Review of the year: July

JULY saw teaching posts axed at North Hertfordshire College, obese patients and smokers told to lose weight and quit smoking before surgery, and the proposal of additional parking charges in North Herts.

• IT WAS announced that charges to council-owned car parks could be introduced for evenings, weekends and bank holidays by North Herts District Council.

The council said it was looking to introduce charges to 11 car parks across Hitchin and Letchworth GC on bank holidays, and said it could implement charges for evenings and weekends at a later point due to a planned technical change.

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins said the move was “wrong on many points” - economically, commerically and environmentally. “Some businesses are hanging on by their fingertips as it is,” he said.

• AXING 32 teaching posts at North Hertfordshire College led to fears that there would be a loss of a traditional community college.

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The reduction of posts was due to a reduction in funding resulting in a need to save nearly �1million over the 2011/12 academic period.

The college, which has campuses in Stevenage, Letchworth GC and Hitchin, said it would also cut courses that failed to attract adequate numbers.

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Michael Downing, who worked at the college for 30 years, said: “There are new ideas being looked at by the Government, with further education colleges doing more degree work. Some think it’s a cheap alternative to university. Is that what North Hertfordshire College is proposing and will this be at the expense of the traditional community college?”

• THE Sonisphere festival in the grounds of Knebworth House was held for the third year running, selling out for the first time and recording the lowest crime figures in its history.

The three-day festival of metal, thrash and rock attracted 60,000 fans each day to Knebworth Park to hear the likes of powerhouse headliners Metallica, Biffy Clyro and Slipknot.

• THE 20th Rhythms of the World festival was described as “the best yet” by festival organisers, after thousands turned out to enjoy the event.

More than 140 acts performed over the course of the weekend across seven different stages, including headline act Raghu Dixit.

Other highlights included an airborne display by the Aerostars Yak Aerobatic Display Team and a surprise performance by a flash mob dance team.

• THE �38 million science park in the grounds of the GlaxoSmithKline site in Stevenage was ‘topped off’ by the Minister of Science David Willetts to mark the final stage of construction on the new buildings.

The Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst project aims to attract a range of small to medium pharmaceutical businesses when it opens at the beginning of 2012.

• RACE for Life at Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage attracted 3,100 women, raising tens of thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK.

Just over 2,400 participants took part in the 5km run, while the rest took on the 10km challenge - the first time the longer distance has been held in Stevenage. “It was a fabulous atmosphere,” said organiser Lucy Hynes.

• HERTS GPs supported recommendations by NHS Hertfordshire, the county’s primary care trust, that force obese people to lose weight and encourage smokers to quit before they are allowed orthopaedic surgery.

Dr Tony Kostick, joint chairman of the clinical executive committee at NHS Hertfordshire and a Stevenage GP, said the changes were legally sound and based on “strong clinical evidence” that patients are at a higher risk of complications associated with surgery if they smoke or are seriously overweight.

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