LETTERS: Comet September 05

THE letters in the Comet on September, 05


Sir- While David Cameron and William Hague continue to involve the UK in yet another Arab war both my wife and myself will not be supporting the Conservative Party. We are not pacifists but have our politicians learnt nothing from Tony Blair’s mistakes. We both consider ourselves patriots and support the sacrifices made by our armed forces in recent wars but another misjudged military adventure is too much. As the military leaders have stated we need to clearly understand our objectives. It is very easy to get into a war but very difficult to get out, as Iraq and Afghanistan have shown. We hope that the majority of our politicians of all parties wills see sense and reject these foolish proposals.

Tony and Rita Osborne

Address supplied



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Sir- Congratulations to Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland for voting against military action in the parliamentary debate on Syria last week. I applaud his principled and common sense stand. It takes courage to go against your own party leadership, and how I wish more MPs of whichever party would do this, especially on matters of such gravity. Opposing yet another military intervention is not supporting the evil acts that we are seeing, neither is it favouring “doing nothing”. It is about being clear and rational about what is likely to make a real difference to the suffering people in Syria, as opposed to what might make us feel better about it.It is not clear what difference air strikes will make other than to kill more people. The losers as always are the ordinary people who just want to get on with their lives. The winners are as always the arms companies, who in business-as-usual can stick a “battle tested” sign on their products at the next arms fair. Progress is more likely through the framework of international law. As for chemical weapons, the US (therefore the UK) was actively supportive of Saddam Hussein in 1988 when, in the largest chemical attack on civilians in history, he killed 4,000 of his own people. More recently, we have used drones, phosphorus bombs and depleted uranium in ill-fated “doing something” actions, causing untold death and misery every bit as harrowing as that which we are seeing in Syria, but which we didn’t get to see on our TV screens. And then of course we have our own weapons of indiscriminate mass destruction called nuclear weapons, which under international law we are required to get rid of. I hope last week’s vote might be a signal for a more democratic parliament, one where Stephen McPartland and others can feel emboldened to think and act more independently. Perhaps we can dare to hope that in future our MPs really will put the concerns of their constituents before their party bosses.

Stephen Whiting

Cutty’s Lane



Sir- Will the man who spoke to my wife as she got out of our car at lunchtime, at Hitchin Sainsbury’s on Wednesday, August 4, please contact me via the Comet.He asked my wife if I had real hair when I was younger, which I did, and whether I was a military policeman at the Hook of Holland in 1956, which I was. His first name, my wife thinks was Daniel, surname unknown, he lives in Sunnyside, Hitchin and had a blue car. He would be in his late 70s. He told my wife I owed him a pint, as I had reprimanded him as he got off the troop train at the Hook on his way home to the UK on leave from his boating in Germany. A pint in 1956 would have cost a shilling (5p) but I will happily pay today’s price.

Name and Address




Sir- I am disgusted and disheartened to see that taxi drivers seem to think it is their right to park in the disabled bays when they cannot park on their own rank.I went to collect a friend from Stevenage railway station and couldn’t get parked in any of the spaces as they were all full of taxis. When I showed my badge to the driver of one of the cabs the driver put two fingers up and said he would move when he was ready. I pointed out I was blocking the entrance to the station and he started calling me names and swearing. I have to collect my daughter from the station most nights when she has finished work, and not once have I managed to use the disabled bays, as they are full of taxis, and they refuse to move even if you show a badge. It’s disgusting and I don’t know why they are allowed to get away with it. They don’t hold blue badges, and anywhere else in town they would get a ticket, why is the railway station any different?

Mrs Jenkinson




Sir- In February I contacted Hertfordshire County Council to find out what its policy was with regard to the possibility of fracking in the county.The answer was not definitive (how many councils’ responses are?) but the indication was that the geology was unlikely to be suitable as it is thought not to contain hydrocarbons.

Odd then, that on page 23 of this week’s Comet there is an article on the possibility of granting licences for fracking in a large part of North Hertfordshire. I am ambivalent over fracking. I don’t believe it does as much damage as the Balcombe Rentamob loudly claim (hope we can rent them when ‘Luton Four’ is given the go-ahead). Certainly, if it is managed correctly there should be no impact on groundwater and the earthquakes will be negligible. A friend in Christchurch NZ says they often get earthquakes of the order magnitude four but they don’t get any damage nor do they bother them. A lot of fuss over little, earthquake-wise.

And I would prefer to see Britain less dependent on oil and gas from Russia and the Middle East. Our balance of payments, which is in a parlous state and getting worse, will be improved by utilising our own natural resources. The gas produced would do more to meet our EU CO2 reduction targets more than importing foreign oil. One example where fracking for oil has been taken place for 30 plus years is Wytch Farm in Dorset. It is the largest of such type of hydrocarbon extraction sites in Europe and has caused no problems with groundwater, earth tremors or other disturbances to its neighbours in a very sensitive environmental area. We should not rush to judgement without understanding the facts better. These include an understanding of where our energy is presently sourced. I am concerned however that in February I was told by ‘good authority’ that our local geology was unsuitable, but now it may be suitable after all.

Robert Sunder Land

Oak house

Little Wymondley



Sir- It is clear to any motorist that uses the A1(M) that the thinking by the Highways Agency to reduce the motorway lanes from three to two to create a lane drop off at junction 6 is “warped”(to put it mildly) and at an exorbitant cost of £2.2m. I firmly predict that what this will do is create an even longer (and more dangerous traffic queue) at junction six, which will back up the hill. What is really required is making the motorway three lanes all the way from junction 6 to junction 8 but in these so called times of austerity making use of the hard shoulder northbound is a more sensible and cost effective solution to ease the traffic flow, which has worked well elsewhere. Indeed why not go further and use this solution southbound from before the Stevenage north junction to junction 6 to ease the morning rush hour queue? Time I think for Herts County Council, Welwyn and Hatfield Council and Stevenage Borough Councils to all to get off their collective rears and put a stop to this madness.

VF O ’Leary

Address supplied



Sir- We understand that Laura Burge is moving on. She has been a wonderful local reporter. She has written intelligently, clearly and concisely and has been able to present complex Hitchin issues with great skill. I did have some misgivings about her as I observed her busily texting through long council meetings, thinking that she was messaging her friends, only to realise that she was providing a live commentary on the proceedings to her Twitter followers. A dedicated professional! We wish her every success in her new job and thank her for all of her work at the Comet .

Mike Clarke

Chair Hitchin Forum



Sir- Is Hitchin in the Chilterns? The Chiltern Society thinks so and is calling its main executive meeting at the British School on Thursday September 26. It will be followed by an open session during the afternoon starting at 2pm following concerns over building plans in the Green Belt around the town. Anyone concerned about the building projects around Hitchin is welcome to call in at the British School on that day.

Nigel Agar

Chiltern Society

Oakfield Avenue



Sir- I am looking to have a reunion of old school friends on Saturday, September 28, who attended Heathcote School, Stevenage. We left school around 1964 and some

of the names I remember are: Susan Warman, Linda Parsons, Jennifer Firth, Mary Hardy, Marina Innis and Paula Harris. Those already attending are: Pauline Crowe, Pauline Oatley, Susan Smith, Ann Roberts, Vivian Roberts, and Ann Alban. Please contact me via the Comet.

Pauline Higham

(Née Oatley)

Address supplied



Sir- Regarding the planning application for Letchworth Golf Club, I feel I must improve Mr Gary Hammond’s understanding of the conditions we ensured were included in the planning approval. Mr Hammond in his letter to the Comet of last week appears to be concerned about light pollution and states that “… the entire site will be blasted with huge amounts of grandstand style light …”. I, as a result of resident’s concerns, ensured that a condition (number 20 of many) was included in the final planning approval that reads “No floodlights shall be used on the site during construction or as part of any final landscaping, or on the driving range following completion of the herby permitted scheme”. I hope this clarifies the situation for not only Mr Hammond but also any other concerned resident.

Terry Hone

Herts County Councillor and

Resident of Letchworth South



Sir- I am writing in response to Herts County Councillor Terry Hone and Gary Hammond’s letters in last week’s Comet. Mr Hammond is quite correct in his observations concerning the golf driving range lights at Chesfield Downs on Jack’s Hill. The light pollution generated by the driving range lights and also by their glarey unshielded spherical car park lights is absolutely appalling and horrendous. A large area of the surrounding countryside and night sky above is blasted with a dazzling glare that can be seen for miles around. I would hate to be a paying member/user of this golfing centre and be expected to pay towards this wasted electricity and environmental blight. Will Councillor Terry Hone, and all those behind this proposed driving range scheme at the Letchworth golf club, reassure members of the Letchworth and District Astronomical Society that there will not be a similar (or worse) situation arising there? The reason I am so concerned is because our society observatory at Standalone Farm is situated about a mile north of the golf course. We would not like to see a large portion of the night sky to the south being obliterated by an upward shining sky beam and/or dazzling unshielded car park lights like those at Chesfield Downs. If this does happen it would almost certainly be in direct contravention to The Clean Neighbourhoods Act (2005). Perhaps Councillor Hone could clarify the anticipated/planned lighting situation?

Robert Townsend

The Letchworth and district

Astronomical Society



Sir- I would like to say how lucky we are to have such wonderful schools in this area, looking at the GCSE results pages it is fantastic that all schools appear to have done so well, very little between them. It is a credit to all teachers and of course the hard work of the students. I do wish though that parents in Letchworth GC would now recognise the importance of using your local school and getting away from the suggestion that schools in Baldock or Hitchin achieve much better results. I feel strongly that children should go to their nearest school and value the importance of friends nearby as we did. (If you live in Hitchin, Baldock or Letchworth GC let your child attend a school there). I do not have any preference to any particular school but see that time spent walking home with friends and that extra time at home benefits youngsters so much more than travelling on a bus or train just in the hope that your child will get better teaching. This year the results show that those of us with children in Letchworth GC do not need to place our children on a bus or train and see them get home at 5pm. Well done all schools but particularly Highfield, their children get back home early as school day ends at 2.55pm. Maybe this is shown in the results more time to work, rest and play.

Name and Address




Sir- Will the letters regarding the ringing of church bells ever stop? Your name and address supplied correspondent is correct in their comment that the bells were there long before the people who are complaining about the sound of them and that they should not have moved there knowing that the church and it’s bells were there. As a retired bell ringer I always remember the comments made by our vicar to anyone who complained about the sound. He said that the church and its bells had been there centuries before the complainants were even born. Also to those who complained that the ringers did not attend all the services, he said that they did much more for the church than they did.

John Maltby

Gun Meadow Avenue




Sir- Re maggots in the brown bin. One idea to help stop this is to put meat etc in the brown bag and into the freezer until the next collection day; someone else might have other ideas.

Name and Address




Sir- With regards to the letter from Cllr Tony Hunter in reply to mine (Comet, August 29) and with the greatest respect, he has only been directly included in the Hitchin Town Hall/ museum project for a very short time. This was after his recent appointment as portfolio holder for community engagement and rural affairs. In December 2012 there was a document entitled ‘The Town Hall, Brand Street, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, Design Access and Heritage Statement’ issued by the planning department in NHDC. With the demolition of 15 Brand Street ‘the additional floor space created would allow the Local Study Area to be located in the beautiful space at the front of the mezzanine, instead of the bowels of the museum. It is believed that Hitchin Historical Society would welcome this change. The freeing up of the space at lower level would allow museum storage here and this could be instead of the storage proposed to the stage. Were NHDC to omit this onstage storage (and its omission does not form part of the application) it would preserve the integrity of the listed building, would remove the objection which the community groups have raised in terms of the loss of the stage space and a changing room and would reduce the cost of the scheme’. With that reduced cost of not building a wall across the stage and creating museum storage in the town hall, money could be available for locating it elsewhere. The original stage was enlarged because it was considered too small for the size of the hall. Other alternations including changes to the gallery will destroy its architectural integrity as well. He neglected to mention the loss of all but one small changing room which, with the stage reduction and removal of gallery seating, will affect its future multi-purpose use. The design statement, as quoted, should have formed the basics for the changes. As far as I am aware museum staff have not investigated alternative storage. There has been a failure to listen to the community groups who represent the public at large. We all need this project to be a great success for the town hall as well as the district museum.

Brian J Foreman


Arts Council

North Hertfordshire