LETTERS: Comet May 2

THE letters in the Comet on Thursday, May 2.

HEDGE DAMAGE

Sir - If ordinary citizens obtain planning permission and do not fulfil any conditions attached to this permission, they get penalised until the conditions have been fulfilled.

Somehow it seems that this does not apply to Stevenage Football Club. When they obtained permission to extend their car park (and were, alas, allowed to remove most of the trees screening their buildings to the north, the last remnants of what, even in the 1970s, was officially recognised as a small strip of ancient woodland), among the conditions was the retention and, where necessary, re-instatement of the hedge separating their grounds from the cycle tracks along Monkswood Way to the west and Broadhall Way to the north. On January 10 and February 11 I reminded the owner of the club of this obligation, in writing, sending copies to the council’s arboricultural officer, and on March 12 I wrote a third letter to the arboricultural officer, with a copy to Mr Wallace.

The hedge was not fully protected during the building works (as required in the conditions) and is now in a highly distressing state - made even more so by fans constantly breaking through the gaps, widening them and compacting the soil (a danger mentioned in the planning permission conditions and blatantly ignored) as they go, as a short cut. Does Mr Wallace hope to hold on until these tramplings acquire the status of rights of way, hoping then to get permission to remove this hedge totally? And does Stevenage Council really deserve the green “V” in its name if it does not protect the greenery it has, not even when reminded time and again? The council cannot, in this case, hide behind having to count every penny: the costs for reinstating the hedge have to be borne by the football club.


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COUNCIL CASH

SIR – The HELP town council have completed their ineffectual tour of office and it has not taken them long to emerge from the primeval mire to make vile comments about their superior parish council. The old chestnut they pulled out was how £11,000 had been spent on a mayoral chain and town crest. However what they neglected to say that it is well known how any business or corporation needs a caption on their correspondence in order to function. Both a chain and crest were held by the Heritage on behalf of the town but refused permission to let the parish council their use when asked.

Now lets look at the funding of HELP when in office. They ended up with £17,000 in the bank after inheriting the best part of £650,000. It is known that £200,000 was wasted on legal fees after a tribunal judge had explicitly told them not to. Some 10 months ago the official auditor was asked to look into this matter but no report has emerged as yet. Recently the district council held a meeting to decide what should be done with the £17,000 returned by HELP but no mention was made about the £650,000 which if it had not been wasted would have made a healthy contribution to the community.

Derek Hodgson

Norton Road

Letchworth

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FLIGHT FIGHT

SIR – I was very pleased to see that North Herts District Council has unanimously decided to oppose the proposed expansion of Luton Airport. Stevenage Borough Council on the other hand, has approved the expansion.

I also note that Sharon Taylor, the leader of the council did not refer to this in her recent election leaflet, even though Bedwell ward, which she represents, will be the ward most affected, if the expansion goes ahead.

MR K POOLE

Cuttys Lane

Stevenage

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VIOLENCE ACTION

SIR - Sexual violence in conflict was a shocking reality facing women in Europe during WWI and WWII and it is all too real for women in Afghanistan and Syria today.

For too long this violence has been seen as inevitable, but that can and should be changed. William Hague put the issue on the agenda for April’s G8 foreign ministers’ meeting. He supports increasing prosecutions of men who carry out these crimes.

Yet, in the aftermath of an attack, a survivor’s first thought isn’t legal action. She needs emergency medical care and help to overcome the trauma.

I am a supporter of CARE International UK which backs ‘one stop’ centres with health services, financial advice and legal assistance for survivors all in one place. Without this support, women will not have the strength to give testimony.

But, there aren’t enough of these centres and they need funding. Please can readers write to their MPs urging them to support funding for this work, and to campaign against such devastating violence.

Sophie Milligan

The Old Church School

Willian

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DANGER

SIR – We live next door to a wonderful Greenbelt field where foxes play, pheasants and partridges roam and listening to the skylark is still a joy. But at the bottom of the field runs the main Cambridge rail line with an open gate on to the line. We have seen children playing on the line and running past it is a main road, a rat run to the A1(M) north. There have been seven fatalities I know of since we have lived here and so many crashes including one into a bungalow. 30-40 mph it says and yes you have guessed 484 houses are proposed to be built on the field.

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BUS PASS FARCE

SIR – Regarding the “Bus Farce” (Comet letters April 25), like your correspondent, I too have a bus pass issued by North Herts District Council, but unlike them, I did receive an automatic renewal form. This I duly completed and posted to Herts County Council on December 27.

Having contacted HCC and been told there was no trace of my application, a second form was completed and posted on February 15. Still no new bus pass arrived and again I was told there was no trace of my application. A third form was competed and posted on April 2.

To date I still have not received a new pass.

As all of these forms contain my name, address, date of birth, photograph and signature maybe I should be more concerned about identity theft than actually obtaining a new bus pass.

MRS LK BROWN

Greenfield Avenue

Hitchin

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CHURCHGATE

SIR - While I and most Hitchin councillors are very glad to be rid of the Simons millstone, it is vital that we now reflect on what users of the town centre really need. We must rapidly regroup in an inclusive consultation around a financially viable scheme which fits our town centre strategy. This time it must respect Hitchin’s independent character, provide enough parking space, and not go overboard on outdated data on shopping space needs or on grandiose or intrusive architecture.

Further, with the recent approval by our North Herts councillors of the improved version of the Hitchin Town Hall /District Museum, the town will have a second thrust to its vibrant and sympathetic development. There is still work, however, to be done to ensure that the plans for Bancroft Park and Gardens and their facilities are fully reviewed to take advantage of learning from Howard Park and Gardens’ success – so that our Bancroft facilities too find a fitting and well used component of the successful town centre which all our generations want and need.

We should also take advantage of the opportunities in the Hitchin Transport Plan, to make our walking and cycling routes around the town (and to neighbouring towns and villages) safer, better and more joined up, along with improving public transport.

David Billing

Labour Group Leader,

North Herts District Council

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SCHOOL RECORDS

SIR - In your front page article about concerns over school staff changes (Comet, April 18) it is strange that you should take a comment from the leader of Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) when schools are nothing to do with SBC but are the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).

The two schools which you name, Marriotts and Nobel, are in Chells division and you made no attempt to contact me as the HCC county councillor for Chells.

Had you done so, I would have been able to tell you that some of us have been concerned for many years about the fact that exam attainment in Stevenage schools is generally significantly lower than in the rest of the county and indeed, apart from John Henry Newman School, in recent years none of the secondary schools have achieved better than ‘satisfactory’ in Ofsted terms.

I have a healthy cynicism towards Ofsted, but nevertheless I was concerned enough to make sure a special meeting was held on June 13 2012, for all the six county councillors for Stevenage, plus relevant education officials from HCC, to discuss this issue. Only three of the six county councillors were present (myself, Phil Bibby and John Lloyd).

I believe the key is to raise educational aspiration in Stevenage. If the right new heads are chosen, then the necessary cultural change could happen. It is undeniable that some short term disruption may occur – but if this merely disrupts something that was not working anyway, it is probably worth doing.

Cllr Robin Parker

Stevenage Borough Council

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LIVE SHOWS

SIR - Having now enjoyed two “live” performances from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House at the Broadway Cinema I would like to commend the young poeple working at these events. With a full house and much to do the team are professional, as one would expect, but also friendly and helpful. Their contribution adds a lot to the atmosphere and makes the evenings even more enjoyable.

Pat Baskerville

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NO DANGER

Sir - With reference to Cllr David Billling’s letter of April 11, I would very much like to know why he has singled out Milestone Road, Strathmore Road, and Fells Close to be the “most dangerous areas” in Hitchin. I have tried to find out the reason for this statement living in one of the roads without success. Also I have quizzed the police regarding living in this area without the knowledge of all of this supposed crime that is going on. From the police maps it would appear that there is less crime in these areas than it is in Whitehill Road where Cllr Billing lives. So please can someone enlighten me. I know that there was a murder in Milestone Road, but that I understand was a ‘domestic’ incident does this now mean that the whole road is now a crime area?

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THANK YOU

Sir - I would like to thank the person who found my red retractable dogs lead a few days ago and put it in a place where it could be seen along the Horseride in Skipton Close. Thank you, from Barney the dog.

J Burfield

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SIR - On behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who donated to a bucket collection at The Lamex Stadium on 2 March.

Volunteers collected £1,360.00 before the match between Stevenage Borough v Colchester United as part of the charity’s official partnership with The Football League for the 2012/13 season.

Every penny raised will help more men survive prostate cancer and enjoy a better quality of life by providing vital support, information and funding research.

We would also like to thank Royal Mail, who supported the bucket collection with volunteers, and has very kindly agreed to match fund any money raised by their staff.

It has been an incredibly successful season for Prostate Cancer UK, both in terms of raising awareness of the most common cancer in men, and fundraising. Sport is an ideal platform through which to reach men about an issue which sadly still suffers from a certain level of taboo.

All 72 clubs in The Football League have been fantastic ambassadors of our cause. We have very much enjoyed working with them all and greatly appreciate all the support they have shown the partnership.

Mark Bishop

Director of Fundraising

Prostate Cancer UK

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