Your letters - January 8, 2010

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Baird's role in TV's first years

BAIRD'S role in TV was to force a reluctant BBC to launch in 1936 the first regular high-definition TV service by transmitting experimentally and above all publicly, as Mr Alexander says (Observer, January 1), initially in Hastings, the less expensive but ultimately totally impracticable mechanical system and then shout from the rooftops that television was possible.

He was not the first to transmit by many years.

Professor Zworykin's system was used in 1936 to transmit low definition pictures of the Olympics to various Berlin restaurants and cafes and after the total failure of Baird's trial with the BBC that was the example he followed.

He and my father in partnership in Scophony-Baird exhibited a receiver with a large steel screen at the 1936 Radiolympia but developed it for cinema use.

I well remember my parents coming home excited by watching the Danahar-Boon title fight live in a London cinema in 1938.

Oddly, Baird's documents at Hastings Museum are of little use in researching this and his system was fatally flawed because a mechanical camera proved impossible.

BBC attempts to take, develop and transmit cine film within a minute dissolved in farce and the BBC by the end of 1936 was transmitting the first high-definition electronic regular service designed by the Marconi company.

My main memory is watching in dismay newsreels of the Spanish Civil War. The wrecked town I recall was probably Guernica.

Baird's system was useless for general use, but by showing that it could be done at all he showed the way for Britain to lead the world.


Anglesea Terrace

St Leonards

Hastings has just too many people

SO OUR town is overpopulated, I've been saying this for years.

Apparently the average population density in England is 405 persons per square kilometre. In Hastings it is already 2,886 persons per square kilometre making it one of the most over populated towns in the land. On average, 20 per cent of housing in this country are flats, in Hastings it is 35 per cent. Tim Cookson said it was government policy for high density housing in towns with good transport links. Who are these idiots trying to kid?

Obviously no politicians have been to Hastings and tried to drive along the A21 which is virtually a country lane or along the A259 via Bexhill Road. Good Transport Links!

What has made matters worse is that people of all political persuasions have been moving around the country, standing for local councils and using this as a job as they now get paid a wage. According to a Radio 4 programme I heard recently this has caused a lot of resentment as they have been making unpopular decisions in whatever town they have moved to. This of course may have been happening in Hastings for many years as most of our councillors and planners were not born here.

An example of bad planning is the demolition of Leon Shepperdson's Old Victorian house on The Ridge. Our planning committee have allowed 41 flats to be built in its place.

When our dear councillors and planners allow the building on the Ore Valley and Archery Road sites to start we will be the most densely populated town in the country. What a wonderful way to appease our 'New' Labour government.

My once lovely town has been spoilt by politicians and property speculators.


Greville Road

Climate change: the sceptics need a voice

IN HIS sardonic attack on the 'idiocies of the climate change sceptics' among local Tory councillors, Cllr Jeremy Birch (Observer, January 1) displays a cavalier disregard for those local voters who also count themselves as sceptics. According to national surveys, there will be many such independent thinkers in Hastings.

Mr Birch derides anyone who baulks at the bald and irrelevant statement he wanted inserted into a planning document about 'irreversible changes in the Earth's atmosphere due to man-made CO2'. Interestingly, despite increases in these anthropegenic carbon dioxide emissions (which incidentally account for only about one-tenth of one per cent of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere), the world's temperature has actually not increased since 1998.

Little wonder then that only 50 per cent of the British public in a recent poll said that they believed it was an established scientific fact that climate change is largely man-made. And this was before the revelations from the leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit – Climategate – about the scandalous behaviour of some of the climate researchers and modellers at UEA and the other linked universities.

It is not just among the general public that sceptics abound. There are many scientists who remain very sceptical about the predictions from computer simulations of 'catastrophe' that awaits us all. Popular lists 500 peer-reviewed academic papers that support scepticism of 'man-made' global warming or the environmental or economic effects of it. An incomplete list of more than 40 prominent scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming can be found on wikipedia. In America more than 30,000 scientists, including more than 9,000 with PhDs, have signed a petition rejecting the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climatological damage.

It is arrogance from blinkered scientists who dismiss the sceptics' views and facts, which has now filtered through to many politicians. Not just to local councillors like Jeremy Birch, but even to the leader of his party, Gordon Brown and the Climate Change minister Ed Milliband who have labelled all sceptics as 'flat-earthers' because they, of course, think they know best.


Norman Road


Helpful service was an example to us all

MAY I pass on my thanks and appreciation for the excellent customer service provided recently by Julian at St Leonards Warrior Square railway station.

While travel companies in general were coming in for some criticism over lack of communication with customers when services were disrupted by snow and ice, Julian was out there on the platform calmly and politely keeping rail passengers, some of whom were understandably agitated, up-to-date with the latest information.

Well done Julian – you are an excellent example to all.


St Matthews Gardens

St Leonards

Council should get behind United

I MOVED from Hastings nearly two years ago but still keep an eye on local Hastings events, especially Hastings United, where I once sat on the Supporters Club committee.

I see from the Hastings United website that the local borough council has apparently reneged on a promise to the club regarding proposals for relocating the stadium.

For the last two or so years it has indicated support for such a move and now changed its mind.

I also note that the club has moved forward on an agreement with the council to do a feasibility study on redeveloping the current stadium, including an upgrade of the floodlights.

I only hope that the council does not withdraw backing, including funding, from this study.

The team is doing its bit on the pitch this season and currently lies second in the league.

It is beholding on the council to do its bit and get behind the club, so that if they achieve promotion they will have decent facilities for the higher divisions they aspire to.

Cllr Pragnell, as a Charlton Athletic fan, should know the benefits of fighting for a decent stadium.


Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire


Council's budget cut is snow joke

WE ALL knew of course it was the pantomime season with Dirty Den appearing at the White Rock Theatre carrying out the usual dastardly deeds, but what we also now know is that the County Hall's own 'Dirty Den,' Councillor Matthew Lock, who is responsible for ensuring that our roads here in Hastings are made safe during the cold and icy weather, failed utterly and miserably, with most side roads and footpaths across the borough being left to local residents to clear themselves.

That is a situation that is totally unacceptable given the high levels of council tax they pay. While I accept that this part of the country does not see extreme weather patterns as they do in the north of the country, we should nonetheless be prepared – that means ensuring we have enough resources including a budget that could deal with the worst possible case scenario.

We must be one of the least prepared counties with one of the smallest budgets available and Cllr Lock wants to continue to cut that further. Once again that position is totally unacceptable.


Wishing Tree Ward

Hazardous hopscotch on our pavements

IT HAS been my pleasure to visit Hastings on quite a few occasions over the last four months or so.

Not having been overly familiar with the town in the past (I live in Eastbourne), I have been pleasantly surprised at what a nice town Hastings is. It has some lovely architecture and a very nice vibe to it generally.

However, there is a certain something that mars the general ambience and casts an air of despondency, particularly to those of us who need to traverse the highways and byways. I am referring to the proliferation of dog poo.

It adorns the pavements at numerous and regular intervals, thus making even a short walk a somewhat hazardous event.

One has to almost hopscotch from one bit of pavement to another in an attempt to avoid treading in it. Couple this with some pretty abysmal street lighting and there is a disaster waiting to happen.

Surely something could be done to negate the need to poo hop?

It is one thing choosing to keep fit by using cardio-vascular exercise, but what of those people who aren't nimble enough to execute the sudden movements needed to avoid the randomly placed poo piles?

Everyone knows that those who fall foul of poo certainly won't smell of roses.

So Hastings council – over to you. It can be done. Eastbourne had the same problem a couple of years ago and dealt with it.

I'm sure the majority of Hastings dog owners are responsible people who clear up after their animals, but to those who don't, I would say have some pride in your town and clean it up.



Some hollow laughs

I'M SURE this week's description of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists as "The single greatest piece of literature to emerge from 1066 Country – apart from the Observer" was intended as comic hubris.

It would certainly have made Robert Tressell laugh, although given that his novel includes repeated mocking references to the one-sided reporting of a local paper called the Obscurer, I imagine the laughter would have been pretty hollow.



Religious concerns

I thought it high time for someone to comment on our MP's behaviour with his precious Equality Bill which he is easing through parliament.

I am deeply concerned with the religious aspects of this bill, and worried that our MP may have confused his political career for his Christian beliefs.

As a member of the Christian Socialists why has our MP allowed such a bill to get so far in Parliament?

This bill is discriminatory to all religious groups in itself, and erodes religious liberty completely, allowing for more political correctness and enhanced "nanny state" control.

As a Christian himself, I cannot see how the MP can allow this to go ahead.

I urge him to start listening to the needs of his electorate.

People in Hastings want jobs, security, representation, not complicated legislation.


The Ridge

Blackadder speaks!

"My lord I have a cunning plan to rid Hastings of those nasty shoppers and tourists."

"What is it Baldrick?"

"Well sir, first we close off Kings Road for weeks and do away with three-quarters of the parking spaces. After all, they defeated your plan to charge for using them."

"Yes, Baldrick, that will teach the ungrateful riff-raff a lesson!"

"Then, to stop anyone driving round trying to find a space, we block off Cross Street so that they will have to go on to the seafront and through three sets of lights to get round. Also we will reduce the time you can park from two hours to one hour in surrounding roads. This will catch out anyone who has parked there for years and make us a tidy sum in fines. Also, we will dig up roads all over town, put traffic lights there, and then go away and leave them for ages. That should stop those nasty shoppers from coming here!"

"Baldrick, you are an imbecile! We are spending huge sums of cash telling people to drive five miles a week less! How will they do that round all your diversions?"

"Simple, my lord, they won't bother to go out at all. The final part of my plan is to bulldoze the Stade coach park to get rid of those horrible tourists. On it we will put up a big shed and fill it with pickled sheep and unmade beds, and other winners of the Turnip Prize for art. I have a few exhibits of my own as it happens!"

"Baldrick, you really are the complete cretin."

"Oh, thank you my Lord"

"And what are you going to do with all the people who lose their jobs and businesses as a result?"

"Simple, sir, we will get them digging the holes in the roads. After all, it takes twice as long now that we have covered them in kerb stones and paving slabs!"


Cookham Dene


Get behind Jerwood

David Gale's letter last week brilliantly summed up the views of the vast majority of people I have spoken to during the two years since it was announced the Jerwood Foundation wished to build an art gallery on the site of the coach/lorry park.

Years ago, the authorities made a terrible mistake by allowing a coach/lorry park to be sited in the historical centre of Hastings.

Thanks to the Jerwood Foundation this can be rectified.

We can get rid of this ugly, decaying piece of wasteland and replace it with an art gallery/cultural centre which will improve the image locally, create jobs and attract educated and wealthy tourists.

The charm of the Stade will not be affected. On the contrary, the new facilities will enhance the character of this area.

People who enjoy traditional seaside activities such as eating jellied eels and gambling in the amusement arcades will keep visiting the town exactly as they did in the past.

They might be put off if Jerwood was to build a nuclear plant or incinerator. This is certainly not the case and, in my experience, very few people are terrified of art galleries.

With regard to Philip Penfold's letter, most people I know would rather visit and art gallery than skate on an ice rink.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that Jerwood will not be a success with the locals, as well as with art lovers from all over the country.

I would advise Mr Penfold to visit art galleries in, for instance, Bexhill and Eastbourne, on a rainy day in mid-January. He will find them crowded and will have difficulty finding a table in their cafes.

He should then return to Hastings and take a walk around the Old Town and the Stade.

I can guarantee that he will find them deserted, with not a single tourist in sight.

Let us now hope that work will commence soon. Let us not waste any more time hearing the opinions of a narrow-minded, visionless minority.


Ore Place

Is mobile CCTV really needed in town?

WHENEVER I have visited the town centre over the last few months there has always been a police CCTV mobile camera unit parked at the Memorial.

It doesn't say much for the police's opinion of the Hastings population that they consider it necessary to position this van here in the middle of the day when there are also a lot of fixed cameras in this area.

Visitors to Hastings must also be alarmed and must wonder what kind of town they have come to.

Sussex Police should explain why it is necessary.


Netherwood Close

Thanks to all who helped after fall

May I, through your letters page, thank the gentlemen who picked me up after I fell in Old Harrow Road on Sunday, December 20. He made sure that I was all right and gave me good advice how to proceed as I made my way back home. And thanks to Sally who stopped while I was pausing at the bottom of Harrow Lane before tackling the hill.

Thank you kind people from a very grateful 81-year-old, who will not risk icy pavements again.


Paddock Road, St Leonards

Thanks from the Fellowship for special events

The Fellowship of St Nicholas would like to say a big thank you to Laurence and the staff at the White Rock Hotel Hastings.

With a special donation from the Bexhill Lions Club members, Dragonflies Takes Flight childhood bereavement arranged for 40 pantomime tickets to be shared among children and young people affected by bereavement.

The pantomime trip included tea and cake at the hotel, where Laurence and his team arranged for some of the cast from the pantomime to meet the children and their families, this extra surprise ended a perfect day for everyone!

The White Rock Hotel also supported the New Years Day 'Remember Me Pebbles' event, where Dragonflies families remembered their loved ones, by writing a messages on pebbles and throwing them into the sea.' Remember Me Pebbles' is set to become an annual event where everyone affected by childhood bereavement will be welcomed to join in.

Our sincere thanks to Bexhill Lions Club and White Rock Hotel for supporting Dragonflies Takes Flight.


Volunteer Coordinator

Dragonflies Takes Flight