LETTERS: Comet November 29

THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, November 29.

SPORTS FACILITY

SIR – In response to the news that Hitchin Town Cricket Ground Ltd (HTCG) are proposing development of their sporting facilities at the Lucas Lane (Blueharts) site, the West Hitchin Action Group (WHAG) has requested a meeting with the company directors to discuss the method by which they hope to fund this.

While WHAG fully supports additional sports provision for Hitchin residents, we feel it shouldn’t be funded by selling a sports field which is designated as Green Belt land.

In 2008, WHAG met representatives of HTCG and Blueharts Hockey Club to discuss this exact issue. WHAG proposed 17 fundraising avenues by which HTCG could raise significant sums of money towards improving their facilities, whilst still preserving the land they had for future generations of sports users.


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Four years on, after a period when community sport has seen massive investment from grant bodies nationally, clubs with credible long term plans to improve sports provision have prospered. HTCG say that their sporting legacy is now in jeopardy if this sale doesn’t proceed. WHAG believe Hitchin residents, when working together, are a powerful force for change and improvement, and could, given the chance, help HTCG in their fundraising activities given strong direction and a long term plan.

We look forward to our discussions and hope HTCG give our proposals serious consideration.

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STEVE BARLEY

West Hitchin Action Group

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DALE FARM?

SIR - Regarding the new travellers site at Twin Acres Arlesey, this site was bought by a traveller for the sole purpose of installing mobile homes for travellers. Within months of purchase four homes were installed, without I hasten to add permision from the council. Permission has now been granted with little or no consultation with anyone. Because the council has buried their heads in the sand over this matter they have let the flood gates open for more units to be installed. It doesn’t take an Einstein to see that the way these homes are positioned are making room for many more.

Now I have nothing against sites, far from it, it goes without saying that I welcome all legal sites, but you have to remember this site although now legal was previously built illegally. So well done Central Beds Council a new Dale Farm awaits. Let’s see how much that will cost you?

Peter Swallow

Address supplied

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POLICE ACTION

SIR - Perhaps the election of the new police commissioner for Hertfordshire may help restore faith in our local police.

On November 16, driving in what was very heavy fog southbound on the A1(M), a vehicle joined the motorway at junction 6. The vehicle had no working backlights (fog, night or brakes) and seeing how dangerous this was I called 101 (handsfree of course) and explained my concerns to the operator. I was informed that there was nothing the police could do and this prompted the end of the call.

Not only did the attitude and lack of concern stagger me, the operator didn’t even ask for the vehicle registration so it could be placed as a concern on the ANPR system.

The offending vehicle left the motorway at junction 5 and guess what passed me a minute later in the Hatfield Tunnel? Yes, an ANPR police traffic vehicle.

Maybe the new commissioner can get his head down to business

Trevor Burnham

Address supplied

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MONEY MAKER

Sir – I am a graduate of a speed awareness course. I graduated in 2008. My crime was to put my foot down a second too soon before passing a camera at the end of a 50mph limit which within a quarter of a mile changed to a 60mph limit. Recorded speed was 57mph. This was early in the morning, no traffic about, on the A45 dual carriageway heading towards Coventry at Ryton on Dunsmore. I caused no danger to anybody.

The offer of the course (cost �60) from Warwickshire Police included an option to attend a course in the area where I lived. I applied to attend a course locally here in Hertfordshire and was advised that the Hertfordshire course would cost me �100. The reason given for the extra cost was that their’s was a better course and it lasted a day and a half. I declined the Hertfordshire offer stating that my objective was to pay only the minimum fee of �60 in order to comply with the law for either the course or a fine and three points.

I attended the Warwickshire course. It was all very “PC,” and patronising. I was not happy to be there, given the circumstances of my crime, but “held my tongue,” and went through with it. I was familiar with the road signs and other issues raised and did not feel I learnt anything. One of the exercises was to ask each person present a question on speed limits. I answered my question correctly. Others when asked about the speed limit on dual carriageways thought that the limit was 50 mph. The presenter explained to them that it was 70mph. I could not help making the comment that these people would go away from the course driving faster than they did before attending the course. It was also suggested that if we witness bad driving by others we should tell them about it. I replied that in urban areas where I had seen bad driving you would be risking your life to do this.

With regard to speed limits I believe everybody will have slightly drifted above the limit at some time or other. These cameras are revenue raisers and do not really address bad and dangerous driving. I have seen many examples on ordinary roads and motorways of dangerous over and undertaking, pulling out in the way of oncoming vehicles, tailgating, and in urban areas going through traffic lights on red, overtaking traffic by going round the wrong side of roundabouts, and use of mobile phones whilst driving. I could go on.

We need more police traffic patrols to deal with these problems, cameras only check speed. They do not deal with dangerous driving or poorly maintained vehicles. In my own case, after 51 years of driving, including many business miles, and with a clean licence, I would have been quite happy for a traffic patrol to have pulled me over and cautioned me about my speed. Instead we have all of the bureaucracy involved in running and administering these courses which focuses on only one issue speed.

Glenn Stride

Ickleford

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ANIMAL PAIN

SIR - As concerned members of Hitchin Quaker Meeting we wish to publicise the death and suffering caused to animals as the result of human conflict.

Along with the desperate loss of human life, millions of military, farmed and domestic animals have died and continue to suffer through war and the preparations for war, including weapons research. To commemorate them we have laid a wreath of purple poppies at the war memorial in Hitchin.

If you would like further information we encourage you to visit animalaid.org.uk. In particular their booklet ‘Animals: The Hidden Victims of War’ can be read online.

Roger Jarvis and

Helen Peto

On behalf of Hitchin Quaker Meeting

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HEALTH SCARE

SIR - The problems of the privatised Surgicentre demand our MP does more than meddle in the issue. The questions he has raised (Comet November 22) need answering but Mr McPartland does not seem to understand that East & North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has not yet been authorised by the NHS and will not in any case be legally empowered until April 2013.

It is the PCT – NHS Hertfordshire – that has the responsibility for the Carillion contract. His questions do not go far enough and what the MP should be calling for is full disclosure of the contract terms and conditions and in particular those relating to cancellation.

As with previous botched privatisations I expect that if the details are published they will prove an acute embarrassment to NHS management.

Although he was completely ineffective in securing improvements when he first met Carillion bosses our MP should try to persuade the company to surrender the contract voluntarily so it can be reassigned to East & North Herts NHS Trust with minimal disruption. At least Mr McPartland has been active in the Surgicentre controversy which, regretfully, is more that can be said for his Labour opposite number, Sharon Taylor.

Patrick Newman

Chancellors Road

Stevenage

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POPPY APPEAL

SIR - Many thanks to John Lloyd for his praise of all the service veterans and the poppy week.

My wife and I have been poppy sellers for the Royal British Legion for over 25 years.

I must give my thanks to all the very generous people who gave so much this year.

My wife and I were collecting in Stevenage town centre and it was a delight to see so many young people making donations to help out servicemen and women.

Brian Kemp

Marlborough Road

Stevenage

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SIR - On behalf of Hitchin Branch of The Royal British Legion I would like to thank everyone for their generosity in supporting the 2012/13 Poppy Appeal, the total raised during poppytime is �31,000 an amazing amount. Well done to you all.

Mary Prowse

Poppy Appeal organiser for Hitchin Branch of the RBL

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SCHOOL EXPANSION

SIR - After two public meetings, two consultations which showed 60 per cent were consistently opposed and discussion in the letters pages, last Monday the county council cabinet waved the enlargement to Samuel Lucas through in only five minutes.

The chair of the education panel proposed, our local councillor Derrick Ashley said he could not support, none of the other four councillors spoke, the leader summed up that: forecasts showed need for more school places; Samuel Lucas was in the right place and had a site; town planning was for the planning committee; councillors had received lots of emails and due process had been followed – so, ‘all in favour? On to the next item.’

So much for a democratic system whereby matters are resolved through the elections of representatives who take into account informed views within the community. Here we saw a ruthless corporation at work which has reduced representation of the one million people in Hertfordshire to only seven people merely rubber-stamping decisions made by officials, without any examination of conflicting views through debate. Five minutes only on an issue that has divided the community and stands to damage the quality of life for many residents whilst only providing extra school places that could equally be provided elsewhere. But that would have required cabinet to engage its collective brain – this cabinet appeared brain dead – or perhaps just complacent and plain lazy.

How to get better decision-making? Retire that lot – but the system makes them impregnable. Lodge formal complaints? – yes, they force councils to justify themselves. Appeal above their heads? – central government never wants to get involved but the courts listen if a claim of illegality can be substantiated. Here, did the consultation follow Department for Education regulations? Watch this space.

Robin Dartington

West Hill

Hitchin

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STRANGE VISIT

SIR - I have seen from the local media, including your own newspaper, that the facts surrounding the recent visit of David Cameron to Arlesey seem somewhat askew.

One report says that Ian Dalgarno (Arlesey Central Beds councillor) had a long-standing invite to Cameron to visit Arlesey whilst another says he contacted Cameron only a few days before the visit. Mr Dalgarno also says that, although he arranged the meeting, he was not fully responsible for the guest list since Number 10 took over and cut some specific people off.

So is he or the Prime Minister responsible for not allowing the chairman and vice-chairman of Arlesey Town Council to attend? Mr Dalgarno seems to claim that falling crime levels are due to the current coalition government when, in fact, they have been falling consistently ever since Labour were in power due to Labour’s policies. As for Cameron himself, he clearly states that he has had no choice but to cut police staffing numbers. There is always a choice when it comes to politics and no-one should believe that cuts to policing are anything but the choice of this Government and those who support them.

However, it would be very interesting to hear from Arlesey’s Conservative councillor Ian Dalgarno himself – via the pages of your paper – to publicly clarify all the strange antics surrounding the PM’s visit, since he has clearly antagonised quite a number of the citizens of Arlesey and their representatives. I hope he accepts the offer.

Doug Landman

High Street

Arlesey

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NO BELLS

SIR - I read with interest your report on the removal of the church bells from St Mary’s Church in Hitchin.

Does this mean that the church is now in the running for a No-bell Peace Prize?

John Morley

Wymondley Road, Hitchin

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TOWN COUNCIL

SIR - The news that Letchworth GC Council is to be finally wound up reminded me of the cover of your June 11 2009 issue.

‘Town council supporters were crushed at the elections’ alongside ‘Thousands of people enjoyed a family fun day organised by Letchworth Garden City Council’.

Still makes me chuckle.

Sue Denim

Address supplied

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MISSING MAN

SIR - Conservative Stevenage borough councillor Michael Hearn (Comet Letters, November 15) writes “shame” on me for making public that all the Conservatives at the full council meeting on October 10 voted in favour of the expansion of Luton Airport (as did Labour) – because he had been on holiday and had not told them how to vote.

Readers might be able to accept this rather feeble excuse, if it were not for the fact that official council attendance records show that Cllr Hearn has attended only one meeting at Stevenage Borough Council this municipal year, and that was on June 28.

No wonder the Conservatives don’t know what is going on!

Cllr Robin Parker

Stevenage Borough Council

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NEW SCHEME

SIR - Last week North Hertfordshire District Council announced they would be introducing a parking permit scheme to Common Rise, Meadowbank, Arnold Close, Byron Close and Browning Drive in Hitchin. We at the Green Party are aware that commuter parking is a big problem here, however in our conversations with residents the majority have clearly expressed that this is a step too far, and that they would first like the council to try other methods, for example, appropriate road markings. We are worried that the council is introducing this scheme as a money making exercise.

As part of the proposal, double yellow lines on St Michaels Road will be extended further back past the junctions with Byron Close and Browning Drive. We welcome this but feel it will only push commuters further back along the road. Road users will therefore still face the danger of cars blocking junctions and cycle lanes and being forced out into the middle of the road. This restriction would be more effective if it covered the whole of St Michaels Road, as it would also encourage greater use of the cycle lanes on this road and reduce the number of cars.

We would like to see proactive steps taken in encouraging alternatives to car travel which would relieve congestion and parking pressure around the station, for example, by opening up a pathway from Benslow Lane Bridge down to the railway station, opening more cycle lanes and improving public transport links.

The length of public consultation period also worries us. Three weeks is far too short a time, especially in the run up to Christmas when many residents will be busy. We will however be speaking up for the residents and encourage them to contact Planning Services at North Hertfordshire District Council to make their voice heard.

Gavin Nicholson

Hitchin Green Party

Walsworth Rd

Hitchin

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