A selection of letters from Gazette readers this week.
It must be election time if Penning is talking hospitals
You can tell it is election time because Mike Penning has popped up and started talking about the hospital.
It beggars belief that he can get on the front page of the paper and use a meeting with a GP commissioning unit set up as part the NHS privatisation and claim he is fighting for more services in our hospital.
Penning made his name campaigning to save the A&E unit but the Tories have shut some 66 A&E and maternity units across the country in four years.
So he doesn’t mention it much these days. Instead, he shifts the goalposts to talk about bringing more services to the hospital.
Fine, but where’s the A&E campaign? If the answer is that there isn’t a case to bring it back and that the solution is a combination of increased capability and community-based social care, then fine, but admit it.
People forget he has been a Minister in the Department of Health during his five year ministerial career and Hemel has had little to show for it.
When we need an MP to stand up for us and ask awkward questions as the town continues to drift, ours is too busy in the back of the ministerial car.
Let’s look at the record of the Tories record on the NHS.
In 2010, David Cameron said there would be no more costly re-organisation of the NHS and then introduced the biggest top down re-organisation in the history of the service even though it was never mentioned in his manifesto; it’s harder than ever to see a GP; sick people are being left in corridors; and we’re in the midst of the worst ever A&E crisis. So the next time you see Mr Penning remembering to mention the hospital – check your calendar, it must be polling day.
Joined up thinking needed urgently
Thank goodness our local MP supports the continuance and improvement of hospital services at Hemel Hempstead.
To propose its closure is little short of lunacy when substantial housing developments are intended for Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum in the next 10 years. Some 10,000 houses did someone say? That means what – 30,000 and more residents? And no hospital. Joined up thinking is needed urgently.
Electioneering stunt from our MP
It is interesting to see that our MP Mike Penning seems to have rediscovered Hemel Hospital.
While he was our MP, but the Labour Party was in power, he was a big supporter of the “Save Hemel Hospital” campaign. As soon as his party got into power, he dropped the campaign like a hot potato.
Now with an election looming he appears on your front page saying, “Keeping Hospital empty is nonsense.”
Am I just being cynical by seeing this as just an electioneering stunt? Does he just see the hospital as a useful tool to increase his appeal to voters?
Raising awareness of transport option
It occurs to me that many people attending St Albans Hospital for example, who can not drive due to, for instance, the fact that they are having eye treatment, are not aware that whereas the Travel Link patient transport would not consider them eligible for the free provided transport in the shape of an ambulance because they can walk and so are ‘mobile’, they can get a subsidised voluntary firm of transport organised by the hospital and bookable by your GP. This is much cheaper than a taxi.
I was not told about this until too late and it seems that the information is not readily available, even from sources that should know about it and certainly should be letting patients know.
Cuts are an attack on our liberty
The proposal by Hertfordshire County Council to stop subsidising bus services from 7.30pm in the evening and on Sundays is an attack on the liberty of anybody who does not possess a car.
It robs people of the right to move freely around our district, taking away their ability to participate in activity if it occurs in the evening or on a Sunday.
It will affect bus users whether they are elderly, on a low income, attend evening classes or non drivers with health problems.
Can the county explain how non car owing shift workers can expect to keep their jobs when they have no way of getting to or returning from work?
These plans will force people to use their cars even more, increasing exhaust pollution and more carbon emissions accelerating climate change.
Economically this will hit local businesses, restaurants, shops etc as increasing numbers of people will opt to stay at home in the evening and on Sundays.
It will rob walkers and visitors of the ability to access the local beautiful countryside.
We live in one of the wealthiest counties in the sixth richest country in the world yet the county council pleads poverty.
It needs to be more innovative in raising finance to subsidise such an essential public service.
I would strongly urge the people of Dacorum to strongly oppose the proposed cuts to their bus services by completing the consultation survey.
Please do this by before the close date in early April.
Let me dispel some myths over cuts
I would like to respond to the recent letter from Cllr Keith Williams to address concerns and dispel some myths that have arisen over the current public consultation on subsidised bus services. Like all local authorities, Hertfordshire County Council is facing an unprecedented financial situation.
Over the past four years the council has reduced its budget by £150m and must save a similar amount over the next four years. We listened to the feedback from our previous consultation and have developed some alternative options to address the concerns raised, while still recognising the savings that we have to achieve.
We would like as many people as possible to have their say on these options. Hertfordshire County Council subsidise a small number of passenger journeys on buses running in Hertfordshire and these are on routes that are not commercially viable.
The proposals in this consultation, if enacted, will affect 2% of all the passenger journeys running in Hertfordshire, the other 98% of the 35 million annual passenger journeys are unaffected and this includes all the commercial services. If approved, this new proposition would save approximately £1.47m from the current base budget of £4.212m, but affects fewer passengers than the original proposals (760,000 passenger journeys a year as opposed to 809,000 passenger journeys a year). We are proposing to make a later cut off point for contracted services at 7:30pm rather than 6:30pm and will protect services that directly serve hospitals on a Sunday up to 7:30pm.
We have also listened to residents concerned about the amount of money we give to individual passenger journeys and are seeking to establish a clear, value for money approach by setting a limit on the amount of subsidy we provide for individual journeys. The findings will be reported to Panel in May with a decision to be made by cabinet.
Cabinet Member, Highways, Herts County Council
‘Free gift’? Simple minded nonsense!
Rosalind Partridge writes in glowingly appreciative terms about the council’s quote “kind present of 52 biodegradable bin liners” (Gazette letters, February 4th).
They are apparently quote “a free gift, not to be looked in the mouth”.
What simple minded nonsense is this?
Quite apart from her observation that the bags don’t actually reach the bottom of her bin, and leaving aside that gifts have no mouths (though gift horses may have), they are neither a gift, nor a present. They are paid for by our rates!
I suspect Rosalind’s ‘gratitude’ is the exception not the rule.
More of us I imagine are heartily sick of local authorities wasting our money, cutting our services, and treating the rate payer as an inconvenience, to be burdened with pettifogging bureaucracy at every opportunity.
Act of kindness
Kind town holds keys to my heart
On Friday last week, using my Blue Badge, I parked my car on Waterhouse Street near Bank Court and somehow dropped my keys when I left the car.
When I returned some time later there was a gentleman standing next to my car with my keys.
I did thank him at the time but wanted to express my gratitude to him for taking so much of his time in freezing cold weather to ensure that my keys were returned safely to me. Such unselfish actions demonstrate the strength of kindness that exists in our town and why I have loved living here for almost 60 years.
Lesley Pratt Hemel Hempstead
We do not want a Tesco in our village
I was disappointed to read that Tesco are to press ahead with their Tesco Express store in Bovingdon (Gazette February 4th) despite falling profits and other store closures.
They are quoted as saying that they would like to thank the public for their support. What support? Let us not forget that there was massive public opposition to their plans at the public enquiry on many grounds. Many like me feared the detrimental effect it would have on our thriving high street. As to promising to keep the public informed of their plans, that’s a joke, since the planning application was granted in 2010 we have heard nothing from this multi-national and meanwhile this ‘gateway’ to the village site looks a complete eye saw.
Their PR machine can spew out all the spin it likes but the simple fact is that Tesco are not welcome in our village.
Name and address supplied
But not for publication
Changing the clocks
I would hate dark winter mornings
Unlike your correspondent who wants to stop changing the clocks twice a year and I presume he means to keep BST all year.
I can’t think of anything worse.
Probably fine for those who lay in until 9am every day but I get up early and take my dog out for an hour’s walk every day.
I go out about 7am but have to leave it 15 minutes later in late December and January as it is so dark and it is often quite dark when I reach the woods. I see a lot of dog walkers and joggers at this time of day which if it was BST it would not be properly light until nearly 9am.
As for saying we would get another 300 hours of daylight annually well that is incorrect as it doesn’t matter what the time says we only have a certain amount of daylight controlled by nature etc.
I cannot see how we would be healthier and where is the evidence of that.
The population wouldn’t be low on vitamin D if they walked more any time during the day and ate properly.
I would absolutely hate it if we had dark mornings in the winter.
Tring School sets the benchmark
In last week’s Gazette, you listed the GCSE achievements for Dacorum’s schools.
The article rightly praised Abbot’s Hill School for its outstanding results but then just listed the results of the ‘other schools’.
Those ‘other’ schools are the State schools which the vast majority of our children attend. At Tring school, we are immensely proud of the achievement of our head, Sue Collings and her dedicated teaching staff.
Tring School pupils achieved a 76% success rate for 5 GCSEs including Maths and English - the highest level for State schools in Dacorum and this in the second largest school by pupil numbers in Hertfordshire.
To redress the balance, may we invite one of your reporters to spend a few hours at our school to write about the work and challenges at Dacorum’s secondary schools?
Tring School Governor
Does anyone know old friend Isobel?
I am trying to find an old friend with whom I lost contact in about 1970.
Her name was Isobel Edlin and she lived at 4 Barberry Road.
She was the daughter of Mr R S Edlin and I think her mother was Spanish.
Isobel was born around 1952. I wonder if any of your readers could help?
Sarah Goudge London Email: Sten18349@aol.com
Do we really need another nail bar?
In reference to the story: ‘Massage and nail bar plan for former Old Town museum’.
The Old High Street has just been revamped and is looking in its best for many years so do we really need a further ‘nail bar’?
I would have thought three was already enough.
Is this the only way that Hemel can make progress, by going backwards? This area needs businesses in order to attract visitors.
Also when is the council going to remove the roadworks that have been blocking the high street outside the barbers for the past six months?
G B Moore
Yes it could have been predicted!
Our Member of Parliament Mike Penning in Speaker’s Corner on Feb 11th states that the crime figures had fallen in the country,I noticed that he did not say Hertfordshire or Dacorum.
In fact the crime figures went up by 100% in some cases.
This was from figures in line with the home office counting rules.
On the front page of the Gazette it states ‘One year on, construction work on site of towns giant sinkhole still ongoing.’ Mike Penning stated: “Work has been done,and there is still a lot more to be done,I had to step up and defend the residents of Oatridge Gardens. But at the end of the day,the work has been done and we must remember we can’t predict these things.”
Once again Mike Penning you are completely wrong,because this was predictable.
In the Gazette about 11 or 12 years ago a bungalow on the same land saw a sink hole take a large part of a front garden and it took a long time to fill.
This ground is full of these and they will continue to appear for a long time.
The people who are responsible should be made to pay the residents compensation and that is the planning department of Dacorum Borough Council.
They should have known about the sinkholes and planning should have never been given to build these flats.
Noel Swinford Hemel Hempstead