Debate continues over London Colney ford

COMPLAINTS about “selfish” people using vehicles to block a historic ford over the picturesque River Colne in London Colney have prompted the parish council to seek help from the district and county councils.

There has been debate over the ford, understood to be about 400 years old, as some residents have attempted to stop vehicles crossing the historic highway situated opposite the Green Dragon pub.

Discussion has centred on whether it should be closed to prevent vehicles using the access but the crossing does have a right of way for traffic.

Some claim that the ford is used by joyriders who could potentially leak petrol and oil into the tributary, an allegation that has been dismissed by other local residents as incorrect.

Chairman of London Colney parish council, Cllr Ian Orton, said Herts Highways had visited the ford and would monitor it to establish how often people deliberately parked near its entrances.

He said it was also a matter for parking enforcement officers at St Albans district council, who had recently been informed of the problem. Cllr Orton added: “There has been selfish parking of cars. People shouldn’t block it off.”

He said that 4X4 vehicles and motorbikes had been driven across the ford.

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But Ann Layzell, of London Colney disputed claims that the river was at risk of pollution from vehicles: “If it is polluted, it must be from industrial places nearby. People don’t cross the ford on motorbikes or in cars. People are worried about something that does not exist.

“There may be the odd idiot that uses it on the odd occasion but that is fine. I would like it to be open to pedestrians, vehicles, horse riders and dog walkers. I would like it to remain as the status quo.”

Her comments were echoed by John Copley, bailiff for the Barnet and District Angling Club, who regularly checks that part of the waterway.

He added: “I go along and stop people from poaching in the area if I can, and make sure there is no pollution in the water before anyone fishes there.”

Ken Peak, spokesman for environment group, Village Concern, said the bigger concern was pollutants entering the river from other sources including outlet pipes.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said she had seen people driving across the ford, and oil polluting the water afterwards.

She went on: “It can stay as it is but don’t let traffic through it. It doesn’t need to be used by traffic, especially in summer when children play there. It must not be closed altogether but I think it should be protected.”