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Spring  2013 Newsletter

Readers have reacted to Ron Grimshaw's anxieties expressed in our last edition about the changes in Harpenden's postal services. Sheila Satchell tells us that when she went to collect a parcel too big to go through her letter box, she 'found a queue snaking round and round inside and I counted eleven people with the same form in their hand  waiting to collect their package'. The assistant she spoke to was worried about how busy it would be by Christmas. Sheila drove to St Albans Brick Knoll Park to collect an undelivered letter at a cost £1.60, plus, of course time and petrol – 'I was not best pleased', and thus ignored another one, which would have cost her £1.19 to claim; 'I wonder', she concludes, 'how many Christmas cards the Royal Mail' were left with post-yuletide.

Fining the recipient for a lapse by the sender, and not even able to negotiate this on the doorstep with the postman or woman, takes us back to the bad old days before the Penny Post of 1840 when mail was paid for on delivery. The trouble is you don't know what the item is before you pay up and often cough up over a pound for a piece of junk mail.

On the other hand, Dr David Ebbels is a satisfied customer, reporting 'little change from before the closure of the Sorting Office' in the Westfield area, 'Normally deliveries are by my usual postman and usually before 10.30 am'.

Memos From Readers

He courteously congratulates us on our 'well produced' issue and has several interesting comments to make about GM crops in regard of Professor Moloney's talk, reported in the last issue of Harpenden Society News. David points out, for instance, that the advantages of transferring anti-aphid genetic characteristics from mint to wheat are environmental and economic, in that it makes anti-aphid pesticides redundant but 'it will not necessarily improve yields'. His conclusion is that 'like many other techniques GM can be used both for good and ill', for example, for cheap insulin or vitamin A rich rice, but also for biological warfare. 'Personally, I support its use for benign purposes under strict controls and I don't know of any proven instance where GM food has harmed anybody'.

Keep the letters and messages coming. It is good to have some exchange of views even at quarterly intervals

Park Hall was packed on 6th December to hear Tony Stone, a paramedic with the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust. He was speaking at one of the Society’s public meetings which are devoted to topics that the Society is working on. This time it was the Society’s working party on Health and Welfare that chose the subject, and Tony gave a zinging explanation of how our ambulance service works.

When should we dial 999? What happens when we do? What can the ambulance crew do for us when they arrive?

We were left with a better understanding of a vital public service, and more importantly we had a greater respect for the skills and dedication of the people who work in it.

Emergency!  Emergency!

Photo above. Tony Stone(left) with Richard Thomas ,Vice-chairman and Joint Convenor, Health and Social Welfare Working Group.

Hear! Hear!

Despite the snow and freezing temperature over 60 people came to Park Hall on Thursday 24th January. The Society had arranged the evening so that you could give your views on four topics raised by its Education and Leisure Working Group – the Public Hall, a café with toilets in Rothampsted Park, an Arts Centre in the town and the Schools Competition.

The audience was divided into four groups and four stimulating and interesting speakers... Vicky Evans, Caroline Fleming, Ron Taylor and Rachel Tuckley... and with Eric Midwinter, Joint Convenor of the Education and Leisure Working Group, acting as compere. They found out what you wanted so that the Society could put forward proposals about which people have been consulted.  

The hard work and preparations of Vicky, Caroline, Ron and Rachel were repaid by the enthusiasm of the audience.

Photo above: From the left: Vicky Evans, Rachel Tuckley, Eric Midwinter,  Caroline Fleming, Ron Taylor.