LETTERS: Comet November 15
THE letters published in the Comet on Thursday, November 8.
SIR - As a bellringer, and therefore not a disinterested party, I read with interest Chris Bassett’s letter, and the article outlining the somewhat undemocratic outcome of the Baldock Society meeting, in the November 8 issue of the Comet.
Mr Bassett must be as disappointed, indeed outraged, as I am that one single complaint has been allowed to override the general view of the people of Baldock, that the bells and chimes are part of Baldock life and continue a long and to many people, much loved tradition.
However long this complainant has lived in Baldock, the church and the bells were there long before. Anyone who does not like the sound of church bells should not choose to live near a church. After all, anyone not liking the noise of trains would not buy a house next to the railway line and then demand that the trains stop running. Well, they could try, but it would be in vain.
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I would suggest that, since the church and its bells cannot be moved, and they were there first anyway, the owner of this single voice of dissent should move to somewhere far away from church bells and then the people of Baldock could once again enjoy listening to the church bells on Christmas morning.
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SIR - In response to the news of Baldock’s church bells.
I have been a Baldock citizen all my life and for the first 23 years lived adjacent to the church. I find the bells comforting and an endearing part of the small town experience. Even my dad (who loves any excuse for a good moan and lives opposite the church) thinks that the complaint is trivial. The fact our bells are being hushed because of one complaint is frankly absurd.
If I were to complain about the cacophony of angry letter scribbling or the discordant noise of an irate email being typed by this person, would the council follow that up as well?
G La Roche
SIR - So someone in the minority has managed to have the bells of St Mary the Virgin, Baldock halted, even the Christmas peal, because of the so called disturbance caused.
How on earth has this been allowed to happen? People who move into Baldock, buy a house in Church Street - what do they expect - a lakeside view?
No-one can miss St Marys’ church, it’s big enough to see from miles away and a visit to the street prior to moving in would confirm its obvious existence.
A pity these so called ‘objectors’ didn’t move to Baldock in the past - into Pest House Lane (now Clothall Road) they would have found a leper colony just up the road.
The annual peal was a wonderful reminder of being a part of a great community at Christmas and may it return as soon as possible.
The Bell Supporters
SIR - Further to your article ‘Bah Humbug!’, I would like to tell you about life in Baldock.
As you enter the town from London Road, you are greeted with a brown tourist sign welcoming you to the historic market town, it includes an image of our 13th century church; its peal of eight bells were hung in their current form and tuning in the late 1800s.
We also have Baldock Midnight Morris, Baldock Charter Fair, The Baldock Festival, Balstock, The Annual Baldock Bike Challenge, The Baldock Bike Bash, The Baldock Beer Festival and the Baldock Christmas lights to name but a few events, that make our market town unique and show that our community likes to get involved and that it cares.
You may be one of the many hundreds of people who bought a brick, became a Friend of St Mary’s, joined the 100 club and supported many fundraising events, which enabled the church tower to be restored and in doing so meant the bells could chime and ring and peal again. You may now be wondering what was the point? So, is the decision that has been taken to reduce the Westminster chimes and to ban the ringing for the first Christmas morning service, the beginning of the erosion of Baldock life and culture?
What happens if one person complains about the noise from the thwacking sticks of our morris dancers on a summer’s evening or the brightness of the Christmas lights, do they get stopped too or do we as custodians of the town for future generations need to change some of the compromises that were made? Should we all have a say?
SIR - As a Baldock resident who has lived here all my life and have traced my family tree back 330 years I find it disgusting that a selfish person has tried to change centuries of tradition in this town.
An internet campaign with over a 1,000 members sourcing hand bells to go and ring at the church Christmas morning is in full swing now.
To stop this sort of thing happening again destroying centuries of tradition for 99 per cent of people in the town it’s time estate agents were forced to put on literature warnings such as if you buy a house near an airport you may hear planes. If you buy a house near a train station you may hear trains. If you buy a house near a church you may hear bells. Surely this will stop people who obviously have no common sense or regard for tradition causing this to happen again.
SIR - I read your article re the ringing of St Mary’s bells with dismay. What is the world coming to when someone can be so petty as to object to the joyful sound of church bells.
We lived almost as close as possible for two years and listened to the bells and did not find them either a nuisance or a disturbance. I feel very for the sorry for the complainant who is unable to enjoy the sound of these bells and part of me wonders why they decided to move so close to a church when inevitably there would be some chimes. I might add that these bells are one of the most melodic peals in the area, I would gladly change places just to enjoy that sound again.
Connie & Ted Gammon
SIR - I have just read the article in this week’s Comet about the church bells in Baldock and I would like to say that it is very sad that one individual can stop them from ringing out on Xmas day. What a Scrooge.
A vast majority of Baldock people have lived with bells for 60 or more years and like to hear them ringing out (admittedly not too early in the morning) except on Xmas day.
So come and do not let one Scrooge stop them from being rung.
Name and address supplied
SIR - I see from the Comet dated November 8 that bad has triumphed over good. Scrooge has managed to get the bells stopped that herald Christmas.
I am sure many true people of Baldock will be very disappointed that the bells will not sound out on that special morning. I also note that from another letter on the subject by a gentleman who was able to attend the meeting, there was a majority vote to keep the chimes and bells as they were so I can not understand why the Reverend has gone with the un-known moaner and only ringing one bell for 45 seconds on Christmas morning and cutting out the chimes at 8’o’clock in the mornings, I know that in this world we have to show compassion, but soon this person will moan about children and adults laughing and enjoying themselves next because it disturbs them. The questions I would like to ask, is this un-known person a Christian? Also when they decided to move near a church did they not expect bells to be rung, or the church clock to chime? If they enjoy so much peace and quiet there are several desert islands around the world, if they moved to one then the towns folk of Baldock could carry on enjoying the bells that bring so much joy to all, well not quite all because there is always one party pooper.
SIR - Shame on Cllr Parker for unduly representing all Conservative councillors with SBC as being in favour of support for Luton expansion or not caring about local people.
I have written into this paper with my views against expansion way before the SBC agenda was even written, happily joined and promoted the campaign against and stood alongside Stephen McPartland’s campaign from the beginning. More importantly I have stood on the ground shoulder-to-shoulder with the residents of my ward who are affected already by the Luton flight path.
Due to my annual holiday my fellow Conservatives were not in possession of the full facts surrounding the expansion and if they were then they would have duly been steered through the locally Labour inspired deception regarding Luton within the motion that negated the reality that if allowed to expand the flight path would see more planes over Stevenage and quality of life impacted to the further detriment of its residents. Something no Conservative councillor would support if armed with all the facts. Shame indeed that Cllr Parker attacks mistakenly instead of focusing on the failure of the majority Labour party for its selfish collusion with Luton council in passing a meaningless motion that definitively shows them to be the only party truly uncaring when it comes down to residents of Stevenage and expansion at Luton.
Cllr Michael S Hearn
SIR - I also attended a speed awareness course recently having been a naughty boy doing 38mph in a 30mph limit. I did not whinge about being caught and was only too pleased to attend this course to avoid the penalty points on an otherwise clean licence. I found the tutors very polite and helpful as I like to stay safe both on two wheels (motorcycles) and four wheels. I disagreed on some points but the tutors were quite happy to discuss any questions put to them and it was all carried out in a lighthearted way. They showed great patience dealing with one awkward person who could see no reason for attending and was rather unpleasant throughout. When asked if they would like to leave the course and pay �60 with three penalty points on top of the course fee, they declined with more unpleasantness.
The whole course was aimed at becoming more aware of speed and its consequences. The 30mph sign was shown to us to make us more aware of their uses as most drivers do not seem to know what these are for. I would recommend anyone to take the opportunity of attending one of these sessions as, even after 63 years of clean driving, I certainly came away with a better awareness of the dangers on the roads.
NAME AND ADDRESS
SIR - As an ex-police authority member for Beds Police, I know that it took 14 members, professional in all areas, with a small number of local government elected members, to oversee the complex nature of a modern police force, and to forecast budgets against further cuts.
We were essentially a-political. Whoever wins on Thursday, on a ridiculously low turnout, will not have a true mandate, and will be a political appointment. Election promises cannot be fulfilled, as the appointee will be tied to existing contracts and strategies. It is a poisoned chalice.
Whoever wins cannot keep all the fragmented communities of Bedfordshire happy, whatever they have promised!
Name and address supplied
SIR - It was reported that a cow escaped from Oughton Head Common and was found wandering in the grounds of the old Hitchin Hospital.
Evidently Hitchin Cow Commoners have forgotten their traditional and principle task: to ensure stock on Hitchin’s commons does not wander.
However, now that the eminently sensible ruling by an NHDC inspector has called a halt to both the Top Field development and the removal of the football ground to Green Belt, maybe the Commoners can get back to their traditional stock-control role. A happy escape from the mire into which that body has got itself. Hopefully NHDC will also draw a conclusion over the deeply unpopular Churchgate development and tell Simon to quit. No-one wants it and there is no commercial case for it in this continuing fragile economic time. Hammersmatch should of course be allowed to modernise and clean-up the present Churchgate shopping precinct.
SIR - I am a former elected Arlesey town councillor and Mid Beds district councillor and was absolutely appalled and disgusted that the current elected Central Beds Councillor Cllr Dalgarno invited David Cameron to meet a ‘selected 22 members of the ‘Arlesey Residents Association’ which I might add is not a formal recognised democratic body but a small breakaway group of Conservative supporters attempting to promote Conservative ideology.
Can they not accept that Arlesey Town Council, the current voted in democratic body has a formal mandate and authority to make decisions on behalf of the Arlesey community on the use of community facilities, which includes the Women’s Institute for party political interest?
The Arlesey Women’s Institute is unique in as much as it owns its own building and was founded by volunteers of the Arlesey community during the last century. I understand that the current chairman was not informed of this visit and that the facilities and cost of use during this meeting was not sanctioned by any member of the elected the WI committee. As a resident of Arlesey for many years I have always been impressed by the strong community spirit and the informal input by ‘neighbours’ to help one another. To suggest that the ‘Arlesey Resident Association’ is the only body which provides voluntary help and support to those in need is an insult to all the informal volunteers young and old which continue to promote social cohesion in a town with a unique community social conscious outside of the political arena. If this meeting was to promote the Conservative party police and crime commissioners for Bedfordshire Jas Parmer, this method of communication and public relations certainly does not instil any confidence in a police commissioner who quite clearly appeared not be aware of the needs of a rural village community such as Arlesey.
Maybe they should all join MP Nadine Dorries in the jungle for inspiration.
SIR - In the recent consultation with the citizens of our Garden City, over 1,000 of us voted to retain our town council in spite of its bad name acquired over the last seven years, with firstly “independent” councillors many of whom turned out to be a single-issue Heritage Foundation-abolishing group and now we have a group dominated by town-council-abolishers.
We have never had a majority of moderate town councillors who want to do all of the humdrum things that ordinary town or parish councils do. Many local villages have their own parish councils who are the faces of their villages to our district and county councils, MPs and MEPs. Royston has its own town council and mayor who do the same successfully. But, if we lose our town council, we, the world’s first Garden City, will have no clear democratic face to the outside. Any other citizens who feel as I do, please contact me on 01462 481755 or email@example.com . I visualise our forming an organisation to support town council candidates who will promise, for their whole four-year term of office, a town council tax precept of no more than about 50p per week per Letchworth household, which would raise about �200,000 each year. Taking inflation into account, when our district council set up our town council, it considered the amount sensible.
Let us be proud enough of our Garden City to want to have our own say on important things, such as planning applications, turning-off our street lamps, and rearranging our town centre streets, while presenting ourselves democratically to the world.
Business Centre West
Letchworth Garden City
SIR - I would just like to say a big thank you to all those ignorant people who continue to let off fireworks long after November 5 and well into the evenings at that.
One of my dogs is terrified of them and suffers every time he hears the bang of another one going off. My poor dog has spent the last nine evenings barking, pacing up and down the house and generally being frightened.
It’s bad enough that we have to go through this on the lead up to November 5 but for it to carry on for up to six days afterwards is ridiculous.
I hope it won’t be too long before fireworks are banned from sale to the general public and can only be purchased for use at a licensed display. Hopefully we have heard the last of the fireworks for now, until they start again at New Year and then we have to deal with a very scared dog all over again.
So, thanks again to those mindless idiots who have needlessly frightened not only my dog but I’m sure plenty of other pets as well.
A caring pet owner
SIR - Like a defeated army covering a disastrous retreat, NHDC is putting up a smokescreen to disguise the fact it has lost the war over redeveloping Hitchin town centre.
It wants to extend Simons’ three year exclusive deal which runs out in March for one reason only, it does not want to publicly admit it got this shambolic deal completely wrong from day one.
By delaying the inevitable until October next year, it hopes to postpone the day of reckoning as to why it entered into a secret deal which would have broken its own planning brief and transformed an old market town into a mini lookalike of Welwyn GC or Luton.
By presenting the town with a fait accompli back in March 2010, the ruling Tory group clearly ignored a town consultation in 2005 which voted to keep the market where it is and not to build on St Mary’s Square and Portmill Lane car park.
As well as building on 7.5 acres of the town centre, they would have given Simons the minimum of �250 million income from a four storey car park built slap bang in front of the 1,000-year-old St Mary’s Church.
So much for democracy. Letchworth based Tory leader Lynda Needham has refused for the past three years to speak publicly in Hitchin as to why NHDC wanted to ignore the clearly expressed views of local residents.
She obviously could not defend the indefensible. Just like Norma Atlay now cannot come up with one sensible reason to extend the Simons three year deadline.
Perhaps, after the council rejected in January the preposteruous idea of allowing Simons yet more time to fail again, she will come to Hitchin and apologise personally for NHDC spending more than �1 million over a decade on not listening to what the people actually want for their own town.
SIR - No doubt angry and frustrated that her political career hasn’t progressed further than the back benches of Parliament, Nadine Dorries decides to jet off to the jungle in the hope that she can become a major celebrity instead. Anyone living in the real world who decided to desert their post for an extended holiday without notification, nor authorisation, certainly wouldn’t get paid in their absence and probably wouldn’t even have a job to come back to either?
Why on earth Nadine Dorries has decided to embrace the indignation of being publicly humiliated and made fun as a form of entertainment aimed at an audience with an IQ deficit is beyond me? Her political career is now certain to be in tatters, and as far as becoming a celebrity is concerned, she seems to have forgotten that ageism is rife in the world of showbusiness - and she is much too old.
SIR - What is it with people these days. I read that the traditional peal of bells that ring out on Christmas day won’t be happening at St Mary’s church in Baldock. It’s a shame that the wishes on one sad individual who no doubt has no intention of entering into Christmas spirit causes the cessation of a British tradition.
That individual should of thought of the impact on their sleeping pattern when they moved into a house close to a church.
Name and address supplied
BAR EXTENSION HOURS
SIR - As local residents who have continuously been disturbed on Friday and Saturday nights by extreme anti social behaviour and noise nuisance, we were surprised to learn through your article that Que Pasa had applied for an extension of hours.
The Market Place resident you mentioned in your article is not the only one that will be affected by this change. For a number of years we have regularly been disturbed in the early hours of the morning by drunken people leaving the town centre. They go out of their way to make as much noise and disturbance as possible.
Had we been aware of the application, we would have strongly objected to any extension to the licensing hours. It seems that local residents are not kept informed of changes which are likely to effect their quality of life. It also seems perverse that the police, who must be aware of the level of disturbance on Friday and Saturday nights, have not objected to the proposed changes but instead have agreed that customers can enter the premises until 2am - an hour later than the current 1 am curfew.
Name and address supplied
SIR - For many years Codicote residents have suffered from the huge number of lorries passing through the village to the St Albans Road quarry. It now appears that the quarry is operating in breach of its licence terms by receiving and crushing raw concrete rather than the extraction of chalk and the processing of top soil for which it is licensed.
The owners have belatedly applied for permission for this activity. This site, which can only be reached via narrow country lanes and through villages (mainly Codicote and Wheathampstead), is clearly unsuited to this industrial scale waste processing. The lorries are frequently overloaded, and unsheeted and cause huge amounts of noise, dust and pollutants. The road is damaged and the county council has had to spend hundreds of thousands of tax payers? money on repairs. The site is adjacent to around a dozen residential properties. Who knows what else is in the air around here; could the site inadvertently be processing asbestos?
I urge the public to support the campaign to prevent this misuse of a rural site. I have no wish to prevent the legitimate business of chalk extraction for agricultural use and a small operation processing to soil may also be acceptable, but we must stop these lorries destroying the peace and tranquillity of our village.
The matter will be determined by the county council development control, committee and affects far more than Codicote; the wider area also needs to write to the county council to object to this blight on our right to a peaceful life.
Cllr Tom Brindley
SIR - I am mystified by the announcement in the November 1 edition of the Comet that hundreds of extra train seats are promised for commuters from next month in a move to ease overcrowding on rail services.
I quite often travel back from King’s Cross to Hitchin late in the evening and always dread the journey because of the overcrowding on some of the trains, especially the 20.53 which only has four coaches.
No matter which evening I travel the problem is the same with standing room only as far as Stevenage and even Hitchin. Furthermore, the smell of hot food is almost inescapable as a result of the congestion. I have on occasions complained to First Capital Connect about the overcrowding and their response has given me the impression I have to grin and bear it. The constant discomfort would cease if only they increased the number of coaches from four to eight.
On November 2, the day after your article, customer relations of First Capital Connect stated in response to my complaint that the Department of Transport ultimately decide how many trains a train operating company is allowed to lease and that the industry is not in a position to replace trains every few years. I did not ask them to replace trains but to lengthen them. They went on to say that they understood there was more to do in the longer term to counter the overcrowding and that there was no more capacity that can be offered until they introduced their new rolling stock. There was no indication it was imminent, ie next month. I wonder whether there was a lack of communication within First Capital Connect or was the announcement in your paper just far too premature? Time will tell.
SIR - I wholeheartedly agree with and fully endorse the sentiments in the letter from Tony Marshall in highlighting the danger and tragic consequences of excessive speeding on our roads.
He has personally witnessed devastating first hand experience of the result and is of course so right in emphasising that speed kills. Unfortunately were we to rigidly enforce the relationship then we would return to travelling at walking pace with a red flag in front of us. In our current motor transport dependant society this is as utterly ridiculous as it is impractical, so we are resigned to the compromise of a series of mandatory speed limits that we must all adhere to for everyone’s ultimate safety.
Regardless of how long we have been driving we all benefit from a reminder from time to time of correct road speed management, however, where I do take issue is in my understanding of the manner in which a mature and experienced driver was prosecuted and the patently patronising treatment he received on the speed awareness course. He was also correct in pointing out that it is an instinctive human reaction that even though travelling well within the speed limit to automatically apply the brakes upon sighting a mobile camera ahead, producing a potential road traffic hazard.
Surely installing more cost efficient solar powered illuminating speed limit reminder signs would be as, if not more, of an effective a deterrent than having paid police professionals sitting by roadsides in vehicles packed with expensive measuring and recording equipment, but of course self illuminating warning signs do not generate any revenue.
Letchworth Garden City