LETTERS: Comet May 10

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, May 10.

TOWN COUNCIL

SIR - Householders in Letchworth will soon receive a questionnaire from North Herts District Council (NHDC) asking them whether they wish to see Letchworth Town Council abolished.

In the 2009 elections Letchworth residents voted with an overwhelming majority that they didn’t want a town council. Since then the council has been taking the necessary steps to enable abolition.

In February NHDC agreed to the town council’s application for a Community Governance Review. This is the legal process required to abolish a council.


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The questionnaire you will receive from NHDC is to confirm that there is still a view that the town council should be abolished.

Since the election the town council has not made any charge to the taxpayers of Letchworth. This has saved them in excess of �1.5 million, based upon the amount that our predecessors were charging. We don’t believe that the vast majority will have noticed any difference whatsoever in how the town has been run.

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If you want to make sure that the town council is dissolved, please ensure you return your completed questionnaire confirming that you want the Letchworth Town Council to be abolished.

To enable us to complete the task you asked us to do, we need this final act of support. So, I urge Letchworth voters to make sure they return their completed questionnaires by the required date. Don’t let the town go back to the old wasteful regime of large bills, little or no benefit to the community, and personal animosities and acrimony.

Frank Lovett

Chairman

Letchworth Town Council

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Sir - On May 3rd Mr Peter Cannel wrote alerting us that NHDC are currently circulating a questionnaire asking Letchworth townspeople whether or not we want to retain our own town council, which he complains is yet another layer of bureaucracy.

I would argue that, to local people, it is the most important layer of all. Why? Because it’s the most accessible rung of local government. Because it exists specifically to provide us with a say on how our town is run. Because it’s all about Letchworth and issues that affect us, rather than the whole of North Herts. And, because unlike a forum or any other community group a town council has government given authority to act on our behalf – either in conjunction with NHDC, or, where the interests of Letchworth differ from those of the rest of North Herts, to stand up for our rights.

Mr. Cannell raises the issue of cost. He rightly quotes that the precept set by the town council elected in 2005 was about �500,000. What he does not say is that this broke down to an average of about 75p per household.

Or that, among other things, this was used for a range of local events, trips for the elderly, funding for community groups and to provide support for disabled and vulnerable townspeople. He refers to the cost of staff. What he does not say is that Town Councillors give their time for free. Unlike NHDC councillors who are paid about �10,000 per year each.

If we want support on local issues such as lorries from the Hitchin Cambridge Rail link being diverted into Wilbury Hills Road, the sale of the Pelican pub to Tesco’s, or the felling of trees in our town centre we need a town council willing and able to speak for us.

Mr Cannell reminds us that if we reject the NHDC proposal to close our town council, elections are due again in 2013 at which time we can also say no the HELP group and vote in genuine councillors ready to act on our behalf.

Cllr Sue Johnson

Wilbury Ward

Letchworth

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SIR - I have been following events as they have unfolded over recent years since the existing town councillors were elected in Letchworth.

It was a travesty of wasted residents’ money under the former regime. It has been proved since the new councillors were elected that we do not

need a town council. Our views are more than represented by the Heritage Foundation and NHDC and Herts CC.

Peter Spreckley

Bell Acre

Letchworth

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SIR - The more eagle-eyed of local residents may have spotted an application to run a fleet of lorries and trailers almost adjacent to the overgrown Williams scrap yard.

As if it is not bad enough having all the heavy traffic and its associated pollution and noise from Williams, it is incredible that an application could be made to add insult to the injury we already endure.

In the application are details of how to object, I would ask you to actually put pen to paper and object to it and try to halt Hitchin’s further degeneration towards being the countries scrap metal capital.

NICK BOXALL

Address supplied

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LIGHTS-OFF

Sir - The light switch off. Am I missing the point?

This proposal has been met with outcry. Am I alone in thinking it’s a fantastic idea? The council will not be turning off every light in Stevenage. And it won’t even be all night. It will be between midnight and 6am when the majority of these terrified residents will be fast asleep. Being a young woman who often finishes work at 2am, and being one of those that others very concerned about with regard to the big switch off, I’d like to say it won’t terrify me or force me to quit work. And I will actually be wandering the streets in the dark as opposed to the majority of those kicking up a stink about it.

The money saved by turning off lights that aren’t needed can be ploughed back into schools and lollipop ladies. It can go to community projects, policing and improving our roads. Right now that money is literally being burned. And we all know what a precious commodity money is.

Sleeping in the pitch black will have amazing health benefits for the people of the town. Not to mention the impact on the environment. Electricity is a non renewable form of energy and I shudder at how much is wasted and the effects on the environment.

So lets switch off the lights, invest in our health and in our children’s futures.

Sarah Elmes

Address supplied

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SAD STATE

SIR - We’re all in this together are we?

Here we go again as I read articles in the Comet (pages 10 and 14, May 3rd) detailing how our beloved councilors are free to spend �700k of our hard earned money on replacement footpath lights and then advertise a �40k plus a year job for a Head of Gypsy Services (plus nice pension no doubt).

Proof yet again of the parallel universe that our local politicians live in when it comes to spending money that isn’t theirs.

As the average family struggle to make ends meet do they really spare a moment to think how this waste of money goes down with local people? Of course not.

As a man who has always taken great pride in exercising his democratic right to vote in any election am I the only one beginning to think what is the point in voting Conservative, Labour or Liberal in any election – they all have their snouts so deep in the taxpayer trough that it is difficult to tell who is who. So why bother voting at all?

What a truly sad state of affairs the politics of this country is in. Shame on them all.

John Chamberlain

Lawrence Avenue

Letchworth

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TESCO DELIGHT

Sir - I am delighted that Tesco are opening a new store by the train station in Hitchin. Living on the Poets Estate, a convenience store offering value and a good range is long overdue.

The opening of this store will create opportunity for local employment so when times are as they are I applaud any company making jobs available.

Lets not all jump on bashing a successful company, I’m looking forward to shopping in my new local store.

Chris Stokes

Hitchin

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VAN HYPOCRISY

Sir - Hypocrisy 1 Stevenage FC 0.

The previous two home football games at Stevenage Football club have seen a pre-planned posse of Herts County Council wardens arrive 15 minutes after kick-off for the sole purpose of issuing �70 enforcement notices to supporters who have parked their vehicles on the newly HCC classified illegal grass verge.

I therefore find it baffling that the Hertfordshire Camera Safety Unit van, formed by the partners Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire Police, does not believe the same legislation applies to its own vehicles which, regularly park on the very same illegal verges to acquire evidence of speeding motoristd. I am not against the idea of speed camera enforcement vans; I just believe that they should be setting an example and park in a ‘legal’ position.

Neil Fisher

Address supplied

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PLAYERS’ ROMP

SIR – Knebworth Players provided us with another live and lovely entertainment with their latest romp at Knebworth Village Hall.

My Friend Miss Flint had the audience rocking with laughter, and it would be very hard to know which of the cast to praise individually, they were all so good though the main character, Tom, played by Wayne Jarvis was exceptional.

I was so glad that I missed that evening’s TV.

J MASON

The Paddocks

Stevenage

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SIR - For those who enjoy the lovely views from Wilbury Hill, across the open countryside between Letchworth Garden City and Hitchin, and delight in walking the ancient Icknield Way track between Ickleford and Wilbury – be warned. If current planning applications are successful – it is about to change forever.

We are having to accept, in the name of ‘progress’ the visual impact of the new single-track curved railway embankment across the landscape, that will bring northbound trains out of Hitchin station up-and-over the main lines to rejoin the Cambridge line just west of the railway bridge on Wilbury Hills Road / Stotfold Road.

However, the embankment was planned to be constructed from 130,000 cubic metres of soil ferried in on huge trucks from all over the country. Now however, Railtrack wish to source this vast amount of material required from the local fields around Wilbury Hill. They plan to quarry away the topsoil and chalk of those gentle slopes that give the hill its character, completely changing the landscape of this edge of the Chilterns in the process.

No longer will the Icknield Way track wend its way between those gentle timeless slopes – because one or more of them will be flattened at best – or left as vast hollows at worst.

On top of Wilbury Hill is the prehistoric enclosure known as Wilbury Hillfort which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument protected by English Heritage but beyond that, the landscape that contributed to its setting and construction some two to three thousand years ago, is about to be destroyed.

You can make your views known to Hertfordshire County Council – but hurry or it will be too late.

Paul Palmer

Romany Close

Letchworth

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MISSING MUSIC

SIR – I am the full time carer of a seriously ill husband, he is blind, has renal failure, heart disease and recently had a leg amputated.

I do not have much time or indeed much pleasure in life but I love my husband and I, like lots of women, get on and make the most of life.

My one true pleasure is music and I have very diverse tastes from jazz to reggae to soul and easy listening. I kept all my favourite CDs in a wallet in my car, which I lost sometime last week, I think in Stevenage by Sainsbury’s or in Knebworth when visiting my son.

The wallet simply fell out of the car door, no doubt when I was rushing around.

If someone has found it and would like to return it to me, kindly call me on 07710 455558 and make my day.

NAME AND ADDRESS

SUPPLIED

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GROUND WOE

SIR - My family have operated fairs in Letchworth and on Butts Close for over 100 years.

I have been in the funfair business all my life (over 50 years) and I cannot recall ever leaving a site in the mess I witnessed at Letchworth

Rec and Butts Close left by Zippo’s circus. Whatever were the council thinking to allow them to move onto Butts Close in view of the damage they had done on Letchworth. It is totally out of character for a circus to make such a short move just for a few days stay. Why? We need to move much heavier equipment on and off sites and we also need to use the sites several times in one season, so we protect the grassed areas with track ways we supervise all site movement ourselves. From what I’ve seen at Letchworth I would say the circus used a tractor which have tyres designed to move in ploughed fields, something Letchworth rec resembled.

It gives me no pleasure to write these words about a similar business to ours. It is hard enough to get sites to operate on. But it is twice as hard to keep them. At this present time it looks as though we will lose several fairs in the area to allow the ground to recover. Finally, I have attended five different sites so far this season and they have been left virtually unmarked.

John Thurston

Chairman eastern section

Showmens’ Guild

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PLINTH SHINE

SIR - Sapphos’ plinth has been cleaned. My compliments to whoever is responsible, I’m very impressed. However there is a pile of debris

next to the Pix Brook (where the other small brook joins). It looks as if it has been cleared from the water but my fear is that it will end up back where it came from if it’s not shifted quickly. Can you clarify what is happening please?

Paul Ross

Pixmore Way

Letchworth

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ELECTIONS

SIR - Thank you to the people of Stevenage who voted for us at last Thursday’s elections to Stevenage Borough Council and thereby put their trust in Labour to make the right decisions for our town. We look forward to serving all the residents in our wards whether they voted Labour or not, and appreciate the trust placed in us is a privilege which we will work hard to honour.

The Labour councillors in Stevenage, elected to serve our community will support sensible savings, but fight to protect vital local services from Government funding cuts. Stevenage residents can be confident that we will be your voice in tough times.

Stevenage Labour Party Candidates:

Lorraine Bell, Jim Brown, Jim Callaghan, Laurie Chester, David Cullen, Michelle Gardner, Richard Henry, Amanda King, John Lloyd, Maureen McKay, Jack Pickersgill, Simon Speller and Vickie Warwick.

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SIR - I would like to thank the residents of Bearton Ward for electing me as their new local councillor last Thursday. I am very honoured that more than 1,000 people chose to put their trust in me to work for them on NHDC.

As I promised in my campaign literature, I will join my Labour Party and Co-operative Party fellow councillors to work for more jobs, affordable housing, good community spaces, better traffic management, waste reduction and better kerbside collection. I am very much looking forward to working as a councillor and representing the Bearton Community across Hitchin and the whole district.

Deborah Segalini

Address supplied

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SIR - I would like to say thank you to all those who helped me to retain my seat in Letchworth South East Ward last Thursday, my agent -

Julian Cunningham, deliverers, canvassers, but most of all those who came out and voted or used their postal vote, not only for me but any of the candidates.

I will continue to do my best for you all and everyone in North Hertfordshire for the next four years.

Councillor David Levett

Letchworth South East Ward

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CLEAN-UP

SIR - A morning walk around Fairlands Valley is a great way to start the day.

However this is sometimes spoilt by playful dogs running freely to the delight of their owners. Not everyone likes dogs and no one wants muddy paws plonked on their clothes. Dogs are fine in public areas as long as owners have them under full control and clean up any mess.

Dog owners, please show some consideration to others.

Name and address supplied

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