LETTERS: Comet June 7
THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, June 7.
SIR – Last week you covered the opening of Howard Park and Gardens in Letchworth. I just wanted to write to say what a fabulous renovation project it is.
My two children aged four and one spent the whole afternoon there on Monday and will be sure to use it as much as possible throughout the summer.
It is worth every penny and every minute of time that was spent and invested in it.
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Well done to everyone involved. Thank you.
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- 4 Development plans for 16.5-acre Stevenage site could create 1,000 jobs
- 5 Historic school to close at end of academic year
- 6 Increase in town centre parking charges 'is no help to beleaguered shops clinging on'
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- 10 When will outdoor pools be reopening in Letchworth and Hitchin?
Name and address supplied
SIR – I think Richard Thake is being disingenous when he says NHDC officers have advised him not to talk to your newspaper about his involvement in the Cow Commoners Trust plan to sell Top Field, via property developer Richard Daniels, for development, almost certainly to Tesco.
Council officers advise and councillors decide, that is how democracy works. So his claim may be little more than a fig leaf to avoid having to defend the indefensible.
For what my Priory ward councillor is cleary facing here is a blatant conflict of interest. He is one of the eight self appointed Cow Commoner trustees who want to evict Hitchin FC from Top Field and make millions from Tesco’s moving in.
But as vice chairman of Hitchin Committee on NHDC, he is also meant to then consider any planning application from Daniels to turn the pitch into a giant supermarket.
On top of that, he is also meant to reflect the views of his constituents, who, like myself, do not want Tesco to come to Hitchin and help kill off our centuries old town centre.
Come on Cllr Thake, who are you going to speak for? The people of Hitchin or a giant supermarket?
SIR – Tomorrow’s Letchworth Yesterday.
I refer to the new ‘Letchworth Tomorrow’ housing development situated in Talbot Way on the north east side of Letchworth. You may know the one. Scandinavian style, in need of serious repainting and still mostly vacant occupation.
As these residences are advertised as ‘eco-friendly’ properties, why is it that the streetlights around the entrance Rowan Homes revolutionary new development have remained constantly lit since the developments completion some months ago?
I have telephoned the council who tell me it has nothing to do with them, as the development is a private area. I have contacted the Letchworth Heritage Foundation who appear not to be interested in anything built after 1948.
Finally I have talked to the site estate agents. They promised to solve the problem and strictly adhere to the developments eco credentials forthwith.
That was three weeks ago and the lights still burn away 24/7. Is there someone out there who has the authority or will do something about this blatant waste of power resource? While at it perhaps they could also make repairs to the pavement damaged during the development build and remove builders tooling still lying by the side of the road.
Tomorrow’s Letchworth? I’m not convinced.
SIR – Following last week’s letters about Wilbury Hills Cemetery in Letchworth, I want to respond to the points raised about the way the council maintains the site.
Regarding the issue of rabbits in the area, we have a regular programme of pest control to limit their numbers in the cemetery. It appears that the majority of rabbits causing the damage live on adjacent fields and we have recently spoken to the relevant landowners so we can work together on a more effective solution. Given the rural setting of the cemetery, hopefully your readers can appreciate the difficulty of eradicating the problem completely.
I would also like to pick up on the point raised about memorials at graves as this is an issue that comes up from time to time. Traditionally, Christian burials are carried out with the feet at the eastern end of the grave. As the council’s burials policy is for memorials to be placed back to back, this means some are placed at the feet of the deceased, as opposed to at the head. This has been the practice in all NHDC-maintained cemeteries for many years, and is common practice throughout the UK. It is also why our guidance refers to memorials rather than headstones.
We understand this arrangement may not meet the needs of some people and we therefore ensure that local undertakers are aware they can pass on specific burial requests to us at the time of the booking. We are always happy to speak to people who may wish to contact us about burial arrangements, memorials or how any of our cemeteries are maintained.
Cllr Peter Burt
Portfolio Holder for Environment
North Herts District Council
IN THE DARK
SIR – Councillor Pile’s letter (Comet, May 31) shamefully just regurgitates the county’s case for cutting streetlights published last year.
The Highways Cabinet member still cannot bring himself to tell us it has cost at least �4.3m for the changes which means tax payers will not see the savings until 2016. He understandably avoids mentioning the incompetent purchase of faulty equipment that will cost the county more than planned. Worse, there is nothing said about the studies referred to on the ROSPA website that show there is a link between poor and no street
lighting and road accidents.
It is clearly too complicated for this politician to understand there is also a large green deficit arising from the countywide work to change the thousands of of street lights which may take years to eliminate.
In both technical and presentational terms this has been an appallingly managed project and I suggest the county should encourage him to do something less harmful.
SIR – The quality care commission are right when they warn that Woodlands View Residential and Nursing home is under-staffed.
My father sadly had to go into Woodlands View in January. It was very distressing for my mother as his condition deteriorated very quickly, leaving her unable to care for him and separated after nearly 50 years of marriage.
I found Betty Nowosinska and all her staff on Lucas Ward kind, caring and professional but I could see that they were often stretched to the limit and confronted one of the senior managers about it.
My father was transferred to
Wymondley Nursing home but I will not forget the compassion the staff showed my father. It takes a special person to be a carer and it is shameful that BUPA are not supporting their staff more.
Stevenage Old Town
SIR – We would like to say thanks to the residents of South View, Lytton Avenue and Meadow Way in Letchworth for their kindness, help and support in finding Max, a 14 year old cat that was homed in the area but escaped after only five days.
The residents were brilliant and a big thank you for their vigilance, especially to Jamie who made it all happen in the end. Because of this, we managed to trap him last night after he had been missing for three weeks.
He has lost weight and is a bit worse for wear but very happy to be back in our care. There must be a great future for Letchworth with residents that are so concerned and willing to take positive action to help an old cat find his way home. Thank you.
Cats Protection, North Herts
SIR - Your correspondent John Budd (Comet, May 17) is quite right to query the distinct lack of consultation with local residents about the refurbishment of The Glebe neighbourhood centre, which was recently completed by Stevenage Borough Council, at a total cost of �360,000, paid for by a grant from central government.
During the two so-called public consultation periods, in 2010 and 2011, I asked repeatedly for Stevenage Borough Council to deliver a simple informative leaflet to all doors in Chells Ward and Manor Ward (ie, the primary area served by The Glebe) telling residents about the planned refurbishment and – more important – asking for their views and ideas.
This was flatly refused by the council each time.
Such a leaflet would have cost about �300 including delivery which, on a project costing �360,000, is not much. Instead I was told repeatedly that such a leaflet would cost the council about �6,000 and could not possibly be afforded. Further enquiries by me revealed that the council had worked out their estimate of �6,000 on producing a large, folded, full colour publication, delivered by the same hugely expensive delivery system that they used for their propaganda sheet Chronicle, paying council staff four times the rate paid by local newspapers for delivery. I pointed out the wasteful costs for delivery of Chronicle in 2010, and found a much cheaper system, which was then adopted. The same (or even cheaper alternatives for such a relatively small area) could have been done for my proposed leaflet.
Local Liberal Democrats in Chells and Manor did our best to let people know about the only public consultation that the council did undertake, which involved a display in an empty shop unit for part of one day, which (not surprisingly) received few visitors. We also gave our views on the plans.
Like John Budd, I regret the loss of the trees in the flower beds fronting The Glebe, to make way for the flags. I have also had complaints about the lights being too bright all night and disturbing local houses. I have raised this issue with the borough council’s lighting engineers and there are some possible solutions, which I am pursuing.
Over the years, I have been critical a number of times about the poor public consultation record of Stevenage Borough Council. It is a great pity that this still continues with consequent disappointment for local residents which, in the case of The Glebe, could have been avoided by informing all local people of the proposals and allowing them the opportunity to comment, or suggest alternatives.
Cllr Robin Parker
SIR – Further to a letter last week regarding the poles at The Hyde, they now have similar poles erected at the Glebe and they have enhanced the area and made it more attractive.
Instead of having unkempt flower beds which were used as rubbish bins we now have a clean and tidy area. I think they are very nice. Thank you Stevenage Borough Council.
SIR – It is great that our lovely Hitchin can put on so many festivals and events during the summer months and Keith Hoskins is to be commended for all his hard work with these. However, not everyone is able to enjoy these events as our local bus services do not run on a Sunday or on a Bank Holiday.
Here on Westmill, we have a large number of elderly and disabled people, and people who do not have cars, who rely on the bus service to access town (not everyone is able to walk both ways), and I am sure this is the case from other parts of Hitchin. Sometimes this is the only way many people have any contact with anything other than the four walls in which they live.
This weekend has been the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and we did not have a bus service for three days, virtually making the elderly housebound and unable to enjoy the town festivities. I appreciate that most of the people have free bus passes and the bus companies may not make a profit from this but it would have been nice if all could participate in these events. Could not the bus companies provide at least two return bus journeys at some time during the day so that these events may be enjoyed by everyone.
KEEP IT SPECIAL
SIR – Hitchin has been bedecked in red, white and blue to celebrate recent events and rightly so.
News that we might permenantly be dominated by red, white and blue of an entirely different nature is not welcome or necessary given that we already have the opportunity of using three major supermarket chains and an award winning market in Hitchin.
I enjoy using Hitchin town centre on a regular basis, choosing to shop at Allingham’s, Halsey’s and Webb’s, among the other independant retailers that are successfully trading and hope that I am able to continue doing so.
As I stood in the rain listening to the fantastic Hitchin Light Orchestra on Bank Holiday Monday I wondered what would happen to the shops and retailers that I regulary frequent should this potential plan go ahead – another charity shop in Allingham’s perhaps, a ‘we buy your gold shop’ in Webb’s and maybe another nail bar or tattoo shop in Halsey’s. I am sure the people looking to move to Hitchin from London as was recently celebrated in this paper will not want to continue this trend if the face of Hitchin town centre changes.
I would urge councillors with the power to make decisions to consider this very carefully. Maybe they should ask councillors who were in a similar position in other local towns 20 or 30 years ago whether they think their decisions to allow an infamous major supermarket with questionable business and community morals to dominate their town has had a positive impact on their town centres.
Hitchin is a historic market town full of a variety of independent retailers, we have a vibrant and visible community which is evident almost every weekend in the town square. These are unfortunately increasingly rare attributes nowadays and we must preserve the uniqueness of our town.
GET IT RIGHT
SIR – I refer to the recent discussions on the A505/A602 link road (Willow Lane).
It seems there is much safety concern over vehicles “creating havoc as vehicles force their way across the two lanes of A602 fast moving traffic” while exiting from Willow Lane to turn right towards Stevenage.
I personally, am always most concerned at this junction, as vehicles often zoom out from Willow Lane across the busy Stevenage to Hitchin lane to ‘hover’ in the centre section to await only half a gap between vehicles travelling out from Hitchin. This at best is unsettling and inconvenient, at worst highly dangerous.
Additionally, the vehicle which does have right of way is immediately on the defensive due to the unknown immediate intention of this emerging vehicle (sometimes of course, they may be more than one!).
Occasions of hooter blowing and ‘road rage’ spring to mind.
Surely, a simple and cheap solution to this problem is a ‘NO RIGHT TURN’ sign on exiting Willow Lane onto the A602. Safety assured, tempers calmed and it’s just a few yards up to the roundabout and back again.