LETTERS: Comet December 6

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, December 6.


SIR - I run a old memories of Stevenage Site with over 2,000 members and we have been discussing the unclaimed �63m lottery prize bought in Hitchin/Stevenage and have contacted Camelot to see if the money could help the Herts Air Ambulance as it cannot fly at weekends due to being poorly financed and also the strapped for cash Lister Hospital.


Address supplied

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SIR - A discussion has started on Facebook on a Stevenage page, with interest in keeping the unclaimed lottery prize for Lister Hospital and Herts Air Ambulance.

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Why should this amount of money just be put back in ‘The pot,’ why not share it between these two good causes so that it stays in the place it was won. Is there any way that you can use some of the Comet’s omph to be able to help us with this task?

Allison Cullen

Address supplied

EDITOR’S COMMENT: There is no reason why Camelot cannot announce exactly when and where the ticket was bought and even release a picture of the person purchasing it as there will almost certainly be CCTV footage. Failing that then the money should be released to the Hitchin and Stevenage area and used for charitable works. All this publicity is merely promoting Camelot, they are giving nothing back to Comet country.


SIR - The views you are giving on breakfast TV regarding the unclaimed lottery stinks of sour grapes. What if the ticket was bought by someone say from Scotland passing through the area, are you telling us that none of the �63m should go to good causes in that part of Britain. It’s not as if the jackpot was raided in your area alone, it was just a ticket printed out from a central computer.

Get over it you’ve made yourself look a fool.

Malcolm Roebuck

Address supplied

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Apologies for looking like a fool but the ticket was purchased in this area and Camelot know exactly where but are refusing to say. They can give much more clarity but are doing their best to hide the identity of the winner. Even the interest on the winnings, now standing at nearly �700,000, would be enough for Comet country, surely not too much to ask.



SIR - From his very long letter it is obvious that Mr G Stride is deeply hurt and indignant, but not in the least remorseful, about being caught speeding. How thoughtful of him to ‘hold his tongue’ during the speed awareness course so as not to embarrass the instructor with his superior knowledge.

Well, as an unpaid advanced driving instructor trying to contribute something positive to driving standards I am in a position to explain how this situation can be avoided. It is a simple procedure already followed by many readers of this page.

Look out for a sign like a lollipop with a black number in a red ring on it. Slow down and pass it doing the same speed as the number. Keep below that speed until you see another sign with a black diagonal line through it. After you have passed that you can speed up to the national speed limit or a slower speed if you wish.

I hope this will help Mr Stride and others who regard speed limits as negotiable to try to stick to them in future. The populations of countless villages and built up areas throughout the UK would be eternally grateful.

Name and address




SIR - Shame again on Cllr Robin Parker for his latest comment, now regarding my attendance at Council (‘Missing man’ Comet letters November 29).

Ignorant of the triviality this type of political posturing actually has within the community, and to the detriment it has within the key issue of Labour’s sell out of Stevenage regarding Luton expansion. Perhaps though from his self-elevated position, he could see that any subsequent missing dates had appropriate and relevant apologies sent in. He may also care to spot while number crunching that I regularly submit matters raised by my ward residents and those further afield (including within his ward) while I work within my community as often as my work and my businesses allow me to. One could speculate that Cllr Parker’s attempt to cite me as a ‘missing councillor’ may be due to us not regularly meeting while I am out and about working in the larger community of Stevenage to try to improve as much as I can for all. I extend the invitation that maybe instead of the wasted hours he spends searching for grammatical errors within council minutes (which while important is a role for those who create them surely?) Instead he may wish to join me and other hard working Conservatives actually doing the real work on the ground? Or perhaps he feels his time is too precious to leave the warmth of the council chambers these days comfortable only to critique from afar?

Cllr Michael S Hearn

(Martins Wood)

Stevenage Borough Council



SIR - When asking residents if they would accept permit parking in Thurnall Close, (very little choice as all the surrounding parking areas are going to be restricted and there are already many cars parked in the road for the day by commuters) the council quoted an annual cost of about �56 per vehicle.

When notices were issued to confirm the parking restrictions the cost had risen to �76 but now it is going to be �84. Apart from being an unwelcome bill less than three weeks from Christmas, this cost is far above any inflation rise and just seems an easy way to make more. money.We have been unable to discover who is responsibele for this price hike and we were passed to three different departments who were all only concerned with their part of the scheme and were unable to give any expanation other than “the council decides the cost”. These parking restrictions will only drive people from the town, and where are workers supposed to park?

G Taylor

Address supplied



SIR - What’s in a name?

I planted a varity of potato earlier this year named ‘Nadine’.

They appeared very attractive to start with but turned out to be rotten to the core and had to be discarded!

Richard Haynes

Address supplied



SIR - As we move into the second decade of the 21st Century a valuable and precious part of our natural heritage is quietly being taken away from us by the relentless spread of light pollution.

When photographed from a satellite at night, much of mainland Britain glares luridly back into space like some gigantic lorry park. This is all because of much badly designed, poorly directed and unshielded night time lighting.

There remain only a few isolated pockets in the less populated areas of the UK that can get to experience the full beauty and grandeur of a starry night. The Council for the Protection of Rural England and The British Astronomical Association have calculated that the UK burns two whole power stations worth of electricity lighting up the undersides of aircraft and the bottoms of clouds. This tremendous energy waste represents millions of pounds in council tax and electricity bills going up in smoke. So it isn’t only astronomers and environmentalists who should care.

The Campaign for Dark Skies recognises that astronomers have the same lighting needs as everyone else, but the important thing to understand about light pollution is that it is completely unnecessary. It simply isn’t necessary to create so much orange ‘skyglow’, which reaches far out into the countryside beyond the towns, in order to adequately illuminate the streets and roads, car parks, sporting facilities, etc. The technology already exists to minimise the impact on the night time environment by installing shielded, or full cut-off, downward only directed lighting. This is far less wasteful of energy, because all of the light generated shines down onto the ground where it is needed. All that is required is the will and the common sense to use it. Good examples of this are the pathway lights installed by Stevenage Borough Council in the new town centre gardens, and the sports floodlights of the Football Training Academy in Broadhall Way, Stevenage. Sadly, these examples of environmentally friendly lighting are the exception rather than the norm.

Two major comets are expected to make their grand entrance in our night skies next year, one in the springtime and the other in the autumn. They are predicted to gradually become bright enough to be visible to the naked-eye, with the latter one having the potential to become very spectacular. This is bound to attract media attention, generate much public interest, and whet schoolchildren’s appetite for the science and majesty of astronomy.

However, it is unlikely that either will ‘light up the night sky’ very much, local man-made light pollution is already doing that. For sky watchers in Hertfordshire, the celestial show is likely to have much of the edge taken off it. It would be the hallmark of a civilised and enlightened society not to mindlessly destroy our view of the starry heavens so relentlessly, and to recognise it as a site of Special Scientific Interest and Exceeding Natural Beauty.

Robert Townsend

The Campaign for Dark Skies

The Letchworth and District Astronomical Society



SIR - Through your pages I am writing to ask: What is happening to the Haven for single homeless in Ditchmore Lane, Old Town High Street, Stevenage?

During the last year there has been more and more disturbance in the evening and early hours of the morning and the nearest residents have become weary and distressed by drunken young men.

Now the council has put out plans to enlarge the Haven by building in the gardens of four of the Victorian houses which are next door to the hostel.

They wish to put up a 40-unit block and five bungalows and concrete roads and paths to link everything – all for homeless people. This in a conservation area full of beautiful mature trees. I cannot see them surviving because of the concrete.

What would EM Forster the great Edwardian novelist say? He lived in the Old Town and loved it as a typical, green Hertfordshire town. I think he would be horrified.

The council do not know what it is like and have given no response to those who are distressed at the future prospect of the annoyance becoming 400 per cent worse because of enlargement of facilities for the homeless.

If the Government insists the council should build, why not put up bungalows for retired people and create some mixed housing as well for families?

I am not against the hostel and have supported it over the years but I understood the principle for a successful outcome is to have a small hostel in a strong mixed community. By contrast the family residents of Ditchmore Lane are not numerous and are vulnerable. Finally, the hostel was founded for Stevenage’s homeless. It is not right for the council to move in a huge number of homeless from large towns all over the county to our small High Street. It would be swamped. The plans are put for planning permission this week.

Janet Middleton

Old Town resident for 45 years



SIR - In response to Mr Stride’s letter (November 29) regarding the use of Safety Cameras to tackle speeding on the roads we would like to remind motorists about the true use and benefit of these cameras.

The aim of safety cameras is ultimately to reduce the number of casualties on the roads by changing driver behaviour and attitude to risk. There is a raft of evidence that supports the effectiveness of safety cameras in reducing collisions, accidents and deaths on our roads.

Each county in the country has a Safety Camera Partnership, a multi-agency group which enforces speed limits and traffic light offences by the use of cameras. Their key objective is to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the road. Any revenue collected through cameras is ploughed back into Hertfordshire’s Safety Camera Partnership to help meet the costs of running the unit and to enable them to undertake road safety campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of speeding.

The Department for Transport circulates guidance that defines how safety camera sites should be identified. In Hertfordshire, cameras are only located at sites where there is a high risk of collisions which could result in someone being killed or seriously injured.

These cameras are truly helping us to make the county’s roads safer for everyone.

Asst Chief Constable

Alison Roome-Gifford

On behalf of Hertfordshire’s Safety Camera Partnership

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