LETTERS: Debate over recycling in North Hertfordshire and the future of Stevenage town centre rumbles on

Wheelie bin

Wheelie bin - Credit: Archant

Debates over household recycling in North Hertfordshire and the regeneration of Stevenage town centre rumble on in today’s letters to the Comet.

Why not wrap food waste in old paper?

SIR - Regarding Janet Joseph’s suggestion in last week’s letters that Letchworth GC residents wrap their food waste in old newspapers – I am afraid there is one major shortcoming in that in North Hertfordshire food waste and paper waste are recycled separately.

Richard Powell


Letchworth GC


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SIR - In reply to Janet Joseph’s ‘Paper trail’ letter in last week’s Comet, I must point out that Stevenage Borough Council’s recycling arrangements are very different to those of North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC), with the latter absolutely forbidding paper of any description to be placed in the brown bin.

Last week I found my brown bin had not been emptied, although it was less than 25% full. There was no sticker applied to inform me as to the reason. I contacted NHDC to find out why it hadn’t been emptied, and it was soon apparent that vegetable peelings placed in a brown paper bag were the reason.

This does seem quite nonsensical, particularly as a local authority just a few miles down the road encourages leftover food to be placed in newspapers and then disposed of in the brown bin. Perhaps NHDC can answer this question for all of us “obsessed Letchworthians”?

I have yet to meet a resident in any other area of the UK whose local authority has the same recycling arrangements as NHDC. In some areas the standard issue black plastic bags are still being used, together with heavy duty brown paper sacks for recycling garden waste. There are no wheelie bins in evidence in this part of the country.

I look forward to reading a response from Cllr Peter Burt, NHDC portfolio holder for waste, recycling and the environment, and apologise in advance for adding to his woes regarding the ongoing, and now rather tedious, recycling correspondence.

Jacqueline Angell

Letchworth GC


SIR - In response to Janet Joseph’s letter last week and the use of old newspapers for compostable waste, it should be noted that Mrs Joseph lives in an area under the control of Stevenage Borough Council. Us Hitchin and Letchworth residents, unfortunately, have to contend with a penny-pinching council called North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) which always go for the most short-sighted options it can choose.

We used to be able to use paper to wrap our compostable waste but we’re told, with the introduction of compostable bin liners, that paper must be recycled instead of giving a better financial return to the council. NHDC wishes to save money by not issuing bin liners but still make money from paper recycling. We have been told forcefully our compost bins will not be emptied if they contain paper.

At the end of the day residents will just use purple bins for compostable food waste, as a number did last year in the heat, rather than leave unwrapped food in a bin for up to two weeks.

Keith Wright

Poplar Close



SIR - Further to Janet Joseph’s letter ‘Paper trail’, when North Hertfordshire District Council provided us with compostable bin liners we were told we could no longer use newspaper to wrap our compostable food waste in.

Like Janet, prior to this enforcement we too had always used newspaper and had never suffered maggots or partially decomposed food in the bottom of our bin. Sadly the same cannot be said for the food bags. So Janet, I would love to return to using recycled newspapers but do not want to run the risk of my bin not being collected because it has newspaper in it.

As such it’s not the Letchworth GC residents who are obsessed with compostable waste bags but the district council, and if they withdraw them I will happily return to using newspaper.

R Marshall

Address supplied


SIR - North Hertfordshire District Council announced in its ‘Outlook Update’ magazine that it will no longer provide brown bin liners for our green food caddies because of the expense, and suggest we dump raw food directly into our bins.

Are they insane? Leaving unwrapped meat and bones out for two weeks is unthinkable.

A few warm days – never mind a heatwave – will produce a huge stinky gloop at the bottom of our bins, and epidemic proportions of flies and maggots.

No doubt the council regards our food bins as garden composters, but they won’t work without fresh air or granny down the road, armed with pitchfork and standing on tiptoe to reach in, and constantly aerate it. Our bins are going to become a health hazard and who’s going to clean them? I don’t relish doing my own but what about all those who share? I doubt there’ll be any takers.

Why can’t we continue to wrap waste in newspaper or card? Newspaper is wood, right? OK, so the ink won’t work – or will it? It’s been perfectly safe so far.

Why can’t we mix cardboard and food to go back into the land? There’s no reason why not, except that the new recycling plant can’t handle it. What about biodegradable carriers? If they don’t degrade then what’s the point of them?

Why can’t supermarkets make everything degradable? The council and supermarkets could agree a scheme where instead of supermarkets recycling their own bags, we do it for them. Otherwise we need a weekly collection and a free bin cleaning service but if this early good weather is anything to go by, then their idea just won’t work.

B Searle


Letchworth GC


Great show

SIR - I wanted to write and express how wonderful last Thursday, March 6, was when John Cooper Clarke appeared at Letchworth Arts Centre. Letchworth came alive! It was breathtaking.

The venue was fantastic, the atmosphere electric and the evening was exhilarating. A huge thanks to Samantha Alexander for convincing him to appear at Letchworth Arts Centre before his London show.

We received posters on our departure and got to meet him. He signed autographs and was a thoroughly nice man. It was worth every single penny. Well done all.

Lee Phillips

Letchworth GC


Toilets shut

SIR - The only public toilets in Hitchin, which by the way are impossible to access for a disabled person on their own, have been closed to the general public, at the time of writing, a from March 5 to March 8.

There are toilets on the market which only open on market days I believe, and I understand that they are owned by the market itself. This situation for a town is a disgrace. The other public toilets have been closed for years so one wonders if employees and councillors ever come to Hitchin and if they do stay long enough to need to use the non-existent facilities.

Ken Burton

Wellingham Avenue



New store


SIR - In the article in last week’s newspaper called ‘Dying town centre would be a better place for store’, councillor Sharon Taylor says that Stevenage Borough Council will be spending £1 million on the town centre.

How far is that going to go? It will just pay for some cosmetic touch up. She reckons it will provide the public with what they want – has she visited Stevenage town centre? Does she not realise how much work it needs?

The council has spent money in the past replacing the paving, putting up signs, benches etc but I wonder how many people noticed? £1m is really not a lot of money considering how much work needs doing.

All the canopies above the shops need replacing, Park Place is more or less derelict, the bus station is drab and dirty. The ramp up to the leisure centre and bridge to the railway station needs to be covered so it’s weatherproof, and that’s just for starters.

At least Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland and Liberal Democrat councillor Robin Parker speak the truth, they admit the town is dying.

Also, to the developer which has submitted the plans for the Debenhams store on Roaring Meg, it says you looked at various sites in the town but none were viable. I find it strange that you did not look at the land around the Stevenage Leisure Centre, Swingate and the bingo hall as it is all currently just a flat level car park apart from the Swingate building. It’s a large plot between the bus and train stations with a lot of footfall, so could you explain your decision?

Simon Slater

Address supplied


SIR - I read with interest the comments made regarding Debenhams being located at the Roaring Meg Retail Park in Stevenage – has anyone sat down and thought as to the reason why? Companies do not make a decision of this magnitude on the spur of the moment.

As one correspondent said, the town centre redevelopment plan was scrapped, which I might add was a definite starter according to Stevenage Borough Council.

Now we have a regeneration plan and I am not holding my breath that it will ever take place. The town centre has been allowed to go down the pan for years with nobody from town centre management or Stevenage Borough Council prepared to stop the slide. Personally I don’t blame Debenhams at all.

Name and address supplied


Blanket ban

SIR - The recent letter about speed limits in Baldock says it all, we don’t want a blanket 20mph in Baldock but a selective one. The traffic lights at Weston Way don’t help the traffic flow nor do the positioning of the zebra crossings in the town centre. If you move those back to where they were the traffic will flow better and it will not be so dangerous crossing the road in Hitchin Street.

Gordon Woods



Ticking clock

SIR - It’s good to see Letchworth Town Hall nicely decorated and being put to good use. The icing on the cake would be for the clock to be fully restored and telling the correct time on all faces.

Perhaps in the next financial year?

Mr D Gibson

Gaunts Way

Letchworth GC


Danger road

SIR - At the end of last year Herts County Council requested feedback on proposed changes to the junction at the A602 Park Way and Charlton Road. I am not sure if this was intended as a formal ‘consultation’ but I along with a number of my neighbours from the Willows estate expressed concerns.

I argued that the modifications to the junction layout would do little to improve traffic flow at peak times nor address safety concerns that have been recognised here for many years.

It appears that our concerns have fallen on deaf ears as notices posted last week inform us that part of Charlton Road is to close for four weeks from March 17 to complete the works.

This closure will in my view, based on previous experience, result in serious traffic congestion around Park Way and a huge increase in traffic through Charlton village and the Willows estate, both areas not equipped to deal with such traffic levels.

I wonder if Herts County Council has really thought through the benefits of making this change with potential for future traffic chaos and whether perhaps a more intensive period of consultation is required before spending what must be a significant amount of taxpayers’ money.

John Pearce

Charlton resident


Shock attack

SIR - On behalf of the Jewish community in Stevenage we should like to express our horror at the dreadful incident at the mosque in Vardon Road, Stevenage, reported in your newspaper last week.

We should like to express our solidarity with the Muslim community in our abhorrence of such awful vandalism. Stevenage is a town where everyone can live in peace regardless of race or faith, and we hope that the culprits are found and suitably dealt with.

Terry Wolfe

North Herts Liberal Jewish Community

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