Action over Alban Way safety concerns

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News release: 15 January 2019

Hertfordshire’s police force is to be asked to retain safety on the Alban Way – a 6.5-mile-long cycling and walking route – as a priority.

Alban Way
The request is in response to a 1,220-signature petition to St Albans and City Council calling for improvements to security.

The petition was sparked by reports of occasional antisocial behaviour on the trail – that follows an old railway line between St Albans and Hatfield - including an assault.

It called on the Council to introduce CCTV cameras along the pathway to monitor activities and deter offenders.

Councillors on the Council’s Community Safety Working Group were tasked with considering the suggestion.

At its meeting on Thursday 10 January, the Group discussed various safety options before making a number of recommendations.

Councillors were told that temporary CCTV cameras had been installed in the autumn at a known troublespot, the junction with Hill End Lane.

However, placing permanent CCTV cameras along the route - which officers calculated would cost £505,000 - would breach a national code of practice.

This was because the number of reported crimes was relatively low and did not amount to “a pressing need”.

Installing lighting along the entire length was another safety option presented to the Group.

This would cost around £500,000 with finance also required to pay for the resultant energy bills and maintenance.

The Group recommended that Councillor Salih Gaygusuz, the Portfolio Holder for Business and the Community, should investigate further measures to improve user safety. These might include lighting at key sections.

Cllr Gaygusuz has been asked to submit a report about his findings to the Thursday 7 March meeting of the Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee

The Group also called on Hertfordshire Constabulary to retain policing the Alban Way with regular patrols as a neighbourhood priority.

They also gave their support to the recent installation of the temporary CCTV cameras.

The Group agreed to consider Alban Way safety again at its next meeting on Tuesday 23 July.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, the Chair of both the Working Group and the Scrutiny Committee, said: “It is not often that the Council gets a petition of this magnitude and it’s vital that we listen to the concerns of our residents and respond to them

“The petition shows there is widespread concern that the Alban Way - one of our most treasured community assets - has become unsafe, particularly at night.

“There may not be a strong enough case for installing CCTV, but clearly we should investigate other effective measures, working with the local community to ensure pedestrians, cyclists, joggers and dog walkers can make use of the Alban Way without fear of being attacked or abused.

“The Group has called on the Portfolio Holder to urgently investigate what can be done and we have asked him to report back to us with a plan of action. We will be expecting him to map out the way forward.”

Councillor contact:
Anthony Rowlands, Chair of the Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee: 07761-232064; anthonyrowlands@hotmail.com

Media contact: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council: 01727-296130; john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk