Announcements:‎ > ‎

Herts Advertiser Letters: Morally Wrong?

posted 6 May 2010, 04:04 by Mike M   [ updated 6 May 2010, 05:17 ]
The Herts Advertiser has two excellent letters this week on the subject of the recent planning meeting (see 'Morally wrong?' from Vanessa Gregory and 'The price we pay' from Stephen O'Donnell- both can be found here: Letter Edition May 6). We reproduce both these letters below:

Morally wrong?

SIR - It is often said that a picture paints a thousand words and I would like to direct fellow residents' attentions to the Pooltoosmall website where the day after the planning meeting to determine the Westminster Lodge proposal they posted a photograph, most fittingly I believe, of a meeting of the Chinese Parliament.

However if that represents what residents feel about this piece of democracy in action, what are we to make of it and what must politicians do about it?

Politicians in this country and all public servants in all tiers of government have seemingly not all got the message yet, that people are no longer satisfied with being told merely rules have not been broken, when clearly to a reasonably minded person in possession of the facts will draw the conclusion that morally they were wrong. 

During the time running up to elections I believe power is back in the hands of the people who are deciding who they want to represent them. All politicians should respect that.

To make such a decision which will use circa £27 million of taxpayers' money, at the fag end of this current council's mandate, whilst a third of the council is up for election I cannot see as anything but morally wrong.

Personally I was incensed by Councillor Donald's rather political speeches in a planning meeting, seemingly suddenly worried over spending restraints in the months and years to come, that we all acknowledge will be very deep and probably the deepest that I have known in my lifetime. This is why I have argued for many months that if money is tight you ensure when spending residents' money it represents value for money, as well as providing the facilities residents support. 

Working with David Gilroy, Michael Mathison and Peter Trevelyan on this has once again made me proud to be an Albanian. 

No matter whether one supports the proposals or not, or your political allegiance, I feel those who cherish the democratic process will share my belief that last week's meeting was a black day in the history of this great and wonderful city. 

We give you politicians a most precious gift, our vote to represent us - don't just stick to rules, show us by your actions you give that gift worthy attention, always. 

Should those who have tried to steamroller this scheme through rather than listen to residents think it is time for a celebratory drink, I would hang back if I were you. The fight, for that is what it is now, for a new leisure complex that meets the needs of residents goes on.


The price we pay

SIR - I was at the SADC Planning Referrals Committee meeting on April 28, and was disappointed by the decision to approve the proposed redevelopment of the Westminster Lodge site.

Although I am a regular swimmer at Westminster Lodge, I am not some kind of swimming fanatic and have never previously attended a council meeting, doing so this time in order to register my concern at the new design and the apparent misallocation of public funds.

I was particularly incensed by the remarks made by Cllr Robert Donald, who indicated that the campaign to increase the size of the main pool was supported exclusively by a self-interested minority, expecting the residents of St Albans to subsidise their leisure activities. An alternative explanation is that we might object to spending £26 million on a new centre with a main pool only marginally larger than the one it replaces.

Cllr Donald pointed out that spending will be under considerable downward pressure over the coming years, in which case the unseemly haste to spend £26 million on the new design is even more puzzling. He stated that the incremental cost of building a larger pool would be in the 'hundreds of thousands'.

Perhaps some of this amount could be saved by not, for example, incorporating a moving floor in both the main and learner pools.

As the meeting progressed, I was left with the impression that the residents of St Albans should feel grateful that we are being given this new leisure centre, conveniently missing the point that we are in fact paying for it.