LETTERS: Comet July 12

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, July 12.

SUPPORT TOP FIELD CAMPAIGN

SIR - I write in regard to the proposed development for the Football Ground in Hitchin and in support of Jackie McDonald’s position. Hitchin is one of the few towns in the area that has managed to retain a sense of character and charm largely due to the number of small, independant, niche shops where customer service and quality of goods outweigh price. I live in Shefford and travel to Hitchin to do most of my shopping because of this. Tesco’s would undoubtedly have a significant impact upon the town, in my opinion negative. This combined with the other proposals by NHDC to build in Churchgate would be so detrimental to the nature of the town, and will destroy what makes it so special.

As for Jennifer Groom’s letter the previous week, I nearly choked on my tea when I read it. As a fellow resident of Shefford I don’t know her, but in nearly 20 years of living in the town I have NEVER heard one person praising the Daniels family for their philanthropy. There are many prominent local people, with families such as the Fords, who are successful and do plenty for the good of the town. Richard Daniels may have bought the land on which he built the chemist, the flats etc but that was done to feather his own nest. The amenities in Shefford are dire. You only have to look at the decaying buildings left empty in Shefford, (for example at the site of the old laundry whilst waiting for - you guessed it - a Tesco’s to be built) to know that the Daniels don’t care about people or amenities for the locals. The cynic in me can’t help but wonder if Jennifer Groom isn’t just another one of their cabal.

Mrs T Jones


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Shefford

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SIR - I would appreciate the opportunity to come back at some points in Jackie McDonalds’ letter where she quite aggressively attacks my personal opinion on the redevelopment of Top Field in my letter to the Comet of 2 weeks ago.

Firstly, in reply to her comment that I don’t live in Hitchin so therefore do not fully understand the impact the plans will make. Reading between the lines she does not think I am entitled to an opinion unless of course it agrees with hers.

Whilst it is true that I don’t live in Hitchin, I am a local lady and have lived close to Hitchin for the past 44 years and although I do my main supermarket shopping in Tesco at Bedford, most of my gift/retail/xmas shopping has been done in Hitchin. I am quite sure that at least half of the Town Centre trade must come from people who live outside the Town...

Regarding Tesco being the downfall of Baldock, it was already a dying town long before Tesco arrived, as is Letchworth now, is that Tesco’s fault or is it perhaps more to do with internet shopping and greedy landlords perhaps charging extortionate rents that frequently put smaller more specialized shops out of business, and this is certainly true of Hitchin!

Hitchin Town Football Club ground as it stands is an eyesore with no parking and is quite frankly a fire hazard waiting to happen in its current condition and you want to save it?! The football club is not being lost just relocated so, as I believe, it can have the facilities it needs to progress and grow.

Whether the jobs Tesco create are short or long term, a job is a job and alot of young people use these jobs as a stop gap before moving on, this is no fault of Tescos or any other supermarket chain whatever inside info you may have!

As for your closing statement that I should take my trade elsewhere just because I dont support your frankly narrow minded and bigoted opinion, that really summons it up I think... that is a really good attitude to have for someone supposedly supporting Hitchin Town and its businesses.....!!!! Well Im sorry to disappoint but I will continue to shop in the Town as I have always loved it but I will also support having a Tesco in Hitchin because I think it is a good idea! As for my “admiration” for Richard Daniels, may I ask you Jackie, have you actually met and talked to the man or is your demonisation of him just born from your narrow minded view of the redevelopment of Top Field

I just hope that you are not representative of the majority of the towns folk of Hitchin, as again I ask you to remember that alot of the towns trade comes from ‘us’ that dont live in the town.

Jennifer Groom

Address supplied

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SIR - I support your bid to stop building plans because:

I don’t think the football ground should be moved. Stevenage Road is unable to support anymore traffic entering Hitchin. It is by far the busiest road in the town and to move the football field to this area would mean supporters arriving by car, making living anywhere near this road a worse nightmare and health hazard than it already is.

More delivery vehicles to a new store would also create further congestion as everyone leaving the A1 for Hitchin, enters the town via Stevenage Road. Has nobody ever sat on Stevenage Road and done a traffic survey?

The town cannot support another supermarket without damage to the existing trade.

Brenda Easton

Francis Close

Hitchin

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SIR - Please count me in for your campaign to oppose a supermarket on Top Field.

We who live in Hitchin are pleased and proud to have an independent butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, baker, delicatessen, ironmonger, etc. and we already have three supermarkets.

Just look what replaced The Angel Vaults, look how Sainsbury’s destroyed a Georgian fa�ade then left it empty for years, look how Waterstones killed off our independent bookshop.

I agree Top Field should be developed – into a super sports area with decent seating, caf�, shop, clubhouse and facilities for other sports such as track and cycling.

Rosalind Redwood

Hitchin

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SIR - We want to support the Top Field Campaign – it is outrageous that decisions are being made without any consultation with the residents of our dear town of Hitchin.

I am Hitchin born and raised and it was bad enough when our market was moved from it’s original location (which is now a car park) to where St Mary’s school used to be. (Not to mention the heinous “Churchgate” addition)

I am very proud of our town – it stands out from others and is very unique (at the moment) – let us please let’s keep it that way.

Michele La Grand

Hitchin

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SIR - Hear hear! Well done and good luck with the campaign – absolute rubbish to lose Top Field. Let’s hope someone listens.

Carola Scupham

SIR - We both wholeheartedly back the Comet’s campaign against the proposed Tesco development on Top Field and the Hitchin Town FC move to the Stevenage Road.

It is good that this campaign is beginning early as a problem with other issues such as Churchgate and the road humps in Ickleford was that the opposition began too late although the Churchgate redevelopment thankfully seems to have stalled.

Andrew and Dianne Wallace

Westmill Lane

Ickleford

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SIR - Please add my name to your campaign against this outrageous proposal.

My understanding is that developments sited in the Green Belt should be, among other things, “sustainable”. The fact that a relocation of the football ground would generate a flow of car traffic running into hundreds of journeys each week, from now into the indefinite future, should be quite enough in itself to ensure that this idea is thrown out without further delay.

It is true that Top Field only barely qualifies as out of town, but the significant point is that it is - unlike Sainsburys, Waitrose or Asda - too far away to form part of a shopping expedition on foot. If a supermarket were ever to be built there, it would simply leech much of the vitality from the town centre ... to the benefit of nobody, apart from the nice developer who has so kindly provided your Shefford correspondent with a local supermarket which she apparently doesn’t want to use.

Andy McDougall

Bunyan Road

Hitchin

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SIR - I fully support your campaign to stop an unelected, secretive, unrepresentative clique from destroying Hitchin’s football club and its existing retailers. How scandalous that when they are charged with bettering recreation inHitchin, they propose to eradicate one of the longest standing, best attended recreational activities in the town. Few things are more suspicious than such a clique in league with a property developer with links to Tesco and friends in the council.

My question for the Cow Commoners is: don’t you think it’s time you handed your undeserved authority over to people who represent the community and will discharge their responsibilities openly and responsibly?

Toby Shelley

Address supplied

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SIR - Absolutely in favour of maintaining the staus quo or indeed developing the space for more community use, but it might be useful if readers knew who the individual Cow Commoners are and how they have control over Top Field. Are they owners, elected members etc? How did they become Cow Commoners? And what is it that gives them authority over the land? What else are they involved in? I know the paper may have done this before but I assume they are not a secret society so should be open to public scrutiny. At the moment they seem to be the faceless ones!

Albert Swinson

Verulam Road

Hitchin

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GOOD LADS

SIR - I feel compelled to write in response to the story that was published in The Comet dated 28 June 2012. My son and his friend witnessed Dayley slipping and sufferring his horrific accident at the park in Hillbrow, Letchworth on Saturday 23 June.

I am proud to say that I believe they behaved with a courage and maturity that belies their years. I am told that my son James ran to ask for help, after which, he and his friend Taylor Walton stood with Dayley, keeping him calm, (to avoid the metal spike going in further and causing a more serious injury) until the emergency services arrived.

After the incident, James and Taylor spoke to me about what they had observed and dealt with, and I know that they were troubled by the scene they had witnessed.

I believe that it is important to recognise the calm, mature and courageous way that both boys dealt with Dayley’s accident, as there has been no mention to date, regarding the positive way he was assisted by his young friends - particularly in view of the fact that those actually playing with him, ran away.

It is very easy to apportion blame to the local authority in this particular circumstance - however, we are all responsible for ensuring and supervising our children’s safety when playing in public parks. According to the NSPCC ‘No matter how much you teach your child about safety, remember the limits of their age and maturity.’ (NSPCC, 2012, p.2) There aren’t always sensible older children around.

Sarah Phillips

Address supplied

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SCHOOL SPINNEY

SIR - I am afraid that I must raise the issue of the Grange Junior School spinney again following an exchange of correspondence in 2010 on the subject of trees therein.

As I predicted the tree which was lopped has grown with some vigour and is once again a nuisance. However, that is not the subject on this occasion. As I understand it, the spinney is supposed to be a nature reserve or something like it but I fear that nature has been allowed to run wild and it is now an impenetrable jungle in which cow parsley, stinging nettles, and other weeds have taken over. I am 6ft 2in in height and I am well overtopped by nettles which are something of a deterrent even to think of trying to go in there to reduce the herbage which has encroached right on to and through the fence of my garden into which their roots are now beginning to spread.

If a private individual was to allow such uncontrolled spread of assorted weeds I feel sure that there would be an outcry from neighbours and, indeed, council property action would be taken.

I know that the spinney is in the school grounds but as we have already established they do not have the funds to be expected to control such an area. Perhaps, since Hertfordshire County Council is ultimately responsible for it, now somebody could come and look at the situation with a view to doing something about it. Please take some action.

Michael Crooks

Gaunts Way

Letchworth GC

PLANNING BLUNDER

SIR - Recently a planning application was made to extend a house in Stevenage. This would increase the height close to the kitchen window of the next-door neighbour.

The neighbour was naturally worried about the effect on light in her kitchen, and asked for measurements to be made professionally according to the very detailed regulations which apply in such situations. The measurements confirmed that the planned extension would have a deleterious effect on her light.

The neighbour submitted these figures to the planning committee and asked for the application to be rejected. What happened? You could call it a masterpiece of evasion.

Planning officer: “We have our own figures, and they show that the proposed extension would not harm your light and would even improve it.”

Neighbour: “How can this be? Please can your surveyor get together with my surveyor to sort it out?”

Planning officer: No response

The application then went before the planning committee

Planning officer: “We have repeated our measurements and we are happy.”

Head of Planning: “This all sounds a bit dubious.”

The outcome: a long discussion and many expressions of doubt. Clearly the councillors were not very happy. But they did not probe the discrepancy in the measurements, or pick up on the doubt expressed by the head of planning. In the end the vote was hung. The application was passed in the chairman’s casting vote.

Where does this leave us? The planning department’s measurements directly contradict the professional measurements obtained by a member of the public, but we still don’t know why. No effort has been made to clear up the discrepancy. This hardly inspired confidence in the planning process.

So neighbours beware! We may have planning regulations to safeguard your property when there is building work next door. But if the regulations are not applied properly and even-handedly, you have no protection at all.

Name and address supplied

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