LETTERS: Hertfordshire bus service cuts - ‘we could solve the problem’

County Hall is consulting on bus cut proposals

County Hall is consulting on bus cut proposals - Credit: Archant

Reaction to potential bus services cuts across the county has figured heavily on our letters pages this week.

Buses could be such a bonus for all

It’s a shame that buses have such a negative image. Concerns over traffic congestion and environmental issues mean that a good public transport infrastructure is now seen by government as essential.

Billions are invested in railways, cycling is now cool – but buses are still seen as an extension of the welfare state.

In fact recent advances such as real time information on phones and at bus stops, the PlusBus scheme, and in future, electric powered and even driverless vehicles, mean that the future for bus travel as a safe and sustainable form of transport should be assured.


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But to achieve this and reverse the steady decline of public transport in Hertfordshire needs a change of approach by the decision makers.

Rather than a survey asking people who don’t use buses whether they want to subsidise them for others, Herts County Council should be finding out how more people can be encouraged to leave the car at home and use public transport.

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With reliable, integrated services passenger numbers do increase, and so more services could become commercially viable and weaned off subsidy.

Operators should be encouraged to expand their commercial services rather than cherry picking the popular routes and times – for example, the 55 service is packed during the week so why does it need a subsidy on Sunday?

The future of bus travel could be bright, but it needs people with vision and enterprise to make it happen.

Decisions about buses should be made by people who believe in them, and maybe even use them!

David Wakelin,

North Herts Bus Users Group

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What annoys me and most other pensioners about the threat to our bus services is that we could solve the problem.

I talk to a lot of people when on the buses and most pensioners would gladly give up free bus passes and pay for them, like we used to do.

I have heard from some people that they have been to council meetings where the person at the top table has turned this idea down – they would rather have the buses stop and have the cuts.

How strange it is that these councillors actually want the buses to be cut.

Obviously I don’t know how many pensioners there are in Stevenage but if every pensioner paid for their bus passes at £30 it would add up to a significant sum.

I know that there are some pensioners who wouldn’t give up their free passes – but what will they do when the buses stop and they can’t get to the shops?

Robert Belcher,

address supplied

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Along with the other 15 Liberal Democrat members of Herts County Council, I will of course take note of the responses to the current public consultation on possible bus service cuts, but my initial view is to oppose the cuts suggested by the dominant Conservative group.

If implemented, the cuts would badly affect residents who do not or cannot drive or do not have private transport, including many young people; the elderly, disabled, vulnerable and poorest residents; people who have to work outside normal office hours and people visiting friends or relatives in hospital; grandparents and others visiting their families on Sundays.

There will be more cars on the road, with all the resultant pollution, congestion and wear and tear on the highways system, because residents with cars will use them more than they otherwise might have done.

The facts are not very clear from the information supplied by County Hall on the consultation, and it is important that these are made clear to the public.

The suggested cuts are to bus services after 6.30pm Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday.

Not all services within those times would be cut, only those which are currently subsidised by the council.

Commercially profitable services would run as long as the bus company continues to judge them to be viable.

This needs to be made clear to avoid unnecessary concern that all services are to be cut after 18.30 Monday to Saturday and on Sundays.

For example, for the SB1 service, which serves the Chells divison, the services would be cut after 7.50pm to end of the day on Mondays to Saturdays, and between 7.30am and 8.30am and then from 5.50pm to the end of the day on Sunday.

Other services would be affected at different times. The council has not issued a detailed list of how each service would be affected, so have failed to give the full facts to residents.

Their website just shows the routes that would be affected at some times, without giving the important details.

It is certainly true that, in common with all other councils, Herts has to make revenue savings – a direct result of the necessary cuts in revenue support grants from central government, to help reduce the deficit.

However, these proposed cuts are not a very good way to save money and over many years the Liberal Democrats have suggested other possible ways in which County Hall could save money.

It is important that people concerned about these possible cuts should respond soon to the public consultation on it, which ends on October 8.

You can find the consultation online at consult.hertsdirect.org/bus-services/ and respond via the website or in writing.

Councillor Robin Parker,

Stevenage Borough Council

(Manor ward)

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Herts County Council (Chells division) High praise indeed for Lister Hospital staff

I’ve just come out of the Lister Hospital after an unexpected five day stay, and want to publicly thank the nurses, doctors and staff for the care I received. At moments when I was mentally distressed, they took time to listen and were quick to attend when in pain.

Their good humour and professional attitude, whether they were senior, junior or student nurses or doctors was of the highest quality.

The auxiliary staff were equally helpful and amenable. I commend you all.

Martin Willoughby,

address supplied

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UKIP must work to harness all supporters

David Barnard and John Barry (Letters, July 31) have not fully understood the letter to which they both replied.

UKIP’s main aim is to inject sufficient MPs into Westminster following next May’s elections to enable the party to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.

This will be achieved by ignoring past successes and ensuring that all UKIP candidates call on all known members, supporters and activists to personally help deliver voting leaflets to every door.

We want a Westminster parliament that is not crippled by the EU overlord, but will instead be able to govern the UK in the manner we want

Name and address supplied.

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Such kindness after I lost my purse

To the kindest of gentlemen who tracked down my grandmother from information in my lost purse, and so passed it back to me, may I say a huge thank you. You went to a great deal of time and trouble. May your good deed come back to you ten-fold!

Mary Thompson,

address supplied.

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Plenty of positives to promote in solar power

Robert Sutherland (Letters, July 24) describes his house being built from timber made from the trees knocked down in the 1987 storm.

Unfortunately his information about solar panels also seems to date from the 1980s.

Let’s start with the ‘loss’ of agricultural land. Land used for solar panels can be used for farming as well as energy generation.

The National Farmers Union is supportive of the development of solar panels and their reports point to the range of other farming activities that can be combined including free-range chickens.

Farmers also have a responsibility to protect wildlife in the countryside and work by the Building Research Establishment in Hertfordshire has shown that solar panel fields can be a haven for biodiversity.

The first solar field in England was built in 1995 and worked very effectively in trials.

Rather than building on this success, the field was then dismantled and the components taken to overseas aid projects.

In the early 2000s engineering companies in the UK led the way with innovative solar technologies including solar facades on office buildings.

As in so many other sectors the government failed to back home-grown innovation and it has been left to others, especially Germany, to take solar technology forward. Germany now has 37 gigawatts of installed solar power, and renewables contribute over a quarter of total electricity demand.

However, the support of the feed in tariff funds has meant that in only four years we have started to catch up and now have five gigawatts installed.

In June this year solar power accounted for eight per cent of our daytime electricity use.

Unlike domestic waste incinerators that the author seems to favour, the solar panel industry in the UK is dominated by small and medium-sized industries that are based here.

More than 60 per cent of the capital expenditure in new solar installations is carried out by UK-based small and medium sized firms.

All of the energy efficiency and green energy programmes combined currently cost the average household £9 a month. This is a small price to pay to protect consumers from higher energy prices in the future.

Our bills will be £160 less by 2020 by investing in the future now rather than sitting on our hands and doing nothing.

Mr Sunderland is in a clear minority with his views, as a survey by the government in April this year showed that 80 per cent of the public said they supported the idea of UK electricity, heat and fuel being supplied from renewable sources. This support rises to 85 per cent for solar panels specifically.

It’s time we stopped looking backwards and backed British farmers and British businesses with this success story.

Dr Alina Cosgrove,

Cook Road, Stevenage

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Are we now under the flightpath?

Could anybody from Stevenage enlighten me as to when we became a direct flight path from Luton Airport?

The planes are getting lower, noisier and more frequent!

I thought planes to and from Luton flew on the outskirts of Stevenage, over the open countryside, but this year are flying directly over Chells.

Even more disturbing, I hear frequent low flying flights at night which I thought were stopped?

This trend does not bode well for Stevenage with the proposed expansion of the airport!

Diane Grinham

Chells, Stevenage

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Should we fear further floods?

February’s floods are now a distant memory as we enjoy the summer’s heatwave – but what measures have been undertaken to ensure that there is not to be a repeat of the tidal wave which tore down Stevenage Road in Little Wymondley back then?

So far nothing discernable, despite the Prime Minister’s statement that there was no limit to the money available for flood remedial work or its future prevention.

Except, that is, the announcement from Herts Highways that it will no longer clear out blocked gulleys which have been reported, until and unless there is flooding.

Well, there WAS flooding in our village and it WAS caused by a blocked gulley culvert grating which had probably not been inspected, and certainly not cleaned out, for many years.

When we had our flood it was the fire and rescue service who made every effort to clear out blocked gulleys, after having spent the night dealing with a serious fire in Letchworth. Many thanks to those chaps.

Herts Highways would appear to be not fit for purpose.

The mentality of those in charge is the same as that of motorists stranded beside the road with the bonnet up – breakdown maintenance being preferable to preventive maintenance.

Fortunately this was not an attitude which prevailed when I worked in the nuclear industry.

A penny saved now is a pound spent later, but probably from someone else’s pocket.

Come on County Hall, spend some of Mr Cameron’s largesse to clean out our culverts and unblock our drains to prevent future floods at a time of climate change!

Robert Sunderland,

Little Wymondley

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My gratitude to caravan heroine

I would like to offer a public vote of thanks to one caravan-towing family, and in particular one very brave wife, who were heading home to Stevenage on the A11 in Norfolk on Sunday, July 20.

Following an accident, everyone was asked to turn round on a single carriageway with opposing traffic on the remaining lane.

The family in front of my horsebox was towing a caravan. To cut a long story short, we unhitched his caravan and turned it in the single lane and then did the same with my horse trailer.

Before doing so, it was necessary to unload my very large Irish hunter, which I gave to the wife of the caravan driver to hold, with instructions to keep him from wandering while I helped her husband turn my horsebox round.

The wife had never handled a horse before but calmly took this enormous and intimidating horse and did exactly as she was asked.

Who said the British have lost their backbone? Not this family.

I take my hat off to her and to her husband for all the help and assistance so freely given in my time of need.

Heather Stopher,

Northill, Beds.

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Keeping your cycle safe from crooks

Further to your report (Comet, July 24) about yet another spate of cycle theft in the area, for security I would strongly recommend a solid U-shaped shackle lock which is very difficult to work on, unlike a padlock with chain or a coil lock where thieves can use a bolt cutter or hacksaw to cut through relatively quickly.

I used to work for Focus DIY, and shackle locks we stocked made by Chubb or Yale offered ultimate security but tend to be expensive.

Other cheaper makes were perfectly adequate, the main point being that an opportunist thief would be deterred and concentrate on other types.

But it is vital that cycles are secured to a solid object, otherwise the thief can simply pick it up and walk away to a waiting van.

Name and address supplied

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Neighbours did not force pitch decision

Your reports on footballers having to leave their base at North Herts College in Hitchin

infer that residents complaining about noise have forced the closure of the sand-based all weather pitch at 8pm. This is incorrect.

When the college won planning permission for its new all weather pitch, one of the conditions imposed was that within two months of its completion the old sand-based pitch would be taken out of use.

The college accepted this condition, but continued to allow play on it until recently.

Since building the new pitch, the college has also applied to extend the hours of play on the new pitch from 8pm to 10pm and the continued use of the sand- based surface.

The application for increased hours was opposed by neighbours, as the new pitch causes significant noise intrusion. Local planners rejected the idea, the college appealed to the Planning Inspectorate and the inspector’s verdict was very fair.

He refused the extended hours on the new pitch but said the old pitch could continue in use, but no later than 8pm in line with the agreed hours of the new pitch.

I do not know what the college has told users of the sand-based pitch, but they accepted, when they built the new surface, that the sand based pitch would be sacrificed. They should not be blaming residents for the reduction in hours.

Emma Faulkner,

address supplied

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Why does disabled mean ignored?

Since I have been confined to a wheelchair, and then a scooter, I have found that whatever pleasure or appointment I pursue I am met with obstacles which are difficult, or in some cases impossible, to overcome.

Pavements are uneven and in some places dangerous, especially if the vehicle is a three wheeler.

Where the kerb has been lowered no thought to the access of the pavements on either side has been considered.

The latest obstacle I have discovered is concerning a ride in the countryside. Living near the Oughton Head beauty spot for 30 years, I regularly walked the dogs when I was able and found it not only healthy but enjoyable.

The Countryside Management Service has made a good path along the riverside so I decided to enjoy a ride, only to discover that to every suitable entrance a kissing gate,and in one place a bar for horse access, is barring the way.

I am sure I write on behalf of many disabled people in the same situation. Are we supposed to accept our fate and just pay our taxes, or are the responsible authorities prepared to do something about it?

My working life spanned 82 years, the last 20 volunteering with various originations. Now I am disabled, through no fault of my own, it seems that nobody is prepared to consider my needs.

Ken Burton,

Wellingham Avenue, Hitchin

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