Leave park alone

PUBLISHED: 11:52 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 06 May 2010

]SIR, — Further to recent correspondence on Verulamium Park, St Albans, I too wish to express my concerns that Lottery Funding (£2 million grant) has been applied for so that various works — so-called improvements — can be carried out there. And like Chri

]SIR, - Further to recent correspondence on Verulamium Park, St Albans, I too wish to express my concerns that Lottery Funding (£2 million grant) has been applied for so that various works - so-called improvements - can be carried out there. And like Christine Paterson (Herts Advertiser, June 12) and hopefully many others, I will be writing to the Heritage Lottery fund to raise my objections to the proposals.

Apart from minor works and appropriate maintenance, there is absolutely no justification for the proposals being put forward by the district council and the Verulamium Park Heritage Lottery Bid Committee, and indeed it can be argued that more harm will be done than good.

I and many others have enjoyed the park for as long as can be remembered. It has some unique and much-loved features and any changes - such as "softening" of the water's edge, improvements to the entrances, or the introduction of fountains, would purely be change for change sake. I note that Barrie Mort's letter (June 19) has suggested we consult the Conservation Management Plan "to get at the facts". What amazes me is that people are presumably paid to write such documents which, it seems to me, are just full of standardised and meaningless arguments and jargon, with spurious solutions simply to justify their unnecessary bulk.

If various members of the Council and Verulamium Park Heritage Lottery Bid Committee were paying for these proposals out of their own pocket - as they should be - I think we would see a far slimmer document!

I am also afraid that public consultation on the matter is, and will be, nothing more than another costly public relations exercise whereby the people who have come up with these ridiculous and unwanted proposals have already set their agenda. This kind of approach at both city and Herts County Council level appears now to be the norm.

This matter of public consultation has been the subject of many letters and comments recently, and no better illustrated than by the so-called city-centre improvements/road-safety scheme - a huge waste of public money, triggered by ill-thought-out central Government funding on some spurious environmental pretext, and carried through, according to county without any objections from the people of St Albans. The many people who did object at the time know differently.

And latterly of course we have seen public concerns swept aside by the county on the disgraceful matter of the closure of the day centre at the Jubilee Centre. But then this sort of thing does not appear to rate as highly on the district council's list of priorities as the park proposals, or indeed the provision of flats in place of an historic art deco building within a Conservation Area.

So quite apart from what I consider inappropriate use of Lottery funds, there has been, and more importantly will be, unacceptable use of local public money - not least, I note, the "next stage of detailed design" which will be "subject to public consultation", and the three-year appointment of a project officer supported by a consultant team of technical professionals (no worries there, then) to oversee the scheme if said plans come to fruition.

And before the existing and more-than-adequate toilet block near the Abbey Mill entrance is demolished - said in the proposals to be an "unsightly focus at the end of the lake" - perhaps some highly-paid member of the council will come up with the idea of its conversion to a much-needed restaurant.

CHRIS NAYLOR

Wingfield, Beds.

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