LETTERS: Comet June 13
THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, June 13.
SIR - The Green Party has been campaigning for many years for improved recycling facilities throughout North Hertfordshire. We are delighted that North Hertfordshire District Council has finally taken steps to achieve this. From this month parts of our district will now be able to recycle plastics on the doorstep, and by the end of September we should see significant improvements to the recycling facilities in flats.
We must all lessen the amount of waste we produce in the first place if we are to reduce our carbon emissions, but this positive change in local recycling will make a big difference to the levels of waste ending up in landfill and this can only be a good thing for our planet and council tax bills.
The next step should be for the council to adopt a long term vision of zero waste in their waste strategy. Zero waste means that instead of throwing things away into our new purple bins (where they get sent to landfill), we should look to reduce, reuse, and repair so that ultimately we do not throw anything into landfill. The concept of ‘zero waste’ can be compared to the concept of ‘zero defects’ in manufacturing - it is a target to be strived for rather than an absolute - but should encourage us to think about waste and resources in more innovative and efficient ways.
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Changing the way we view our waste and resources should lead to sustainable and substantial environmental, economic and social benefits. Zero waste is a concept that is spreading throughout the world, particularly in America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and is based on a vision that by using our resources efficiently we can work towards eliminating waste in the future. Let’s make sure that Herts doesn’t get left behind.
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North Hertfordshire Green Party
Walsworth Road, Hitchin
SIR - This is a shout-out for NHDC’s new bin system. I have always grumbled about the fact that everything recyclable used to be collected except the bulkiest of all - the plastic and tetra cartons. We were forever taking bags of them to the recycling centres. Now we can just pop them in the grey bin - saving time and trouble, and making it much easier for us all to recycle these ubiquitous items which consume expensive petrochemicals. It just takes a little bit of home organisation to get everyone using the right bin for everything.
I am really pleased with the new caddy and liners too, and I know that the smaller size of the new purple general rubbish bin will be no problem for our household of five, because practically everything can be recycled now. I realise that nappies are a problem for some families but I am sure that arrangements can be made with neighbours without babies, who will have room in their purple bins.
I am not being paid by the council to write this letter. But we grumble so readily about services that I wanted to say on this occasion - well done, NHDC.
Sir - Despite his heartfelt protestations, Cllr Burt is still steadfastly refusing to disclose the detail of the deal he has struck for this new arrangement.
I wrote to him on March 20 with nine simple questions which, despite chasing him, he has refused to answer. Perhaps publishing these questions may force him into an open an honest debate - something he has so far refused to do with the existing letters published;
1. Which peer authorities NHDC engaged and consulted with during the planning phase - and the results of those findings.
2. What alternative services were considered.
3. The criteria laid down for selection of the successful option.
4. The reasons why the proposed service was chosen and other options rejected.
5. The full cost benefit analysis applied that ultimately resulted in the new service being selected.
6. Why NHDC chose analysis of waste at transfer point as opposed to qualitative surveys of residents.
7. The cost benefit of choosing option six.
8. Full details of what NHDC sought to learn from the analysis - and the actual results
9. What actual options were put to full council before the new service was approved
However, I suspect Cllr Burt has his own reasons for refusing to discuss the details with residents.
SIR - Your report in the Comet this week failed to mention the most important factor in the proposed improvements to Letchworth Golf Course.
Plan one was, as reported, to have access via Queenswood Drive and Willian Road and exit into Letchworth Lane. Plan two was to route traffic in and out along Willian Road and Queenswood Drive but what was not reported was that there would be 130 lorries a day using the cross-roads for between one year and 18 months.
Supposing an eight hour day, there would be a remorseless procession of about 16 lorries an hour going up to and from the cross roads. There they would find a hill start into a narrow lane. One does not need to spell out the consequent noise, fumes and damage to the road surfaces; the misery for asthmatics and the gross inconvenience for local road users.
Plan three proposes traffic lights but they would make no difference to the basic problem of too much heavy traffic in a residential area.
I have never been a NIMBY sort of person and if the work was for a hospital or even housing I would just grin and bear it but for a golf club driving range? I think not.
Sir - As residents of Queenswood Drive we welcome your recent coverage of our objections to plans submitted by Letchworth Golf Club.
However, we are somewhat concerned that the nature of our objections has not been accurately reported. We have spoken extensively to neighbours on this issue, and the overwhelming concerns are for safety, air and noise pollution, and impact on our quality of life during the 12 months plus which the lorries will be coming up and down our road at the rate of approximately one every four minutes. The road is used by local school children as well as people travelling to and from work, and there are dangerous junctions at both ends of the road where accidents regularly happen.
The council imposed a weight limit on the road for environmental reasons which they now seem happy to ignore. There is no price that can be put on the health and safety of those living in and using the road.
Anne and Graham Howard
SIR - Today I saw a poor fellow riding a mountain bike round the corner of McDonald’s in Stevenage town centre nearly crashing into an inconsiderate child who was wandering about untethered on the pavement.
If that’s not bad enough this same morning I witnessed a cyclist along Walden End nearly fly over his handlebars trying to avoid a collision with an utterly selfish woman blocking the pavement with her body and bags of shopping. Please, please won’t someone invent flying shoes for us pathetic wheel-less failures so that cyclists can have their paved areas back.
SIR - Firstly, let me say that I am blessed to be able bodied and in reasonable health, so I never had any trouble walking up and down the stairs at Letchworth railway station for the decade or so that I commuted to work in London.
So when I first read the front page headline in the Comet on June 6 - ‘Full steam ahead for station lift’ - I did so with a sense of joy that at last an accessible passenger lift was to finally be installed at the station to enable the disabled, the elderly, mums with prams etc easier access to the platforms.
But then I began to really think about the whole situation and I have to admit a sense of shame was what I felt rather than joy.
Have we really allowed our train station to be beyond reach for a large section of the local population for lack of a passenger lift?
Have we really allowed that situation to exist for nearly three decades?
That is no more than a total disgrace and something that local politicians, Network Rail, and also able bodied people like myself should hang our heads in shame over.
MP Oliver Heald is ‘absolutely delighted’ that after ‘many years’ of campaigning the lifts are finally going to be built.
Really – why was such a campaign even necessary?
Doesn’t the fact that this blatantly obvious local requirement has taken so long to get just prove that it wasn’t really a priority at all for our local MP, councillors or Network Rail, who were too busy spending money on flowerbeds and fences at the station to put something of real tangible use in.
The fact that we are also told that funding was allotted over 13 years ago but work has been constantly deferred surely only adds salt to the wound and proves that the real problem has been a lack of desire by those in authority to get the job done.
I have nothing but total admiration for the campaign waged by local disabled groups but I for one would like to apologise to them that we as a community have allowed such a state of affairs to exist for far too long.
Let us only hope that these lifts are finally installed and look forward to a date in 2014 when our local train station will truly be accessible to all!
SIR - I feel I need to reply to Ric Euteneuer as he is clearly confused by the aims and objectives of biz4Biz. There are three main points in his letter that I would like to address.
1. As a group that is campaigning for business friendly policies we want as much influence as possible. We will therefore always prefer our patron to be a sitting government MP from Hertfordshire. It is clearly difficult for us to prove our independence whilst Hertfordshire is all blue.
2. Our proposal regards reduced taxation is proven. The reduction in higher rate tax from 60 per cent to 40 per cent in 1988 increased both total revenues and revenues from the higher earners as it fuelled growth. We saw massive investment from overseas with the likes of MBDA, Astrium and Roche providing quality jobs in Hertfordshire. The tax increase to 50 per cent in 2010 raised not a penny more and did not encourage inward investment.
3. Current employment legislation is a barrier to jobs and growth. We know this because our members tell us so. It stops companies adapting quickly when the need arises, which ultimately increases costs and disruption. It has nothing to do with maternity leave etc as quoted. My own company provides all staff with pension, life cover, long term sickness benefit and personal accident cover. biz4Biz promotes strong corporate social responsibility policies and we work closely with local educational establishments to support apprenticeships and encourage aspiration.
I trust this reassures Mr Euteneuer that biz4Biz is a force for good for the local economy. If however, he is not as independent as we are and is more interested in reflecting a political bias and prejudice, then that would be a shame. The current electorate are more disillusioned with politics than ever before which is dangerous for our democracy. We need to raise the level of debate above the playground name calling and bloody minded partisanship if our democracy is to recover.
Paul Beasley ACII
Director and co-founder biz4Biz
SIR - I was disturbed by the letter from Phil Gilmour referring to Cllr Parker in last week’s Comet. He is entitled to disagree with Robin Parker’s stand over chairmanship of the scrutiny committees on the borough council but chooses to ignore the background to this dispute.
The current organisation of the council, similar to many other local authorities nowadays, gives “ordinary” councillors, of whatever party, far less chance to participate in deciding policies that go forward to full council. Whereas in the past it was possible to put forward and discuss ideas at sub-committees and thus influence some decisions amicably it is now difficult to do so in advance of scrutiny committees so it is important that opposition members have some say in deciding the agenda. This could be helped by having at least one panel chaired by an opposition member.
The Conservatives as the majority opposition party, seem unprepared to fight for a more democratic arrangement and I feel Cllr Parker should be congratulated for putting forward his objections, not subjected to unwarranted abuse.
SIR - What a surprise that exhaust fumes are at a high level in Stevenage Road, Hitchin.
I think there would be some high readings elsewhere in the town if they were measured.
It now seems that the deluge of trucks in Hitchin is not only, breaking up the roads (who paid for Grove Road to be repaired again after they broke it up?), making houses on their route unsellable and also causing a health risk to town residents.
The so called ‘action plan’ is just a talking shop and the suggestions from it are only scratching the surface of the problem.
HGVs are the problem.
Isn’t it about time our elected representatives indulged in some joined up thinking and removed the problem from our streets. This could be achieved by routing them to the industrial area via Wilbury Hills Road instead of through the centre of town. The rail loop has nearly been finished and what a good opportunity this would have been to install such a link road.
Our MP Peter Lilley says he is in favour of it and it would be interesting to hear from him and our councillors what steps have actually been taken (if any) towards it becoming a reality.
However, Hitchin’s apathy towards this problem seems to be unanimous and I doubt this letter will even raise an eyebrow never mind a response from those who are supposed to be serving this once lovely truck park/town.
SIR - My elderly parents who are both disabled live opposite the old Marriots School in Telford Avenue that has been demolished. There is total disruption with the building works that are been carried out in terms of traffic with the wide load lorries.
Residents had letters posted asking for them to keep the roads clear for these lorries to pass.
Tuesday June 4 I parked outside to take my parents shopping and left two wheels up on the pavement to avoid my car been scratched and also for the lorries to pass with ease.
I have to park as near to their house as they are both on walking sticks and it was also my mother’s first trip out after having a recent cancer operation and both cannot walk too far. I came out to the car and received a penalty notice for parking two wheels on the pavement for £35 rising to £70 if not paid within a certain time.
This is appalling as residents are trying to accommodate the building works going on and to receive a parking ticket is just ludicrous. I have challenged the appeal and written to the local MP.
SIR - Further to a recent letter, I would like to express my annoyance at the shoddy road maintenance work which has taken place around my area.
Stopping off at a pothole or uneven surface in the road and simply dropping some tarmac over it does not constitute maintenance - what are we paying our council tax for?
If a job is worth doing, do it properly.
Name and address supplied
SIR - Further interesting letters were published in last week’s Comet about the proposed expansion of Samuel Lucas School, Hitchin. I do however want to correct a couple of the points made.
North Herts District Council is not the local authority proposing this expansion, it is Hertfordshire County Council (nor, I might add for the sake of clarity, do we own the Gaping Lane allotments – again, that is the county council). We are consultees on the proposals, along with other organisations and local residents.
With regard to designating the Gaping Lane allotments a site of importance for nature conservation, that is something the county council would undertake in conjunction with the Wildlife Trust. It is not within our remit to make such a designation.
Cllr Tom Brindley
Portfolio Holder for Planning
Transport and Enterprise
North Herts District Council