Decision on St Albans’ Clarence Park ramp and steps

The closed entrance to Clarence Park

The closed entrance to Clarence Park - Credit: Archant

The costly saga of the unsafe steps into a St Albans park might have ended after a decision was made on how to replace them.

The wooden Hatfield Road ramp and steps into Clarence Park will be rebuilt in phases after it was closed in February when an inspection found serious areas of concern.

It has not yet been decided if the entrance will be reopened while the work is planned.

This is the second time the structure, which is used by commuters and park-goers, has closed in the past year and a replacement has been on councillors’ agendas since March 2015.

On March 8 in a St Albans district council (SADC) city neighbourhoods committee meeting, councillors and residents debated what should be done - either replace just the ramp, just the steps, neither, both at once, or one then the other.

A phased option of one after the other was eventually chosen because people wanted both a ramp for accessibility and steps for convenience, but the budget of £120,000 does not allow for both at once.

A Clarence Park Residents Association spokesman said: “Frankly I think an apology is owed to [the residents] and an apology is owed to this committee after the saga of incompetence that has dogged this matter for the last two years.”

Most Read

He said no-one will take responsibilty for the project: “We have had promises after promises that the steps will be kept open, and that’s in the official minutes of this meeting, but now they are closed.

“If anyone is suffering from deja vu it’s because we have a report and I have it here, dated March 12 2015, almost verbatim to the one which has been presented tonight.”

Representations from Meadowcroft and Whitecroft Residents’ Association, and Saphra Residents’ Association, which covers Sopwell Lane, Albert Street, Pageant Road, Hart Road, The Ryder Seed Mews Estate, Saracens Head Yard, Pearce’s Walk and Keyfield Terrace, were also heard.

Chairman Cllr Alun Davies said: “I don’t think collectively it has been dealt with in the best way, but I don’t think it’s right to blame the council and officers, we have to take some collective responsibility.”

District council head of community service, Debbi White, said: “We have already spent about £15,000 over the last few years trying to keep the structure open in some way or another so we want to make sure that, if we are going to spend any more money, that we are getting good value for what we are doing and it’s actually going to give us a safe structure at the end of it.”

Contractors will now bid to see who will complete the work to replace the structure - a preference for ramp first was aired by councillors at the meeting.