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

Letters round up (Including council leader’s response to claims of hiding financial losses)

Saturday, 30th August 2014, 9:15 am

Council finances

‘We are not hiding losses’

In response to the letter in The Gazette 20 August raising concerns that I, as Leader of Dacorum Borough Council, have been keeping our residents in the dark about money we have lost.

I can emphatically tell you that we are not concealing any financial losses. In answer to specific concerns raised:

We lost no capital money on refurbishing Hemel Hempstead Old Town High Street. We provided a fixed contribution of £1.1 million to Hertfordshire County Council who ran and implemented the one-way and improvement works. We supported local businesses throughout the unexpected delays to the work, including making special making special arrangements for their business rates and providing £80,000 of support grants to businesses in the Old Town affected by disruption to passing trade.

We have not lost any money through the withdrawal of Morrisons’ foodstore proposals. All work to draw up the foodstore scheme was carried out by Morrisons at their expense. Only officer time was involved in liaising with Morrisons and their advisers – a service that as the local Planning Authority we would offer any potential developer.

We made no losses in the Icelandic bank crisis of 2008 and at the time we openly reassured our residents that we had no money invested in Icelandic banks. We have a robust strategy in place which governs how we manage our investments. Our investment decisions are based on the advice of independent specialist treasury management advisers.

And yes, I am incredibly excited about our plans for transforming Hemel Hempstead town centre and the benefits it will bring to boost the economy for the whole borough, and I will continue to share the good news of our regeneration plans through public channels. But for those who would like to contact me personally and are struggling to get hold of me by phone you can also reach me by email [email protected], and Twitter @DacorumFirst.

Cllr Andrew Williams, Leader of Dacorum Borough Council

Bus cuts

Passengers will be left stranded

I am writing in response to a letter “Dacorum has lots to offer everyone” from Sue Lea Tourism Officer for Dacorum Borough Council.

Is she aware that a great number of the places of interest listed within Dacorum, will be impossible to reach on Sundays by public transport if the proposed cuts to Herts County Council funded buses go ahead?

For some time there have been no commercially operated buses between Hemel Hempstead and Aylesbury on Sundays.

The present hourly Sunday 501 service between Watford and Aylesbury is operated by Red Rose Travel and contracted by Herts County Council, and is one of the services under threat.

Without the 501 no local people or visitors can travel towards Aylesbury Vale and further points West such as Oxford, or even to The Rex Cinema in Berkhamsted, or The Natural History Museum at Tring. Indeed, what encouragement is it for the people of Tring, Berkhamsted, and Aylesbury to visit Hemel Hempstead if there is no bus?

I suggest Sue Lea participates in the Herts CC Consultation on the proposed cuts, and gives ideas on how Sunday bus services could be advertised and promoted to enhance the economy of Dacorum Borough and assist tourists to enjoy our lovely area.

Elisabeth Bendall, Tring Bus Users Group, Harcourt Road, Tring

Rough justice

All sex offenders must face justice

Having spent 25 years bringing a paedophile to justice who had sexually abused six- and 10-year-old girls, one of which revealed what had happened to her, she asked me to get justice for her sisters – I made a promise to her – unfortunately she died in 1990 from cancer of the womb.

Who knows if this was brought on from the abuse she suffered, the man received seven and a half years in prison.

We now see in the press that more that a dozen child rapists have avoided prosecution by simply saying sorry; fourteen sex offenders dodged the courts after admitting their guilt by apologising to their young victims all under the age of 13.

They were astonishingly all dealt with by way of a community resolution, this was meant to deal for minor offences and not for sex offences.

The Home Secretary promised to crack down on serious and violent crime,now we know many of those who are accused of serious offences are not being brought before the courts,and they tell us that crime is going down.

It is not the fault of the police, it is the Home Secretary.

Now that our Mike Penning is now the Minister of State at the Home Office and the ministry of justice with the responsibility for policing and child protection, I have written a letter to see what he is going to do to protect the children of this country - he won’t do this by not bringing all sex offenders to court.

I hope I will be able to get some response and action from him but I won’t hold my breath.

Noel Swinford, Briery Way, Hemel Hempstead


Two reasons to be mixing it up

By now most residents would have received the new recycling service leaflet.

Two concerns have been mentioned to me (why me?).

Concern number one is with glass being mixed in with just about everything else in the new blue lidded bins, will we be having broken glass scattered on the highway in a similar manner as the current lumps of fruit, paper and plastic?

Concern number two is the change from a ‘boundary’ collection to a ‘kerbside’ one. I’m not sure if Councillors or their advisors read the Gazette, but most kerbs are currently occupied by motor vehicles so are we expected to block the pavement or block the highway (both illegal) with these bins? The police website suggests we all call 101 and provide the details so they can hot foot round everywhere to prosecute or resolve. First stop might be Cllr Williams!

Norman Cutting, Chestnut Drive, Berkhamsted


Does grandma know best?

If Scotland vote for a divorce from the UK, as my grandmother was Scottish, will I be able to apply for a Scottish passport? I understood Mr Blair has procured Irish passports for his children.

John Waller, Cobb Road, Berkhamsted


Time to fight back against grot spots

With disposable packaging at an all-time high the UK is experiencing levels of litter on an unprecedented scale.

The impact of this has moved beyond mere aesthetic displeasure, seriously posing a threat to both public and environmental health. All is not lost, however, as we can still do something about it.

Let’s do it! UK is a national anti-litter campaign, and part of the global Let’s do it! World movement.

This year we are organising the UK’s first nationwide Clean Up Day, and on 13 September we are calling on everyone to come out together and clean up their local area.

The disposability of our waste is a one-way road, with plastic bags and bottles taking hundreds of years to degrade. One of the biggest impacts of this disposable economy is the threat it poses to wildlife. Cigarette butts, often thought to be biodegradable - a longstanding myth - threaten urban birds, who digest these butts; along with the plastic lining and tar that comes with it.

It is not too late to make a change, but we need your help if we are to make the UK clean again.

For more information, and to start or join in with a clean up, visit Let’s do it! UK’s website www.letsdoituk.net and join us on 13 September.

Dr Luke Blazejewski, Campaign Co-ordinator, Let’s do it! UK


Hemel continues to get more boring

My feeling is that Hemel is getting so boring. There’s nothing here, most shops are very poor and dull, what has happened to all the men’s stores? The Marlowes centre is just going down hill.

There’s too many pound shops, and where has all the entertainment gone?

I can remember the days you could go to the pictures and after that sit down to fish and chips at a restaurant. They were the good old days.

Now Hemel is going downhill fast and it needs a good clean up. Mess is everywhere and where I live alleyways are like jungles full of weeds and dumped furniture.

Please bring back the Hemel I used to know.

Ken Parsell, Chaulden Terrace, Hemel Hempstead

Animal Aid

Thanks for your generous support

Animal Aid would like to thank the people of Tring for their generosity in raising £200.78 at a street collection on Saturday, July 26.
The money will help fund our peaceful campaign and our important educational work on all aspects of animal cruelty.
For more information on how to prevent animal cruelty, please call Animal Aid on 01732 364546 or visit our website www.animalaid.org.uk

Jill Mead, Animal Aid Collection Co-ordinator

Boys’ Brigade

Investment in our future generation

Over the past 18 months The Boys’ Brigade has opened 53 new Companies across England, with over 1,200 new members and 550 adult volunteers taking its UK membership to over 65,000.

To enable us to do this and offer young people the best possible start in life, we rely on external investment through a range of funding streams including the Government’s Uniformed Youth Social Action Fund, which this week announced that The Boys’ Brigade is to receive over £840,000.

This investment is most welcome and will enable us to continue to reach out to and support more young people, particularly in deprived areas or hard to reach communities. We estimate that the funding, to be distributed through the Youth United Foundation, will create 1,695 additional places for young people in The Boys’ Brigade over the next 18 months, where they can access a range of opportunities to develop relevant life skills and take part in fun and challenging activities.

Investing in our young people is vital in providing them with the best opportunity for a better future.

Eric Hudson, Director for England, The Boys’ Brigade, Felden Lodge, Hemel Hempstead

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