Herts Ad Comment: Avian botulism at Verulamium Park and discriminatory taxi services

PUBLISHED: 15:00 25 June 2016

This week's editor's comment...

This week's editor's comment...

Archant

Whatever the truth about whether or not avian botulism is back in the lake at Verulamium Park, there is no doubt that its condition is worse this year than last - and we haven’t really had any hot weather yet.

It is smelly in places, the scum on the surface is extremely unattractive and it does not have the look of a healthy lake.

And it is such a shame because the park, with its winding route up to the cathedral, really is the jewel in St Albans’ crown.

Even in the middle of winter, there is plenty to see around the lake even if the footpaths are flooded or icy. And in the summer the splash park is a huge draw for children, the sports courts are full and tables outside the Inn on the Park are invariably at a premium.

The council has repeatedly said that the cost of dredging the lake is prohibitive and that may well be the case - local authority finances are not bottomless pits and they have to prioritise.

But as the owners of the park, the council has to be careful not to antagonise users.

Every year the Herts Advertiser hears about the problems people face parking on busy days and even those who are happy to shell out to leave their cars in the museum car park frequently find that it is full. For little legs, it is a long way to walk up from the Westminster Lodge car park and while that is much bigger, spaces can be hard to find there as well.

Perhaps it is time for the council’s Verulamium Park Consultative Forum to take a closer look at how it can improve park visiting - at least until the lake problems are resolved once and for all.

It seems incredible in today’s supposedly enlightened society that a taxi driver would abandon a potential passenger simply because she was disabled and travelling without a carer.

The driver, who worked for Gold Line Taxis, claimed he was not “comfortable” taking Jennie Page without a carer, as if he was in some way inconvenienced by her physical restrictions, and thought leaving her on the pavement and driving away without any explanation was the most appropriate and thoughtful way to act.

Taxi drivers are there to provide all users with a service, disabled or able-bodied alike, and discrimination of this nature is completely unacceptable for a variety of reasons, common human decency being one of them.

Fortunately MP Anne Main raised the issue with her colleague Andrew Jones, the minister responsible for transport accessibility, who said he though the days of wheelchair users being left at the kerbside were long gone - not in St Albans apparently.

Mr Jones then revealed that new legislation under the Equality Act could actually make this behaviour illegal and leave drivers open to prosecution. Isn’t it sad there is the need to make discrimination of the disabled by taxi drivers a criminal offence, simply because otherwise there are no guarantees it will not happen?

More news stories

The Members of Parliament for St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett are split on whether to support the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.

A St Albans postie made a “one in a million” find of a stolen handbag and has returned it to its rightful owner in Hatfield - nearly 40 years after she was mugged.

Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller says leaving the European Union is part of a plan to impose a new set of values in the UK.

St Albans MP Anne Main has warned the Chancellor of the Exchequer that business rates are closing the city’s pubs.

CountryPhile

Recently we, as a family (minus two of the kids), visited The Lodge RSPB reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire. I had never been before, which is perhaps amiss of me as a birdwatcher as it is the headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or RSPB and only 45 minutes drive from home.

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