LETTERS: Voters can hear from their candidates

Ballot box

Ballot box - Credit: Archant

The debate over the glass ball display in Letchworth GC continues to make it on to our letters pages published today (Thursday). Also causing a stir is the up and coming European Parliamentary Elections.

SIR - As a psephologist I should like to offer a little help to Dave Walton (April 17 ‘Vote Poser’).

If Mr Walton would like to know the voting record of our Eastern region MEPs I can enlighten him with figures for the plenary sessions – courtesy of Vote Watch-European Parliament: Andrew Duff 94.4%, Stuart Agnew 91.1%, Vicky Ford 85.83%, Geoffrey Van Orden 81.3%, Richard Howitt 79.43%, David Campbell Bannerman 78.29% and Robert Sturdy 57.92%.

The voting system for the European Parliament is based on proportional representation, so the voter has little influence on who is chosen. Thus each political party has a list of up to seven candidates and who is elected will depend on the number of votes cast for each party. So Mr Walton the candidates may not be ‘local’ but they will probably live in the eastern region of England.

As to reporting back I have noticed regular features in the Comet from Stuart Agnew who is the United Kingdom Independence Party MEP for the eastern region – I have no information about the other MEPs.

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Also it is important to remember that the MEPs have almost no powers as the laws which have to be obeyed by British subjects are issued by the European Commissioners who are not elected, but appointed.

Broadly speaking candidates from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties are in favour of remaining in the European Union, and the United Kingdom Independence Party candidates are in favour of withdrawal from the European Union so that the laws which affect the people of Britain are made in the British Parliament by MPs elected by the British people.

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David Bundy

Buckthorn Avenue



SIR - Your correspondent of April 24 (Election Fever?) asks ‘Where are...the candidates?’

One very simple answer is that the following candidates for the East of England constituency in the European Parliamentary Election will be at Christchurch, Bedford Road, Hitchin SG5 1HF, at 8pm on Thursday, May 8, for ‘Quiz the Candidate’ – David Campbell-Bannerman (Conservative), Fiona Radic (Green), Richard Howitt (Labour), Josephine Hayes (Liberal Democrat) and Mark Hughes (UKIP).

Your correspondent wants voters to be able to make an “informed choice”, so this will be a chance to hear (five minutes per speaker) what policies they hope to pursue. If he/she would like to guarantee a question gets an airing, please email it to me, before May 8, at ajdsmith@waitrose.com

Let’s overcome the “apathy” which your correspondent rightly fears, by taking part.

Austin Smith (Rev)



SIR - Candidates in the forthcoming local elections might like to bear in mind that, for me, it is not enough to knock on my door once every few years, smile and ask for my vote.

My major local concern is the redevelopment of The Highfield School in Letchworth GC, which both my children attend. I wrote to the school to offer my support. A member of a political party has taken up this issue and is actually doing something about it. He has also written to me to explain what is happening. His party will be getting my vote. Simple.

Think on those candidates who have been invisible to voters since they were elected.

Beverley Albone

Romany Close

Letchworth GC

Party man


SIR - May I correct one point on your article regarding my deselection? I have not been “thrown out of the party”. Indeed I am still the vice-chairman of the Knebworth and Codicote branch of Stevenage Conservative Association.

I was however not included on the list of potential candidates.

May I also take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me throughout this rather painful experience, and to put on record what a privilege it was to serve Codicote and North Herts for eight years.

Cllr Tom Brindley

Codicote Village Ward

Portfolio Holder for Planning Transport and Enterprise, NHDC

Vice Chairman Knebworth and Codicote Conservative Association


Poor road

SIR - I am dismayed to read from councillor Robin Parker’s letter last week that the re-engineered Mobbsbury Way junction in Stevenage is to allow two lanes of vehicles to exit on to Fairlands Way. Drivers turning right out of Mobbsbury Way will often have a queue of vehicles on their left.

Surely these will obstruct their view of approaching Fairlands Way traffic from their left and lead to risks being taken when pulling out? It occurs to me that the similarly ‘improved’ North Road/Graveley Road junction has the same problem, and look what has happened there.

Name and address supplied


Grass cutting

SIR - It’s now the end of April and it seems that this urban area of Letchworth GC is been ignored when it comes to grass cutting. Letchworth Gate (road) has its grass cut, on a regular basis, but the area near the housing of Creamery Court and the houses that face on the North Herts District Council verge, looks like an overgrown meadow, despite this being an urban area of Letchworth.

So please can both sides of the Baldock Lane, from the area currently under grass cutting in Letchworth Gate (road), until the change in speed limit signage, be cut on a regular basis? This should stop this urban area of Letchworth looking like a meadow, rather than a garden city.

Do not think this is something new, the grass verge has been ignored for years. It would have been like this if the milking creamery was still in use, but this area is now a housing estate, albeit with its own third party grounds (landscape gardening) contractors, who do a wonderful job on their side of the district council boundary.

Neil Rees

Address supplied


Wrong turn

SIR - It would appear that a lot of drivers do not know the meaning depicted by a sign showing ‘No right turn’.

Coming off the large roundabout at the end of Trinity Road in Stevenage Old Town, there are three no right turn signs one of which has directions to show the driver the route to High Street south.

There are a lot of people who ignore these signs, but get annoyed at drivers who block the road on their way to Lytton Way, I have even been sworn at, and when I said there was no right turn I was subjected to a lot more verbal abuse.

The three signs are in a stretch of road less than 50 yards from the first and largest sign to the third sign.

Perhaps the words no right turn should also be included on the signs, but then I suppose that is assuming some of the drivers can actually read.

Name and address supplied

Lovely balls


SIR - With reference to recent comment about the balls attached to the fountain, I have visited it on a number of occasions recently. Firstly, Broadway Gardens where the fountain is situated is spacious and relaxing but does lack saturated colour flower beds so the balls display needed colour and vitality.

When I was there kids were sitting or standing around the perimeter of the fountain being photographed by their loved ones who appeared to be enjoying this dash of colour. Drivers travelling along the lovely tree-lined Broadway from Hitchin are greeted at the bottom with a large flower bed of primula dividing each vehicle lane, with the fountain and balls a dozen yards or so in the background suggesting to them you are now about to enter an important town.

My only criticism is placing three different coloured balls in the triangle shape does not give a sense of balance to the feature. It should have been restricted to two colours, say for example two blue balls each side of triangle with red at the apex or two yellow each side with blue at the apex.

Overall I am impressed by Mario Borza`s innovation.

Brian Hollis


Letchworth GC


SIR - I love the translucent coloured balls currently adorning the Broadway Gardens fountain in Letchworth Garden City.

I live 200 yards away from this artistic frolic, it makes me smile every time I walk past. Whichever angle you look from, they appear to be bouncing on top of three of the jets – a nice optical illusion. This kind of public art is fun, it’s optimistic, and gives the town a slightly risque, European feel. I know they’re only meant to be temporary but can we keep them for the rest of this summer?

Name and address supplied


SIR - The article in the Comet on April 24 quotes ‘anonymous of Letchworth’ as saying that our iconic fountain “has been turned into a tacky eyesore” by the coloured balls. Maybe, but they are interesting, fun and have something to say about the history of Letchworth Garden City.

The key point is that they are temporary and part of the wider Vision of Utopia exhibition of installations around the town.

But who knew? The problem is not with the art, but with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, which had the vision to mount and fund the project but has done a poor job of publicising it. It’s a great project, there are some wonderful exhibits, but if the Heritage Foundation is going to spend money on art it should ensure that the whole town knows about it.

Ian & Jean Morfett

Sollershott West

Letchworth Garden City


Town future

SIR - Our local MP Stephen McPartland seems to favour making opportunistic comments rather than doing things for the benefit of his constituents.

I believe Stevenage Borough Council has tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to regenerate the town centre. However, wasn’t it the Tory government of the 1980s that sold off the then Stevenage Development Corporation-owned assets of the town centre?

This move has made it virtually impossible to bring forward a regeneration project as so many leaseholders are involved. You only need to look at Queensway where the green canopy adorns just one side of the precinct.

Instead of making comments designed to create headlines, why doesn’t Mr McPartland work with the council for the benefit of his constituents? If he has the power to move forward this desperately needed regeneration project he should be getting together all those involved to finally make this a reality. Come on Stephen, think of your constituents for once!

Robert Beahan

Durham Road



SIR - I was interested to read on the front page of this week’s Comet that ‘the major redevelopment of Stevenage town centre is back on the table’. As Stevenage Borough Council’s director responsible for regeneration, I should point out that this could be misleading.

As far as Stevenage Borough Council is concerned, town centre regeneration has never been ‘off the table’. Since Stevenage Regeneration Limited decided that it was not financially viable to proceed with their planned scheme, we have continued to work with specialist regeneration consultants and town centre architects. Current advice from these specialist consultants is that a comprehensive retail-led regeneration project is simply not viable in the current economic climate. We are still fully committed to delivering a sustainable scheme that will make a difference in our town centre and pave the way for future development, and I expect the report from our consultants to be with us in the next few weeks. I should also point out that, while the town centre may look tired, Stevenage remains an important sub-regional retail centre that is attractive to major retailers – as the recent opening of H&M demonstrates. Store occupancy is above the national average and many of the major shopping chains are represented here – either in our town centre or one of the retail parks. They, are complemented by the range of shops. We would welcome government support for our town centre regeneration but, in spite of our continued efforts, it has not been forthcoming to date. We would be delighted if Mr McPartland is successful in his request for funding from the Local Growth Fund and we look forward to working with him.

Peter Bandy

Strategic Director – Environment

Stevenage Borough Council

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