Letter to the Daily Telegraph

Published on Wednesday January the Seventh 2004.

The "Local football field" referred to is Butts Meadow, off Kings Road in Berkhamsted.

Sir,

I sympathise with Mr. Len Roberts (report in the Daily Telegraph, on January the second), whose local authority charges an extortionate amount of council tax but sent six men in three vans to plant six saplings.

Dacorum Borough Council levied 1335 this year on the Band E property in which I live - more than twice as much as in 1995 - and has threatened a further 7% increase in April. This Autumn, I was priveleged to observe this council's maintenance of a local football field.

In September, five men arrived to erect two sets of goal posts. They brought with them two vans and two tractors with fork lift attachments, all of which were driven about on the pitch, leaving tyre tracks.

One of the goal mouths was re-turfed in October. The turf was laid on top of dry soil. Watering was left to a volunteer. A match was played on the new grass within four weeks, reducing it to mud.

In November, the pitch was marked out on top of fallen leaves. A strong wind later the same day removed many of the white lines. Some weeks later, two men moved the leaves, while two others drove vehicles around on the playing surface, apparently for their own amusement. The leaves were not collected, but left in piles at the side of the field. The wind blew them back onto the pitch, and the council again painted white lines on top of them.

The council officers responsible for grounds maintenance do not communicate with the public, while the councillors only seem interested in defending their staff. "Officers must not be criticised" is a regular mantra.

As a former councillor myself, I suggest that the most effective answer to the council tax problem would be a dramatic reduction in the number of ineffective elected representatives and indolent local government officers enjoying generous salaries, expenses, perks and pension provision at the taxpayers' expense.

Yours Faithfully,

Ian Johnston.

Foul, Ref! - Dacorum Borough Council doesn't give safety a sporting chance.
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E-mail ijjohnston@totalise.co.uk