Swift response to St Albans pavement closure

A HOUSE building firm moved fast yesterday to reopen a stretch of pavement outside a building site on a busy St Albans road after complaints about how the closure was affecting the disabled and parents taking their children to school.

The pavement outside the former St Albans School playing fields in King Harry Lane was first closed on Tuesday evening to enable connections with utility services to go ahead.

Parents taking their children to nearby Prae Wood JMI School soon discovered the closure along a stretch of King Harry Lane where there is no pedestrian crossing point.

By yesterday morning, several had complained to the school and local residents such as Jean Hutton, who uses a mobility vehicle, had also voiced their anger.

Prae Wood head, Jackie Stephenson, contacted developers Linden Homes yesterday morning and received an immediate visit from a representative of the company who promised that the pavement would reopen in time for school closing time and that they would be looking for a better way of managing the closure.

She said: “I have to say they have responded very quickly and very strongly.”

Nearby resident Jean Hutton, who uses a mobility buggy and discovered the closure when taking her dog for his daily walk, said she could not believe that a coned-off section of road had not been put in place for pedestrians.

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“What they had was two guys getting you across the road but one car wouldn’t stop. It is going to cause a lot of inconvenience.”

Jean, who said she had spoken to the workmen and the problem seemed to stem from the county council, added: “Why not put traffic lights up? I have seen that done in so many places.”

Local county councillor Martin Frearson, who was approached by a concerned local resident, said the problem appeared to be caused by a lack of collaboration between the police and county highways officers and poor local knowledge.

Cllr Frearson added “I am really annoyed that they didn’t tell anyone at the school or local councillors. They should have had the sense to realise that it would be a big problem.”

Jeremy Alden, technical director of Linden Homes which, with Wates Developments, is building 150 new homes on the site, confirmed that as soon as the problems came to light, the matter had been immediately reviewed.

He explained that the closure had been agreed with Herts Highways Networks Management (HHNM) following a site visit and they had no complaints about the way it had been done. He went on: “In light of the concern that has been raised, a further site visit has immediately been requested from HHNM as we would like them to review the arrangements previously agreed.

“We have also undertaken further measures with additional signage having now been put in place in the area.”

A spokesperson for Herts Highways added: “We agreed with the developer that the footway could be closed when needed. We are monitoring the situation and will make any changes to the traffic management where necessary.”