A selection of letters sent to the Gazette this week.
Thanks to council for making town a cultural desert
Every few months we get a reminder that Dacorum Council, if it had a collective soul, has one with all the characteristics of an accountant: knowing the cost of everything but the value of nothing.
That reminder is provided by the arrival through my letter-box of a programme of events at the Elgiva Theatre, Chesham (owned and managed by Chesham Town Council).
The Elgiva, seating 300, is a performance venue which supports music of all types, from the classics to tribute bands; dance; theatre and film.
It also runs a successful six-day cafe and, of course, a bar.
Hemel Hempstead used to have a similar venue: The Pavilion; which Dacorum Council demolished with the promise, subsequently reneged upon, of a replacement.
The site, to this day, remains undeveloped – for 12 years Dacorum’s crypto-accountants have earned nothing from this community asset and done nothing with it apart from incurring additional costs from planting it with grass and occasionally mowing it.
The cover story for its non-replacement has been that people wouldn’t turn up to use it and that it would require subsidy from the council – a strange contrast to the council’s justification for tarting-up Marlowes, which seems to be based on the hope that this might encourage more people to turn up, use the facilities and bring money into the local economy.
Chesham has a population of around 25,000, and the Elgiva was completely rebuilt in 1988.
Hemel Hempstead has a population of around 100,000 (Dacorum around 150,000): and The Pavilion was completely demolished in 2002.
As several of our Councillors have told us, if Hemel Hempstead or Dacorum residents want to attend any kind of show, go to a concert, visit the theatre etc. there are plenty of opportunities: in Watford, St. Albans, Chesham, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Dunstable... you name it, other councils have sufficient civic pride to provide performance venues and, where necessary, to subsidise them.
Where any form of performance goes, with the exception of the Old Town Theatre (helpfully located in what is now a one-way street along which public transport no longer flows) Dacorum is a great place to come from, but Dacorum Council has ensured that it’s a cultural desert to go to.
Thanks for nothing, Dacorum Council: for it’s nothing that you’ve decided, on our collective behalf, to provide.
Let’s vote them out come what May
Our member of parliament Mike Penning in Speaker’s Corner on December 3 said ‘Reason to Celebrate in record breaking year’ – if you were on an MP’s salary you would celebrate to!
Then we have member of parliament David Gauke in Speaker’s Corner as treasury minister saying: ‘This is an exciting time’ – yes it is for him, another who receives an MP’s salary.
Yet in the Dacorum we have people living off food banks, Mike Penning and David Gauke have done nothing but boast about jobs,and that everything is getting better.
And as these two ministers have been in power for the last four and a half years what have they done for Dacorum? Absolutely nothing in my opinion, no hospital no Pavilion.
Just like their boss David Cameron, in 2010 our Prime Minister made a contract with the people of this country.
He said: ‘If I do not reduce immigration and we don’t deliver our side of the bargain vote us out in five years’ time’.
Well his five years are nearly up, and his boast of getting immigration down to tens of thousands – we have over 250,000 this year alone – shows he has failed and we should do as he asked us to do so at least help him to keep his promise to us and come May vote them all out.
Then we have his dodgy debt claims he was rapped for a second time by the watchdog for making a dodgy claim about Britain’s debt at a Tory party conference.
He said that the country had been paying down its debts, but it has been revealed that while the deficit has fallen since the coalition came to power, debt rose by £434 billion from the end of June 2010 until August of this year.
This is the kind of government we have had to put up with. The same goes for this Conservative council. It has squandered millions of pounds of your money on projects that have failed and will do nothing to replace the Pavilion. But it will expect us to put up with a second rate carport, remember this in five months’ time when we can get a better deal by voting them out of office.
Noel Swinford Hemel Hempstead
Sir Trev had a way with the ladies
I saw a few weeks back some letters from a Mr Jarvelo in the paper about Sir Trevor Hoblin.
It was fascinating to read as my grandfather used to tell my father and me stories about a great all round sportsman and golfer who certainly lived life to the full if his stories are anything to be believed.
My grandfather described him as a very tall hell raiser with a real way with the ladies and who had a particular affectionate for strong Scottish women.
Some of these stories couldn’t be shared in a family newspaper though!
My father recollects a story he was told of Hoblin’s favourite post golf activity of marching into a restaurant and demanding a “ plate of meat and stuff” usually the largest steak in the house!
However despite having heard a million and one stories about this chap, I’ve never seen a photo of him despite the stories I’ve heard.
My father hasn’t one either despite a good root around the house.
I wondered then if anyone had sent one in and we could maybe jog the people of Berkhamsted’s memory about a man (and help your reader Martino) who was allegedly the town’s greatest sporting icon.
Can you volunteer to help walk dog?
The Cinnamon Trust is the national charity for the elderly and terminally ill and their pets.
We seek to keep owner and pet together for as long as possible with the help of a national network of volunteers who assist when day to day care poses a problem.
We have a resident of Berkhamsted asking for our support to walk their dog but not enough local volunteers to be able to help them, so wondered if you may be able to help us publicise our need for volunteers in the area.
Our aim is to relieve the owners of any worry concerning the welfare of their pets both during and after their own lifetime making us unique amongst charities.
All volunteers help in the ways that are most appropriate to them.
Volunteers take it in turn to visit housebound owners to take their dogs for walks, they help with cat care, volunteers foster pets as one of their family when owners face a spell in hospital, they take pets to the vet, even clean the budgie’s cage out.
For further information contact 01736 758707 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The volunteers can gain access to our volunteer page on our website or www.cinnamon.org.uk or by emailing us at email@example.com
Any help you are able to give will be very gratefully accepted.
The Cinnamon Trust
End of life care
Thanks for your help in record year
After a year in which we cared for a record number of patients across Herts and Bucks, we would like to say thank you to everyone in the local community who has given their support as well as to the Gazette for their continued backing.
This year local people have run, walked, climbed, cycled, sung, knitted, worn groovy shoes and even dressed as santas to raise money to support our services provided both at Grove House and in patients’ homes.
Businesses, groups, pubs and restaurants from across the area have also played their part with quiz nights, dress down days and lunches just a small selection of the fundraising activities undertaken.
This fantastic support has enabled us to care for 3,000 patients and families, providing patients with real choice about how and where to receive care and families with the support they need to help their loved one live life as fully as possible throughout their illness.
At Grove House we have introduced a range of new services and, as a result, have seen a 47% increase in those attending Grove House and there are plans for more new services in 2015.
Next year also sees the charity mark 30 years of caring for patients in the local community.
Initially as independent charities, Grove House and Iain Rennie Hospice at Home both started from small beginnings in 1985.
Now as Rennie Grove Hospice Care, the original principle of high quality patient-centred care is still the driving force behind the organisation and will remain so into the future.
It is wonderful to have seen so much support for the charity during the course of 2014 because we know that the numbers of local people needing our care is predicted to rise steeply in the coming years.
Unfortunately this means that the amount of money we have to raise to ensure they receive this care also needs to rise and the support of the local community is going to be more crucial than ever.
Please keep an eye out in the Gazette and on our website – www.renniegrove.org – for our fundraising events and activities in 2015 and continue to support us whenever and however you can.
On behalf of all the families you have touched, thank you once again for your support and may I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year from everyone at Rennie Grove Hospice Care.
Chief Executive Rennie Grove Hospice Care
Agency spend highlights crisis
The news that NHS spending on agency nurses has spiralled to more than £5.5 billion over the past four years and is continuing to rise highlights the woeful recruitment crisis in our health service.
The NHS has become far too reliant on agencies to provide nursing staff – sometimes at a cost of up to £1,800 per day per nurse – and this is as a result of the number of nurse training places in England having been cut since 2010.
According to the latest figures, there were 7,000 fewer qualified nurses in August 2013 compared with May 2010, excluding health visitors, school nurses and midwives.
NHS trusts across East Anglia are desperately trying to recruit permanent nursing staff but cannot fill those vacancies. At the same time, the Government decided the 1% pay rise recommended for nursing staff by the independent Pay Review Body should not be awarded.
Over the past three years nursing staff in the NHS have had a cost of living pay freeze. That pay freeze means nurses have, in real terms, taken a pay cut as the cost of living has gone up.
At the same time as existing NHS nursing staff are being denied a 1% pay rise, the NHS is paying millions to private agencies to fill the gap. Sadly, it seems that valuing the nurses who already work in the NHS is not that important to the Government.
Anne Wells & Carol Evans RCN Council members for Eastern Region
Agency spend highlights crisis
I hope you will give us dog owners the right of reply after a series of letters criticising us. Let me firstly point out that just because one dog owner is lazy and doesn’t pick up their dog’s mess that others follow suit. Most dog owners I know are very responsible, quite to the contrary of most parents I see around who let their children do whatever they like.
This is a much bigger issue in society than dogs dropping some doo doo here and there. Time for Dacorum’s snobs to stop being so precious and start living in the real world. Look at yourselves before judging others.
Mike Stockdale Hemel Hempstead