LETTERS: Comet September 6
THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, September 6.
TOP FIELD PLANS
SIR - If the people of Hitchin are so desperately keen for a massive Tesco store why don’t they locate it on the outskirts of town, like every other town in the United Kingdom has done? There is apparently a large site more or less opposite Kingshott School on Stevenage Road, which sounds an ideal location. Quite cheap, too.
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SIR - Local people may object to developments such as ‘Simonsgate’ or the Top Field supermarket, these are the direct consequence of increasing apathy, a feeling of powerlessness and thus poor turn-out in local elections. Councillors (with the exception of a brave minority of committed souls) and council officers thus feel they can do whatever they like in the planning world and do not need a mandate to do it. I doubt if any candidate (particularly Tory) put in their recent election manifesto that Top Field was to be sold off and a large supermarket built on it.
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Where next? Oughton Head? That’s a common and it has cows grazing on it.
It would appear that the opaque body known as cow commoners are not accountable to anyone and it is unclear who actually owns Top Field and thus who would benefit from the eviction of HTFC (by very dodgy criteria) in order that the site should become vacant.
The new football ground near St Ippolyts was a smokescreen and/or fall-back position if the HTFC eviction fell thorough. I doubt that Mr Daniels’ company actually owns the land, but rather may have an option to buy.
When I asked someone not unconnected with cow commoners a couple of months ago about the status of Top Field the response was that it is ‘held in trust by the Charity Commissioners on behalf of the cow commoners’ and that therefore ‘any development on the land is a non-starter’. To paraphrase Mr Tom Condon, I can hear bells ringing.
This is a very deep pit and gets muddier the further one delves in it. Doubtless there is pot of gold at the bottom for a lucky few, though.
Societies through the ages have never been run for the benefit of the masses, but only for those who have power and influence. Democracy, local or national, is a sham to make the lumpen proletariat feel they have a voice. We haven’t, except in the letters pages of local and national newspapers. And who cares for that?
Make no mistake, there will be a new large Tesco on the site. A fitting memorial to Mr Daniels’ commercial acumen and to certain Tory councillors or cow commoners who keep silent.
SIR - Your article in last week’s Comet regarding the ongoing Hitchin ‘Top Field’ saga reports that the preferred option is for a superstore as shown on a layout plan agreed by the two parties involved, the Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust and development company New Road (Clifton) Ltd.
The plan has been included in a screening opinion submitted to North Herts District Council for clearance, presumably prior to hopefully seeking planning permission.
How contrary does all this sit with what was learnt from your article in early July this year that under the Charities Act the land should only be used by a not-for-profit company.
Further to this the Cow Commoners Trust treasurer Peter Cranfield was quoted as saying that when the present lease ends the land must be used in furtherance of the Trust’s objectives...whatever they may be we have yet to find out. Most importantly, Peter Cranfield stated ‘it all comes down to what the people of Hitchin decide’. This being the case then when can we expect options being but to the towns-people rather than the two parties seeking to go ahead as though the people of Hitchin had already been consulted?
SIR - I’ve been reading your recent articles in relation to the Cow Commoners Trust plans to sell off Top Field and their proposed relocation of Hitchin Town Football Club’s site to Green Belt land in St Ippolyts.
I live on the Stevenage Road in Hitchin and myself along with all other residents have been written to by North Herts District Council by David Carr, Environmental Protection Officer in April and July.
The letters have informed us that Stevenage Road has now been given AQMA (Air Quality Management Area) status. There are elevated concentrations of nitrogen dioxide being measured in the area which exceed the air quality objectives set by the Government to protect public health.
We have been assured that the levels aren’t harmful to residents. The county council will have to put an action plan in place to identify steps that can be taken by the council and the community to improve air quality in the district.
I wanted to bring this to your attention as if Hitchin Town Football Club is relocated to the green belt land in St Ippolyts the only access to the site would be down the Stevenage Road. This would increase the levels of traffic down the road significantly and so be in direct conflict with the action plan that the council needs to put in place.
It would be interesting to see what comment the council members who are also cow commoners have to make on this as they would be fully aware of the AQMA status.
NAME AND ADDRESS
SIR - I refer to the article which appeared in your paper (Comet August 23) with regard to school examination results.
In respect of my son I am pleased to say the exam board have re-assessed his history grade upwards and he now has sufficient passes for the university of his choice, Lincoln.
Through this column may I take this opportunity to thank the headteacher and sixth form staff at Knights Templar School, Baldock for their invaluable help and assistance in achieving this end.
SIR - I understand that the lines have been painted in the lay-by at Tesco in Mobbsbury Way, Stevenage in error and that the sign is confusing, but at the moment, the yellow lines are in place and should be adhered to.
The sign says that goods vehicles can load between 7am and 11am. It does not say that anyone can park at all other times. (I was caught out by a similarly poorly worded sign in Argyle Way behind the leisure park, but that’s another story).
If the local councillor is saying people should ignore the lines, than he is advocating people breaking the law.
It can’t be right for people to break laws they don’t agree with. Also, is the Comet condoning the same? Absolutely the police should not be seen to be breaking the law. A community support officer was seen to emerge from Tesco having done his shopping. He was not dealing with an emergency which may have given him reason to park there.
There is a car park immediately adjacent to this bay. The only problem is that people are too lazy to walk the extra 10 metres.
Parking in the bay actually makes it very difficult to cross the road at the Mobbsbury Way/Chells Way junction as it blocks the view along Mobbsbury Way. This is especially so for people in wheelchairs or mobilty scooters.
The same applies to the lowered verge outside St Hugh’s Church.
SORTING OFFICE PROBLEMS
SIR - I just had to reply to the letter in this weeks Comet about our ‘improved’ postal service.
The day the Hitchin Sorting Office closed the postman tried to deliver a parcel to our house. We were out. He did not leave it because it was perishable and did not ask any neighbours if they would take it in.
He did leave a card saying that we could collect it from the new collecting point in Brookers. Not returning home until after Brookers had shut it was not until the Monday morning that I could take the card to the new collection point in Brookers, I queued for 23 minutes, to be told they could not find my perishable parcel. Could I call back in an hour when they had had chance to have a proper look? They took my telephone number so they could contact me when they found it. No call came so I returned to the Post Office. They still could not find it and told me to ring the number on the card, which I did.
I was given a reference number and told the local office would be in touch; no one contacted me. On the Wednesday my husband was in town and called in to find they had found my perishable parcel but not contacted me.
Needless to say the plants, which had been hanging around for 5 days in a heatwave were dead.
So much for progress.
I also find it strange that on other occasions the postman will leave a parcel with a neighbour but that they no longer put a card through the door telling me where the parcel is. It is very lucky I have honest neighbours.
END OF COUNCIL
SIR - With sad heart I have just posted our responses to the NHDC questionnaire regarding the abolition of Letchworth GC Town Council.
Originally, we had petitioned in favour of the creation of the council. We were quite aware of the limited powers such a body would have, but it did seem that a community the size of Letchworth needed a voice and level of representation below that of NHDC, particularly as the Heritage Foundation at that time, was so confrontational in its attitude. (Happily, somewhat better these days).
So, we petitioned and subsequently voted for people we did not know. Unfortunately, whatever their intentions and motivations may have been, once in ‘power’, they let us down. Then, the only alternative offered was (from people we did know) for abolition. So we voted for them, and now we have to put our heads above the parapet and commit.
We do believe that representation at such a level would be a good thing, but sadly the citizenry seem unable to find a mechanism to select suitable folk to do the job, so we have indicated yes to abolition.
We are forced back to our politically selected ward representatives in NHDC. Beware councillors, we shall be making you earn your increased allowances.
SIR - Having been offered a much needed left knee replacement and attended the pre-op assessment unit, I was informed a week later that the PCT (Primary Care Trust) had refused funding because my BMI (Body Mass Index) did not meet their guidelines. I later found out that I had to lose one-and-a-half stone in weight.
Now I have received a letter asking me to complete an “after your operation questionnaire” which makes me wonder how many other operations have been denied, but then included in their ops completed agenda, or are we just another figure completed to meet the hospital’s way of reducing the waiting list numbers?
NAME AND ADDRESS
SIR - Regarding the letter in this weeks Comet. I am so glad there are other environmentally friendly people around.
I am over the moon with so many street lights now being switched off. It is so nice to sleep at night without needing blackout curtains and also to look up at the night sky and be able to see stars on a clear night, reduced light pollution. I am old enough to remember Letchworth being plunged into darkenss late at night and it not affecting anyone significantly. I do believe a few more lights should stay on, junctions, alleys and around sheltered accommodation, but it only requires one light in these locations. Let’s hear from others who agree with the switch-off.
NAME AND ADDRESS
SIR - I note with interest the discussions on rail transport from Stevenage. I would like to add to the discussions that to travel north to places like York at the weekend, Saturday or Sunday, rail users have to use slower trains to Peterborough and then change to a train that has come from London Kings Cross passing through Stevenage but not stopping.
This is a severe disadvantage to the old and disabled, plus families and business people etc. This is slower, more expensive, and changing trains on a journey is very inconvenient, especially for disabled people and wheelchair users.
How about a positive campaign led by the Comet and including all political parties to lobby the railway companies to have an extra stop at Stevenage for both north and south trains from place like York on a Saturday and Sunday.
This could enhance the image of Stevenage as a rail hub just outside London for both business and pleasure travellers.
Could the Comet please get the opinions of all local politicians on this matter as they could all potentially work together for the benefit of the town and the local community.
SIR - Like John Windebank, I too felt that George Konstantinidis made some excellent points, not least that our forefathers fought and died for the right to vote that so many choose not to exercise.
All three main parties support our membership of the EU, which now hands down 80 per cent of their policy from Brussels, so it is unsurprising that they are all much the same. I believe it is this, and their refusal to listen to grass roots opinion, that is putting people off voting.
But why the English Democrats? Eurosceptics would have most effect by uniting behind the UK Independence Party. In some opinion polls, UKIP has overtaken the Lib Dems, and their support is growing all the time. Moreover, they would address the democratic deficit by creating an English Assembly, to complement those in other parts of the UK.
UKIP is not a single issue party: it has a full slate of domestic policy, but recognises that only by taking the UK out of the EU will it have the power to implement it – and an extra �50 million/day in the kitty!