This week’s letters - bus cuts, litterbugs, solar panels and a sad message of thanks

Signing document

Signing document - Credit: Archant

This week’s Comet correspondence is full of concern about the possible impact of County Hall grant cuts which could significantly reduce bus services – but there are lots of other subjects being chewed over, too.

Bus funding axe: our figures have changed

Herts County Council is proposing to save between £700,000 and £887,000 from its £3.8 million bus budget.

To do this the proposal is to reduce funding for evening and Sunday services of the 119 services supported.

Figures published earlier this month incorrectly stated that this would affect 200,000 passenger journeys per year. This correct figure is 809,300, which equates to 2.4 per cent of the total passenger journeys in the county each year.


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With 33.7 million passenger journeys in the county every year, monitoring passenger journeys is difficult and relies on estimations.

However, the council felt that as the consultation is now under way it is important to let everyone know of this change to the figures presented.

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This change does not alter the savings that could be made from this proposal or the need to make these savings.

These new figures have just come to light and I apologise for the concerns residents will have about the effect of these proposed changes.

The savings that could be made from the proposal has not changed and the list of affected services remains as it does in the consultation document.

I would like to stress that this is a consultation and no decisions have been taken. We will consider all the views and feedback from residents before making any decisions.

Please have your say at www.hertsdirect.org/busconsult.

Councillor Terry Douris, cabinet member for highways, Herts County Council

So many will be affected by bus cuts

If the proposed cuts to bus services are implemented they will affect all types of bus users – school children, students, disabled people, commuters, visitors and many others.

Services after 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and all Sunday services could all be withdrawn.

Not only would these proposed cuts affect people’s lives, they make no sense on economic or environmental grounds.

Councils up and down the country are having to make difficult choices, but how they handle these varies, with some actually improving bus services.

The cuts will severely limit people’s choices for employment and access to services and leisure activities and they will ultimately increase town centre congestion.

All this smacks of short-term thinking and the only way to stop this is to let Herts County Council know in clear terms that the cuts are unacceptable and counter-productive.

You don’t have to use the over-long questionnaire – just write and let the council know how it is going to affect your life and the hardship you will suffer.

Terry Figg, address supplied

Fewer buses will pose real hospital headache

How can Herts County Council consider cutting funding to buses which run after 6.30pm and on Sundays? How are the staff at Lister Hospital going to get home after a late shift? Most of the student nurses have to get home to Hatfield.

What will happen to trade if people cannot get to town centres on Sundays?

Not everyone has a car, and even if you do the parking is so expensive and there is a shortage of parking in Stevenage.

At the end of the day bus cuts will add to unemployment – town shops will have to lay people off or close altogether.

How many more cuts can ordinary working class people take? County Hall must think again, so many people will be affected if this proposal gets the green light.

Linda Bower, address supplied

Cuts could put my recovery at risk

I am very concerned about the prospect of major cuts to bus services on Sundays and evenings.

I am an alcoholic in recovery and rely on buses to get to the meetings I need to go to, in order to sustain my recovery.

If these services no longer run I would lose my support and be at real risk of relapse, as would many others.

I and others also rely on buses to get to church services on Sundays (day and evening) and other activities.

If these cuts take effect not only do we suffer greatly but so do all the things I’ve mentioned with a strong risk that some would be forced to close.

Name and address supplied

Thanks for coming to help after sad collapse

At lunchtime on Thursday my dad collapsed outside Waitrose in Stevenage High Street.

I would like to say a big heartfelt thank you to all the people who stopped to help, or who offered to help, him.

Both my mum and I were overwhelmed by the kindness shown by so many strangers. I would also like to thank the staff of Waitrose who quickly took charge of the situation.

All of my family deeply appreciate everything that was done for dad, who unfortunately passed away a short while later, and for us, during this very difficult and upsetting time.

Karen McKenna, Wychdell, Stevenage

Curtains for swimmers would be such a help

I am trying to convince the management of Hitchin’s swimming pool that there is a need for some privacy for women whose social, physical, mental or religious issues prevent them from using the female showers because they lack privacy. It only requires four shower curtains to be put up, which would only cost a few pounds.

By not giving the opportunity for privacy when showering they are preventing access to a lot of potential users.

I would also point out the pressing need for a raised toilet seat in the disabled toilets – there is no point in placing bars on walls if people are unable to use their arms to raise themselves from the seat – I assure you, I have tried and tried.

Name and address supplied

UKIP could have made an effort to take seat

There were several candidates standing for election to North Herts District Council in the election held in the Hitchwood, Offa, and Hoo ward on earlier this month.

Only one election message was passed through my letter box, and that came from the successful Conservative party Faye Barnard who polled 734 votes.

Colin Rafferty of UKIP polled 203 votes, to come second, but if Colin had called on local UKIP members to distribute his election message this could have enthused a further 9.47 per cent of the electorate to vote UKIP and so make him the winner.

As a UKIP member living in the ward, I know that we must not rely on past UKIP successes – it will take a greater effort to achieve success in the near future.

Other UKIP supporters and members can be asked to help in any appropriate way. Name and address supplied

Bistro fans already served in Old Town

Further to the correspondence about the need for a bistro in Stevenage’s Old Town, there is already a perfectly good bistro in Middle Row – it is called Gladleys Courtyard!

Paul Clark, Chapman Road, Stevenage

How could someone despoil a cemetery?

On Wednesday last week I walked through the cemetery in Baldock and along the footpath leading from the cemetery to West Avenue.

To my disgust someone had left a load of fast food rubbish by the path – not just a few items, but a collection that filled a black plastic bag.

This was a deliberate act of mindless ignorance that defies logic and displays an attitude of mind that is impossible to comprehend.

As a youth I worked on a farm and know that pigs don’t behave in this manner. I can only hope that the food that was consumed resulted in the most unpleasant of consequences.

Fred Miller, The Sycamores, Baldock

Affinity congratulated on a job well done

I think Affinity Water has done an efficient and well-organised job in Letchworth, replacing old water pipes with plastic ones.

They kept us well informed of the work being done and there was only one day of water restriction.

Mr A. J. Hollis, Ordelmere, Letchworth

Park plans highlight population problems

I am absolutely disgusted to learn that land in Hitchin’s beautiful Priory Park may be designated as available for housing.

Are we to have all our wonderful green areas built on?

The simple truth is that we have too many people in England. This is nothing to do with race or immigration, it is just a fact.

This over-population degrades the quality of life for people who have lived in Hitchin all their lives.

It is happening everywhere, especially in East Anglia and London. Adrianne Smythe (Letters, July 17) has summed up the situation admirably.

Name and address supplied

Please tidy up if you trim your hedges

Those of you who walk the streets will have noticed the problem, and a minority of you who have caused the problem may be reading this letter. I am talking about those householders who trim their overhanging bushes,trees,emerging brambles and blackberry shoots, and then leave the litter on the walking paths not bothering to place them in their own brown bins. The problem is growing with the passing years as is the minority of householders who have no sense of empathy for others. Name and address supplied

Thanks for backing Battle Proms efforts

A crowd of more than 7,000 people invaded Hatfield House for the 14th annual Battle Proms open air picnic concert on Saturday night, enjoying a choreographed Spitfire display to music performed by the New English Concert Orchestra.

This year the thrilling mounted skill-at-arms display was carried out in First World War regalia to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict.

The annual concert raises funds for veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, which specialises in helping veterans with psychological injuries.

This year more than £5,700 was raised from audience donations, although the counting up continues. The concert series has raised more than £178,000 at various venues over the years.

Our sincere thanks to the generous Hatfield House Battle Prommers, many of whom attend year on year and never fail to surprise us with their generosity.

Battle Proms will return to Hatfield House on Saturday, July 18 next year. Find out more at www.battleproms.com or www.combatstress.org.uk.

Emma Dexter, JSL Productions

Which schools had rail mural hopes?

Further to recent comments about pupils from a fee-paying school being chosen to create a mural at Stevenage railway station, as I understand it the competition to design the mural was open to all secondary schools in Stevenage and North Herts.

How many actually took up the chance to enter?

It appears that the pupils of St Francis College showed enough interest in Stevenage to enter the competition and happened to produce a result that the judges liked.

Let us hear from the organisers before any more talk of replacing work, designed by schoolchildren, by work designed by a different group.

As a parent of two boys, now through the school system in Stevenage, I don’t have a vested interest, but feel that the comments so far are one-sided, and that the organisers should give us their take on this situation.

Name and address supplied.

Let’s have a bit of hush in Hitchin...

Aaahhh, the dreaded white box, churning out an unnecessary cacophony in Hitchin’s Market Place.

I thought it must be just me that was repelled by it. Nigel Eaton (Letters, July 17) is lucky to have suffered it for two Saturdays only.

Almost without fail it is there for any sort of event. I can see the need for occasional announcements but not for this row.

Several years ago I offered £5 to them for five minutes silence, the money to go to their choice of any charity stall.

They rejected it. Surprisingly, at events which put the focus on health nobody has yet thought fit to offer ear protectors. They would do a massive sale.

It is not the type of music they play I object to. It is the pointless din.

John Fisher, Hitchin

Picking up on solar panel points

Proposals for solar panel arrays have quadrupled since I first raised my concerns, which your correspondent Wendy Pitcairn (Letters, July 17) appears to trivialise, a couple of weeks ago.

I am not ‘anti-green’. Our house is built mainly from sustainable materials, with an oak frame and cladding from trees which fell in the Great Storm of 1987. It is insulated using recycled newspaper and the solar panel on the roof heats our hot water.

There are technical, financial and environmental issues which are not being addressed. I am a retired applied physicist, and I know a little about the issues here.

Solar panels are not very efficient, and they do not welcome extremes of temperatures, as may be experienced in an open field.

They produce most of their energy when the sun is brightest, during summer – not when it is needed, at night in winter.

They require expensive equipment to make the electricity suitable for mains use, and the energy produced is intermittent and either needs a storage facility – meaning expensive batteries or pumped water storage – or a conventional power-station running on standby when the clouds arrive.

The spokesperson for the scheme has been disingenuous when stating energy generation figures. ‘Megawatts’ says nothing, it should be ‘megawatt-hours’ and preferably detailing at what time of the day and of the year.

It’s also disingenuous to say that the land will ‘remain agricultural’ – does that mean sheep will graze on the grass between the panels, thus converting high-grade, grain-producing land into the equivalent of rough fell-grazing country? This is land we can ill afford to lose.

Nor have I seen figures for the ‘pay back’ period both for the cost of production of these solar panels and CO2 emissions during manufacture.

I believe that the companies making these proposals – and there are thousands around the country – are jumping on the bandwagon of the drive for green energy.

They are looking to the subsidies we will pay via taxes and electricity bills for their profits. Inland wind turbines were flavour of the month a few years ago, solar panels now.

I do want to see ‘green’ energy but solar on a large scale – as opposed to small-scale, distributed on roofs of buildings – is not viable in the UK.

I am also concerned that neither Herts County Council nor North Herts District Council seems to have a coherent ‘green energy’ generation policy.

County Hall has commendably moved towards biomass energy generation but plans for a ‘clean’, energy-generating waste incinerator in Hatfield have been blocked – a move which will cost local tax-payers more than £600 million in additional landfill costs over 25 years.

I’d also like to know whether – if North Herts approves these local ‘farms’ – the tens of thousands of houses planned for the area will be cut back, or are we looking at an additional loss of prime agricultural land?

Robert Sunderland, Little Wymondley

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