitchin people don’t want change and moan all the time

The council say its all Simon’s fault. But it is as much their fault. No redevelopemet will suit everyone, but it seems that the latest is as sympathetic to Hitchin as any other would be. It should retain its independant jobs, a flagship store should bring people in to the town for all the shops and ameneties.

If the whole process starts again, will we have another 10 years of this?

The town can’t wait 10 years, its 10 years too late already. All of the delays means that the Churchgate gets more tatty and uninviting. Something needs to be done. Soon.

Richard Hargrave

Address supplied

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SIR - The developer selection process and then Simons exclusive contract to develop the Churchgate area has blighted Hitchin town centre for five years.

Time now to end the contract as time has run out and release Hammersmatch to refurbish the existing Churchgate centre, Hitchin Market to spend more on improving the present market and the council to maintain St Mary’s car park and river terrace.

Those three related improvements will do far more for Hitchin than Simons unrealisable fantasy ‘vision’.

Robin Dartington

Address supplied

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DISABLED PARKING DISGRACE

SIR - Am I the only person who has experienced trying to park in a disabled car parking space to have an ignorant driver park in the space who does not have a blue badge?

In this society now to confront or just politely speak to the said person that he is parked in a blue badge space is risking verbal abuse and car damage.

No I don’t live in a city, I live in Hitchin. So when are the council getting off their backsides and doing something about it? I’m a young middle-aged woman who can’t walk more than a few yards but I feel helpless.

jacqueline lord

Address supplied

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WILBURY HOUSE CLOSURE

Sir - Let us be clear here, the closure of Wilbury House has nothing to do with a few noise complaints from intollerant neighbours of Wilbury House, as quoted on the front page of last week’s edition of the Comet.

It has everything to do with saving money for Herts County Council (HCC) and allowing the Heritage Foundation (LGCHF) to get rid of the disabled members of our community, ‘out of sight, out of mind’, so they can have the house back in ‘normal domestic use’.

Frankly, I am suprised that HCC and LGCHF are not proposing to build a new ‘insitution’ in some far flung field as Fairfield was in years gone by, to accommodate these disabled youngsters. I live in the Wilbury area of Letchworth and have always been proud of Wilbury House and the accomodation it offers. I guess those in our community with disabilities cost too much, make too much noise and their families own too many cars to live on a suburban street.

Shame on children’s services at HCC. Shame on those neighbours who have complained. Shame on John Lewis at LGCHF, and shame on Letchworth’s political representatives if they allow this closure to go ahead. Our community will be a much poorer one without Wilbury House.

Lucy Kitching-Ward

Address supplied

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SIR - I am writing to clarify the coverage in last week’s paper about Wilbury House, a home in Letchworth that currently provides short breaks for disabled children. Although there have been some complaints about Wilbury House, this has only been one small factor in the decision to relocate.

Hertfordshire County Council provides short breaks for families who care for a disabled child who may need an occasional break. Children and young people also benefit from the chance to make new friends and enjoy new experiences. One part of the support we offer is short stays away from home – this is the service that has been provided at Wilbury House.

Relocating this service from Wilbury House will give families an even greater range of support as we plan to expand the services we offer. A suitable new location has been found at a former residential home for disabled children in Ripon Road. The same service as provided at Wilbury House will be offered at Ripon Road and all the families currently using Wilbury House will be catered for at the new home. All staff will be moving with the service so children will still be cared for by familiar people.

I appreciate the depth of feeling among some families who use Wilbury House, which were clearly expressed when I met them recently. We will continue to stay in regular contact and will do all we can to make the move to Ripon Road as smooth as possible. This will include visits for the families so they can familiarise themselves with the new home. We look forward to continuing to work with families and the local community to help disabled children get the most from Hertfordshire’s short break services.

Richard Roberts

cabinet member for

Children’s Services

Hertfordshire County Council

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SIR - I would like to thank you for highlighting the plight of the children at Wilbury House. I live very close to the facility and I have always felt very proud that our community is able to offer such a fantastic and well needed service.

Since learning of the complaints of a few residents I am appalled at this intolerant attitude.

I understand there is a perceived issue of noise. I can confirm that the noise levels are very similar in my garden, and of my immediate neighbours’, especially if our children have friends to visit. In terms of traffic issues along that road, I travel at ‘rush hour’ along that road and it is true that there are occasionally cars parked along the road but certainly far fewer than other areas of Letchworth; Cowslip Hill for example. In fact, many of the cars appear to be residents and not visitors to Wilbury House.

In light of these complaints, I have measured the inconvenience and can confirm that the waiting time is a maximum of 20 seconds. Are we really such an intolerant community that we would rather send disabled children to Stevenage than add a potential 20 seconds to our morning journey?

This facility offers extraordinarily well suited care to these children; particularly after its huge recent investment, which will be thoroughly wasted if this closure is to go ahead.

I sincerely hope that the Comet will back the Wilbury House Action Group campaign to allow respite care to continue in our community and not to ‘ship out’ these children to Stevenage.

Mrs Kate Thomsett

Address supplied

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AIRPORT FARCE

SIR - Luton Borough Council gives planning consent for the expansion of the airport which it owns, justifying it by a pseudo ‘public consultation’ worthy of a Third World dictatorship. This is a complete travesty of the democratic process.

There is justifiable anger in North Herts as we will be adversely affected without seeing much, if any, benefit. Our MPs and councils (with the staggeringly incomprehensible exception of Stevenage BC) and various other groups opposed to the airport will press the appropriate minister to get this consent for expansion stopped.

However, we should not get our hopes up. The Government is considering raising the Air Passenger Duty at Heathrow and Gatwick ‘to encourage travellers to use Luton and Stansted instead’. This is a Government cop-out as it will save it having to make a decision on a third runway at Heathrow, shoving the additional traffic elsewhere and raising extra taxes. A win-win, then.

The minister will make sympathetic noises but do nothing to stop the development.

The Government’s statement will be music to LBC’s collective ears and that council will doubtless now be revising its passenger numbers upwards. Probably to the unpublished figure of 30 million passengers per year. (Recorded in the minutes of a closed council meeting last year).

Luton’s biggest headache will be the siting of an extended runway to take 747’s and A380’s, as this will surely go into Hertfordshire.

Our biggest and continuing headache will be listening to those large aircraft taking off and landing. Plus the intrusive infrastructure needed for the airport, such as a new motorway to the A1(M) and possibly a rail link to Stevenage.

Oh, for ‘Boris Island’!

Robert Sunderland

Oak House

Little Wymondley

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SCHOOL PLAN

SIR - Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) is holding a public exhibition on January 22 and 23 to enable local residents to see and comment on the planning application for the expansion of Samuel Lucas School, yet before Christmas the council gave all the tenants of the Gaping Lane allotments one years notice to quit saying that the site was needed for the school’s expansion.

HCC will give planning permission to itself and surely this means that the planning committee has already made up its mind, is wasting public money on a sham consultation and is putting two fingers up to local democracy. Another example of Tory omni-shambles!

Name and address

supplied

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