Trials for the pedestrianisation of St Albans city centre will still go ahead this summer despite opposition councillors claiming it would negatively impact emergency services.

The controversial road closures will return in June and last for around a year, St Albans District Council said, outlining its timetable for the schemes.

Initially, the trials were set to begin in April but the first of these will now begin later in the summer and will also assess any impact on traffic, air quality and the city’s businesses.

The first trial will include the closure of George Street seven days a week, alongside a weekend closure of High Street. Both roads will only be open to vehicles during 7am-11am for access to properties and businesses. A loading bay will also be used along Verulam Road.

This trial would run for approximately six months, before High Street is then closed seven days a week, as it was during the Covid pandemic. This is expected to begin in December 2022, and run into summer 2023.

Market Place has remained closed even as all other restrictions were lifted over the winter, and will stay shut for the duration of the trials.

Earlier this month, the council's overview and scrutiny committee concluded emergency services would be "negatively impacted" by the closures after hearing from a member of the service and receiving a letter from the fire service, but the council leader and Hertfordshire County Council said this evidence would only be known after trials had taken place.

District council leader Chris White says he asked the chief executive of East of England Ambulance Service at a recent county council meeting about the trials.

Cllr White said Tom Abell told the health and scrutiny meeting he was not aware the trust had commented on the pedestrinisation of St Albans and said that any issues are "solvable" as long as emergency services are consulted.

Cllr White claimed the fire service had also felt they'd been "misled" by the trial schemes. He added: "To suggest that even the ambulance trust is saying positively there is a problem with response times is simply not the case. There are downsides to the scheme, we know that, and I’m acutely conscious as a county councillor that some of my residents think it’s brilliant, some of them think it’s terrible and there’s another third pile in the middle.

"The one thing that isn’t relevant, as far as we know yet, is response times. We will find out when those blue light services give evidence and take questions from those who actually have a relevance to this particular project, not councillors from outside the city who are clearly no friends of this city."

The county council says final decisions on pedestrianisation, which was initially introduced for social distancing reasons but is now part of the council's 'high street recovery' programme, will be made in June 2023.

During the trials, the council will use sensors in the High Street to anonymously track how people are using the space, with automatic traffic counts monitoring the number of vehicles in Folly Lane and Catherine Street, as well as speed and volume counts along King Harry Lane, Old London Road, Holywell Hill, Verulam Road, Carlisle Avenue and Waverley Road.

The county council will also monitor car park usage, surveying businesses, along with using Google data to track traffic issues across a wider area, as well as introduce sensors to assess the air quality in the city.