Property Secrets: Kerry Pollard reveals all

Kerry Pollard in St Albans (photo: Ian Vogler)

Kerry Pollard in St Albans (photo: Ian Vogler) - Credit: Archant

As a school governor, former magistrate and ex-Labour MP, Kerry Pollard has done a lot for his local community in St Albans. He tells us what he loves and loathes about his adopted hometown...

St Albans Cathedral can be seen from Kerry's bedroom window

St Albans Cathedral can be seen from Kerry's bedroom window - Credit: Archant

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Pinner, then moved with my mum as a babe in arms to Rochdale where I lived in a council house till I got married at 21. We then moved to a rented house in Huddersfield for three years, then to 28 Cottonmill Lane, St Albans, where we’ve lived ever since. The house was originally a tied cottage that went with the job, but after a few years we were allowed to purchase it. Four of our seven children were home births at 28 Cottonmill Lane.

Kerry in his dining room at 28 Cottonmill Lane

Kerry in his dining room at 28 Cottonmill Lane - Credit: Archant

Have you changed much about your house since you’ve lived there?

35 years ago we had a side extension built, creating a bigger kitchen, a dining room and two extra bedrooms, making five in total. 20 years ago we had our loft floored and a stairway, windows and power added – this was and still is my office. Eight years ago we had photovoltaic panels installed and solar heating – we’re one of the greenest homes in St Albans!

What do you love most about your home?

Our house is our family home – we celebrated our golden wedding here, we recently celebrated our latest grandchild’s christening here, every Boxing Day the whole family spend the day here. It’s chaotic but wonderful – it’s our family home.

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What do you like about the area?

All the best things in my life have happened here in St Albans – founded the Open Door Night Shelter, appointed a Justice of the Peace, elected to both district and county council and elected as Member of Parliament – it doesn’t get much better.

What’s special about St Albans?

St Albans is steeped in history, the only English Pope (Nicholas Breakspear, who became Adrian IV) was from here, and we have a school named after him, Francis Bacon used to have a school named after him, there was the Peasants’ Revolt, and of course our most illustrious citizen St Alban, we have his collar bone in the Cathedral. I could go on. It’s one of the things that I really love, history round every street corner.

What about the schools?

I take a real interest in education; whilst Member of Parliament I was a member of the Education Select Committee and travelled the world looking at schools. Here in St Albans we have the best schools in the country, with dedicated teachers getting the best from and for our students. People move to St Albans because of our excellent schools.

What do you dislike about the area?

There are downsides to life here, particularly in recent years. The city I love is beginning to look a little scruffy, the verges are not being weeded as they were, there’s more rubbish on the streets – we seem to have lost a little pride in our city.

Our roads are crowded – we have the third highest car ownership in the UK – and unless things change we’ll end up with traffic gridlock. We aren’t far off that today.

There is an acute shortage of housing, particularly affordable homes. There’s little chance for our young people being able to afford to live in the city they were born and reared in. We need to build. We have an ideal opportunity on the former Radlett aerodrome site – a huge flat piece of land bordering the railway line, a former wartime aerodrome, a quarry where aggregate was removed then backfilled with rubbish – not prime Green Belt! Where has our common sense gone here in St Albans?

Where would you like to live next?

We are now thinking of moving to a bungalow, of course staying in our beloved St Albans. We want all the usual facilities on the ground floor with bedrooms in the roof space to accommodate our family from Newcastle and Manchester when they visit, and a large family room for all our celebration events – phase three of our lives together.

St Albans has been home to us for most of our lives – we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.