LETTERS: Comet May 23

THE letters in the Comet on Thursday, May 23.

BIN CONFUSION

SIR - I surely cannot be the only person served by North Herts District Council who regards the waste and recycling update in the latest edition of the council’s Outlook community news magazine as close to the most preposterous piece of nonsense ever committed to paper by a local authority.

These four pages of recycle-speak purport to answer ‘some of your most popular questions’. They certainly haven’t answered mine, popular or otherwise. I want to know what sort of trouble I’m going to find myself in should I in future accidentally place a coloured newspaper such as a copy of the Financial Times (as if) in my brown bin instead of the grey one, which in future is designated for mixed recycling. Especially when my initial response would have been to put it in the blue recycling box anyway, which I always thought was for bottles but now appears to have been for paper, whites only.

I also need to know where, with a narrow galley-style kitchen, nothing in the way of free work surfaces and no laundry or garage, I am going to hide the green kitchen caddy the NHDC is about to foist on me and which they have beguilingly illustrated with a little girl depositing an elderly banana skin. You must use council-supplied bin liners, too. What is the punishment should I try and smuggle stuff out in Waitrose liners instead? Six months’ hard labour at the Letchworth tip? Give me strength.


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If I accidentally put general waste into the grey mixed recycling bin I will be ‘reminded’ of what goes in which bin. If I continue to offend it will not be collected. Three incorrect use strikes and the respective collection will cease! Cease? Who are these people?

I have a lot of time for those who empty our bins and boxes. They’re fast, efficient and don’t leave a mess. It seems they have also been dealt a pretty rubbish hand here, especially if they are now going to be cast in the role of bin monitors. ‘Why can’t I put cardboard in my brown bin?’ is another of their popular queries. Gawd help us. Because Osama Bin Wrongly Laden’s men will come round and nail your front door shut, mate, that’s why. Thank goodness the council tax is so cheap.

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By the way, please don’t use my name and address. I still need my bins emptied. All of them.

Name and address

supplied

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SIR - Thank you to Mr Harris who wrote in last week raising several interesting points about the new waste and recycling service we are introducing over the next three months in North Herts.

I wanted to clarify that the changes are being made at no additional cost to the council tax payer and will provide a better service which will help protect the environment, reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and control the growing cost of waste.

Due to new regulations about what can be sent for composting, cardboard can no longer be recycled via the brown bin. We need to implement some changes as a result of this and have used it as an opportunity to make other improvements at the same time. Home collection of plastic recycling is something that many people want, and this will now be introduced along with the collection of textiles from houses. The new purple bin for general waste will only take up the same amount of floor space as the black recycling box, which will no longer be needed.

Making it easier for people to recycle more means that we end up taking less to landfill sites (to find out where your recycling goes, check our website and search for ‘what happens to my recycling?’, or contact us). This is good for the environment and also good for the council tax payer. The less waste we end up putting in landfill, the cheaper its disposal gets. We expect the new service to be at least cost neutral – that is to say, it will effectively cost nothing. Depending on the amount by which recycling increases, it may well save significant amounts of money.

Clearly we need to inform people about the changes, and we do this in the most cost effective way possible. Distributing information via Outlook magazine means it goes to every home in North Herts, unlike any of the local newspapers in the area. We do this alongside other methods of communication such as sending information to local media, including of course the Comet.

If anyone has any queries about the new service, they can check the FAQs on our website at www.north-herts.gov.uk. If your question is not answered there, call us on 01462 474000, email service@north-herts.gov.uk or contact us via Twitter @NorthHertsDC.

Cllr Lynda Needham

Leader of North Herts

District Council

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CABINET SACKING

SIR - So the final chapter in the sorry saga of the NHDC fiasco over the failed Churchgate development has been played out behind closed doors in Letchworth GC, the sacking from Cabinet of Claire Strong.

The political pygmies that run the Tory ruling group have taken their revenge on a woman who defied their ludicrous and over ambitous plan to allow Simons to destroy Hitchin’s historic town centre by building on 7.5 acres and blocking off from view St Mary’s Church in the process.

They decided to shoot the messenger who defied the group’s last gasp effort to keep the failing scheme afloat last December by extending Simons’ three year exclusive deal and throwing another £2 million at the Lincoln building firm.

Cllr Strong’s failing was to point out that the emperor had no clothes in a deal which was already weighted far too much in Simons’ favour (giving them Biggins Lane car park for free and over £100 million in car parkng charges over 250 years from a new car park on St Mary’s Square).

Instead of thanking her for saving their political skins, the Tory group have sacked her, not after a face to face meeting but with a phone call from Cllr Lynda Needham, group leader.

Her apparent crime was to break the group’s “omerta” on Churchgate and publicly back Hitchin residents who opposed the doomed project.

This is the same Cllr Needham who refused to make the short journey from Letchworh to Hitchin for three whole years to explain why she effectively wanted to destroy our town centre.

Obviously, she prefers to operate behind closed doors, as Cllr Strong has now found out to her cost.

Tom Condon

West Hill

Hitchin

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NOT FINE

SIR - Having just had to pay a parking fine of £60 for staying longer than 1hr 30mins on a Saturday match day, which I fully admit to, I am confused to understand how I am meant to know when it is a match day and I can’t have a leisurely meal with a friend and support local businesses on the Roaring Meg retail park?

I appreciate that parking is an issue on match days, but very often it’s not much different on any other Saturday. Surely there should be some form of obligation to notify me before parking that it is a match day so that customers can freely choose to visit elsewhere rather than getting a parking fine?

Name and address

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ROARING MEG FIASCO

SIR - I write with regard to the parking charges at Roaring Meg as highlighted by Lee Morrow in last week’s Comet. My wife recently parked at just after 4pm on a Saturday.

My wife has no interest in football and had no idea nor any interest in the fact that Stevenage were playing at home that day. (Even if she had been going to the game, she would have only been able to see the last 20 minutes!) We received a parking fine last week from ParkingEye stating that she had exceeded the 90 minute maximum on match days, the fine £100 unless paid with two weeks when it would be £60.

Her appeal has (of course) been rejected. The signs warning of time limits are small (but legal as I understand) however the company say they have no legal requirement to inform the public when a match is on. My advice is, do not park or visit the retail park on Saturdays (as the restriction applies all day) and don’t spend too much time having coffee in Costas, browsing in Currys or Boots or letting your kids have a good time in Toys R us as three hours is the maximum stay on non match days. Perhaps it would be in the best interests for everyone to boycott the retail park, a downturn in business would surely make the retailers see what a con and a scandal is being allowed to operate there by ParkingEye

Name and address

supplied

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WASTE DISPOSAL

SIR - I can’t let Robert Sunderland and his county councillor friend (Burn It: Letters May 16) pass without comment, although to respond properly would take much more space than allowed.

Mr Sunderland advocates burning household waste to dispose of it and produce electricity. Energy from waste (EfW) is the least efficient way to produce electricity by far, and the negative impacts of using this method of disposal far outweigh any benefit. Most serious of these are the waste of finite resources (huge quantities of fuel oil to maintain burn temperature as well as destruction of recyclable or biodegradable waste), transport of waste over long distances, release of huge quantities of CO2 as well as pernicious and dangerous emissions including nano-particles and polluting gases (Sweden is much less densely populated and has higher prevailing winds so they drift elsewhere – but see also the study in neighbouring Denmark, another fan of incineration, into their untypically high incidence of testicular cancer and dioxins in breast milk – with the finger pointing towards incineration of waste). Undoubtedly the crude pollution as from the early incinerators can be dealt with but only at considerable and increasing cost and still nowhere near all. For such a cynic (about NIMBYs and MPs) Mr S is extraordinarily ready to accept things at face value – a little research would quickly establish that far from being an economic solution modern incineration is also just about the most expensive (see official WRAP waste gate fee surveys) – my calculations suggest that sensible, practical and proven alternative approaches to waste, as increasingly adopted by UK local authorities and encouraged by Defra, would cost Herts ratepayers in the region of half a billion pounds (£500 million) less than the 25 year contract his councillor friend has signed us up for – as well as preserving resources and the air we breathe - and our economy (all the profits will go to France). And yes, it would be cheaper to export our waste to Holland, etc.

I live even further from Hatfield than Mr Sunderland so cannot be accused of nimbyism but I do wonder how he might react if it was to be built a couple of hundred metres from his home. Oh – and wind farms on agricultural land are a brilliant idea – they take a tiny area of land which can therefore remain productive, they leave no lasting legacy on the land when done with and they are very efficient generators – that’s why our continental friends have so many.

Mick Bee

Letchworth

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ROAD REPAIRS

SIR - I was wondering if someone at the highways department could kindly explain why the standard of road repairs differs widely in Letchworth GC.

For example, the Jackmans estate perimeter road was recently completely resurfaced and a very nice job was done too, yet the top end of Bedford Road where the two mini roundabouts are, only ever gets patched which lasts for about a week. This has resulted in this stretch of road resembling a world class mogul field and I would be interested to find out why the two different approaches to repairing the town’s roads.

Murray Walton

Address supplied

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CHARITY THANKS

SIR - By means of the Comet I would like to thank everybody who has helped and supported me as chairman of North Herts District Council over the past year, including the ladies who very kindly made the knitted dolls and hats for one of my chosen charities.

It has been a wonderful experience being chairman, not least because of the funds raised over the year for my chosen charities: £3,000 for Gigs and Wigs for Kids (Cancer Hair Care) and £2,080 for The Road Victims Trust. This money will help these two small charities to carry on the very good work they do.

Once again, thank you all for your help and for making my year as chairman such a memorable experience.

Cllr Joan Kirby

Hitchin Oughton Ward

North Herts District Council

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SCHOOL WORRY

SIR - I am writing to you today with concerns of the schooling within Stotfold.

There are currently two schools that take into reception two classes of 30 pupils. It has come to my attention that the 2013 intake has caused many families problems with school run arrangements as siblings have been placed in separate schools.

The population within Stotfold is constantly on the increase with three development plots on the build and I can only imagine the problems in the future with school places in Stotfold as this year St Mary’s Lower School only has one spare placement and Roecroft Lower has none!

If two families were to move into the area needing places where will their children go to school?

Also there is no choice of schools for parents, it’s either one or the other and taking into consideration that St Mary’s is a Church of England school and if you wish your child not to be educated by a religious school but Roecroft you have no places of your choice.

This has come to my attention since my mother-in-law has the difficult decision of what to do with her grandchildren whom she cares for full time she now has two children at separate schools come September and a younger child at the local day nursery and they all need to be in school before 9am. She does not drive and due to the situation she is not happy that a stranger would take the children to school just because their child attends it.

It is upsetting to know that you have no control over your child’s education as there is no choice.

It is also sad knowing that the old Roecroft school sits derelict, surely opening this school as a third option gives parents peace of mind, lowers reception class sizes and opens a whole new sector of jobs. These are all things the Government wants.

I feel Stotfold is growing at a rapid speed from a large village to a town but the schooling and transportation is just not catching up.

Name and address supplied

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WATER POWER

SIR - How come, when street lighting is being turned off to save cash, that the Stevenage town centre fountain is still going at 11pm? Water pumps are very inefficient energy users at any time so why are they still pumping long after the shoppers have left. This may be just a drip in the ocean but as those penny pinchers in the council keep telling us every penny counts.

BARRY JACKSON

Address supplied

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