Angry residents question Harpenden Town Council's lack of public consultation on fencing in Marquis Lane

A Harpenden couple has slammed the town council for erecting a fence on a green space without any public consultation.

Pip Martyn and Paul Howe say the last four years have been a nightmare due to the "incompetence" of Harpenden Town Council after it installed a fence and a gate on a green space in Marquis Lane, without consulting residents.

Ms Martyn said the fence does not address the parking problems in the area after residents have complained about cars parking outside homes along Marquis Lane or on grass verges to visit the local beauty spot.

The 42-year-old said: "All of a sudden a fence and gate appeared - it’s bizarre.

"We don’t understand why residents were not consulted and they just made the decision regardless - it’s an undemocratic process.

"Not only does it not address parking issues, it is also providing a climbing frame for the children nearby a busy highway. It is very dangerous and fails to address safety issues as they say it should."

The fence has since been removed because it does not meet planning regulations due to its height.

However town council clerk John Bagshaw said the fence will be re-installed to meet height requirements and was initially erected to "protect the integrity of an amenity area."

Mr Bagshaw said: "The purpose of the knee rail fence was to prevent children from going in the road.

"The fence was installed because cars were driving on the recreation ground to go for picnics near the children’s play area, which was hazardous. "It is parents' responsibility to stop children climbing on the fence. I suggest they contact social services."

To add to further upset the couple say since the town council took over ownership of the land in 2011 they have failed to address the parking issues in the area.

The land was previously owned by St Albans District Council and following a public consultation, led by the district council in July 2011, residents were told grasscrete bays would be discussed as an option at a future public consultation.

However the consultation has not taken place and since that meeting ownership of the land was transferred to the town council.

Ms Martyn said: "During our third consultation over parking in the area, it was agreed grasscrete bays would be discussed.

"Harpenden Town Council was asked to honour the outcome of this meeting which they agreed to.

"This also included other smaller works which could take place beforehand including marking out the car park, yellow lines on the bend and junction.

"Residents just assumed work was progressing very slowly. However we still haven’t heard anything and instead a fence and gate have appeared.

"It has been a total nightmare - me and Paul have spent around four years trying to sort this out and we feel as though we have been misled. We have lived here for almost 18 years now and it has been really stressful.

"This really does show their incompetence."

However Mr Bagshaw denies the town council honoured the meeting where it was agreed grasscrete bays would be discussed.

He said: "The public meeting was in July 2011 and the town council were transferred the land in May 2012.

"We didn’t honour anything because the town council didn’t own the land.

"If the offer was genuine by the district council, why didn’t they introduce the parking bays when they owned the land?" Maria Stagg, manager for legal, democratic and regulatory services at the district council, said the funding was not available for grasscrete bays.

She said: "A number of options were discussed with residents at the public meeting in July 2011. The options included the possibility of creating a small grasscrete area in Marquis Lane.

"No agreement was made at the meeting to implement this option as it was subject to the availability of suitable funding from outside the District Council. That funding was not forthcoming."

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