Harpenden residents claim: ‘We’ve been fenced in by town council’

Marquis Lane Harpenden

Marquis Lane Harpenden - Credit: Photo supplied

RESIDENTS living near a green space in Harpenden are shocked that a fence has been installed along its boundary to block traffic, as they believed that grassed and concrete parking bays would be installed for visitors.

Pip Martyn and her partner Paul Howe have labelled Harpenden town council (HTC) as “undemocratic” after it installed a fence and gate along one side of the Marquis Lane open space, without public consultation.

Pip said the move had resulted in restricted access to the open space, as visitors have “for many years” parked along its boundary because the road is narrow.

Now, however, visitors to the beauty spot are parking outside homes along Marquis Lane and creating problems for local residents.

Pip said those parking along the open space verge in the past had not caused concern, as there was never more than six cars parked on the boundary.

Paul added that they had been told the fence and gate had been erected for health and safety reasons. He went on: “The requirement for parking far exceeds availability and the newly erected fence further restricts parking on the roadway adjacent to the boundary.

“HTC’s stance is that the issues they have now created are not their responsibility or concern.”

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The couple said that following a public meeting in July 2011, led by St Albans district council (SADC), residents were assured that grass/concrete bays would be mooted as an option at a future public consultation.

But that consultation did not take place, and since that meeting SADC has transferred ownership of the green space to the town council.

Paul said: “Apparently HTC has no legal obligation to consult and apparently also they have no moral obligation either.”

HTC town clerk John Bagshaw said that the fence and gate had been installed as there had been complaints about cars being driven on to the open space to avoid oncoming traffic along Marquis Lane.

He added: “Sometimes people are driving right up to the playground to have a picnic there.

“We wanted to protect the integrity of the park, so the best way to do so was put a fence there.”

John said he was not aware that SADC had promised consultation on provision of car parking spaces.

Maria Stagg, regulatory services manager for legal, democratic and regulatory ervices at SADC, said: “A number of options were discussed with residents at the public meeting in July 2011.

“The options included the possibility of creating a small grasscrete area in Marquis Lane.

“No agreement was made at the meeting to implement this option as it was subject to the availability of suitable funding from outside the district council. That funding was not forthcoming.”