Pensioner campaigns for bench outside St Albans Museum + Gallery
PUBLISHED: 18:00 19 January 2020
Hundreds of residents have backed an 80-year-old woman's call for a bench outside the new museum in St Albans.
The pensioner - who has asked not to be identified - has made repeated calls to the council to improve seating in the city centre to make it easier for elderly and disabled shoppers.
And recently she started her own petition, asking for a circular bench to be installed around one of the two trees outside the St Albans Museum + Gallery.
Within days she collected more than 100 signatures. And on Wednesday, her daughter presented the petition to St Albans City and District Council on her behalf.
At the meeting of the full council, councillors heard that the woman had lived in St Albans for almost 50 years.
And they were told that in recent years she's found the 1,000 steps between her usual shopping destinations - Marks & Spencer and Wilkinsons - "considerably difficult".
In 2012, they were told, she had contacted the council to ask for bench seating outside the Town Hall and was told they were looking into better seating.
And the following year they heard she was told again that better seating was planned.
Then, they heard, she was told those plans were suspended during the re-development of the former Town Hall into the new museum, but she was assured seating would be addressed as part of the development.
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But last year they heard she had been told there were now no plans for permanent seating in the area, as the area needed to be kept clear for market traders and for designated events.
Instead they were told she had been directed to use seating at a nearby cafe, which they heard was not sturdy enough for older and disabled users.
And they hard the council has pointed to existing seating on St Peter's Street and by the side of the town hall.
But she says those seats are in the "wrong direction" for her and add 180 more steps to the journey between the two shops.
The petition calls on the council to install a circular bench around one of the trees - and says it would improve access to events in the space.
"Installing seating around the tree furthest away from the Town Hall would not detract from the council's ability to stage events in this area," states the petition.
"On the contrary, providing seating in the area would in fact mean that elderly people and those with mobility issues would feel more able to take part in the events rather than be excluded by the lack of consideration for their needs."
The paper petition was backed by more than 104 signatories, which is not enough to trigger a vote by the council.
So now her grand-daughter has now put the petition online - collecting a further 157 signatures in less than four days.
The online petition for a bench outside the the museum is now continuing to run on change.org