Many reasons for decline

PUBLISHED: 16:16 23 May 2008 | UPDATED: 22:18 26 October 2009

SiR – It was with some sadness that I read of the (indefinite) postponement of the plans to re-vitalise Hatfield town centre. Although I have not lived in the area for more years than I care to remember Hatfield is now a shadow of its former self. At tha

SiR - It was with some sadness that I read of the (indefinite) postponement of the plans to re-vitalise Hatfield town centre.

Although I have not lived in the area for more years than I care to remember Hatfield is now a shadow of its former self. At that time British Aerospace and ICI (both now sadly long gone) were major employers in the area. Like Luton, which has now lost most of its General Motors (Vauxhall) interest, withdrawal of a major company has a long term knock-on effect.

Many small businesses service these bigger industries, effectively doubling the number of job losses. There appears to be a strange idea that retail can replace manufacturing. At the end of the day in a world of limited resources (but that is another subject) retail cannot grow year on year.

It often seems forgotten that to indulge in "retail therapy" people need proper jobs with realistic income.

The other main cause in the decline of Hatfield is the growth of the University! When I was around the area Hatfield Polytechnic was fast becoming one of the top polytechnics in the county. Having British Aerospace and ICI as local employers was an asset that could not be undervalued.

It is my understanding that before the Thatcher government decided that everything from a College of FE upwards was a university that Hatfield Poly was to become a "College of Advanced Technology" (CAT). Now like all universities it has expanded to offer a vast array of degrees, which lead to a paper qualification but not a job.

When a Sunday Times league table rated Hatfield on a par with Luton I thought "How the mighty have fallen!"

Many of the students would be better served by apprenticeships and jobs with an element of day release (probably not in the vocabulary of anyone under-35). I digress.

At the end of the day the majority of students are poor and add little to the local economy (how poor I do wonder as many seem to have cars and an insatiable appetite for alcohol).

Sadly successive governments seem to use universities to keep unemployment figures for young people down who in return often get a not very useful qualification and a mountain of debt!

The most deplorable thing is that the redevelopment has been frozen because of sub-prime mortgages and the so called 'credit crunch'.

Property speculation should have nothing to do with it! In some ways I wonder if the council is in some way to blame. Hatfield has seemed the poor relation in the Welwyn Hatfield set up for decades - witness the farce over Christmas decorations. One wonders if it is now the time for Hatfield council to become totally independent? This would allow the council to serve Hatfield's needs best!

David Penhallow, Dedham, Essex.


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