LETTERS: Comet July 5
THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, July 5.
SIR - I feel sorry for Craig Finlayson (Miscarriage of Justice, Comet 28/06/12) and his story brought a few things to mind.
In 2005/2006 a takeaway food premises in Stevenage was plagued nightly by yobs, some as young as 10. There was no let up for the poor owner and his business was suffering because customers felt intimidated by the groups of youths harassing him. He regularly called the police for assistance, but little changed. One day a sergeant saw one youth spitting on the window, and he got the youth, gave him a bucket of soapy water and made him wash it off and we all applauded his action. Sadly, in the long term, the harassment of the innocent shopkeeper continued. What that officer did was spot on, but it seems that what Mr Finlayson did has been punished.
Mr Finlayson mentioned “the old days”, I have a photo taken in the 1970s at a flower carnival in Lincolnshire, all the floats are decorated completely out of flowers, and one was Lincolnshire Police which displayed a policeman catching a criminal & a large sign which read “Your Child, Your Responsibility” what a great concept, and it worked well until the Liberal do-gooders killed it off.
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Finally, we all remember the 2011 riots where members of the public rightly branded the participants as scum, and people asked where were their parents?
While one mother claimed that her son, who was caught thieving, was the victim I wonder who the “number of independent witnesses” were in Mr Finlayson’s case, as he says that his neighbours saw what happened and support him.
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Surely these witnesses weren’t the youth’s friends, because that is not independent. As usual the parents of this youth obviously supported him, but maybe it is more about today’s society where too many parents steadfastly refuse to accept that their little darlings can do anything wrong, as far as they are concerned, it is always somebody else’s fault.
If Mr Finlayson decides to appeal, shouldn’t everyone who supports him get behind him in that appeal?
If this Government doesn’t get a hold of this anti-social, yobbish behaviour very soon, it can only get worse, and many more decent people will be made criminals because they stand up against it.
Mrs Gaynor Cox
SIR - I would just like to point out a couple of details re the Craig Finlayson news article, in your paper on 29/6/12.
Firstly I am the mother of the teenager’s girlfriend and I don’t think it was fair that this story was published without all sides being heard. I quite agree with Mr Finlayson that indeed if a teenager jumped on a bottle and broke it outside my home I would have gone out with a dustpan and brush and told them to clean it up. What he actually did was yell at them angrily, chase after them, tell them to get into his car, then try to physicaly force the boy into his car, which, I’d like to point out, he admitted all of this in court. The 16-year-old boy was terrified and hurt and crying and so was my 15-year-old daughter watching this great big, at least 6ft tall, man dragging around her 5ft and very slim built boyfriend with his arm forced up his back.
When the police arrived the boy was unable to speak, hyper-ventilating and shivering so the police called for an ambulance and arrested Mr Finlayson.
Both teenagers were left traumatised as a result, all because one of them jumped on a glass bottle on the ground. Neither one have been in trouble with the police before. Neither one swore or shouted abuse at Mr Finlayson throughout the whole incident. Neither one is left to roam the streets causing trouble. This happened on their way to a friend’s house. And they both come from loving homes with good decent parents.
So what Mr Finlayson fails to see is that although his intentions may be honourable, the way he went about carrying them out was completely over the top. He thinks he did nothing wrong.
SIR – The recently reported case of a man being fined for using unacceptable force in making a young man clear up a dangerous mess raises several issues. The police were called by the ‘victim’s’ girlfriend and had to attend; how much evidence, and who we from we were not told, but the police and, later, the magistrate[s] deemed it worthy of charge, and sentence.
Presumably the police collected evidence of the original offence yet no charge was made on that score.
No evidence was reported of injury of suffering of the ‘victim’ so one can assume that the force used was sufficient to make him comply but was not excessive. We have all seen on TV the police using very robust handling [a baton can hardly be described as defensive] yet charges are rarely brought and then only in extreme cases.
As reported, the police comments seem to come straight out of a bureaucrat’s handbook of justification and the magistrate[s] backed them up. But then they tend to, even though over the years the police are being shown to be less reliable than they used to be.
As shown on TV recently the most popular response to this case is one of disgust that the case was ever brought, that the verdict was guilty and that the fine was so large. This response is the result of the police and the magistracy not doing their job we expected of them and, when a member of the public tries to do something about it, the bureaucrats penalise them. The police even discourage the public from interfering in criminal activity. Perhaps they can tell us how long they take to respond to a call for various types of activity. Likewise, the magistrates could give us some idea of the sentences they pass for various criminal activities; in particular, the sentences passed on multiple offenders.
SIR - Regarding your recent article about Mr Craig Finlayson making a teenager clear up some smashed glass, and then receiving a heavy fine plus criminal conviction, the magistrate(s) who made this decision need to be named and shamed and removed from office.
He, she, or they are partly responsible for the decline in standard of our modern society. How can they get it so wrong and remain in office? The same applies to the people who make these laws and guidelines which govern our modern existence. It would be really unfortunate if one of their children or grandchildren cut themselves on glass smashed in the street outside their house by teenagers.
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SIR - Monkswood Way Crossing.
You mention again (June 28, ‘Concern over crossing lights’) the issue of the green light at the Monkswood Way crossing opposite Asda.
There is also another possible issue at the crossing. The crossing on the east side may meet civil engineering guidelines: the ‘see-through’ safety railings are set back the prescribed minimum distance of 450mm from the edge of the road in order to allow for the overhang of vehicles. But the only feature of the crossing that goes towards meeting road safety guidelines (‘providing good intervisibility between pedestrians and drivers’) is the use of the see-through safety railings.
The site is cramped. So (1) it may have been difficult to set back the railings by more than 450mm in order to allow pedestrians to wait to cross Monkswood Way more ‘intervisibly’ in front of the line of the railings, rather than in line with the line of the railings. So (2) four posts that bear traffic signs as well as the low post that bears the ‘Waiting to cross’ button are located where they may potentially interrupt the intervisibility line. But there was less reason (3) to use higher safety railings (with a higher and potentially more obscuring endpost) on the east side of the crossing. Perhaps following a road safety review of the design of the crossing at least the railings could be replaced with railings that are also of the same lower height.
Sir - Adding to the article on page 38 (Comet June 28th). Here in Letchworth I believe we have a similar problem since the redevelopment of the town centre.
The pedestrian crossing at the top of Station Road (and adjacent roads) is not clearly indicated when safe to cross visually and certainly not audibly; the indication to cross visually is on the pole that carries the control and not on the opposite side of the road where one would expect to see it.
SIR - An individual’s personal opinion receives headlines on page 5 of The Comet June 14 2012, “Church’s huge hypocrisy over gay marriages”. He happens to work for North Herts District Council, so is this why his personal opinion is quoted? Yet again there are negative comments about the Church in your paper. What about printing my personal opinion as headline news, “ huge shock and dismay over the Government’s plans to re define the legal definition of marriage”?
SIR - I congratulate Mrs Sarah Wren on her award of an MBE, richly deserved I feel sure, for all the work she has done with the community meals services.
However I find it very sad that just at this time her organisation should see fit to dispense with the services of all of us faithful volunteer drivers, who have probably helped with her award in the first place. Most of us are elderly, have plenty of time, and so find it easy to empathise with our clients, who may well live in our own villages. I wonder if the young people she proposes to employ in our place will be able to deliver the same kind of service, or indeed have the time to become friends with these vulnerable people.
SIR - Regarding your feature of the dog attack on page five on the June 28 edition of the Comet.
I am a close friend of the family and I am appalled by the way Miss Clifft and Ronnie have been treated regarding this matter. The lack of communication from the police has been disgusting and the fact that these dogs have not been destroyed after an unprovoked vicious attack on a young girl.
She was extremely lucky it was not her face that was mauled had it not been for the fact that a friend of the family was driving down Mattocke Road at the time and saw the dogs charging for her she beeped her horn which made Ronnie turn around other wise it would have been her face not the back of the head they grabbed.
I also have a question did you actually go and speak to any of the witnesses to find out exactly how vicious and un-provoked this attack was. It amuses me as had the breed of dog been a staffordshire bull terrier (which only have a bad reputation due to bad owners) there would have been no two ways they would have been destroyed straight away.
As for the police and the owner saying he has made the property secure so they cannot escape again, why then yesterday when I drove down the road were his living room windows wide open so the dogs could easily jump out of them. I really feel that something needs to be done to get these dogs destroyed. It is not the first time they have attacked.
SIR - I live in the Wesbury close estate backing onto the lanes that run down to Oughton common.
Only last week I saw an alsatian dog coming out of the lane off a lead without an owner.
After reading this article I am particularly concerned, as my own child was been badly bitten by a dog aged seven, and now uses these lanes to walk to school alone. It has taken him four years to gain his confidence and not panic every time we see a dog, however even now if a dog, no matter how friendly the owner says it may be approaches he still stands behind me and becomes anxious.
As a mother we want our children to be safe whilst having independence. I now will be walking him down these lanes to school in case he should encounter these dogs should it be them still roaming freely.
The police should take action immediately - if the dogs have bitten once who’s to say it won’t happen again and next time there may not be some kind passer-by around to step in. I would like reassurance from the police that dog owners are regularly being checked as having the dogs secured, on a lead and muzzled when out in public. A caution is not enough. This child could have been killed and the fact that the police say it is the first time they have been reported - how many attacks does it take! I feel incidents like this are not taken seriously especially when you look at the statistics involving children being attacked by dogs. My best wishes to Ronnie and her family, I hope she recovers quickly, however from my own experience I fear emotionally it will take much longer.
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SIR - As the weather has been getting hotter lately I’ve seen a lot more cyclists in Stevenage and for some unknown and very stupid reason they have been riding on the road considering Stevenage has built cycle tracks for the cyclists that reach almost any place in the town.
I really can’t understand why they are putting themselves in danger.
SIR - Jennifer Groom’s completely ridiculous letter in last week’s Comet in favour of the idea of a Tesco store on Top Field is an outright insult at the residents, businesses and football club of Hitchin and all of the values that we pride ourselves in as a town.
Firstly, Jennifer, you don’t live in Hitchin. You live in Shefford. Therefore, you are clearly completely clueless as to the many issues that surround this potentially politically explosive scenario should it come to bear. Your comments - “what rubbish that it (Tesco) would not kill trade in the town” are in fact “rubbish” coming from the lips of your own mouth. The living proof of this exists two miles down the road in Baldock. The numerous people that have commented to me over the past few weeks that Tesco in Baldock has killed it as a market town would then replicate itself all over again in Hitchin should such a nightmare unfold.
You bring up the age old argument that Tesco are so used to rolling out - which is that a new Tesco would create jobs? Where is the proof of the long term existence of any of those jobs inititally created on new Tesco sites? From what I have learned from well-informed colleagues of mine it appears that many of these so-called new jobs last all of two minutes and there is no guarantee of longevity with any of them. But, Jennifer that is beside the point anyway because you are actually missing the point altogether. The number of long term established businesses that would go under in Hitchin as a result of a Tesco on Top Field would be far greater than any short term “here today gone tomorrow” jobs that would be created. The overwhelming majority of Hitchin residents, businesses and independent traders do not want the heart of the community ripped out on Top Field. We will fight to do the right thing by the town and build a momentous campaign to keep Hitchin Town Football Club on Top Field. And finally, Jennifer, I kindly suggest that you continue to do all your shopping, as you stated you do at present, away from Hitchin because letters such as yours will only stir up negativity and incite further outrage. You keep your admiration for Richard Daniels away from our town and we’ll play our part in ensuring there is no sign of another Tesco anywhere in site.
SIR - I feel I must reply to Mr Talbot’s letter of the Comet June 28.
It was through such a sign that my cat was thankfully found. During the four weeks he was missing I lost count of the number of kind-hearted people who rang, letting me know they had seen a “black fluffy cat” they are true animals lovers - not you. I do hope the day comes when you are in need of assistance in more ways than one - and I do hope that no one assists you. Even if you do stick, staple or nail a sign to a tree.
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SIR - I smiled when I read the letters in your last edition regarding road cones that had been left after the work had finished and lost pet flyers still adorning lampposts weeks after the pet has gone missing.
My own b�te noire is bed sheet banners. Usually badly made, with lettering running in the rain, left tied to roundabouts and railings for months if not years after the big day or whatever has been celebrated. There’s one near my house, now grey, tatty and forlorn, dragging in the gutter. Surely you put the banner where your friend could see it - doesn’t it embarrass you now that your friend will see it rotting each time they pass? Remove them after the event please, or better still, don’t put them up.
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