Crusade after "botched" St Albans roadworks

Councillor Sandy Walkington and residents association member Robert Pankhurst inspect the damage on College Street with other residents

Councillor Sandy Walkington and residents association member Robert Pankhurst inspect the damage on College Street with other residents

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Shocked St Albans residents say a botched road repair has destroyed important historical stonework and left a "total mess" - despite the county council sending contractors back to finish the job properly.

Meanwhile, residents have faced more road work agony as a freshly resurfaced collection of roads in the city were dug up again by national grid.

Abbey Precincts residents association has taken the fight to county councillor Sandy Walkington - who said he is on a "crusade" to improve the quality of road repairs.

College Street was resurfaced a couple of weeks ago, and the contractor tarmacked over the "beautiful" granite setts at the edge of the road.

The resurfacing work, commissioned by Hertfordshire County Council, was carried out by Euvoria.

Robert Pankhurst lives in College Street and is secretary of the Abbey Precincts residents association.

The 72-year-old said he was "very upset" about the repair works and the affect it has on the conservation area. He said: "The whole thing was a total mess.

"Most roads in the area have similar stone in the gutter and any contractors should be made aware the historical value. We were shocked to see the stone had been covered with asphalt."

After complaints to the county council, the contractors were sent back to try and preserve the gutter.

But Mr Pankhurst, a retired geologist, said it made the situation worse. He continued: "The contractors came back unsupervised and used a grinding machine to take off the asphalt - wrecking the surface of stone underneath.

"We have not heard back from the council in two months but hope something will be done soon. I hope something like this does not happen again."

In the Cottonmill area, pavements in Sadleir Road and Boleyn Drive were re-laid by the council only to be almost immediately dug up by national grid gas.

The patching work afterwards was done to a "very poor standard" and where the new pavements had not been dug up, residents say the contractors’ machinery left huge gouge marks in the surfaces.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Sandy Walkington said: "When I speak to residents, they are fed up with lick and promise jobs which start to crumble almost immediately.

"Of course they should be done right first time - but it’s equally important that they aren’t allowed to get away with a botched repair.

"In my St Albans South county council division, there are two recent examples where in conjunction with local residents I have been able to demand that bad workmanship is rectified.

"Part of my patch is the conservation area round the Abbey. Residents are rightly required to jump through hoops whenever they repair or alter their properties.

"So the councils should be applying similar standards to themselves.

"I’m glad to say that the stone gutters in College Street, so important to the integrity of the street, are now going to be restored - which is avictory for the residents.

"In the Cottonmill area it is frustrating because we were not given enough notice for the works. We would not have resurfaced the area if we’d known.

"I demanded a meeting on site with all the different players, we agreed it was not good enough, and the pavements are all going to be resurfaced at National Grid Gas expense."

National Grid has agreed to resurface the pavements in Sadleir Road and Boleyn Drive.

Councillor Walkington added: "I hope in both cases contractors and utilities will get the message - we’re not going to stand for bodging and second-rate repairs, whether granite setts in the conservation area or simple tarmac elsewhere.

"Residents who work so hard to look after their homes and gardens deserve s similar quality of care when it is applied to their public realm. The challenge is getting repairs done right first time. Second rate work is not good enough."

Hertfordshire County Council spokesperson Andrew Dawson said: "While the original works by our contractor Eurovia represented the best solution from an engineering perspective, they did not take account of the historic stones.

"We apologise if this has caused any upset to residents, with whom we have met and assured that any issues with the stones and aesthetics of the road will be rectified as quickly as possible."

Sara Wilcox at National Grid said: “National Grid recently carried out essential gas mains replacement work in Sadleir Road and Boleyn Drive to secure safe and reliable gas supplies to residents for decades to come.

"We are sorry if people felt there was insufficient notice of this work.” 

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