Fears over joyriders polluting London Colney ford

LONDON Colney residents fear a historic ford at the River Colne is at risk of pollution from joyriders crossing the tributary on motorbikes, potentially leaking petrol and oil into the water course.

Some have attempted to stop vehicles crossing the ford, a historic highway situated opposite the Green Dragon pub, by deliberately parking their cars at both entranceways.

Following complaints to London Colney parish council and Herts county councillor for the Colneys, Chris Brazier, about both the access blocking and joyriders creating a nuisance, the old ford has become the focus of efforts to maintain the river crossing while reducing the risk of pollution.

Cllr Brazier warned: “We will never be able to stop motorbikes using the crossing without 24-hour policing.”

He has met a Rights of Way Group representative who confirmed the crossing was classified as a highway with a right of way to traffic.

While it cannot be blocked or diverted without a highways order to close it, the group will look at having signs installed making clear which part is highway, and investigate whether it can be closed to vehicles.

Cllr Brazier explained the ford was part of an old highway, marked with white posts opposite the Green Dragon, which continues alongside the bridge across the River Colne, to the Waterside area.

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While some residents insist it should be closed to vehicles, which are causing a nuisance, others want to protect their right to have access over the ford.

Although Cllr Brazier does not want to have parking in the vicinity made illegal, he does not want to stop the enjoyment of locals wanting to use the crossing.

He went on: “My sole purpose is to protect a historical part of the village and do it in a way that benefits all.”

Options such as placing bollards at each end of the ford, declassifying it as a highway, or putting up signs saying that vehicles were banned from crossing it have been discussed.

However no action will be pursued without consultation with the parish council, residents, Herts Highways, the Rights of Way group and the local historic society.

Chair of the parish council, Cllr Ian Orton, described the River Colne as an iconic feature of London Colney.

“It is because of this that we take every precaution we can to maintain it and preserve its historic value.

“One of the oldest features of the Colne is the ford. We do endeavour to protect this not only because of its status as a highway but because it is such an early feature of the river pre-dating not only the bridge but much of the village,” Cllr Orton added.