LETTERS: Comet May 3

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, May 3.


SIR - How ridiculous to give planning permission to yet another Tesco Store. How do they get away with it, and how can third parties apply for planning permission?

I take the train from Hitchin to work; the traffic at rush hour is terrible. With buses, cars, and not to mention the huge line of taxis parked at the station it’s only asking for trouble. Where are all the shoppers going to park as I am sure Tesco will want plenty of them?

I also take the train home late some nights only to be greeted by beggars outside the station; this will only get worse if there is a Tesco store opening till late selling alcohol.

In the present climate with small businesses closing should we not be supporting the independents?

Hitchin Resident

Most Read

Address supplied


SIR - I’ve just read Laura Burge’s story about Tesco’s sneaky way of opening yet another store. They do it this way because they know people are against them taking over the world. If Tesco announces that it is opening a store in an unused building, people complain because they don’t want Tesco to put little shops out of business so they use a different name to disguise it.

Ann Hubner

Address supplied


SIR - With regards to ‘Councillors defend Pelican pub land decision’ April 26.

There are two points, firstly Cllr Dave Chambers representing the Conservative’s point of view said “the way I look at it is - should we be afraid of competition? No, it would be healthy”

Yea of course it would Dave, after all a local one man store owner can compete on the same level as the billon pound buying power of Tesco, no problem!

Secondly, all the councillors commenting in the article were so concerned about the good folk of the Grange, that they did not even think about discussing it with them before a sale was agreed so that a real local opinion could be sought. In my opinion, when councillors and indeed politicians fail to listen to the very people who vote them in and defend distant multi-million pound businesses, it’s time to question why they were elected in the first place.

James Paddon

Letchworth Garden City


SIR - People keep bleating on about Tesco taking over the world, I must say that on the whole I agree with them, however it is obvious that there will be no help from anyone in authority so I suggest that people do as I do and don’t use them. If enough people boycotted the small stores eventually the message would get through.

Of course I realise that it may mean paying a few pence extra to use your local store but I wonder how many folk would be prepared to spend just a little more to send a message?

Derek Bradshaw

Letchworth Garden City


SIR - It never ceases to amaze me how local councillors for the Grange Ward in Letchworth, having failed to consult their electorate on The Pelican pub site becoming a Tesco Express, then continue to try and justify their support for a second supermarket. Last week Councillor Dave Chambers was quoted in the Comet that the Tesco Express would be good for us because “the competition between shops on the Parade and Tesco is healthy”. Had Cllr Chambers asked people shopping on the Grange then he would have discovered a major reason why 2,000 plus signed a petition against the Tesco Express. Of course competition is healthy if high cost inefficient businesses are eliminated by price competition but this process still leaves consumers with a decent choice as to where they shop.

The problem here Mr Chambers is that this is not competition between equals but between a small independent and a multinational corporation that is the third largest retailer in the world. There is a very real risk that existing shops, faced with falling turnovers, will be forced to lay off staff or worse still close down. If the latter is the case with the Nisa supermarket then the council will have simply replaced one supermarket with another. This is the very outcome that many people fear and why they rejected Tesco. It would seem to me Mr Chambers that local people who oppose the Tesco Express are doing so in their belief that they would very much prefer their local Nisa having a local monopoly rather than Tesco when assessing the future costs of shopping locally.

Michael Watts

Wilbury Road

Letchworth GC



SIR - I agree that the War Memorial in Letchworth should be in a prominent place, I can think of several locations that would be suitable, if it has to be moved.

Move the memorial a short distance into the centre of the traffic island, maybe the centre of the dual carriageway in Broad Street, or slightly further up the road between the entrance to Morrisons and the college, even on the triangular traffic island between the library and the cinema. I am sure a solution suitable to everyone can be made with a bit of thought.

Alan Huntley




SIR - Your comment on the Surgicentre last week was spot on the mark. My own experience and that of many people, accustomed to good quality from the Lister Hospital and the NHS in general, bears this out. It may be that some of the problems identified by the Care Quality Commission as well as local patients are being addressed, but why did it take so long to deal with something as basic as a non functioning telephone system? Clinicentre had years to plan and prepare the centre.

You are right to say that “external involvement” is not the right way forward. For over 20 years successive Governments of all three parties have pushed for increased privatisation of the NHS. The result has been a steady increase in bureaucracy rather than improved standards of care.

Stevenage Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) is an independent organisation, open to all local residents, to represent the views of users of health and welfare services. We are the local branch of the Hertfordshire Link, a body set up by Parliament to do this job nationally. There is plenty of work for us to do.

Michael Downing

Co-Chair SHIP



SIR - I’d like to add a letter to the letters page about the street lighting switch-off. I think it’s very wrong to proceed with this idea - I’m not just thinking about crime prevention eg muggings, but personal safety. It’s all very well suggesting people should carry a torch but the beam from a torch is no competition for a street lamp above your head. If we wanted it to be pitch black we’d all go and live in the countryside!

It’s barbaric and taking us to the Dark Ages. I signed a petition to stop this action to no avail. Surely something can be done. Please leave the lights on!


Address supplied


SANDS support

SIR - Through your letters page I would very much like to thank the Baldock and Letchworth Scouts, Cubs, Rainbows and Fr Denis Sarsfield for donating the entire collection from the recent St George’s Day Service to my chosen charity for the year namely SANDS North Herts (Stillbirth and Neo Natal Death Charity).

The amount collected was in excess of �210 which will be put to good use in comforting bereaved parents in the district. The Service, held at Holy Trinity RC Church in Baldock, was a great success where some 600 children and young people were present.

Michael Weeks

Chairman North Herts District Council



Sir - Shame on you Arriva. The Arriva bus driver who refused to accept Stephen Sapstead’s ticket (Bus row just not the ticket, April 26) should feel ashamed of themselves. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

My niece and nephew, aged 13 and 14, are irregular bus users and recently hadcause to take the bus. On their first journey from St Nicholas to the town centre they each purchased a child fare.

However, on their return journey, both again attempted to purchase a child fare but were greeted with a rude response from the driver who demanded they pay the adult fare (as they are irregular bus users they hadn’t thought to purchase a return ticket). As they are polite children

who have been brought up properly they paid the full fare.

We looked at the Arriva website in an attempt to find out what their fares policy is, but there was absolutely no information on this. Therefore, I emailed Arriva to clarify this, but, surprise, surprise, they never bothered to reply.

Perhaps their spin doctors can clarify the fares policy via the Comet letters page?

Robert Beahan

Durham Road




SIR - I read with great pleasure that The Priory School has decided against becoming an academy.

As one of my children will start there in September, it is a relief to see that the school will continue as a fully comprehensive, non-selective school, where pupils of all abilities and social extractions learn together and from each other.

The Priory School’s board of governors shows it can act with courage and principle, which is very reassuring to us parents who are at the beginning of our relationship with the school. Well done to all involved.

Deborah Segalini

Address supplied



SIR - Letchworth Town Council. The townsfolk of Letchworth will shortly be asked, by a questionnaire being distributed by North Herts District Council, whether they wish to eliminate the now non-functioning Letchworth Town Council.

We are all subject to many costly layers of bureaucracy. Locally we have Hertfordshire County Council, the North Herts District Council and, unique to Letchworth, the Garden City Heritage Foundation.

In addition, about seven or eight years ago, the Letchworth townsfolk found themselves landed with another, Letchworth Town Council. This, we were told, would “cost very little relative to what is in the council (NHDC) budget already and only one employee may be necessary.”

By the time the first town council had been in office for a couple or so years, however, that ‘very little’ had increased to a cost to the Letchworth taxpayers of over �500,000 each year – and going up.

After four years in office, that first town council was voted out in 2009 and the HELP organisation was elected, with a mandate to shut down and eliminate the town council. With that mandate, all the requirements that are under its control have now been satisfied to secure the elimination of the Letchworth Town Council. The next step is a Governance Review to be undertaken by NHDC, which includes asking the Letchworth Townsfolk to confirm their decision three years ago, that they still want to eliminate the Letchworth Town Council.

If the opportunity is not taken now to eliminate the town council, there will be another election in May 2013. This will presumably then be fought in the normal way by the mainstream parties and the usual independents – and the Letchworth townsfolk, you and me, will then suffer the consequences of another level of bureaucracy, further intrusion into our lives – and we will pay dearly for it from our pockets, in perpetuity.

I enjoin all Letchworth townsfolk to join with me in recommending to the North Herts District Council that we confirm the 2009 mandate to eliminate for good this unwanted and increasingly costly further level of expensive bureaucracy called the Letchworth Town Council.

Peter Cannell

Cashio Lane

Letchworth Garden City



SIR - I am writing to you as I would love there to be more byways and tracks to ride motorbikes. If there were more, kids would have something to do, instead they are up to no good driving through farmers fields and causing trouble on the streets. I’ve not long bought a road legal motocross bike and realised that there are very minimal places to drive it off-road around Stevenage without farmers getting annoyed. All they need to do is make some tracks and make more byways instead we’ve got hundreds of bridleways.

David Smith




SIR - As an NHS employee I read with interest the failures of The Lister Surgicentre ran by Clinicenta at the Lister Hospital, Stevenage, and I am not surprised. Privatisation is the future of the NHS and as more and more services are privatised and the patients there-in become a commodity and a profit to the shareholder failures such as those listed by the Quality Care Commission (QCC) will become a regular read in the Comet. Sadly, we cannot afford the NHS anymore as the population has exploded beyond to which it was origanially catered for, so sadly we need these private companies to give us what the government can now not afford. But I am glad the the QCC is keeping these profit making businesses firmly in their place and I expect them to carry out the duties to the fullest.

Edward John Selby





SIR - As doctors and nurses working in the Lister’s A&E, we spend much of our lives tending to those who need our help, often when their lives are in danger. We do so with professionalism and empathy for our patients at all times, but we also work in a role where we rarely know, from one minute to the next, who is going to walk through our doors.

We take great pride in the quality of service that we provide to our local community, which is why we were horrified by the front page story in last week’s paper (Death by a lack of care, 26 April 2012), especially when it transpires that it was your paper that judged us in aiding the death of one of our patients.

Miss Esther Seager, who so sadly died in December, needed to attend our A&E service as staff at her care home were concerned that she may have broken her leg. At 100 years old, we accept that she needed as quick an assessment as could be provided. But when she was brought to the Lister, it was on one of the busiest days of that month.

In the time Miss Seager was with us, we saw well over 200 people – of whom over half had very serious injuries and conditions, some of which were life-threatening. Part of our job is to balance the constantly changing clinical needs of those patients attending our A&E department.

In our subsequent review of her case, we very much accept that more could have been done to make her more comfortable during her wait to be seen – which we have said to the family in responding to their complaint. When a doctor saw Miss Seager, the view formed was that a fracture was unlikely, however due to her age and medical condition it was decided that an x-ray should be done.

Whilst the x-ray confirmed that there was no fracture, undergoing the process did extend her wait and length of stay in the department.

With agreement from Miss Seager’s care home team, a decision was taken that she should go back home as clearly it was preferable for her to be in familiar surroundings than be admitted unnecessarily to a hospital bed. It was late at night, however, so organising patient transport was somewhat more difficult than during the day.

From our own review, which was conducted in response to a complaint from Miss Seager’s family, we are clear that clinically everything was carried out as it should have been.

We accept that her time in our care was longer than we would have liked and that there were also some aspects that could have been improved.

Having reached 100 years of age, Miss Seager’s death four days after leaving the Lister is a matter of great sadness. We extend our sympathy, once again, to her family and friends and we are continuing to work with them to resolve their outstanding concerns.

Dr Jon Baker, emergency medicine consultant, Dr Kevin Zammit, emergency department consultant, Dr Faye Weinberg, emergency department consultant, Dr Shri Sanglikar, speciality doctor, emergency department, Dr Amir Sharif, registrar, emergency department, Sheelagh Molloy,

nursing services manager, Kevin Boyle, matron, emergency department, Dawn Robertson, sister, emergency department, Ceri Aronica, sister, emergency department, Lorraine Saunders, sister, emergency department, Maureen D’Amore, sister, emergency department, Liz Hall, sister, emergency department, Sally Davis, sister, emergency department, Karen Shevlane, senior staff nurse, emergency department, Nick West, staff nurse, emergency department, Thomas Barnes, staff nurse, emergency department, Hayley Thomas, staff nurse, emergency department, Charlotte Moody, staff nurse, emergency department.