St Albans gears up for life under third pandemic lockdown
- Credit: Matt Adams
As a third lockdown takes a chokehold on the St Albans district, council bosses have been reacting to the challenges it poses.
With little time to prepare for the Prime Minister's announcement on Monday evening, the district council has been stepping up its provisions to cope with the ongoing crisis.
Batchwood golf course has been closed and outdoor tennis stopped.
The nine-hole course at Abbey View has also been closed as has the athletics track.
Westminster Lodge, Batchwood and Cotlandswick leisure centres were already shut as part of the Tier Four restrictions and will remain so under the lockdown, as will the Museum + Gallery and Verulamium Museum.
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Waste collections and street cleaning services are carrying on as normal with contractor Veolia keeping the council informed in case of any resource issues; for example, a high level of staff sickness.
The Civic Offices will remain closed with residents and businesses able to make enquiries about services or pay bills online or by phone. Those who want to pay in person can do so at a payment kiosk within the building on Mondays between 10am to 1pm, or Wednesdays from noon to 2pm.
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Many Household Waste Recycling Centres will remain open including the ones at St Albans and Harpenden, but should be for essential visits only for waste that cannot be stored at home due to health risks.
Car parking measures have been introduced to help residents as pressure on street spaces is likely to grow with more people working from home rather than travelling by car to their office.
Residents from high-demand Controlled Parking Zones will be allowed to use nearby car parks for free as an overflow, but must have a valid resident’s permit on display.
Traffic wardens will focus on major routes such as city centre streets, and also ensure deliveries to essential shops can be carried out freely.
Other priorities will be dangerous, obstructive and anti-social parking such as blocking a driveway or parking on double-yellow lines near junctions.
To help residents who may have trouble parking overnight beside their home, the free parking period at council car parks has been extended by two hours.
Residents are also allowed to buy an extra two books of visitor permits above the usual personal allowance.
All of these measures will remain in force until the end of the lockdown which is likely to be mid-February at the earliest.
The council is continuing its policy of offering car park concessions to critical care workers such as NHS staff and COVID-19 volunteers as well as health and social care workers.
Council leader Cllr Chris White said: "The Government has announced further restrictions taking us into national lockdown - stay at home alert level.
“As difficult as this continues to be, the only way we are going to keep each other safe and protect the NHS in the face of this new, rapidly spreading coronavirus variant, is to get the number of cases down, and do our very best not to spread the virus.
“I urge everyone to continue to play your part - stick to the guidance and remember the basics: wash your hands; cover your face; and make space.
“I know many people are struggling. Livelihoods are being lost, businesses are suffering, isolation and anxiety are taking their toll. As a caring community, I know we will continue to work together to help each other get through this difficult time.”
Cllr White, who is also portfolio holder for climate, environment and transport, said: “We believe we got our light-touch parking enforcement regime spot on during the previous lockdowns and have reverted to the same approach this time around.
“I believe these measures will help ease the extra pressure on residents’ parking spaces across the district while we will continue to take action against badly-parked cars that can cause a nuisance or a hazard.
“I’m particularly pleased that we have been able to maintain the concessions afforded to key workers such as NHS staff throughout these challenging times."
Updates on the situation will appear on the council’s website and social media channels: see https://www.stalbans.gov.uk/