LETTERS: Comet September 12
THE letters in the Comet on Thursday, September 12
SIR - In response to Mrs Jenkinson and her complaint regarding parking in the disabled bays the station. Yes it is wrong that a taxi driver would park in the bay but it is also wrong for a blue badge holder to use a disabled bay to pick up an able bodied person. A disabled bay is only for a disabled person to use for alighting to and from a vehicle not to pick up someone who is capable of walking to and using a normal parking bay. There is too much misuse of blue badges for this sort of purpose and blue badge holders need to be held to account for this as well.
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SIR - A clarion call to all cyclists and motorists. After seeing assorted bits of poor behaviour from both communities and being on the receiving end of an awful lot from the latter, a few pointers to ease tensions between the two Motorists. Do not honk or shout at us, especially from alongside. You wouldn’t do this to a horse so don’t do it to me. Expect me to dodge potholes - you wouldn’t drive through them so why should I? Cyclists don’t jump lights and forget to indicate caveat. Motorists, remember that approaching a junction I am steering, braking and trying to indicate with only two hands; I can’t do all three. Either I enter a roundabout at speed or I don’t indicate to you. I choose the latter. Just bear with us; get out of your car and try it. Motorists, don’t you dare shout and gesticulate to remind me there’s a cycle path as happened in WGC today. I didn’t know the area, the path was behind a hedge and it wasn’t going my way for more than 300m. Treat me like a slow motorbike, therefore we are both equal road users. Cyclists and motorists, two abreast is permitted by the Highway Code - read it, but only where appropriate. Motorists, big difference between a lycra-clad cyclist who can probably ride defensively but very fast and the guy coming home from the pub without lights. Orwell says they are not all equal. Proceed with caution. Motorists, let’s get over the road tax issue once and for all. My bike doesn’t have an exhaust - ergo, I do not need to pay road tax. The polluter pays. Whoever messes up. The cyclist gets hurt. An accident could ruin one life directly and another indirectly - the guilt, legal costs and loss of license. It’s just not worth it.
USE THE SIGNS
SIR - I am absolutely fed up with people from all age groups riding their bikes at top speed in Stevenage town centre. There are plenty of signs informing these ignorant cyclists that it is a pedestrian area (please look up this word for its definition) but chose to ignore it. I recently had a conversation in the town with the police who assured me that on the spot fines would be issued if this was seen but I have witnessed them turning a blind eye as the bike goes whizzing passed. Does it need someone to get knocked down for the relevant authority to act? Let’s make the town centre a safe place to shop.
Name and Address
Sir - I’ve just read your front page story regarding the crime committed by the man with a life shortening disease given more than leniency by the judge. Does this really mean that anybody with a life shortening illness can do what they want, in fact add it to their “bucket list” without fear of punishment. God forbid I’m ever in this situation but if this is the precedent then world watch out because it will be a lot more than a mobile phone and a punch up.
SIR - In reply to councillor Terry Hone, my previous letter was in response to the document available on the Letchworth Golf Course website of the proposed driving range and practice ground, where 13 floodlights are clearly visible in the artists image. The document in question can be found at: http://www.letchworthgolfclub.com/files/documents/9ed6ed34-e06d-11e1-8f46-bc305bd9eec9.pdf It will be a very strange driving range indeed if it is only open during daylight hours considering the substantial investment that is being made. Obviously it is not possible to use the practice ground or the driving range in the dark which will be a major hindrance to those club members and members of the general public who would wish to use the facilities but work during the day. Would councillor Hone categorically reassure myself, local residents and Letchworth and District Astronomical Society that there will not be any lighting of any sort on the proposed driving range and surroundings or located outside of the proposed development that would be able to illuminate the practice ground and/or the driving range?
DEVELOPMENT AT LETCHWORTH GOLF CLUB
SIR - We refer to recent correspondence from councillor Terry Hone regarding the proposed development at Letchworth Golf Club. We would first like to make it clear that we do not wish this to degenerate into a personal issue between ourselves and Mr Hone. We have never expected Mr Hone act on our behalf, and do not feel aggrieved that he has not done so; the first time we contacted Mr Hone was in response to his comment that people had to “put with it for the sake of future development” - a comment he has yet to explain or justify. We are well aware that Mr Hone is not our representative. We did contact our own local councillors before the planning deadline and understand that they passed on our concerns to the appropriate person at the appropriate level. We also lodged our concerns and objections in writing directly with the planning officer at Hertfordshire County Council. It is, however, interesting to note that cllr Hone is the only councillor to comment publicly on this matter. We did not receive a copy of the flyer that Mr Hone refers to, nor did other residents of Queenswood Drive. It is an on-line article in the Comet, dated May 16, which states Mr Hone is holding a petition, therefore if he requires vindication in respect of this, he should seek that from you.
Mr Hone is keen to take credit for, among many other things, “insisting to HCC planning officers that no truck stacking should take place on Queenswood Drive and that this would be one of the over 30 planning conditions he was instrumental in getting included in the planning approval”. We have been informed that the planning conditions have to refer to operations within the site boundary, therefore setting a condition stipulating no stacking on Queenswood Drive is not something that is enforceable or relevant as Queenswood Drive is a public highway, and does not fall within the application boundary. There is no specific condition that states vehicles must not be stacked in Queenswood Drive, because it would be difficult to monitor and enforce. Therefore is it entirely possible that vehicles will be stacked on Queenswood Drive. However, we would like to stress, as per our previous correspondence to your newspaper that our concern with this development is not restricted to the impact it will have on the roads near and around where we live. The HGVs will leave the A1 at junction 9 and travel along Letchworth Gate, to St Pauls roundabout, turning left into Baldock Road, along Baldock Road and Hitchin Road before turning left into Queenswood Drive, and then along Willian Road to the entrance of the site. This journey will then be carried out in reverse. Therefore any motorist travelling along these routes - and trying to get to and from the A1 - will be affected by these lorries. Similarly, all the residents, and their properties, of all these roads will be affected by these heavy goods movements. Residents of the Lordship Estate will no doubt be affected also, as people rat-run through their streets in an attempt to avoid these HGVs. Similarly, residents of Great Wymondley, Wymondley Road, St Michaels Road, Ickleford, Old Hale Way, Bedford Road and the roads in and around these areas will probably also experience an increase in traffic as motorists try to find alternative routes into Hitchin. We still maintain that this development will have a disastrous effect on our towns, our green belt, our environment, our traffic, motorists, pedestrians and residents, and fear this will become a devastating case of “we - and hundreds of others - told you so”.
Paul and Emma McKenzie
SIR - It was interesting to read this week’s letter to the Comet on the subject of maggots causing such distress to many residents in their brown recycling bins.
Hitchin’s Labour team has been talking to residents over the sad few weeks since the by elections were called to replace David Billing on the county and district councils.
We have found so many examples of services which are not being delivered as people would want them, where all that is needed is a bit of flexibility by our local councils for things to improve a great deal. Amongst those concerns are:
- Totally inappropriate speeds in our congested streets which could be massively helped by some 20mph zones. Why does this have to take so long when we have been crying out for these changes for years?
- A stupidly inflexible approach to street lighting which is still causing fear and distress on our roadways, and in estates. Why can’t we sit down on a case by case basis and make some better decisions which would make a tremendous difference to how people feel about where they live by day and by night?
- Overhanging trees on our estates causing a huge and unnecessary loss of light to residents but which the council won’t do anything about because the council doesn’t own the trees. Why on earth can’t our council officers work with local landowners to get a better result for the people they represent?
- And finally those maggots. We have met many people who are totally distressed by their appearance in many brown bins this summer. If we could have some flexibility in refuse collection then for a short period in a hot summer our brown bins could be collected on a weekly basis.
Most of us have really enjoyed an unusually warm and sunny summer. How ridiculous for it to be spoilt in this way just for the want of a little imagination.
Frank Radcliffe, Labour in Oughton
Judi Billing, Labour in Hitchin North
SIR - I’m writing to you in connection with the election leaflet that the UKIP candidate has put out in Hitchin North.
The leaflet states: “UKIP campaigned tirelessly against the flawed Churchgate proposals, forcing a change of direction.”
As a serving Labour district councillor, and one who voted to end the relationship with the Churchgate contractor, I have received no communication from UKIP at any point in the process. They have not come to voice their views at Hitchin Committee or the Town Talk that precedes it.
If they campaigned against the Churchgate project they did it so quietly that no councillor noticed.
Is that why their campaign didn’t tire them? Was it perhaps nonexistent?
Cllr Deborah Seglini
North Herts District Council
SIR - I have been following the article, editorial, and subsequent letter re; fracking in your paper over the past fortnight, and have noted the attributed comments of local MP Oliver Heald, saying that the geology locally is not suited to fracking.
I am curious as to what specific areas are not suitable (e.g. is this just North Herts or does it include Central Beds) and, if so, on what type of report is this? Perhaps, through the columns of your paper, Oliver Heald and others who have knowledge of this could illuminate us?
SIR - I would like to know what sort of company Ringway are running. Have they actually had any training? On Sunday morning I left my house in St Margarets, turned right to go to Tesco and what did I come across but the road closed by Roebuck Shops. I turned round and went along Broadhall Way and got there eventually as there was a backlog of traffic. I’m asking where were the advanced warning signs and where was the sign at the end of St Margarets telling us the road was closed. After leaving Tesco and coming back along Broadhall Way I only came across one diversion sign and that was on the other side of the roundabout, it makes you wonder if there were any diversion signs out at the Hertford Road end. I Would also like to ask why the sign telling us the road will be closed was put out on the day of the work being done as it wasn’t there at all on Saturday. My understanding is that these signs should be put up at both ends of the road two weeks before. Also why wasn’t this advertised in the Comet? Comments from Ringway would be appreciated or are they a law unto themselves?
Name and Address
SIR - We refer to the letter in last weeks Comet from the chairman of the Arts Council for North Hertfordshire regarding the proposed district museum and the Hitchin Town Hall (Mountford Hall) as a community facility.
What we are concerned about is that North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) appears to be negligent regarding the protection of this as a Grade II listed building.
We and other members of the community have repeatedly raised concerns regarding the proposed multi coloured cladding to the rear and side of the building facing Bedford Road, Grammar School walk and a block of flats at the rear. This will be an eyesore and not fitting for a Grade II historic red brick building constructed in 1901. Other issues are the loss of the full stage by the proposed construction of a wall to house museum articles which may never see light of day. This will prevent the production of pantomimes, plays etc because the stage will be too narrow and the single cloakroom that is left will not be compliant to allow children and adults to perform together it is also dangerous blocking a fire escape. This, along with other areas of concern is being ignored by councillors and officers, the public consultation has been very poor and community groups have been fed information piecemeal. Information to Hitchin committee regarding progress on the proposed district museum and town hall is presented as a statement with no opportunity for open dialogue it appears to be happening behind closed doors a similar situation to the Churchgate development by Simons that the majority of the public were opposed to.
Keep Hitchin Special along with others from the local community wrote a lengthy historical report for English Heritage on Hitchin Town Hall enabling this building to be listed, we were proud that they recognised the importance of this building and granted Grade II listing. Even this seems to have been given lip service by the council
Where do we go from here? What action can we take? We have written to English Heritage, raised and had these problems recorded at council, Cabinet and Hitchin Committee but the architects drawings seem set in tablets of stone and the council say they have no money. Because local people have the generosity and desire to provide a top class district museum the freehold of two shops have been purchased which will be demolished and handed over to the council, even this gesture is not sufficient for the council to retain the current stage and provide adequate changing and toilet facilities etc. Efforts locally seem one-sided. We ask the council not to take a Dickensian approach but be open and transparent, listen and act on the concerns of the public in order that the Mountford Hall resume its role as a fully functioning community facility.
Keep Hitchin Special
LET’S GET ON THE RIGHT ROAD TO HELP BUSINESS
Sir- I was astounded to see all the controversy about just using the hard shoulders of the motorway, the A1(M) between junction 6 and Welwyn and junction 8, Stevenage North. These hard shoulders were supposed to be for vehicles having a breakdown and so they could pull onto so and not inconvenience or endanger other traffic. The surface of these hard shoulders is just the same as the ordinary roadway. Can the idiotic mandarins that love to put a stop to commonsense ideas not see that the situation has now become drastic beyond belief? People who use this stretch of motorway everyday suffer expensive delays. The traffic light system at junction 6 is farcical to say the least. I am surprised that Oliver Heald, our local MP now says he is concerned and will look into it. I have been a firm supporter of Oliver for some time, why could he not have taken some action before? These delays and the farce of the Hatfield tunnel which took three years of delays beggars belief. I am concerned about the main arterial roads. People need to travel to work and they pay tremendous tax to use our inferior roads; it is not fair to be so contemptuous to the people of this country. Elected representatives, please get the over paid un-elected councillors to earn their salaries with some commonsense activity now, not in the next decade.