LETTERS: Comet May 17

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, May 17.

HITCHIN RAIL CURVE

SIR - I refer to Mr Palmer’s letter (Lovely views will be ruined by curve).

The area to extract the chalk for the embankment is 6 hectares and 130,000m3 of chalk is required. This equates to an average of just over 2 metres (7 feet) of chalk being removed. This hardly constitutes a ‘vast hollow’ referred to in his letter. Far from ‘views being ruined’, they will in fact be enhanced because following reinstatement of the top soil, the aspect from the top of Wilbury Hill will be

opened up with more views of the valley looking west and south. Wilbury Hillfort will become even more prominent, thus preserving its importance as a heritage site.

Your article in the Comet of 3 May (page 5) inferred that the local chalk extraction ‘equates to 22,000 lorry movements in and out the site’. This misses the point. Obtaining the chalk locally will result in there being zero lorry movements involving the bulk fill.

Most importantly, by winning the chalk from the adjoining fields, it will eliminate the prospect of accidents involving these HGV’s, greatly reduce the environmental impact eg carbon emissions, noise, traffic congestion and further wear to our roads. It will also be cheaper too for us, the taxpayers. If the chalk is to be brought to the site by road, it is a planning condition that Wilbury Hills Road has to be widened. What a crazy notion it is that: to build a railway embankment we have to bring chalk in by road which has to be widened to get it there! The chalk is within a stones throw of the embankment - use it.

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Resident Paul Palmer called on people to object. I call upon all Letchworthians and all road users and fellow taxpayers from further afield to support the application and keep thousands of lorries off the roads, making our lives safer and more tolerable. This can be done by emailing spatialplanning@hertscc.gov.uk

RICHARD ROBINSON

Wilbury Hills Road

Letchworth GC

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SIR – It really is shocking that Network Rail think that their wretched and unnecessary loop-line warrants changing the shape of our chalk landscape.

130,000 cubic metres of chalk is a very big hole, say five metres deep and over five acres area. That anyone, let alone a local councillor, should think that acceptable is beyond belief.

If the projected pit is to be east of the Stotfold Road, our county archaeologist should be aware that this field has been a source of many Stone Age artefacts. It is, to say the least, an interesting site and not one to release diggers and lorries on.

There are signs of a ploughed-out tumulus there. I wonder who benefits financially from quarrying on this site.

LETCHWORTHIAN

Name and address supplied

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SIR - Locals will have noticed that Network Rail have started stripping the soil off of the field at Wilbury Hill ready to start chalk extraction to build the embankment for the curve (subject to planning permission).

Contrary to the letter in last week’s edition, the field is not going to be turned into a “Quarry” they are going to scrape out the chalk that they need to regrade the slope, replacing the top soil so that the field can be put back to agricultural use within a year or so. It’s going to be messy and it will change the contour of the hill but the farmer will still need to be able to drive tractors up and down so its not going to be a Quarry pit. If you don’t believe me, view the planning application on HCC’s web site. The Government, through the Inspector at the Public Inqury, decided that the curve should be built. That fact can’t be changed, so the fill material must come from somewhere. Better surely to get it from the adjoining field with less danger of pollution to the ground water, and massively reduced CO2 output, than to dig it out of the countryside somewhere else, changing that landscape. This will also negate the need to bring it to site in 30,000 HGV trips along public roads with all the associated danger and disruption that that would bring, not only for Letchworth residents, but for everyone who has the misfortune to live, drive, walk, horse ride or cycle along the prescribed road route for delivery. Let us sensibly weigh-up the pros and the cons and not get hooked up on a slight change in the view of a hill slope which, when replanted with crops, will be barely noticeable. I would add that the Icknield Way foot path, verging the field in question, will remain open at all times during the works. I love this landscape too.

LUCY KITCHING-WARD

Wilbury Residents’ Alliance

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SIR – Railtrack’s engineers must be mad.

When Arlesey Brick Company mined out the chalk the pits filled with water, as we see them today.

Surely Railtrack’s pit, on a hill a mile away, will do the same.

If it doesn’t, it will become a landfill site, and the nearby residents will endure a procession of tipper lorries even more noxious than the chalk lorries they have avoided.

It will make a “nice little earner” for someone.

JOHN FAIRBANKS

Arlesey

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SIR - I read with utter disgust Laura Burge’s misguided editorial piece ‘Rail curve quarry bid may change beauty spot’ (3rd May).

To frighten the local population into thinking that Network Rail are proposing a Quarry at the site is wholly inaccurate. A quarry to most people means a huge hole dug into an area to remove material and that the site is left with a gaping hole once works are finished.

What Network Rail are actually proposing is, to take a ‘scrape’ of chalk from the hill, which means they will remove the top soil, scrape an amount of chalk off the whole hill and then reinstate the top soil back on the field, albeit a slightly re-profiled hill. The re-profile will be of a gentler gradient and therefore will be beneficial to the farmer, as it will then be easier to work the field. It will not affect the ‘beauty spot’ once complete.

If this proposal is not approved, Wilbury Hills Road will be widened forever, at huge cost to the public purse. It will change the nature of the road permanently. We have already started to see a detrimental change in traffic behaviour on the road and can only assume that with a widened road, traffic will be inclined to speed even more. The danger to pedestrians and other road users will be therefore increased.

The costs and environmental impact of taking a ‘scrape’ is far more friendly than bringing in 300,000 tonnes of fill to site from at least 20 miles away, plus its inherent risks to other road traffic users and pedestrians along the whole route.

Not to mention the carbon footprint of transportation of fill compared to moving the material 800 yards from the adjacent hill!

Network Rail’s proposal to source the chalk locally makes sense and I would urge everyone to vote to approve their application.

MRS SLANEY-PARKER

Address supplied

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AXE COUNCIL

SIR - In Letchworth, we are being asked in a questionnaire from NHDC whether we wish to continue with Letchworth Town Council.

As I understand it, this is an opportunity for Letchworth tax payers to get rid of a whole layer of political involvement in their lives. An opportunity to permanently ensure that they won’t have to pay even more taxes in the future: �500,000+ a year when last charged. How often does a chance like that come along?

In these hard economic times, any chance of saving money should be gratefully taken and I urge all Letchworth tax payers to grasp this opportunity and vote in favour of dissolution of Letchworth Town Council - forever!

GORDON NEWELL

Address supplied

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SIR - It would seem that Cllr Sue Johnson and her cohorts, the ousted Letchworth Town Council Supporters Group, would like once again to get their hands on half a million pounds of Letchworth Council Tax payers’ money every year, so that they can again spend it on personal whims and award themselves brownie points in the process.

Does she think we’ve all forgotten what they were doing three years ago? I am so pleased we finally have the chance to get this wasteful town council properly abolished.

JULIA WINTER

Address supplied

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TESCO BOLLARDS

SIR - I find it increasingly annoying that Tesco seem to be a law unto themselves. Their store in Bursland, Letchworth GC put ‘no parking’ bollards out on the lay-by that serves all the shops in the road. These are not put out for a short time and can be out for hours. When I drove past last week to pick up my grandchildren from school the bollards were so far out on the road that it caused the traffic to queue onto the main Bedford Road.

Surely something should be done before there is an accident. Will Tesco soon be taking over everywhere we go, even our roads?

NAME AND ADDRESS

SUPPLIED

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LOST RING

SIR - Last weekend on a trip to Herts for a friend’s birthday party, I lost my wedding ring. As you can imagine I am totally gutted and trying everything to find it.

My husband designed and had it made for me, so it really is the only one of its kind. We stayed at the Lord Lister Hotel in Hitchin on Saturday night and although they have checked the room, they have not found it.

I can only imagine it fell in the waste paper basket and has been thrown out with the rubbish. I was thinking that if someone read about it it might trigger someone’s memory if ever it was found.

I am offering a reward to anyone that comes across it, as I would be eternally grateful. I hope you might be able to help.

EMMA LAMBOURNE

Addresss supplied

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CYCLE SIGNS

SIR - Following the cycle signs fiasco in Stotfold and area, you would hope that Central Beds would have learned their lesson: i.e.: consult with residents and especially the town council before you undertake signficant work in an area.

A recent Stotfold Town Council meeting heard that Central Beds intend to spend over �300,000 on walking and cycling schemes in 2012/13. They are also intending (at long last) to spend �153,000 on Town Centre enhancement. There is also �122,000 for “integrated transport’ in the area.

To avoid yet another huge waste of money and extremely bad publicity in providing items that are dangerous, inaccurate or just not what residents need, it is vital that all Central Beds’ officers and councillors ensure:

1. All departments concerned in this work talk to each other, so the total scheme makes sense and one proposal does not contradict the other.

2. They consult the relevant sections of Stotfold’s Town Plan.

3. They discuss intentions with the Town Council before they make final decisions, so what is eventually provided is needed and actually enhances the area.

In a time when finances are tight, everyone needs to ensure that money is not spent on schemes that might look good on paper in an office in Chicksands, but are a total idiocy and waste of money.

PAMELA MANFIELD

Astwick Road

Stotfold

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TAR FARCE

SIR - I am a resident in Leaves Spring in Stevenage, and last week Leaves Spring was resurfaced (if you could call it that). A thin layer of

tarmac was laid down, bearing in mind it was pouring with rain, and it looks a mess.

I have also noticed that in many places the road surface is already coming up,with patches and holes in the new surface. Tax payers money wasted on a botched job, it’s not good enough.

RUSSELL JOHNSON

Address supplied

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LICENSING

SIR - I am writing, as the Chair of the Sub-Committee which considered the matter, to clarify the granting of a licence application by Tesco for their site in Lyon Court, as reported on your Hitchin front page this week (10 May).

Contrary to what was stated in the opening paragraph to the article, the Council’s Licensing and Appeals Sub-Committee did not grant the licence for 16 hours a day, seven days a week. The Sub-Committee considered whether to grant the hours as applied for but decided that it was appropriate on this occasion to restrict the hours on Sundays and Bank Holidays from 8am to 9pm.

Tesco has not been granted a later licence than the majority of other premises in the area. It is the same on weekdays and Saturdays, and is an earlier closing time on a Sunday than most in the local area. A number of the stores choose not to open for the full length of time that their licence allows them to, and perhaps this gives an impression that Tesco have been granted longer hours. That is not the case.

The Sub-Committee follows guidance stating that the Authority should look to the police as the main source of advice on matters of crime and disorder in relation to the application. It did not receive any representations against the application from them. Some concerns were expressed by members of the local community - these were contained in the report presented to the Sub-Committee and were therefore carefully considered as part of the evidence. If these concerns are realised then a review mechanism is available, in addition to other powers that relevant authorities possess.

NHDC has a responsible and trained Licensing Committee and professional Officers. The balance we are required to find is enabling enterprise whilst affording protection to the community. As the licensing authority, the Council is required to comply with the published national licensing objectives, the legislation, the Guidance and the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy. That is what the Sub-Committee did. The licence of any premises is always open to review, and this is no exception.

CLLR DAVId BARNARD

Chairman, Licensing and Appeals Sub-Committee

North Herts district Council

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DARK FEAR

SIR - The great switch-off has begun and the whole of Meredith Road and half of Vardon’s night lights have been switched off. Never have I felt so frightened to walk back to my house from the road after a night out.

I will most certainly sue the council if anything happens to me or my property which is not fenced off and vulnerable to burglary. The cars here have often been vandalised but now we can’t even see if they are it’s pitch black. I am horrified and disgusted for night workers and the vulnerable.

Even the taxi drivers who have stopped here look nervous as they could be robbed at any time as there is simply no light for anyone to witness any event. The park is opposite giving any robber, mugger or attacker a clear run.

BRIDGET HASLAM

Address supplied

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FOUL FLAGS

SIR - We returned from some time abroad earlier this year. We were kept abreast of the modifications at the Glebe in Chells, Stevenage, by friends and neighbours but on our return we were unprepared for some of the “so called” area enhancements.

The “enhancement” that has caused local residents living opposite the Glebe shopping area most concern is the addition of flags and flag poles fronting the Glebe.

Candidly, the general opinion of the locals is that they are monstrosities that do nothing to improve the area’s ambience, in fact quite the reverse.

Polite comments, acceptable for publication have ranged from “dire” to “they look like something at the entrance to a circus or a petrol filling station”.

We understand, there was some sort of a consultation process over the proposed Glebe modifications and renovation last year but local residents adjacent to the Glebe and the most affected, including our neighbours and ourselves do not appear to have been notified or included in the process. In order to provide space for these flags the little trees in the flower beds fronting the Glebe, which everyone liked and in fact, have been cut down to stumps calling into question the commitment of the planners to a greener Stevenage. We would like the provision of these tawdry flags to be reviewed, which in the view of residents cheapens the whole Glebe area and has a severe negative impact on efforts to try to improve the prospects for the area, which we all agree it requires.

JOHN M. Budd

Chells Way

Stevenage

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GOOD STAY

SIR - I was recently referred to the A&E Department at the Lister Hospital by Dr Paramour a GP at King George’s Surgery in Stevenage.

I would like to acknowledge the excellent care and attention I received from the time I arrived at the GP’s surgery to when I was discharged from the hospital. The dedication and professionalism of every member of staff made my stay in the Lister a very positive experience. I would like, through your paper to thank the GP, the staff on A&E, Ward 9B South and the Cardiac Unit for the care and attention I received.

ANNETTE MCGARRY

Address supplied

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