LETTERS: Comet October 4

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, October 4.

FOUL PLAY

Sir – Last Saturday I took my daughter to Meadway playing fields in Stevenage to run.

There was a man and his son playing football at the same time. We hadn’t been there long when an elderly couple with a brown spaniel walked through. They walked up the side of the football pitch, and allowed their dog to foul while they stood and watched. As the man was carrying a plastic bag I thought that he was showing responsibility for clearing up after the dog, but no. He walked on – the bag was for blackberries. This is obviously a regular walk as that side of the playing field is a disgusting mire of dog mess.

A short time later, the man and his son had just left when a couple in a small dark hatchback arrived with a dark brown spaniel-type dog. They let the dog on to the football pitch, allowed it to foul on the pitch and did nothing about it. The man saw me watching and made as if to pick something up but unless he likes keeping his dogs mess in his pocket, he was simply pretending. These people stayed for some while, throwing the ball for their dog, but on no occasion did they attempt to clear up after their dog.


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You know who you are and you are disgusting, and a disgrace. If you have children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours with children, you should be ashamed. I don’t dislike dogs but I haven’t got dogs and I don’t want to have anything to do with your dogs and that includes their mess. However nice and upstanding you might be I don’t want to have anything to do with you either. You are revolting and you spoil public places for other people with your selfishness.

NAME and ADDRESS SUPPLIED

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STICK TO 30MPH

Sir – In his Comet letter last week Robert Sunderland, in agreement with Hitchin town councillors, put his case for a 20-mile in town speed limit. He thinks a new linked camera system would be the answer, rather than the various ‘hotchpotch’ restrictions now in place. Modern vehicles are evermore well designed in all aspects for driving safety and with more enforced compliance to the present limits and better road awareness by all ages of pedestrians, there should be no need to crawl about our town at 20mph.

What generation, I wonder, is the letter writer referring to when praising the attitude of earlier generations? If he should be referring to the generations of the 1930s and ’40s, in which I grew up, I’m afraid not only were the vehicles very poorly designed for road safety but the attitude of very many drivers was appalling. There was no requirement to take a road test, being voluntary until 1935, and drinking to excess before getting behind the wheel was common place. Often, as I’ve seen, farmers on market day so drunk they needed help getting into their cars and trucks amid much hilarity. Was it any wonder that with a mere fraction of vehicles compared with today the road deaths were so high that in 1941 there were 9,169 road deaths compared with 1,857 in 2010. Even in 1966 the figure was 7,985, although unusually high for that period. In the 1950s until the ’60s the totals were between 5,000 and 6,000 per year

It would be an important factor in the argument for a 20mph in town limit if we had the figures for road traffic deaths and serious injuries in the ‘Hitchin Town area’ for recent years. I suspect the figures to be very small on both counts. I appreciate the point of youngsters in the evenings exceeding the speed limit by a factor of two, but if the camera system Robert Sunderland mentions is ideal in its efficiency for a 20mph limit why not argue to employ it for the current 30 miles rather than suggesting the limit be raised. Some people are just against the use of cars and would have us all driving at the speed of pedestrians, if at all.

Ivan Martin

The Limes

Hitchin

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CAR DAMAGED

Sir – I recently had the misfortune to pass one of the lorries for Network Rail on the Stotfold Road carrying the white stones which they appear to be using for an embankment alongside the railway line.

The lorry was not using a cover on the back of his vehicle and the white stones came showering down onto my car, I thought at the time had I been a motorbike I would not have stood a chance and was extremely worried that my windscreen would shatter with the impact. As the lorry passed and pulled into the construction site I sighed with relief. Unfortunately it was only when I got home, a few hundred yards around the corner and got out of my car that I noticed the headlight was completely smashed.

I contacted Network Rail and gave them the exact time of the incident, as I know from passing the site most days that the lorries are booked in, and thought sure that from the precise time I had given them they would be able to find the driver.

I was extremely disappointed to receive a letter a few weeks later from Network Rail denying liability, there reason being that there were too many vehicles working on the site and they were unable to determine which one it had been. There was only one vehicle entering the site at that time and so it makes you really wonder if they even bothered to investigate!

I reported the incident to the police, who in turn advised me that I would need to inform my insurers. Now due to the carelessness of this driver and Network Rail not only do I have to find �135 for a new headlight, I have been advised it could affect my insurance renewal!

Beware motorists!

Vicky Carlton

Letchworth GC

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NO ALTERNATIVE

Sir – Once again the Comet runs a story about street lighting and Sharon Taylor is there again blaming all the crimes happening on street lights being switched off at midnight.

Unfortunately these crimes would happen anyway, whether the lights are on or off. The police have stated that switching the lights off has had no impact on crime, I think they know better than Sharon Taylor or any of us.

People need to start to realise that as a country we are nearly if not already bankrupt in fact if we were a business we would be.

We need to save money somewhere and whatever is suggested, every Labour administration comes back with “you cannot do that”, but they never seem able to come up with an alternative.

The alternative is to put up council tax and create other taxes but that would also cause an outcry.

If switching lights off allows the savings to go towards house building or more money to go to the NHS or the police isn’t this more important.

We find ourselves in this situation partially due to the last Labour administration and the banks. Why don’t these people admit there is a problem and if they do not like what is being proposed suggest practical alternatives instead of saying ‘No! No! No!’?

We all need to start living in the real world.

NAME and ADDRESS SUPPLIED

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IN THE DARK

Sir – I have read with interest recent neighbourhood messages informing us of late night thefts of catylytic convertors.

This would never have happened if residents could see the perpetrators. We have also found out via other nighttime crimes more Stevenage lights will be switched back on. It was always said that the switching off of streetlights has had no adverse effects on crimes on other counties. This I find hard to believe as as there is now living proof there are major problems.

I myself live in a blackout area opposite Hampson Park. In the hot weather I could not keep my window open as it was pitch black and I could often hear people moving around the cars but could see nothing. Should I report residents getting into their own cars as I cannot see if they are criminal or resident?

Own up. This scheme does not work and encorages crime.

BRIDGET HASLAM

via email

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CYCLE DANGER

Sir – I agree it is not safe to walk or cycle along Stotfold Road to Fearnhill School but there is a cycle path along Hitchin Road up Rose Hill which links with the resurfaced Greenway (or the road to Highfield School) which continues to Fearnhill.

I appreciate the situation is frustrating for Hitchin parents who were unable to secure places in the excellent schools in Hitchin.

Perhaps the council are re-examining their admissions policy in light of this change?

Wendy Pitcairn

Purwell

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FESTIVAL

Sir – I am writing with regard to the letter printed in your paper on September 27 (‘Baldock pride’).

In response to that letter the Balstock weekend was indeed the longest and worst weekend ever had in Baldock.

We had the pleasure of an outdoor music venue, an old marquee, at the Brandle School. The music of choice being ‘death metal’ – without a doubt the worst kind of music/noise me and my family have ever had the misfortune of being exposed to all weekend, to the extent that children could not play in the garden due to the excessive noise levels and disgusting, offensive, so called, lyrics being shouted over the speaker system.

We indeed have spoken to environmental health especially when the venue overrun and did not finish until quarter to midnight on the Friday night.

Hopefully no repeat next year. A nightmare weekend!

NAME and ADDRESS SUPPLIED

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NO TO SCHOOL EXPANSION

Sir – Mrs Martin (Letters, September 27) is fortunate to live in a fine neighbourhood which contains a popular school.

She implies the school belongs to her nice neighbourhood rather than to all Hitchin and that it is wrong if her child, living only 280 metres away, does not get in by right. What right? What about children from the Willows estate 800 metres away who, if closer children get all the places, may have to walk on a further 400 metres? Would not a fairer policy be that no child should ever have to travel more than a maximum distance of say 500-800 metres rather than that those living extremely close should have the easiest trip?

To increase her chances with Samuel Lucas if preferred, Mrs Martin should focus on the crazy admissions policy that gives priority to any sibling of a current pupil irrespective of where the family now lives. First time buyers are now 35 years old on average so many children are born in rented accommodation. Once a first child has got into Samuel Lucas JMI, the family can move away and all subsequent children are guaranteed to get into Samuel Lucas. Apparently only about four places are left each year for ‘new’ families – and I’m told 80 may be left on the waiting list.

The answer is not merely to increase the intake of Samuel Lucas by 30 places – 50 mothers would still be unsatisfied. It would need to be quadrupled to four-form entry, admitting 120 children a year, to satisfy all parental preference. That would leave less fashionable schools under-used so they would close in time and Samuel Lucas would double again to eight-form entry, having 1,680 pupils of all ages. The surrounding streets could be demolished for playgrounds. Absurd? Yes – so let’s not even start on expanding Samuel Lucas just because it is currently popular.

The one-page feasibility study of all options other than expanding Samuel Lucas, published on HCC website, appeared professionally incompetent. The director of education will chair the public meeting. This will be our one chance to question how he forecasts demand and chooses schools to expand.

Come early – the school hall only holds 210 small bottoms!

Robin Dartington

West Hill

Hitchin

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Sir – I am finding the debate around the expansion of Samuel Lucas somewhat bewildering.

While I fully support the requests from some residents for openness and a transparent process, many of the other arguments being raised by Robin Dartington and others in opposition to the expansion I find surprising and at times very disappointing.

There is clearly a need for extra school places in the area, which has been identified in a council forecast until 2016, four years from now. There seems to be a criticism that the forecasts don’t go long enough into the future, but I would say it would be pretty hard to forecast numbers for children who haven’t even been born yet. There is high demand in the area of Samuel Lucas and presumably this is a key reason why the school has been chosen for expansion, rather than other areas where there aren’t enough children to justify extra school places.

The problem of a possible increase in traffic seems to be another point consistently raised. We live within 300 metres of Samuel Lucas, and if my daughter does get a place (and she wouldn’t have done this year) we will walk there. Although for an adult other schools may not be “far” away, for a four-year-old they are still too far to walk to, and we would have to drive if she went to Oughtenhead, our nearest alternative. The proposed expansion may actually reduce traffic.

What’s more, despite protestations that this isn’t a ‘Not In My Back Yard’ issue surely sending children to schools further away would just push any traffic increase on to someone else’s doorstep.

There also seem to be a number of complaints about spending �3.5million on the expansion. Personally I can’t think of a more worthwhile cause than investing in the next generation and ensuring the children of Hitchin can receive an education in their local area.

Finally, on our 10 minute walk to pre-school, we pass the gates of Samuel Lucas, with my daughter excitedly claiming “when I’m a big girl, I can go to that school”. If the opposition do somehow manage to railroad the required expansion, I’d like to invite Robin Dartington to come and explain to my daughter why that isn’t possible.

John Martin

Greenside Drive

Hitchin

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SIR – In response to letters on September 27, I am struck by how many correspondents’ views completely miss the point that in proposing to expand Samuel Lucas School, the county council are responding in the right way to the pressing need for school places in the immediate neighbourhood.

I am a parent of three children who have to travel from Moormead Close to Strathmore Infant School every day. This journey takes 45 minutes if we walk to school and generally over an hour to walk home due to the children being tired after school.

Those who believe that Strathmore School is local to much of west Hitchin are clearly wrong. Due to the distance we have to travel we drive most days. Samuel Lucas is a 10-minute walk from our house and we would not drive if we attended our local school.

I am of the opinion that traffic congestion would be reduced if Samuel Lucas expanded as I know of at least 10 families in our neighbourhood who are at present driving to schools like Strathmore and Preston because they could not get their children into their local school Samuel Lucas.

I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of schools as a hub for the local community. I grew up on Offley Road and attended Samuel Lucas School and in those days the school provided places for children throughout the local area. It was the focal point for all the children in the area and we grew up knowing one another because we all went to the same school. When families who live within a few hundred metres of their local school have to travel elsewhere to drop their children of each morning, clearly something has to be done.

What is more important, a local education for our children or dubious traffic flow arguments?

Hannah Wiseman

Moormead Close

Hitchin

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WALKING INTO TROUBLE

SIR – Thousands of years ago, natural selection would have weeded out the weak and the stupid from society. Sadly now they seem to be the norm. I’m refering to the iPhone snatch in Hitchin, reported in last week’s Comet.

Firstly, would you walk along the road holding �200 in cash out in front of you? No, neither would I. But that’s what people do when they use these gadgets in public. They open themselves up to the weaker and pitiful members of our community.

Next, to the people who actually mug and steal in broad daylight. I find it beyond belief that these people don’t realise that they will get caught. Descriptions, the internet, CCTV, you can’t hide. And it’s not having thieves in society that scares me, it’s having people so stupid they can’t seem to grasp this.

Thousands of years ago these people would have walked off a cliff or wondered what would happen if they chopped their own head off with an axe. Crazy!

A NEAVES

via email

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