A selection of this week’s letters to the editor.
Please think plans through properly
I mainly approve of the new plans for Hemel town centre, but very much wonder how long you will keep the threes before someone steals, mutilates, or chops them down; saying that an elderly person might slip on one of the many leaves each tree will shed in autumn.
1) Will money be set aside for very regular sweeping of the area. 2) Will invalid scooters be allowed?
Will there be invalid toilets? 3) Will there be less metal objects for visually impaired and otherwise engaged people to bump into?
4) Will there be plenty of accessible and reasonably priced parking? 5) Will a bus or moving stairway be provided, so that people can get from the bus interchange up to the hospital? 6) Where will the bus interchange be? Please, please think everything through before building, and getting things wrong.
Canada Geese are the real problem
Much as I appreciate the investment of a significant sum of money in Hemel Hempstead town centre, I am concerned that one of the prime reasons for the shabby, unattractiveness of the Water Gardens now will remain ie the Canada Geese.
Unless the development plans include an effective way of controlling/deterring the number of geese, regeneration of the town centre will be tarnished immediately.
Water Gardens plans float my boat
Congratulations to the Friends of Jellicoe Water Gardens and Jellicoe Water Garden Restoration on winning a grant from the Heritage Lottery/Big Lottery Fund’s Parks for People.
I hope the restoration plans will include the return of model boats being sailed on the lake by Moor End on a Sunday which I remember from 30 years ago when we first moved to Hemel Hempstead.
In those days watching the lake with model boats being sailed on it was enjoyed by many of the people strolling through the Water Gardens on a Sunday morning.
It was us that did the blooming work
Recently you published a letter congratulating Dacorum Borough Council on the floral displays on roundabouts, in public gardens and hanging baskets. Sadly, no recognition was given to the hard work put in by staff and trainees of Sunnyside Rural Trust, who supplied all the plants – 90,000!
Here is a brief extract from the Trust’s latest newsletter, headed ‘Bloomiing Dacorum’ which you might find of interest should you wish to acknowledge the work of this local charity, for adults with learning disabilities.
It reads: ‘You can now see the plants we’ve grown adorning the public spaces of Dacorum – on roundabouts, gardens, hanging baskets and troughs. All 90,000 of them! It is a huge amount of work for the team at Hemel Food Garden but the trainees and staff rise to the challenge and do a fantastic job. We now have plants left over to buy at rock bottom prices so do come down to Hemel Food Garden to take a look and add a few to your garden. You’ll be helping your favourite charity and adding a splash of colour at the same time’.
ME Action plea to MP’s replacement
We don’t know yet what the recent cabinet reshuffle may mean for people with disabilities and long-term conditions, including the 250,000 with the chronic fluctuating condition, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis which is otherwise commonly known as M.E.
But we do know that the new Minister of State for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP – who replaces Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning – strongly supports a reduction in welfare benefit spending.
People with M.E. with symptoms including disabling fatigue, chronic pain, digestive problems and cognitive difficulties, tell us that they want to work, if only they were well enough to do so.
Unfortunately 25% of people with M.E. are so ill that they remain house- or bed-bound.
We urge Mr Harper not to reduce the support these vulnerable people need to survive.
Anyone with M.E. who has questions or concerns about accessing benefits can contact our Welfare Advice and Support Service on 0845 122 8648 or visit www.actionforme.org.uk
Chief executive Action for M.E.
No water means no Water Gardens
In response to last week’s letter, I would like to reassure your writer that the Friends of Gadebridge Park have already spoken with the Parks Department about trees in the park as part of the need to maintain and indeed improve biodiversity in the park.
Many of the trees removed over the past year were taken down due to severe wind damage.
However, people walking on the western slopes of the park will see a good number of recently planted trees and there is of course the new Jubilee Wood in the north western corner, planted a couple of years ago.
The topic that has engaged the Friends group since its formation is clearly that of water.
Last week much was made of £3.4 of funding to restore the Water Gardens.
Great for the town but what if there is no water! I have written on a number of occasions, pointing out that over-abstraction of water from the underlying chalk is causing low flows in our very own rare chalk stream, the Gade, and from time to time it now dries up. As water use increases so flows will diminish.
Of immediate concern is the continued mismanagement of the system designed to control river flow through the Water Gardens.
A number of wooden planks near the Bury are slotted into a concrete structure so that when flows get particularly high water goes over the top and down a culvert to reappear the other side of Apsley.
This prevents flooding through the water gardens. However, the boards had rotted away so that most of the river flow was going underground.
These were replaced by the Friends, removed by somebody and replaced again by the Parks Department, only for them to be removed again several months ago. Nobody has owned up to their removal and until they are replaced about half of the river flow is disappearing underground so that flow through the Water Gardens is now so slow that silt, much of which comes from road drainage, is being deposited throughout the shallow water areas.
Flows must be increased otherwise the Water Gardens will be in danger of becoming nothing more than a series of stagnant ponds.
There will be a lot of red faces if £3.4 million is spent and wasted on Water Gardens with little or no water!
Secretary of the Friends of Gadebridge Park
Councillor’s ‘brave’ crossing solution
Your report in the Gazette on July 9 of the town council’s meeting that discussed the proposal to partner the county council to fund the planned lights controlled crossing at the junction of Kings Road and Shootersway was somewhat misleading. I’d like to set the record straight.
The junction has long been regarded as a traffic congestion and safety hotspot: the new two tier school arrangements with more younger children needing to use the crossing has heightened safety concerns that merit a sound long term solution.
Although the junction work is identified in the 2013 Urban Transport Plan, a senior officer from County Highways said, at the recent meeting where the plan for the Taylor Wimpey development was rejected, the improvements could be delayed – possibly beyond 10 years as there is no funding currently available or anticipated for the foreseeable period for the project.
The interim solution of a ‘lollipop person’ at the junction is recognised as not being ideal for the long term.
We now have on record that the Town Council has the legal power to raise funds to pay for Highways works.
As a safeguard against frivolous applications there are procedures to be followed before any long term borrowing can be authorised – in this case by the Minister at the Dept. of Local Government.
Secondly, the County and Borough Councils have squirrelled away developer contributions for highways improvements which could be used on projects in Berkhamsted.
We will learn more when a joint meeting is held. But residents will recall that the County set aside £90,000 to pay for the abandoned Parking Zone fiasco – hopefully they still have it in the bank.
If there is truly not enough funds available from the County/Borough to complete this project within a relatively short period of time, we are left with the option of doing nothing to make the junction better for drivers and safer for our children, or persuading your Town Councillors to take the lead to pay for the shortfall.
The key number your reporter left out of the report [but included in the discussion paper available from the Town Clerk] is that a loan of as much as £300,000 repaid over 15 years [to the government, much like a mortgage], is a cost of £3.23 per year from each of the 8,000 or so properties in Berkhamsted.
Higher Tax-Band properties might pay around £5 per year. Some people pay far more for a round of drinks or golf.
We regularly hear complaints about the overloaded infrastructure in Berkhamsted, not least by residents who most use these roads.
My colleague Cllr Bonnett has bravely shown that there is a potential solution – and it lies in the hands of our residents and Town Councillors.
Councillor Garrick Stevens
Eid advice for diabetic Muslims
As the month of Ramadan draws to a close, Muslims in the local area will be preparing to celebrate Eid.
For Muslims with diabetes, Eid can feel like a daunting prospect, but having the condition doesn’t mean traditional festive foods are forbidden.
Just like everyone else celebrating, high fat and high sugar foods such as barfi and rasmala can be enjoyed in moderation.
Throughout the day, it’s best to eat foods that are absorbed relatively slowly, such as basmati rice, chickpeas and dhal or biryani. These types of foods, and fruits and vegetables, can help keep blood glucose levels more stable during the celebrations.
If you have a blood testing monitor, don’t forget to test your blood glucose levels more during the festivities and before every meal to make sure they don’t get too high.
Desserts and sweet treats are seen to be an important part of celebrating Eid, and if you have diabetes then you don’t have to miss out.
The occasional sweet treat can be incorporated into a healthy balanced diet.
You can make some small changes to make traditional recipes healthier, for example replace sugar with sweetener and use semi-skimmed or skimmed milk instead of full fat milk.
Choose healthier desserts such as fruit salads and low fat fruit yoghurt. If anyone needs any more information they should speak to a healthcare professional or call the Diabetes UK Careline on 0845 120 2960.
Eastern regional manager Diabetes UK
My concerns over Grovehill speeding
With reference to the letter in the Gazette dated July 9 ‘NaG meeting’ – I myself couldn’t go to our local meeting covering the Grovehill/Woodhall area. So ,I sent an email to the address on the flyer and to this day I’ve had no reply, on reflection I’m glad I couldn’t go, especially reading what experiences others had.
The reason I wanted to attend was my concern I have is the speed that traffic travels up and down Washington Avenue, especially motorcycles.
There is an accident waiting to happen, someone is going to die trust me !