Letters round up (Including ‘the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about’)

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


Spelling out the alternatives

In response to two correspondents who mentioned me by name and your Comment column (Letters, May 14) I would like to make the following points:

David O’Neill’s Voice Of The Paper comment hit the nail right on the head. Well done, that man!

I would remind Richard Bowen of the famous saying that the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.

In his description of me, he forgot to describe me as a miserable, ugly, fat bald OAP – which I am.

I would urge Susan Johnson to go down to Broadwater when ‘Berko Football Club’ are playing at home – they did very well in the season which has just ended, and are certainly worth watching.

She should try to encourage the supporters that ‘Berkhamsted’ trips off the tongue far more easily than ‘Come on Berko.’

I would point out that in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name of our town is spelt ‘Berchehastede’ which I understand to mean the fortified place amongst the hills.

Perhaps we could all go back to calling it that? Sounds very posh to me.


John Waller

Cobb Road, Berkhamsted


Airbrushing away awkward facts

Readers of the upbeat Speaker’s Corner column by Dacorum Borough Council leader Andrew Williams may wonder: “Does he mean us?”.

Councillor Williams has airbrushed some important facts.

The delayed improvements to the Old High Street were typically mismanaged by the council, creating delay, unnecessary inconvenience, loss of trade, and additional costs.

The Gazette headline on April 30 made clear that the contractors employed by the council were the subject of legal action by one of the local businesses. This is not a scheme to be proud of, as Councillor Williams would have us believe.

The decision by supermarket chain Morrisons to withdraw from the bigger town centre regeneration is a fatal blow to the much-publicised Tory plans for the town centre.

The Tories have admitted they wasted £1.5million on consultancy costs, with nothing to show for it.

Including VAT, inflation, and other costs which the council will aim to hide through creative accounting, the true cost is more likely to be £3 million. This Tory council has wasted public money. To cover their losses, Dacorum is one of the few councils to have impose an increase in council tax this year, against the recommendations of the Tory-led government. So, Dacorum get things wrong, and we all pay.

David Lidington, the Tory MP for Aylesbury ( Gazette, May 7) has recently criticised Hemel town centre. Even more surprising and disappointing was that Mike Penning, our own Tory MP, agreed with much of what he said.

All this seems directly at odds with what Councillor Williams would have us believe.

Ella Knight (Gazette, April 16) also noted that councillors had wasted public money, and asked: “Who do we blame?”.

The answer is simple. Dacorum has Tory district, parish, and county councillors, and a Tory MP. The buck stops with the Tories.

Paul Eastwood

address supplied


Waitrose parking rules a mistake

At short-notice, Waitrose in Berkhamsted has taken the lemming-like decision to impose draconian parking payments in their car park.

Acting like a petulant first-born who hates the prospect of a new sibling as a rival for affections, they have decided to spoil the game for everyone.

The tariff at Waitrose now allows free parking for two hours if you spend more than £10 in the shop.

If you spend less than £10, that two hours will cost £1. If you spend nothing, you pay £3 for parking.

Astonishing, if you stay for more than two hours, regardless of whether you have shopped or not, the charge is now £25.We all know why this has happened. M&S Food opens later this month with woefully inadequate parking.

Waitrose is very concerned. They were quite happy to open a mini garden centre in direct competition to a neighbouring businesses, and make the lives of their pedestrian customers rather more awkward, but woe betide anyone who treads on the turf of one of the partnership’s most profitable stores.

This is in complete contradiction to the spirit in which Waitrose was originally granted planning permission for the store, swallowing huge amounts of free town parking back in 1994.

Putting aside the practical problems of how Waitrose actually administers the new charges (Does it include café spending? What if a driver staying in excess of two hours doesn’t have £25. What happens at Christmas when completing a shop within two hours can be challenging?) and the de facto increase in costs for anyone not spending £10, what might the wider effect be?

I live in Berkhamsted and run a non-retail business in the centre of the town with its own parking.

I would suggest that all Berkhamsted’s traders in the shops and markets of the town could be adversely affected by this move, and that the displacement of parking may well reignite the resident parking scheme which the town has fought so hard against.

What’s more, Dacorum could see this as an opportunity to raise parking charges across the town.

I pity the poor staff that will have to implement these measures, but mostly I’m concerned of the wider effect it will have on the town and its character.

Waitrose, have you really thought this through?.

Name and address supplied


Imagine how a Green vote counts

Imagine a society that operates for the common good of all its people, where democracy reaches its full potential and people rule not just in the community but also at work.

Imagine renewable energy that replaces the burning of fossil fuels, thus eliminating air pollution and creating a healthy planet for future generations.

Imagine sustainable farming and good quality food with maximum protection for the countryside and its wildlife.

Imagine education and health services that are adequately financed and remain in the public sector.

Imagine a mass expansion of public transport with buses, trams and trains that are cheap, regular and secure, supported by the re-nationalisation of rail services.

Imagine a society where poverty is non-existent, as all citizens have a decent income and working hours are reduced to eliminate unemployment.

If you believe that these policies are right for Britain and Europe, then vote Green tomorrow.

In the European Parliament the British Greens are allied with other progressive parties who believe in the same values.

Paul Harris

Chair, Dacorum Green Party

traffic speed

Blanket limit would be unjust

Prople regularly complain about average speeds in our towns and the fact that there is too much traffic.

There are certainly problems to be addressed, in part due to car makers making cars with more power than is really needed, media influence from programmes like Top Gear and distractions in the car, such as mobile phones.

On the whole, though, it’s not so bad.

In 37 years of driving I have never seen a pedestrian, of any age, run over and killed. Perhaps I’ve been lucky.

But any suggestion of a blanket 20mph limit across all towns would be unjust and would not neccessarily be any safer, as people would try their luck and just dart across the road underestimating how far away the vehicle is.

These suggestions are often put forward by non drivers, and people who are opposed to cars.

Let’s consider also the stupidity of pedestrians and cyclists. Roads are made primarily for – and in part paid by for – motor vehicles and their drivers. I particularly object to the number of speed ramps and raised junctions.

Mr V. Leonard

address supplied


Be kinder to the scooter users

People often have a go at those who have to use mobility scooters to get around town centres, and I feel it’s time to give our side of the story, too.

I have had to use a scooter for the last six years or so and going into a town centre or even just to the supermarket is a nightmare.

It’s as if I am invisible. People walk right in front of me at least three or four times every time I am out, and it’s a miracle that someone has not been hurt.

I have never been apologised to even though it has not been my fault – most people just carry on walking as if I wasn’t there, even though I am left shaken by the experience.

As I have to have someone with me when I go out my speed is that of a person walking so it’s not as if I am speeding around everywhere.

I was once verbally abused for daring to go through a narrow market walkway – I had waited until it was clear and was slowly following other people through the walkway, but none of those were sworn at for no reason!

I doubt anyone uses a mobility scooter by choice, I know I certainly do not.

So please give us a little consideration and be aware what is going on around you when walking around in the town or supermarkets.

I should stress that the majority of people are very considerate, sadly it’s just the minority who make what is, for me, already an ordeal into a much bigger one with their inconsiderate ways.

D. Freeman

address supplied


Hightown has road responsibilities

Emma Crump of Hightown Praetorian & Churches Association, in responding to criticism about the appalling state of Belton Road, is correct (Gazette, May 7) when she says that Hightown does not own the road – but as a developer and owner of properties whose tenants rely on the road for access, Hightown does have a moral obligation to provide safe access for them.

The road has deteriorated rapidly in recent years due to the increased traffic caused by this development, and according to the terms of the planning permission there is a requirement for it to be maintained.

She says that Hightown has offered to work with local residents to agree a plan of action for the road, but I have not been contacted and I have not seen a plan of action.

They should be aware that two of the three street lights no longer work, the remaining light is sometimes on during the day but not at night and when it rains, the road is almost impassable by foot.

Nigel Payne.

Belton Road, Berkhamsted


We need action to improve road

My wife and I have lived in Belton Road for more than 30 years. As the oldest residents, we have seen how the gravel road has stood the test of time, and the rapid deterioration since the eight flats were built by Hightown Praetorian & Churches Association.

Greatly increased traffic and delivery vehicles has made the road virtually impassable.

I well remember Hightown’s previous attempts to ‘make good’ the road, after reneging on an original promise to tarmac it.

Keeping costs to the minimum, they have on two occasions, hired a man and his pick-up to add more loose material to fill the holes, which quickly becomes potholed again.

On one occasion, this was carried out when the road was covered in snow.

The level of the road has risen each time this useless gesture is made, which has caused rainwater to run off onto our drives, and flood them.

Hightown is responsible for the maintenance of the road, and if it adds more loose material, causing flooding to drives and garages, it will also be responsible for any damage caused to private property.

The road surface needs scraping and the removal of loose material, before being restored properly with either tarmac or concrete in accordance with the original plans.

Keith Puleston

Belton Road, Berkhamsted