A selection of letters from this week’s Gazette.
Council is out of touch and out of time with plans
The Hemel Evolution scheme is aptly named because it is the plans that keep evolving not the town.
Last week’s Gazette front page appeared to announce, for the umpteenth time, that the new civic centre is about to be built; this time with talk of a cinema and retail complex in the market square.
But if you look at the detail in the article none of this has got beyond the planning stage, again.
We’ve heard all this before. In 2002 the Council knocked down the Pavilion and promised us a new civic centre and venue within two years. We’re still waiting.
Since then the way we shop has changed out of all recognition. Computers and smart phones mean many now like to get things delivered at home while retailers like HMV have shut and pound shops and payday lenders have sprung up in the Marlowes.
The first iPad went on sale on April 23 2010 and tablets of all kinds are now common place amongst children and young people, the shoppers of the future. Town centres for the next generation will be about experience and cultural value, not just a place to buy trainers.
If Hemel can’t provide that, they’ll go somewhere else like St Albans.
We need new and creative initiatives to give people a reason to use the town centre. We need a plan that will build a decent night-time economy and a hub for shared community activity.
Has anyone in the council actually taken a walk through the Marlowes after dusk?
So why is a grandiose plan for council offices the answer? How will that bring people into the town? Why do the council plans include a new police station when we have one already (although it seems to be mostly closed) or a library when we have one already?
Hemel is growing and more strain will be put on the town as families continue to be priced out of London.
We need proper consultation and community involvement in what our town will become not reheated plans from reheated politicians who are out of date, out of touch and out of time.
Councillors living in a fantasy land
We have become used to the many computer generated artists’ impressions printed in the Gazette, illustrating the fantasy world that the local councillors believe we should be living in around Hemel Hempstead.
We also know that the reality has been the disastrously delayed refurbishment in the Old Town, the building site that the Marlowes has now become, the area of country near Woodhall Farm which is likely to become a new housing estate and, more locally for me, the large derelict site at the end of the High Street in Bovingdon which has for several years awaited the unwanted (and increasingly unlikely) advent of another Tesco store.
The Gazette now appears to have completely abandoned its grasp on reality on this week’s front page (“Regeneration Reality”) with yet another CGI purporting to show another virtually abandoned part of the town centre as a sun-lit utopia housing municipal offices and perhaps even a police station open to the public.
The only encouraging aspect is that this amazingly unimaginative and boring proposed edifice is apparently at the “consultation” stage, and the opportunity may still remain to prevent the further degeneration of Hemel Hempstead into complete mediocrity.
Public showing was a poor show
It seems to me poor PR and very unfortunate that plans for the future Public Service Zone (as reported in the Gazette October 29) were on show for only 7.5 hours (450 minutes), on November 8.
Did the show also include those other developments mentioned in your report – the ‘residential units’ alongside, and the ‘modernised’ college campus?
Surely a town of 100,000 people deserves better time and opportunity – two weeks at least – to view, digest, ask questions, and make observations to the council and its partners.
Why my family will Royally miss Stag
I’ve been going to the Stag for many years since I had my children old enough to drink and my two boys are known up there as friendly caring children and they always say how well I’ve done bringing my kids up on my own.
I always went up there with my dad who ran the Stag years ago for 18 months and who is now disabled and it was his local.
He only goes out on his mobility scooter mainly to go to the doctors and shop and when he only goes in there when he’s well enough to go out.
So on behalf of me and my dad it is going to be very sad to lose the Stag as it Is close to me as I’ve made some amazing friends there and so have my two boys and my dad.
It is the closest place he can go being disabled and where his scooter at the moment can’t make a long distance he doesn’t know where he is going to go from now on.
Also when I do get a bit of me time and go out for a few hours while my mum has my boys, I like to go there be with my friends and be close to my boys if my mum needs me.
Can you help boost cat food stocks?
I currently do volunteer work for Hemel Hempstead Cats Protection.
I am a home visitor and in turn have met some lovely families wishing to offer a forever home to some very special cats.
Kitten season has gone on for quite a while this year because of the mild weather.
Food stocks are very low at the moment and there is NO adult food left.
If anybody is able to donate however large or small it would make all the difference. Can you help? Email email@example.com or get in touch with Cats Protection Hemel Hempstead or alternatively leave donations at Vets 4 Pet. Thank you for any help.
Lost property appeal
Are you the owner of lost gold locket?
A few months ago, my friend and I found a heart shaped locket in Apsley. As I lived locally, I decided to pop it into a pocket in my bag and drop it off at Hemel Police Station.
I went with my partner to discover that it was closed to the public and I was directed instead to Watford.
I don’t drive so put it back into my bag and decided to wait until I could eventually visit Watford.
After some time, I forgot about the locket and only recently discovered it again a few days ago after emptying the bag.
I’d very much like to find the rightful owner as the photos inside would indicate that the gold locket is of great sentimental value to the them.
I found it without the chain by a path leading to Dunelm Mill in Apsley, it may have fallen off the chain and the owner may very well still have that part of the necklace.
I’m not even sure that the owner would think to ask at Watford Police Station for an item lost in Apsley so I’m doing what I can to find them myself.
I’ve tried social media but if the owner is a little older, it might be that they would be more likely to spot something in the newspaper.
Plans will damage Old Town forever
In response to the Draft master plan LA2 - Old Town Hemel Hempstead, please see below comments in respect of Part B, Question 6.
I see no ‘very special circumstances’ as is required, that would be the only way to justify the destruction of this Greenbelt area for the purpose of a number of new dwellings.
Hemel Hempstead Old Town is an area of historic importance and value to the local community and this would be hugely diminished by the proposed development, when its character and setting should be afforded the protection it deserves and be preserved for future generations.
The development would mean more car journeys through the Old Town and surrounding routes, already severely congested and unsuitable for increased traffic.
It would also damage the special landscape, character, setting, views and appearance of the historic Old Town.
The proposed development is in direct conflict with the national policy to protect Greenbelt land.
Local residents have been ignored on this subject and feel strongly that this space should remain in its present capacity as a resource for the local community for years to come and not be ruined for ever.
Paul Sheehy Hemel Old Town
What we really need is new toilets
What we are really short of in this town is public toilets.
The toilets in the centre are shut at present so where do people go? A toilet block in the middle of town would be money well spent and with regards water features, we have one already that isn’t used because people put washing up liquid in it.
In my opinion the same thing will happen to any new water feature (so more money wasted) cheaper rates for shops would be a good idea. We need to encourage a bigger variety of shops to come to Hemel.
These things would benefit the people of Hemel but a new Town Hall would only benefit those that work in it.
Robert Hosier Hemel Hempstead
Policy to manage our population?
In reply to Cllr David Mitchell on ‘New homes could eat up huge swathes of green belt land’:
I am also very concerned about the numerous housing developments being planned in this area.
Having read Cllr David Mitchell’s and Cllr Andrew Williams letters it is clear to me that the local council have virtually no option other than to allow building on green belt land.
The councils are told how many houses they have to provide by
The reason that more housing is required is because the population of England is increasing: I understand that now England is
the most densely populated country in Europe. In order to reduce building on farm land, we need to tackle the ever increasing population. Should we have a national policy which manages the population level?
Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead
Speeding is a real problem on road
I read your lead article about accidents caused by speeding drivers on the A4251 in Northchurch (Gazette, October 29) with sympathy for the victims, but no surprise.
As I often walk along this road through Berkhamsted, I can confirm that speeding is a regular problem.
I also see drivers using hand-held mobile phones, ignoring red lights, turning without indicating and parking on the pavements.
I notice vehicles with dubious tyres, odd wheels, smoking exhausts, serious rust problems and broken lights.
Unfortunately my experience is that the Police do nothing, even when given a vehicle registration number or the address of an offender.
I suggest that the best way to improve pedestrian safety is for the police to make more effort to enforce the road traffic laws.
If offending drivers believed that they might be caught, they would be more careful.