‘If people want a ramp they should dip into their own pocket’ claim by Conservatives as Clarence Park ramp agreed

The replacement ramp for Clarence Park has been agreed by the City Neighbourhoods Committee in the teeth of opposition from local Conservatives.

The £120,000 project replaces the much used and much loved ramp from the park onto Hatfield Road, used by dozens of commuters every day as well as many other local people.

​Lib Dem councillor ​Chris White (Clarence ward) ​said: ‘There was an outcry last year when the ramp had to be closed for safety reasons. It will soon have to be closed completely if it not replaced and I am grateful for the support of other councillors and residents’ associations.

‘That said,​ I take great exception to the suggestion by Cllr Alun Davies that if users want this facility to continue they should dip into their pockets. Local residents already pay quite enough in council tax and expect facilities of this sort to be maintained.

‘It puts his recent crowdfunding initiative in a rather sinister light. Is this going to be the future in St Albans under the Conservatives? If you use it, pay extra for it?’

Tory councillor Jessica Chivers wanted the project put off indefinitely.

Cllr Gerard McHale (Clarence ward) ​added: ‘It’s once again clear that the Tories know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Thankfully we were able to ensure that this valuable community asset will be replaced despite attempts by the Conservative members of the committee to stop it.’

What happened about the Clarence Park gate?

This is a brief summary of the proceedings last night, subject to formal minutes being issued:
1) Reject proposal to close the gate
2) Sub group consisting of Robert Donald (CNC Chair), ward councillors Chris White, Gerard McHale and Sheila Burton plus 3 reps from Clarence Park Residents’ Association to be set up to look at design and built of it to report back with a conclusion to the June CNC meeting.
3) There was a view that the road is not very safe at this point and that something should be done on a pedestrian crossing (Chris had already flagged this up again with the County Council).
4) The works need to be as cost effective and as aesthetically pleasing as possible

Plans to improve St Albans Market under scrutiny

A long-term strategy to improve St Albans popular markets was reviewed by St Albans City and District Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 5 February.

The five year plan aims to increase the markets’ financial viability and contribution to the development of the City centre.

It includes proposals to boost promotion of the markets, recruit traders for products not currently sold, increase the markets’ footprints and pilot new types of market.

The St Albans Market Strategy was developed following an in-depth review of the markets with input from the cross-party Market Task and Finish Group.

The Council also used a questionnaire to seek the views of traders, who sell goods at the Wednesday and Saturday Charter Markets. The traders said that St Albans Charter Markets are good and desirable markets on which to trade. They also expressed a desire to work with the Council to make the markets even better and to try out new initiatives. Concerns raised included a need for more publicity, parking for customers and the condition of the stalls and lighting.

Members of Local Services Scrutiny Committee discussed the outcome of the consultation with traders and the Strategy to improve the markets.

They also heard that some actions have already been taken to develop the markets. These include the introduction of a food quarter at the Wednesday market and the development of the annual Christmas Market. A new management team has also been appointed. (more…)

Residents First Weekend

Residents can visit attractions for free, take part in sports and other activities and sample tasty meal deals during Residents First Weekend on 24 and 25 January.

Keep a look out for your Residents First Weekend brochure that is being distributed to homes in the District. It has been put together by St Albans City and District Council and lists all the offers and events available at visitor attractions, leisure facilities and restaurants. The brochure includes a Residents First Card. To take advantage of the offers, you will need to present your Residents First Card, to participating venues.

Full details of all the offers and deals are available in the Residents First Weekend 2015 brochure which is available at: http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/community-and-living/community_events/residents_first/.


District Council acts to support young people


Steps are being taken by St Albans City and District Council to help young people set up a cinema night and engage with the local democratic process.

These are among a number of initiatives being implemented following discussions between local Youth Councillors and the Council’s Youth Task and Finish Group.

At a meeting on Tuesday 30 September, the Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee, heard that:

  • The Council is working with The Maltings operator OVO and Youth Connexions to help St Albans Youth Council run a Youth Cinema Night.
  • Councillors have been invited to take part in activities during Local Democracy Week which runs from Monday 13 October to Sunday 19 October. Events include a ‘Youth council takeover’ on Thursday 16 October. Young people from local schools and Oaklands College will play the role of Councillor for the day with District Councillors acting as mentors.
  • Arrangements are being made for councillors to visit schools all year round to build on activities undertaken during Local Democracy Week.
  • St Albans Youth Council gave a presentation to the Council’s City Neighbourhoods Committee about its work. This includes campaigning against the use of conflict minerals and for an increase in support for young people with mental health issues.


  • Youth Councillors are developing a training workshop to explore how District Councillors and young people can work more closely together.

These projects build on earlier actions to implement recommendations from the Council’s Youth Task and Finish Group.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Chair of the Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee said: “The Committee was glad to hear that progress is being made in implementing a number if ideas that have come out of discussions with local Youth Councillors. It is important that the Council does all it can to engage young people in the District in the processes of local democracy and to help develop services that meet their needs.”

Clarence Park: new locking up arrangments

From the District Council

John O’Connor [the District Council’s contractors] have now got someone to lock the gates at Clarence Park. They will be putting up temporary signs at each entrance to make people aware of the closing time (as the park users and commuters have become used to the gates being permanently open). SADC officers are looking into signs to allow the Park ranger to update opening and closing times throughout the year. Officers would welcome any feedback from local residents and forum members, if the future locking up of the park is not being adhered to.

Eating out safely – use the on-line rankings list of pubs, restaurants and eateries.

All restaurants, cafes, takeaways and other food outlets in St Albans City and District will be given a rating for food hygiene by April 2014.

St Albans City and District Council is more than half way through implementing the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in the District.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme was developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with local authorities. It rates eateries and other places that sell food on their hygiene standards, based on inspections carried out by council Food Safety Officers. (more…)

‘Back to the drawing board’ call over Clarence Park

The Lib Dem councillors for Clarence ward have called for the district council administration to go back to the drawing board over their plans to change the legal basis of Clarence Park’s trust deed.

Clarence member Chris White said: ‘We sat through the special meeting on Thursday night open-mouthed at the inability of the administration to justify why they were tinkering with provisions of the deed.

‘It was clear that many of the changes were simply legally unnecessary. Others were quite clearly geared into opening up the whole park to commercial exploitation.’

He added: ‘It is no good Cllr Chichester-Miles saying that if you don’t like the change just vote No. Local people need to be given a fully worked through and comprehensible set of changes. What we have is a mix of leading questions, misleading questions and downright commercialism.’

He concluded: ‘People will be horrified to learn that the Conservative Cabinet is seeking the power to close the park for 12 months of the year and on any Sunday. Why on earth would they want these powers?’

District council update on Batchwood Golf and Tennis Centre

St Albans City and District Council has appointed two design teams to project manage the construction of a tennis centre and clubhouses for the bowls and golf clubs at the Batchwood Golf and Tennis Centre, St Albans.

These will replace the tennis centre and the bowls clubhouse which were destroyed by a fire in August last year.

Cambridge-based Saunders Boston will be responsible for project managing the pre-contract and construction phases for the new bowls and golf clubhouses. The development is set to be completed by Autumn 2012.

The Council has already completed re-turfing of the bowls green and repair work to the surrounding paths ready for play to begin again in May as part of the new bowling season.

Separately, the Council has also appointed Drivers Jonas Deloitte to handle the pre-contract and construction phases of the new tennis centre. The company is already overseeing design of the new Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre development and the planned sports facilities at Cotlandswick. The aim is to deliver a new tennis centre in Autumn 2013.