Letters round up (Including continuing sinkhole anger)


A selection of your opinions from this week’s Gazette.

In defence of our MP

Penning working hard to gain focus

In response to a letter from Mr Paul Eastwood I would like to point out that Mike Penning’s appearance on TV and radio was to make people aware of our case at Oatridge Gardens.

Letter like this only harm our chances of a fair result and detract from the focus Mike Penning has worked hard to gain.

Mr Eastwood mentions council flats and houses, and how the resulting charges will be affected – but many of us are facing the same issue and his comments were not required.

If he felt so strongly I have to question why a direct letter was not written to Mike Penning.

It is known that Mr Eastwood has close ties to the Labour party, and in fact is part of Labour Housing. Instead of trying to gain a political upper hand (which I can only assume this was an attempt at) I believe time would be better spent offering the residents of Oatridge Gardens, and the council flats he discusses, some assistance.

With his 20+ years of experience in the housing sector he is well placed to do this.

I understand Hightown have many ‘friends’ in Hemel Hempstead – apart from their tenants – and I expect this to be a case of a matter close to home but Hightown seem to have been given a free reign in Hemel.

Knocking down buildings without proper consent resulting in little punishment.

I question how a not for profit operation can boast of its £43million turnover, whilst at the same time they state they cannot afford to cancel the rent they take from the Oatridge residents, the rent for the flats and houses we cannot live in.

I note many of us, actually 75% of the residents own 50% of their properties.

Many of us have families who have been severely affected and the fact Hightown are being allowed to move forward with their Maylands development is disgusting – both from the council and the organisation itself.

The council needs to halt all development after the sorting office and sinkhole debacle, this government funded organisation is clearly not capable!

Dave Ketley

Address supplied

Proposed Lidl in Berko

Times change but we still need choice

I was rather surprised to read that one “Waitrose” and one “Tesco Metro” are considered to be ample for a town (Berkhamsted) with a population of approximately 17,000.

I grew up here in the 50s, when the population must have been half of what it is now, I am sure your readers will correct me if this is wrong?

We had the following: grocers: KEMPSTERS, REDDINGS, KINGHAMS, HOME & COLONIAL, INTERNATIONAL STORES, SAINSBURYS, EXPRESS DAIRY, CO-OP, BUDGENS etc plus many corner shops, several butchers, greengrocers, not forgetting Gordon with his horse drawn fruit and veg cart, and fishmongers. Most had ‘free delivery’.

I appreciate that times have changed, many families did not have cars and few ladies worked and shopped most days, instead of once a week or online.

But what a choice we had! BRING IT ON.

Anne Waller (MRS)


Nostalgic appeal

New Zealanders to re-visit their past

My late father, RT (Dick) Brittenden was a navigator in the RAF during the Second World War and his pilot was Philip Hill who was killed in the war.

Philip and his parents were very kind to my father and we have photos of my dad with Mr and Mrs Hill, their son Philip and their daughter Audrey in the garden at Frinton Cottage, Berkhamsted.

My husband and I will be in the UK in July and I would love to see the house (two storeys) and I wonder too whether any of Audrey’s family still live in the area? Is it possible should you be able to put a notice in your newspaper that anyone who has any information could please contact me on email at Villa_Alexandra@xtra.co.nz

Wendy Perry

Christchurch, New Zealand

Parking ticket

Fine was cancelled thanks to our MP

I just wanted to write to thank Mike Penning for helping me with my Sportspace parking ticket issue.

Yesterday I received a letter from the parking company saying that the fine had been cancelled.

I am still concerned that Sportspace are not being truthful about this, they said that they had no control whatsoever over the parking company, and they would have to pay the fine on my behalf.

The letter from the parking company, which must have been a result of your (Mike Penning’s) letter to Sportspace, proved this not to be true, they do have some control over it and it is just a revenue stream for Sportspace.

Once again, thank you so much for your help with this matter, I really appreciate it. It’s good to know that we have somebody on our side.

Tom Lainton

Address supplied


Can your doctor treat loneliness?

New research has found significant numbers of lonely people attending GP surgeries, with doctors saying they are ill-equipped to help them.

A new poll of UK GPs found that three quarters of family doctors (76%) report that between one and five patients a day attend their surgery primarily because they are lonely. This could mean that as many as one in 10 patients arriving at GPs surgeries are there not because they are medically unwell, but because they are lonely.

Worryingly, almost half of the doctors questioned said they were not confident they had the tools necessary to help their lonely patients, with only 13 per cent of doctors confident in being able to help.

Some doctors reported even greater levels of loneliness among their patients, with 11 per cent of family doctors reporting up to 10 patients a day who they think are lonely, and four per cent of doctors seeing more than 10 lonely patients on an average day.

Far too many people are feeling so lonely, and so at a loss about what to do about it, that they end up going to see their doctor.

It’s time we committed to a more coordinated public health response that targets resources towards better support for lonely people, and prevention of loneliness for those at risk.

I know that many doctors will feel frustrated at not being able to help their patients but there are things they can do.

There are many schemes, both public and voluntary, that can help lonely older people and the first step for doctors should be to signpost these to patients.

Loneliness and isolation is associated with poor mental, physical and emotional health, including increased rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cognitive decline and dementia. Socially isolated and lonely adults are more likely to undergo early admission into residential or nursing care.

We been working with local authorities to help them better track and support lonely older people.

Critical to this effort is getting loneliness recognised as a public health issue by local health and wellbeing boards so that the best support can reach those who need it.

Loneliness is putting an unnecessary strain on local GP surgeries and social care services.

Only half of the newly empowered local health and wellbeing boards have acknowledged loneliness in their strategies.

This needs to increase if we are to help lonely older people and ultimately improve health outcomes in later life.

Kate Jopling

Director, Campaign to End Loneliness


School is failing our sixth formers

As a HIGH percentage of students at The Hemel Hempstead School continue to FAIL their exams it should be noted that last year, only eight students from a class of 60 passed the AS Level in Psychology?

Many of those students had to find alternative education as The Hemel Hempstead School response to “Parent Concerns” are still awaiting?

Whilst this school enforces sixth form students to remain on school premises at ALL times to endure noise and interruption in a so-called Common Room. The students regularly suffer and are subjected to the constant disruption of fellow pupils. These A Level students from The Hemel Hempstead School are ADULTS and MOST of them prefer to study at HOME which prove more rewarding than forceful studies with staff who leave work in their absence.

As the head adheres to his finances and negates his responsibilities to our future, in our children, Please HELP US ALL?

To our local representatives, I would ask that they stop arguing about the unfortunate and ill advised planning, parking and building applications and start to listen to the community with sincere concerns for their local school priorities.

Parents should like an explanation as to why so many students FAILED at AS level?

Name and address supplied


Sell by dates are past sell by dates

I was a boy during the Second World War and lived in a farm cottage with my parents. We had no refrigerator and therefore had to resort to scraping the mould off the cheese and skim the top of the soured milk. Probably as a result of growing up during tough food rationing some 70 years ago, today I never look at any “best sell by” dates. I am quite happy when shopping that there is no rust on the tins and the bread does not appear to be mouldy. We must now accept that there is a growing army of people relying on these charitable food outlets and food banks, however embarrassing it may be to turn up, so is it not time to get rid of this obsession of what is safe to eat?

It is not because there is a health danger from eating this food, it is discarded in large quantities - 10 billion pounds worth a year - it is purely to create a false shortage and avoid a glut that would drive down supermarket prices.

Were our doctors and A&E departments overwhelmed with food poisoned patients from the 40s to the 70s before these food warning labels appeared? I do not think so. Perhaps we should remember what our parents regularly reminded us of, “waste not want not.”

Phil Filsell

Address supplied