LETTERS: ‘Irretrievable mistake’ over Hitchin Town Hall project

There is an ongoing dispute after a brick wall was built halving the stage space in Hitchin Town Hal

There is an ongoing dispute after a brick wall was built halving the stage space in Hitchin Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Further reaction to a dispute over the renovation of Hitchin Town Hall featured heavily in last week’s letters.

Council officers should not wield influence

SIR - I would like to respond to Mr Hawkins’ letter of March 27 published under the heading “Users of Hitchin Town Hall deserve better”.

Whilst I understand Mr Hawkins’ desire to ensure that the QMT remains Hitchin’s main theatre, I would like to point out that:

1. Mr Hawkins is not aware that the contractual agreement was for a stud screen, not concrete blocks and any properly designed stud partition would provide the necessary period of fire resistance. The contract specifically states: “The second intervention is the addition of an acoustic screen to the stage - reducing its capacity and insulating the stage from the dwellings to the rear of the complex. This stud wall would be acoustically isolated, and ultimately reversible to recreate the full stage capacity.”


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2. The directors have always believed that the town hall can, and should, eventually revert to full community use, including large-scale dramatic and musical productions as in the past, with the benefit of much-improved facilities, which is why we fought for NHDC’s alterations to the stage to be reversible. The popular “Schools in Concert” in the Hitchin Festival is just one of many events for which the town hall has been eminently suitable, and can be again.

Brent Smith

Most Read

Chairman/trustee of Hitchin Town Hall Ltd

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SIR - Your report on the problems with Hitchin Town Hall contained the statement that a senior officer at North Herts District Council had written to all Hitchin councillors telling them that advice on any issues will be taken from officers because Hitchin Town Hall Ltd is incapable of a “balanced and comprehensive picture of the concerns they are expressing”.

This statement is both shocking and revealing. It is shocking because how dare an officer tell our elected representatives from whom they should take advice or who they should talk to. It is also revealing as it illustrates once again the arrogant, threatening and bullying tactics used by officers towards community groups and members of the public who are knowledgeable, involved and concerned with a particular issue. This is not the first example of a culture of disdain. Most notably it was apparent with the Churchgate redevelopment when only after years of public protest and considerable waste of money, councillors eventually rebelled and threw out a scheme officers were attempting to impose on the town.

It is high time that officers remembered they are appointed or employed to carry out the wishes of the people of Hitchin expressed through our Hitchin councillors and are not decision makers.

Councillors of all political hues must come together and reclaim their authority – in both senses of that word. If they have the guts to do so their electors will thank them.

Margaret Eddleston

West Hill

Hitchin

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SIR - I feel that an irretrievable mistake is being made with regards to Hitchin Town Hall.

As I understand it, our town took over the responsibility for Hitchin Town Hall from North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) which had found it not financially viable and sought to use the whole site as a district museum.

Hitchin Town Hall Ltd believed it could make the reduced town hall financially viable but now I read in the Comet that NHDC has built a substantial wall across the stage, reducing its size dramatically, so that a choir, a band or a cast of players cannot be accommodated.

This seems to me to be drastically reducing the number of uses to which the hall can be put, and jeopardising its viable future.

Surely NHDC should be doing everything they can to support the future of the whole site?

I hesitate to voice this thought but is this a deliberate attempt to sabotage the town scheme so that the museum can in the future take over the whole site?

Please NHDC may I ask you to think again, and co-operate with the Hitchin Town Hall Ltd committee?

M.Rollason

Address supplied

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Danger spot

SIR - Have any readers noticed how dangerous the crossroads along Green Lane in Letchworth GC are getting?

The crossroads in question are ‘white-spot’ junctions at Kristiansand Way/Common View and Talbot Way/North Avenue. There have been several accidents at each of the junctions over the past year, with many drivers not knowing that both junctions require you to slow down and potentially stop to give way to traffic emerging from the right.

As the white-spot islands are painted onto the road surface and are not therefore raised in any way, many drivers are speeding down the whole length of Green Lane. With many heavy goods vehicles also using Green Lane as a ‘Sat-Nav’ cut through to Black Horse Lane although being blatantly over the specified weight limit, there are daily near misses.

It is only a question of time before we will have a fatality. I have mentioned this issue to the council on numerous occasions, and to date have received no return signal. The time is now right to have both islands raised to become ‘pimple islands, thus slowing the traffic through each junction. Can I please ask all local residents who are like-minded to approach our local council to add strength to these proposed changes. Thank you.

Roland Talbot

Kristiansand Way

Letchworth GC

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Mess shame

SIR - I feel I must write again about this disgusting problem and also reply and agree with Amy Elliott whose letter, titled ‘Messy walk’, was published in the Comet.

I myself am a dog owner and always clear up after my dog even if it is in a farmer’s field but other dog owners do not seem to care and have no respect for other people. These dog owners seem to let their dogs mess anywhere with no thought at all for anybody that may be out walking with dogs or children.

I live near to the Gardners Arms pub in Letchworth GC which is next to a picnic area. Who would want to have a picnic there when there are piles of dog mess everywhere? There is a bin provided in the car park so there is no excuse for not cleaning up. I also live opposite Wilbury Hills Cemetery and someone had even let their dog mess on a grave and left it. These people should not be allowed to own dogs and it gives all dog owners a bad name.

This is a big problem and I think North Herts District Council should do more.

Paul Simmons

Hillcrest Park

Letchworth GC

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Nice town

SIR - On visiting friends in Stevenage last weekend we were shown around the town. We were very impressed.

The town centre itself was thriving and attractive. The town centre park nearby was well designed and maintained, plus having great exercise equipment. Whomerley Wood with its coppicing and its intriguing moat was a pleasure.

This ‘old’ new town has aged well.

Peter Nias

St Mary’s Road

Bradford

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Super show

SIR - As deputy mayor I would like to thank all those who took part in the Mayor’s Charity Concert at the Gordon Craig Theatre on Monday March 31 2014 in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society, British Red Cross, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Stevenage Carers’ Support Group.

It was a marvellous show with over 130 entertainers taking part. The participants must be congratulated on their outstanding performances. Their talent and enthusiasm was brilliant and all of the audience were thoroughly entertained.

A special thanks to MBDA who sponsored the event. Also to Rebecca Hughes, Keith Baldwin, Stevenage Comet, Stevenage Has Got Talent Judges, Stevenage Leisure Limited, all those working behind the scenes and to everyone who came along to watch the show. It was a resounding success and I look forward to next year’s concert.

Cllr Sherma Batson MBE DL CC

Deputy mayor

Stevenage Borough Council

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Proud scouts

SIR - I would like to thank the entire production staff and all those parents and children involved in the Letchworth and Baldock District Scouting and Guiding 49th Gang Show that took place over the weekend of Friday, March 28, and Saturday, March 29, for an immensely enjoyable evening. Sung and acted out by approximately 100 youngsters along with their scout and guide leaders was a credit to the North Herts community.

Jackie McDonald

Moss Way

Hitchin

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No future

SIR - Following my letter of February 17 regarding the arbitrary decision by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation allowing the development of 1,000 homes next to the Grange estate, I was contacted by the Heritage Foundation itself.

I was sent a link via email to the Economic Assessment of Growth Options, a report on the economic future of Letchworth GC, which is apparently being used by the Heritage Foundation to justify the development. This is despite the Heritage Foundation having exhibited little understanding of anything the report contains. The report states that if no houses are built, 1,392 jobs will be lost and the population will decrease by 1,617. No reason is given to support this absurd conclusion.

If the Heritage Foundation hopes an increase will get people back into the town centre, the organisation is mistaken. The reason the town centre resembles a ghost town is not for lack of people in the town, it is because the Heritage Foundation sets rates so high that few businesses can afford to rent the shops.

My questions to the Heritage Foundation, however, are as follows: what measures has the Heritage Foundation taken to stimulate the economy before resorting to a drastic increase in population? Secondly, at what point do these increases in population stop, and at what point do such increases cause Letchworth GC to cease being a garden city?

Andrew Scuoler

UKIP candidate

Letchworth Grange

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Rocky road

SIR - Free offer open to all motorists in North Herts. Open 24/7, 365 days a year. Just drive your car to Stevenage and choose any road to experience the thrills of off-road driving.

As you enter the town you will feel your suspension bounce and bottom out on the ruts and potholes. Test your driving skills as you struggle to keep your car or motorcycle under control. Head east along Martins Way and drive through the water splash under the North Road bridge. Continue bumping and banging along the carriageway and hear your car’s interior rattle. A serious test for any driver and vehicle is the journey away from the town centre along Six Hills Way, Chells Way and then Fairlands Way back to the town.

However, none of these roads can compare to the third-world-nature of Archer Road. Small children and little dogs have fallen into the potholes on this road.

No need to book or rush, these roads have been allowed to deteriorate for decades by Hertfordshire County Council and it appears they won’t be fixing them any time soon I’m afraid.

Name and address supplied

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Bad timing

SIR - It strikes me that the congestion on the A602 in Hitchin caused by the roadworks at the junction with Charlton Road could be alleviated by simply changing the timings on the lights.

If it stayed green for a whole minute each way then they wouldn’t be wasting a half a minute every 15 seconds clearing the lane for the change-over. How is it that traffic management companies cannot see this?

Nick Gearing

Address supplied

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Food shame

SIR - I was pleased to note the recent appearance in my local Tesco of a large box, marked up for the collection of foodstuffs for the needy. This is an excellent idea which I fully support.

However, it seems someone has taken the Tory jibe about ‘Lamborghinis and dog food’ a stage further – come on, you who put dog and cat food in the box, you know who you are. Be ashamed!

Peter Foxworthy

Hillcrest

Baldock

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