© 2017 The Harpenden Society

EDITOR’S VIEW  Alan Bunting 

Southdown threatened by wrong kind of dispensing

Residents of south Harpenden are rightly outraged at the government wanting to dispense with their local chemist’s. Over a thousand of them have expressed their anger in petitions addressed to Harpenden MP Peter Lilley.  

 Under financial cutbacks being imposed across the country by NHS England, Manor Pharmacy at Southdown is having its government support – that subsidises prescription costs – in the financial year ending March 2017, reduced by 16%; a further 8% reduction is scheduled for the following year.  Although the business currently returns a small profit, explains Manor Pharmacy group managing director Graham Phillips, around 90% of that margin is NHS dependent.

 The ruling, which Graham says ‘came out of the blue’ last year, targets all those independent pharmacies located less than a mile from an alternative dispensing chemist. And because the Southdown pharmacy is ruled to be only nine-tenths of a mile from the nearest alternative – Topkins in Station Road – it is not protected from the ruling and in consequence faces the axe.

 Graham describes the legislation as ‘bad policy and bad politics’ while severely harming the local community.  Many of his Southdown customers are elderly and/or disabled and rely on their local pharmacy being within comfortable walking or wheelchair distance.  Others face the prospect of waiting for a bus or getting out the car to drive into Harpenden town centre with its attendant traffic congestion and parking problems.           

BBC TV coverage of the issue has helped draw public attention to the threat facing local residents, and Harpenden Society members are urged to support the Southdown Manor Pharmacy protest by signing a petition form in the shop, or by lobbying Peter Lilley or NHS England direct.

If only the extra £100 million a week for the NHS promised by Brexiteers if we left the EU had proved more than a pipe dream, the threat to Southdown’s highly-valued pharmacy would likely not have arisen. But hard reality has prevailed and everyone in Harpenden must wish Manor Pharmacy and its many customers success in their crusade.

Above: Manor Pharmacy, Southdown.  

Below: Graham Phillips addressing the supporters of the Southdown Pharmacy.

Harpenden’s youth generation give their view on:

The 3G all weather pitch at Roundwood Park School

Ian Holden (Chairman, Harpenden Colts FC )writes: Roundwood Park School’s new astro artificial turf pitch is an important development for Harpenden Colts Football Club.  At present we have no control over the facilities we use for mid-week training.  Until last summer, Venue 360 in Luton – 5½ miles from Harpenden – was our closest facility for mid-week training. That venue was shut without notice, highlighting the vulnerability of the club's options.

 Having somewhere with assured availability at Roundwood Park will allow long-term planning, without the uncertainty of access – and cost – that has hung over us in recent times. This is important, particularly given the encouraging growth in our girls section, which has launched five new squads in the last 18 months. 

 The new facility will also reduce the distance having to be travelled by coaches, players and parents, where currently the nearest available venues are Ashcroft School, Luton (7 miles), Beaumont School, St Albans (7 miles) and the Hertfordshire Sport Village, Hatfield (9 miles). All of these venues involve significant travel time and cost for coaches and parents.

 Also, crucially, the astro pitch will enable the Colts club to provide coaching in a  more structured way. Having all our squads training at the same venue will allow us to bring in external coaches to assist in improving the development of players, managers and coaches in a shared coaching environment.

Gaby Holt ( A pupil at Roundwood Park School)writes: Matthew Hunter, head of the PE department at Roundwood Park School, was asked for his views on the 3G pitch and the way that it is likely to affect school life. The pitch’s primary function is to be used for football, though Mr Hunter said the school also intended to use it for as many sports as possible, including Rugby training, athletics, fitness and other physical activities.

 There are limitations however on what can be played on the pitch.  For example, hockey is not possible as the grass length affects play and Mr Hunter agreed that ‘quality would differ’ between sports for which the pitch was not primarily intended.

 Perhaps most obviously and importantly, the pitch would provide the school with somewhere to play sports in bad weather.  Currently too many fixtures had sadly to be cancelled when rain or snow had made the school’s conventional sports pitches unplayable. Mr Hunter pointed out that PE lessons would also benefit.

As well as benefitting the school’s own school sports activity, it is good to know that, outside school hours, Harpenden Colts FC will have a more consistent pitch which they can rely on in all weathers on which to train and play.  Indeed the school hopes the new astro pitch will benefit the whole of the community, most especially the young people of Harpenden and the surrounding area.

 Mr Hunter said he also wanted to express his gratitude to the Football Association and to Harpenden Colts for their funding contributions towards the new pitch, as well as their support through the planning stages.

The planned location for the 3G pitch on Roundwood Park playing fields.

Spring 2017 Newsletter