Herts Ad Comment: New homes and disability discrimination

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

Without question, the demand for affordable homes in the district is very much a hot potato at the moment.

With many young people being forced out of the city due to soaring prices, any opportunity for them to get a foot on the property ladder has to be welcomed.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we should be concreting over our precious Green Belt land without due justification, merely that something desperately needs to be done to provide homes for those who need them.

So one has to question the motivations of Sandridge parish council in snubbing plans for 14 affordable homes in the village, prompting a furious backlash from local residents.

Councillors argued that the properties would cause unacceptable coalescence between Sandridge and St Albans, despite the obvious fact that they were clearly within the village boundaries - on an old allotment site in the High Street - and so would actually be infilling.

They also claimed building on the Green Belt was in opposition to the district council’s planning policies, but failed to mention that affordable housing is an acceptable exception to these restrictions.

There do not appear to be any valid reasons why the parish council is intent on thwarting this scheme, which will be to the detriment of villagers “crying out for new housing”, and one can only hope that district councillors on the planning committee see sense and give it the green light.

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Elsewhere this week, it was disappointing to hear how a severely deaf woman was treated when she took her assistance dog into popular St Albans eatery The Waffle House.

Owner Joe Gaze was justifiably apologetic after hearing what had happened to Kathryn Reardon, and has promised a full review of procedures, but at the end of the day this situation should never have happened in the first place.

After all, how many dog owners do you think would claim to be disabled in order to bring their pets into a restaurant?

Not only did staff fail to listen to what Ms Reardon was telling them, they added to her embarassment by warning that her party would have to move if they received any complaints from other customers.

It might seem shocking to read about such blatant discrimination in the 21st century, but then only last week we reported on how the law had to be changed to force taxi drivers to take disabled fares.

Wheelchair user Jennie Page raised the issue with MP Anne Main after she was abandoned by a St Albans taxi driver who refused to take her to the theatre.

There should never have been a need for legislation to enforce equality for all taxi passengers, and it’s a sad indictment of “modern” Britain that it ever needed to be introduced.

Apologies and laws after the fact are not getting to the heart of the problem in the first place, that disability discrimination is still very much a real issue in today’s society..