Disabled tenant’s pond to be filled by St Albans council for “health and safety”

PUBLISHED: 16:47 27 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:47 27 November 2017

Disabled Willem Hofland in front of his pond which St Albans council have deemed a health and safety risk after he's had it in his garden for nine years. Picture: Danny Loo

Disabled Willem Hofland in front of his pond which St Albans council have deemed a health and safety risk after he's had it in his garden for nine years. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

A garden pond installed nine years ago by a 63-year-old disabled man looks set to be filled in after as it was deemed a “health and safety” risk.

Willem Hofland, who lives in Grindcobbe near to Griffiths Way, lost the use of his arm and leg following a stroke, and installed the pond to attract wildlife and bring him pleasure.

The pond - which measures just 2ft by 3ft - has been in place for all of the nine years he has lived on the street.

Mr Hofland claims the council has never asked about it until a recent inspection, after which he was told to remove the pond for health and safety reasons.

He said: “The council has lost all element of reason. They’ve not given me any option.

“There has not been an inspection for nine years, but the council is meant to be an inspection every year.”

The complex he lives in has no children at risk of falling into the pond.

He has spoken to his local councillor Janet Smith, but she told him nothing can be done.

Cllr Smith said: “I have been in touch with the housing department and after the Grenfell Tower fire, the council reviewed communal areas in council homes, and because the pond in a communal area they are saying it could be a fire hazard.”

St Albans council put aside half a million pounds earlier this year in case it needed to upgrade fire safety measures on their properties.

Earlier this year Telford Court residents were outraged when the council threw away priceless possessions from a storage space under the flats which was considered a fire risk.

St Albans council’s head of housing, Karen Dragovic, said: “We have no doubt a pond at Grindcobbe is a health and safety risk to nearby residents.

“Not only is there a danger a young child could fall in and drown, but the water is stagnant and foul as there is no filtration system.

“As a landlord, our paramount responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of our tenants and we are dealing with this problem.

“We have looked at options, including the installation of a grid cover, but have taken a decision that the best measure is to fill in the pond.

“We have been talking to Grindcobbe residents and I am sure the majority will support our action.”

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