LETTERS: Comet January 7

Laura Evans, Alex Brooks, Adrian Smith, Dr. Mike Clarke and Andrew Wearmouth, stand outside St Mary

Laura Evans, Alex Brooks, Adrian Smith, Dr. Mike Clarke and Andrew Wearmouth, stand outside St Marys Church, Hitchin. They all played a part in the petition. - Credit: Archant

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, February 7.


SIR - There are fundamental issues at stake in the marriage debate.

1. Tradition: Marriage has always been held to be a sacred union between man and woman. This has been so since the beginning of times in all societies. Though there have been individuals who have rejected this tradition in decadent times, societies have always reverted to uphold the traditional view when that society faces problems. History teaches that overturning such traditions is dangerous. In ancient Rome, the law stated that a citizen could only have one spouse at a time and they had to be of the opposite sex. The English word “matrimony” is derived from the Latin “matrimonium” and defines the main function of marriage. The root word is mater meaning ‘mother’, and implies that a man takes a wife in marriage to have children.

2. Authority: This is the main reason Christians cannot accept the proposed changes to the definition of marriage. All orthodox churches believe in ‘one holy, catholic (universal) church’ that has been established by God when he entered this world as Jesus Christ. Clearly if this is true, then what God teaches must remain the ultimate authority for how we should live. Jesus and his apostles ratified the authority of both the Old and New Testaments. These are, ‘The very words of God.’ (Romans 3:2). “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

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A change in law in this country would say that those who make the laws are themselves above the authority of God, a very dangerous precedent to set. Hitler claimed that because he had a majority support he could redefine morality. The Nuremberg trials refuted this view. This change would in fact be saying that the Bible is not God’s authority and that Jesus Christ is not God incarnate.

3. Children: There is good evidence that children are best raised in a stable family where there is a mother and a father. Homosexual relationships tend to be more temporary than marriages, even today. Changing the legal status to marriage is unlikely to alter this.

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4. Legal problems

There will be massive problems for Christians in churches, schools and other areas of society. Although some protection is offered by the present government, it is possible that these could be overturned in the European Courts. Gay couples’ legal rights are already protected by civil partnership legislation. How will Christians be able teach and practise what the Bible says if the law takes a contrary position. There will inevitably be conflicts where those upholding Christian virtues are accused of wrongdoing. It will mean that many posts will be barred to those with who want to live according to God’s law.

Chris Jenkins

Pastor, Christchurch Baldock

Bernard Palmer

Retired Surgeon and Minister, Christchurch, Baldock



SIR - I read with astonishment that three members of the council abstained on the vote as to whether or not to grant an extension to the Simons project.

Did they not hear the debate? Does “abstain” mean they were not present?

If they were present at such an very important debate vital to the future of Hitchin, then surely they must have come to a decision in their minds as to whether or not to vote yes or no?

Imagine if all the council decided to “abstain” where would that leave us?

It cannot be beyond the wit of any intelligent person to weigh the facts during the debate and make a decision.

However I am very glad a majority of common sense prevailed resulting in a satisfactory conclusion.




SIR - I was disappointed to see the disrespectful tone and misleading content within Laurence Cowley’s letter last week.

The proposed redevelopment of the Churchgate area of Hitchin is one of several contentious decisions that have been taken by the local authority over recent years and by its mere nature, it has inevitably created significant debate. That residents should be personally criticised by Mr Cowley for doing so, irrespective of their views, their age or his perception of their triviality is an interesting insight into his view of a democratic process.

Mr Cowley has been somewhat disingenuous in his appraisal of the current discontent. From my understanding the majority of those opposing the changes do not dispute the need to “modernise” the town. They are however questioning the current plans to do so and the preferential terms and conditions afforded to the appointed developer. I do not understand why that causes such outrage?

Heaven forbid that when I and your other readers reach our seventies and eighties, our opinions, no matter how heartfelt or appropriate, will be dismissed by those of the ilk of Mr Cowley as he chose to last week, in such an offensive manner because we then belong to some fictional “Ostrich Society”. Had he been less selective in his reporting of the meeting he attended and had he been more thorough in researching his comments he would have discovered that the opposition is representative throughout all ages within our community and the opposition is well considered and presented. That truth is endorsed by the obvious age span evident in the comments attached to the online petition and the photographs of petitioners published in the local press.

In the same manner that I am willing to respect that Mr Cowley’s opinion may not be affiliated to that of his wife, I would hope that he would respect that all members of the community are entitled to voice an opposing opinion without incurring ridicule irrespective of their age.

Mike Palmer

Snailswell Lane



SIR - First let me congratulate reporter Laura Burge on her excellent Twitter coverge of the Churchgate meeting.

Now let me follow on a bit more from my comment to you regarding Churchgate as I stated it had become like a bad marriage and a petition for divorce had to happen. I would like to expalin how I came to this conclusion.

We went into this like any relationship with the best intentions and promises but over time one party stopped listening to the needs of the other. It pretended that everything was ok and as long as every now and again a small gesture was given we would accept their excuses to provide what was needed.

Despite all the best efforts there does come a time when small gestures no longer mean anything, as continued broken promises and the lack of understanding and commitment by the other party means that it’s no longer worth carrying on. Something had to be done, in this case a petition for divorce. This is what the residents of Hitchin requested and I am happy that we granted their wish. They have tried to make Simons listen to the needs of Hitchin and its people but it to me fell on deaf ears.

Hitchin has a true star and that is Keith Hoskins who understands the needs of Hitchin and its eclectic mix in the town which is what makes Hitchin thrive.

I think in time Hitchin and its residents will get what it wants and needs and that isn’t a big retailer but smaller shops that offer that friendly welcoming service that makes a community and engages with it like the present retailers and market do. We are a vibrant historical town that will continue to thrive despite its look in certain areas.

To the residents, shopkeepers and people of Hitchin well done on getting your voice heard. I salute your passion for your town.

Lisa Courts

Liberal Democrat Councillor

Bearton ward




sir - As the next general election will now be fought on the existing boundaries, the Boundary Commission should use the additional time to revisit its proposals. In trying to bring constituency sizes within a very narrow range, it tied itself in knots.

Originally, Mid Beds was to be abolished, and divided between neighbouring constituencies, with Shefford added to Hitchin and Harpenden. Fair enough, Hitchin is our nearest town, and is linked by local buses and the East Coast Main Line.

However, Central Beds wanted to retain the Mid Beds name, even though it would embrace nothing like the same area as the old district council. The result? Hitchin hived off, to leave Mid Beds and Harpenden, totally unconnected, either as a community or via any practical transport links.

If Harpenden must take in rural Beds, it should be Flitwick and Ampthill, connected as they are by the A6 and Thameslink rail. Let us hope that the enforced delay will result in more sensible proposals.

Roger Smith

High Street




SIR - I would like to add my voice to those complaining about non-collection of rubbish last week.

My wife rang the council over non-collection and was informed that the rubbish would be collected albeit a bit late.

A friend who rang was told non-collection was due to the footpaths being icy and that it was unsafe for the dustmen. His reply was to the effect then what about the public especially the elderly or disabled and wouldn’t it be more practical to grit the paths – problem solved!

I rang the council three days later and was informed that collection of brown bins, wastepaper and bottles had been suspended for a fortnight.

I commiserated with the young lady I spoke to who after all was only repeating what she had been told to say. She said she would pass my comments to those who made the decision and someone would ring me back – needless to say the call never materialised.

I read in this week’s Comet that our council tax this year will be increased, for what? Paths not gritted, roads full of potholes, no bobbies on the beat anymore, a broken road barrier at the Letchworth Gate exit which is going to take six months to repair.

I wonder what the reaction would be if the public advised the council that they were suspending their council tax payments for a few months due to lack of service?

Stan Bain

Spring Road

Letchworth GC


SIR - I am disgusted that my rubbish has not been collected since January 9. I fully understand the weather conditions affected my usual collection but they have made no attempt to make any ‘catch up’ collections. I would not have minded if my recycling collection was affected but now myself and all my neighbours now have four weeks worth of rubbish. We are, however, very generously allowed to put out four extra black bags of rubbish too.

Mrs Stevenson

Address supplied



SIR - I write to you about the closure of the exit on the roundabout at junction nine, A1(M) southbound (Baldock/ Letchworth junction). This slip road was closed before Christmas due to an ‘incomplete barrier’ which is an obvious safety hazard. However, can anyone tell me if it will ever get fixed?

The chaos it causes for traffic from Letchworth is enormous, this is then compounded by the Letchworth traffic having to go into Baldock to turn around and come back on itself via the first roundabout. The chaos that this then causes for traffic coming out of Baldock or off of the bypass is ridiculous.

I understand the safety issues but please think about the poor motorists facing these problems.

Tom Bird

Address supplied



SIR - Before it is quietly consigned to the history books, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the final cohort of Year 11 students and the former staff of The Heathcote School (now closed) for topping the GCSE league tables in Stevenage for students achieving five good GCSEs in last summer’s examinations.

These excellent results were the final analysis of the 2012 May/June series which appeared in the national secondary school league tables, recently published on January 24. Exceptionally well done to all who dedicated themselves in order to achieve these memorable results in the final year of the school’s existence!

ID Harris

Address supplied



SIR - As senior citizens my wife and I make constant use of our concessionary bus passes and when Herts County Council (HCC) sent us invitations to renew them late last year we promptly filled in the forms and sent them off.

HCC had warned that the issue of new passes would take several months. Recent conversations with fellow passengers indicated that very few had received new passes by the beginning of February so to check on progress I rang the appropriate office at Hertford. To my horror I was told that the applications from myself and my wife had not been received and our only recourse was to reapply. The requisite forms are for both renewal and for new applications.

As the Hertford office has apparently no means of checking who has applied they can only discover lost applications when asked to look for them. We asked them to look for just two and neither had been received. How does anyone know that thousands of applications have not been lost in the post and that many pensioners will not receive their bus passes?

Bernard Maddox

Address supplied



SIR - I would like to draw your attention to the problem of dog fouling.

I live in Stevenage in the Chells area, but it seems to be endemic around our town, that a few thoughtless dog owners have no care with regards to our streets or verges. Dogs are man’s best friend, but the owners that do not clear up their dog’s mess are not. I see many owners have no problem in removing their animal’s mess and deposit it in bins provided when they walk their pets, which is fine. I think that the other thoughtless minded people that do not care should, because if they have children or grandchildren they should think twice. The real problems come when youngsters get the animal’s mess on them or in their eyes. It can be very serious indeed, particularly awful if it is stepped on, and the smell is not very nice, especially when you have taken it indoors and you do not realise it.

Stevenage Borough Council are very helpful in putting out notices and giving information, but you have catch these people in the act and or report them to the authorities with a description of the individual and the dog concerned, this can prove to be very difficult, so the message I wish to give, is to spare a thought for what you leave behind, and think would you wish this on your family or friends.

Mr Dawson

Address Supplied



Sir - The people of Hitchin have donated £1,526.00 to Hertford Lipreaders Group through the Waitrose charity funding scheme. As we are the only lipreading class in Hertfordshire (apart from Borehamwood) our members come from a large area, including Hitchin, of course. Government cuts mean that our classes don’t receive funding now. We would all like to thank Hitchin people for their huge generosity. If you want to join our group email mrsbruin@hotmail.com or ring 01920 821401.

Louise Reed

Address supplied

Winter roads



SIR - In recent years substantial snowfalls have become a regular feature of our winters. The Highways Dept prioritises the roads. It seems from the icy and treacherous condition of Hertfordshires’ pavements that pedestrians are left to slip and slide, risk injury or stay indoors.

I was in Wales when the heaviest snow was forecast. The rapid clearing of pavements by a troop of workers with pedestrian snow ploughs was a real eye opener. The day after the heavy snowfall the pavements could be walked on safely! Some of the machines used were lawn mowers with a gritting attachment on the back and a snow plough attachment on the front so the equipment could be used throughout the year.

In contrast, our pavements rapidly became ice rinks and remained like that until the snow thawed nearly a week later. Pedestrians took to walking on the roads or staying indoors, in effect subjecting the less mobile and the elderly to a curfew for the duration of the bad weather.

It would be great if roads could club together to de-ice their pavements but this is probably not going to be generally possible.

I think the local authority needs to give more priority to making pavements safe during icy conditions and have a more active policy for pavement clearing.

The cost of one person in A&E with broken bones having slipped on the ice would probably pay for a pavement snow plough.

Ruth Neill

Lancaster Avenue


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