Year in Review: What happened between October to December 2021

St Albans City fans with a foil FA Cup trophy during the Emirates FA Cup first round match at Claren

St Albans City fans with a foil FA Cup trophy during the Emirates FA Cup first round match at Clarence Park. - Credit: Nigel French/PA

As we moved into the end of the year, the political wranglings on the district council continued, with four Conservatives quitting the audit committee, claiming investigations ordered by councillors were being blocked.

Laura Bill meets Arena panto star Chizzy Akudolu.

The Herts Ad's Laura Bill meets Arena panto star Chizzy Akudolu. - Credit: Matt Adams

Meanwhile, St Albans Civic Society celebrated 60 years, and we took a sneak peek inside Harpenden's new Eric Morecambe Centre shortly before interviewing the cast of this year's Alban Arena panto, the first without the legendary Bob Golding.

For Black History Month, running throughout October, the Herts Ad focused on the personal stories of black people throughout the district, offering them the opportunity to discuss their motivations and inspirations, including the director of charity Belong Esther Wanjie-Nyeko, addiction psychologist Jojo Godfrey, Active Lifestyles founder Andrene McDonald, and BID ranger Herbert Agyemang-Duah.

Also this month, linking into Sober October, we explored the rising trend for non-alcoholic drinks in the city's pubs and restaurants, and the health benefits of periods of abstinence. 

Sir David Amess MP, who represented Southend West, was killed at his constituency surgery in Leigh o

Sir David Amess MP, who represented Southend West, was killed at his constituency surgery in Leigh on Sea on October 15 - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

Following the shocking death of Southend West MP David Amess, our own Daisy Cooper pledged to remain a visible and accessible part of the local community, while reflecting on her own personal safety in the wake of the tragedy.

Although Harpenden Town Council decided to reopen roads closed since the end of the first Covid lockdown, St Albans council leader Chris White washed his hands of the issue in the city, claiming it was a county council decision whether to maintain the measures.

In November St Albans' top cop, Ch Insp Mike Todd, noted the success of Operation Luge, a massive police initiative in response to a spate of knifepoint offences in the district over a 10 month period. A violent gang of teenage drug dealers was jailed for a total of 42 years for conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit GBH.

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St Albans City FC triumphed against League Two side Forest Green Rovers in the first round of the FA Cup, a match screened live on Match of the Day and watched by more than 4,000 fans in a packed Clarence Park. Unfortunately their run of good luck would not continue against Boreham Wood just a few weeks later.

Climate change campaigners took to the streets of the city centre to coincide with the COP26 Day of Climate Action, we revealed Covid cases for the district were in the top ten nationwide, and the festival of Diwali was celebrated in style by a major art collaboration between schools, a local artist and St Albans Museum + Gallery.

Arlo Fitter-Clarke, 10, and Zach Powell, 11, played Minecraft for 12 hours to raise money for diabetes research.

Arlo Fitter-Clarke, 10, and Zach Powell, 11, played Minecraft for 12 hours to raise money for diabetes research. - Credit: Sarah Clarke

A dad was left traumatised after armed police raided his house by mistake, the road closure saga took another turn when it was revealed keys to the gates had been illegally copied, and two schoolfriends launched a 12-hour Minecraft challenge in aid of diabetes research.

We revealed plans for a community of 1,000 new homes just outside Redbourn, independent haberdashers Fashion 'n' Fabrics celebrated its 50th anniversary, and a couple from Strictly Come Dancing inspired local deaf children.

Moving into December, and we promoted the new initiative Safer St Albans Pubs, which aims to tackle drink spiking in our licensed venues, and revealed the news that St Albans Charter Market could be outsourced as a decision on gazebos vs stalls was pushed into the New Year.

The district council announced plans to demolish the Alban Arena and replace it with a new entertainment venue as part of sweeping plans for that area of the city centre, and every single parent with children at Mandeville Primary School gave it their full recommendation in an Ofsted survey.

The Farriers Arms on Lower Dagnall Street, St Albans, is on the market.

The Farriers Arms on Lower Dagnall Street, St Albans, is on the market. - Credit: Google Street View

A further expansion of Luton Airport's annual passenger numbers was agreed despite fierce opposition from campaigners and The Farriers Arms, where the first branch of CAMRA was founded, was revealed to be on the market.

The spread of the new Omicron Covid variant threw plans for Christmas into disarray, with office parties scrapped and people queuing for booster jabs. This had a major impact not only on the hospitality industry, but also the beauty sector, as bookings were cancelled in what should have been one of the busiest times of the year.

And so we reach the end of the year once again in the grip of the virus, as infection rates rise and the NHS struggles to cope. It's a depressing way to wrap up 2021, but if this Year in Review proves anything, it's the resilience, creativity, generosity and spirit of our community endures. Here's to 2022, whatever it has in store for us!

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