St Albans road closures decision 'must be unanimous', says highways chief

Cllr Helen Campbell will help decide whether to maintain St Albans road closures

Lib Dem councillor Helen Campbell has been added to the board which will decide whether to extend road closures in St Albans. - Credit: St Albans Council / Matt Adams

A Lib Dem councillor who raised concerns about road closures in St Albans city centre has been added to the board which will decide whether they remain in place.

The announcement came as Hertfordshire’s lead member for highways said that unless the whole board backed the proposal, the roads would reopen.

“The decision of the panel has to be unanimous,” Conservative Phil Bibby told the Herts Ad. “And there has to be 100 per cent attendance at the relevant board meeting.”

Asked what would happen if the board was not unanimous, he replied: “We take it all away and go away.”

Lib Dem Helen Campbell told a public meeting last month that residents in her North St Albans ward had been “very, very badly affected” by displaced traffic - but she had been excluded from the decision-making panel.

She told St Albans Council’s City Neighbourhoods Committee: “I wish I were a member of the board. I can’t explain why I’m not a member of the board. I wasn’t asked.”

After the Herts Ad asked why she had been excluded, County Hall said last week that it would reconsider the board’s membership.

Cllr Campbell confirmed on Wednesday, October 6, that she had now been added.

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“There was a meeting yesterday and I was on that meeting,” she said.

Hertfordshire County Council closed parts of High Street, George Street and Market Place last year to enable social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some councillors had since asked to keep the roads closed to facilitate markets and al fresco dining.

But other elected members have received complaints that closing routes through the city centre has caused congestion and pollution in surrounding residential areas.

Cllr Bibby said a date had not yet been set for the board to meet and make its final decision.

“We will not actually consider the proposals unless the district council’s Public Realm Committee has given consent,” he added.

Conservatives have tabled a motion for next week’s St Albans full council meeting, asking councillors to request that the roads are reopened until detailed evidence is gathered – including traffic modelling, a survey of all city centre businesses and a “comprehensive” public consultation.

For more, read:

City centre road closures are blocking ambulances, meeting hears

Lib Dems: City centre road closures are blighting neighbourhoods