Call to spend Herts county cash stockpile on fixing junction hazards

Cllr Sandy Walkington, Chair of Mini's & Juniors Verulamium RFC Angela Clifford and Vice President o

Cllr Sandy Walkington, Chair of Mini's & Juniors Verulamium RFC Angela Clifford and Vice President of The Irish Centre Richard Housden stand at the entrance to the sports ground off the A414 - Credit: Archant

A junction on a 70mph dual carriageway is so dangerous that it is only a matter of time before there is a fatality according to a concerned nearby resident.

Richard Housden, of London Colney, has been campaigning for a new entrance to the trunk road off the A414 North Orbital Road leading to the Irish Centre, the OVs rugby club and London Colney FC for years now and said his efforts had always fallen flat due to lack of funding.

He is particularly angry that a recent investigation revealed that the county council has been sitting on £56 million of unspent Section 106 community money, which could have been used to make the precarious turning safer.

He said: “To now read in the Herts Ad that funding that would have covered the cost of such a scheme has now been given back to developers simply because no one cared to spend it, is a complete disgrace.

“Every time we were told there was no money and now it turns out there was a load of money and we’ve given it back.

“I take it that we will have to wait to see if there is an accident that causes multiple deaths at this entrance before anyone does anything.”

The Five Acres resident said that coaches travelling into the playing fields using the poorly-maintained access road had to stop on the busy carriageway to turn off.

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“It’s a death waiting to happen. You certainly don’t stop on a dual carriageway; someone’s going to die there.”

Sandy Walkington, county councillor for St Albans South, agrees that the road needs addressing: “I totally share Richard’s frustration that unused Section 106 money is given back when there is this kind of issue which is crying out to be addressed.

“If cars are coming out of the entrance, cars coming in have to stop on the main highway to let them out. With cars often full of children, the dangers hardly bear thinking about.”

He added that the county council, which has more unspent community money than any other local authority, has been “slack and inefficient” in their handling of the funds: “It’s even worse that the figures reveal that Herts has had to return £691,000 just in the current period to developers because it missed the time limit to allocate the money.”

But Derrick Ashley, cabinet member for resources and transformation, said there were restrictions on how the money could be used: “Getting the most from our resources is of vital importance to us and I appreciate that some people might think we should spend this money elsewhere. However, there are strict legal limitations on how Section 106 money can be spent.

“Money provided through S106 agreements can only be used for the purposes set out in the agreement and not for other purposes. Agreements often include geographical limitations, and limits round how long the money may be kept for.

“It is often the case that the funding cannot be spent until a development has reached a certain stage, which is why many of the agreements have lengthy expiry dates and why we hold sums of Section 106 money.”