LETTERs: Comet, October 3

THE letters in the Comet on Thursday, October 3

DO WE NEED ANOTHER SUPERMARKET?

SIR – I would like to voice my objections to the proposal of a Morrisons store on the old M&Co site. While I agree it is good that empty shops are filled, surely this should not be done at the expense of others.

Thorntons has closed. Would this have closed if we did not have more than our fare share of coffee shops in the town? And now that the Card Factory has moved into the town another small card shop is closing down.

In a small area of Hitchin we have Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Asda, the small Tesco, Blake’s Corner, the old VG shop, Drink Stop and Wine Stop, The Deli, a butchers...


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Surely the proposed Morrisons will effect these smaller shops, especially the off-licenses as I understand that they are applying for a license to sell alcohol up until midnight.

This surely in itself is going to result in more drunken teenagers in the centre of the town and more anti- social behaviour.

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Do we at the end of the day need another food shop let alone one that sells alcohol late at night?

Disgruntled of Ickleford

Sylvie Lawrence

By email

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FAIR SIGNS

SIR – Your report, ‘Electronic signs draw blank on fair’ (September 26), and the excuse given by the Hertfordshire County Council spokesman as to why the charter fair diversions weren’t flagged up, has left me a tad dumbfounded.

If this spokesman’s word is to be taken as a true reflection of HCC’s position in the matter, it would appear they have just spent approaching a quarter of a million pounds of public money, on a project that hadn’t been fully thought through.

Furthermore, if this is the case, how did they decide where to position the signs in the first place?

I wonder if this is a truly monumental cock-up by HCC, or perhaps more probably a reinforcement of that old maxim: A camel is a horse designed by committee?

Steve Foulds

Uplands

Hitchin

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WHAT HOPE?

SIR – In reply to Jay Ryder, general secretary of the Stevenage Town Centre Pavement Cyclists Association, I would like to point out that under the Highway Code: Laws HA 1835 sect 72 and R(S)A 1984, sect 129, states that you must not cycle on a pavement, unless the footpath and cycle track are integrated and then you must follow Law HA 1835 sect 72 of the highway code, which basically tells you to keep on your side of the track, as it were.

As I see many grown men and woman breaking the highway code by cycling on pavements, pavements for pedestrian use only, I ask David Lloyd, the police and crime commissioner for Hertfordshire, to ask his officers to intervene when adults illegally cycle along footpaths.

If he cannot enforce a person riding a bike on a footpath, what hope do we have in him with other illegal activity taking place across Hertfordshire?!

Edward John Selby

Road cyclist (with a child’s buggy trailer)

Mountjoy

Hitchin

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SENSE PREVAILS

SIR – I would like to reply to Mr Ryder regarding my original complaint about cyclists riding through Stevenage town centre.

After many calls and letters from my members of the ‘keep cyclists from the town centre group’, on Friday I was in town to happily witness the police stopping several cyclists and spot fining those who refused to get off their bikes, it would seem that sense has at last prevailed here is hoping that they continue to police it and to quote you Mr Ryder, “if you ain’t gonna stop, you will get a fine!!”

M S Page

By email

Bus woes

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PUBLIC TRANSPORT SERVICES

SIR – On Saturday, September 21, I needed to be in Victoria at around 9.30am.

I decided to travel to London by Green Line. For preference I would have liked to have left Stevenage at around 8am. There is a Green Line coach which leaves Stevenage at 8am and is scheduled to arrive in London at 9.25am. However to catch this coach necessitates a taxi from the Poplars area of Stevenage as the first bus, operated by Arriva, is scheduled to leave at 8.07am and to arrive in the town centre at 8.29 am. Thus I was delighted to see that the 797 first visited the Stevenage estates and would leave the Poplars at 7.32am.

Fortunately I checked with Arriva before travelling to find that, from September 14, that coach had been discontinued without replacing it with an earlier bus. I was however able to catch the last remaining Stevenage estates coach which was scheduled to leave at 6.32am, one hour earlier than I needed to travel, but at least a direct service to my destination.

Everything seemed to go well until my return journey.

The scheduled service from Stop 9 (incorrectly shown as Stop 6 in the new printed timetable) is meant to leave at 6.45pm but in fact (according to regular travellers waiting for the coach) doesn’t leave until 7.30pm. There was no way to check what time the coach would be leaving as the local Green Line information office closed at 4.30pm and despite many attempts by several travellers the helpline, 0844 801 7246 a premium number, was never answered.

The coach did in fact leave at 7.30pm. On boarding I advised the driver I would need to be taken to the Poplars in accordance with the statement in the timetable which states ‘R – Coach will continue to any of the stops...... on request’. The driver advised he had already been told he was unable to continue following instructions from the ‘senior junior manager’ (sic). I queried this decision and a call was put through where I was told the driver couldn’t exceed his hours and I would have to get the bus to the Poplars. I pointed out that the last bus to the Poplars leaves at 6.30pm and I was now scheduled to arrive at 9pm following the 45-minute late departure. I was told therefore I had to walk, even though I am elderly and have asthma. I insisted on a taxi and was advised I needed to complain at a later date to customer services (sic) which is what I am doing. What was even worse was that taxi fares increase after 9pm. (The driver was puzzled because he wasn’t sure how he had exceeded his hours as he had only started at 5pm).

So FOUR LIES:

1) The coach departs from Stop 6;

2) The coach leaves at 6.45 pm;

3) The coach WILL continue;

4) ARRIVA offers a service to its customers.

What we need is a local authority to be responsible for local public transport services where the travellers’ views are sought so that the resultant service can be honest and beneficial.

David Bundy

Shearwater Close

Stevenage

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ROADWORKS

SIR – I would like to congratulate whoever is responsible for planning and managing the roadworks on Six Hills Way in Stevenage.

The efficiency in the way that the work has been carried out with minimal disruption to drivers and the way that the public have been kept informed has been second to none.

Then guess what? I woke up and discovered it was all a dream. In reality, the expensive programmable digital displays erected all around Stevenage told the public 12 weeks ago that part of Six Hills Way would be closed for eight weeks while the roadworks took place.

Lots of drivers were upset about the disruption, extra fuel and time that would be used to get from A to B, but at least six weeks of the eight weeks would be over the school holidays so there would be less traffic on the roads anyway. However after 10 weeks the additional traffic that had been causing chaos along Fairlands Way and that side of the town centre had not decreased so I thought that I would drive down Six Hills Way and check that the road was open.

As there were no warning signs either end of Six Hills Way and all the big digital signs were blank I presumed the road would be open, but guess what? I got so far and then discovered that the road was still closed and there was a nice little yellow sign saying the road works were now taking 11 weeks.

As it has now been 12 weeks I dread to think how much longer the road is going to be closed. I hope it is not too much trouble but would somebody please have the curtesty to tell the council tax and road tax payers of Stevenage how much longer this disruption is going to take place. I have an idea, why not use the large black digital displays erected all around Stevenage.

Now there’s a thought!

Jan Crawley

By email

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TRAFFIC SPEED

SIR – As reported in last week’s Comet, Hertfordshire Constabulary will be checking traffic speeds in Pirton Road, Hitchin as part of Operation Slowdown. So for a brief period, residents can expect some welcome relief from the speeding traffic. Then things will return to normal.

Hertfordshire County Council tried to calm the traffic in 2007, but succeeded only in speeding it up by putting in inappropriate or ineffective road markings. Residents’ requests to return the road to its original layout and introduce speed-activated 30 mph warning signs have been ignored, despite support from local councillors. The problem is allegedly being looked at as part of the Hitchin Urban Transport Plan (council-speak for an indefinite bureaucratic delay). After six years of inaction HCC recently resurfaced the road, which should have been an opportunity to make improvements at little extra cost. Regrettably, despite a reminder, nothing was done other than to reinstate the unsuccessful 2007 scheme.

While the police’s efforts are much appreciated, effective traffic calming is the only satisfactory long term solution for Pirton Road. HCC needs to shift its focus on highways from simply spending budget to ensuring that the desired results are achieved. Unsuccessful schemes need fixing, rather than just leaving residents to suffer the consequences.

David Borner

Mount Pleasant

Hitchin

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STOLEN BIKE

SIR – On Tuesday, September 24, my father placed his bicycle in the communal bin shed area at the residential home in Fairview Road, Stevenage, where he lives; this is where he has stored the bike for years.

On the morning of Wednesday, September 25, he found his bike had been stolen. This is an electric bike.

What makes this despicable act even worse is the fact that my father is 82 years old, this bike was his means of transport and ensured his independence. My father needs this expensive electric version of a bike because he has arthritis of the knees and cannot manage an ordinary bike. At the time of stealing it the thief would have known the bike belonged to an elderly person because of the location of the theft. They could also have gathered that the owner of the bike might have a degree of disability; individuals often purchase this type of bike because they are unable to manage an ordinary bike as is the exact case for my father. To add insult to injury, we are not in the position to replace this bike for my father and he is already feeling the effects of its loss. Shame on the thief, I hope it won’t be too long before you pay for this and any other crimes you have probably committed.

Caroline Foley

By email

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