I ATTENDED a meeting at Hartford Village Hall arranged by the Hartford Conservation Group to hear Richard Probyn of Huntingdonshire planning department give a talk and answer questions on the improvements to the Riverside Park, in Huntingdon. The impres

I ATTENDED a meeting at Hartford Village Hall arranged by the Hartford Conservation Group to hear Richard Probyn of Huntingdonshire planning department give a talk and answer questions on the "improvements" to the Riverside Park, in Huntingdon.

The impression I took away from the meeting, which was well attended, was that much of the proposed expenditure was unnecessary and that a rolling programme of maintenance and some improvements were all that was required.

Mr Probyn did his best to keep to the agenda of the park itself, but it was quite clear that the main area of concern was the car park. The proposal put forward last year to extend this car park was met with a barrage of objections at the time, and was subsequently dropped. However part of the proposal for Riverside Park is to reinforce an area of the football fields to enable its occasional use for the fair, thereby retaining the car park for use of shoppers and employees.

It would be very surprising if the reinforced area could take the weight of the fairground vehicles - no one seems to have checked - and the air of scepticism at the meeting was palpable. Many at the meeting felt that the main users of the car park were Luminus and the council employees themselves, and the occasions of fairground usage was an inconvenience to them. No doubt when the fairground vehicles sink in axle-deep there will be a new move to tarmac this area.

Huntingdon has few areas of natural beauty, and the council has missed a trick in not making the old Grammar School site and the old Huntingdon Model Laundry site into parking for the public and Luminus respectively. Both these are now housing and, while there is no doubt a need for this, one suspects that the desperate need for Council Tax receipts takes precedence over parking. The housing could be put elsewhere. The car parking cannot.

My own view is that it is a shame that these opportunities were missed, as the Riverside car park could then have had the same treatment as New Square in Cambridge, which the council there had the courage to grass over.

PETER THEAKSTON

Longstaff Way

Hartford