Monday 23 July 2012

New Parking Restrictions In Bluehouse Hill, St Albans - Are You Aware?

In November 2010, the local council decided to erect signs, making it illegal to park on grass verges on Bluehouse Hill, one of the local roads close to the busy Verulamium Park in St Albans. However, unable to clarify where drivers would park instead, the council dithered over alternative arrangements and decided to reverse the ban, thus covering up the signs and enabling people to continue to park in Bluehouse Hill for the time being. As well as a big tourist spot, Verulamium Park is a haven for dog walkers, keep fit fanatics, nature lovers and families all year round. However, in the spring/summer, it is a huge spot for families as it boasts a splash park, lake, playground, cafe, ample green space and is just generally a fab free place to hang out in the summer.

After a good year of having the signs up on Bluehouse Hill, this month, after issuing warnings to local residents, the council has made a u-turn and uncovered the signs, making it illegal to park on the pavements or grass verges in Bluehouse Hill St Albans from the 2nd of July 2012. This ban is designed to reduce damage to the verges and to prevent accidents on one of the busy main thoroughfares into the city.

Despite the signs being up since the 2nd of July, people have continued to park on Bluehouse Hill over the last few weeks. Local people recently caused uproar in the local press when a charity event was held in the park and due to waterlogged free car parks, they parked on the grass verges, in front of the signs and accrued penalty charges. Their argument was that they shouldn't be penalised for parking there whilst they were raising money for charity. The local council has since agreed to make a donation to charity, but will not cancel the fines of those who were given them.

There has been abundant coverage in the local paper, on the local council website, on twitter and via other means in the local area on this issue over the last couple of years and more so since the parking enforcements came into place. You would think people would have got the message by now.....

So imagine my surprise when today, a beautifully hot sunny day and the first day of the summer holidays, I drove down Bluehouse Hill and found that an exceptionally high number of cars had parked on the grass verges - right in front of the signs that expressly prohibit them from doing so. 

On a warm day like today, anything up to 100,000 people will use Verulamium park and the surrounding areas, so I understand that these people may have trouble finding somewhere to park, but it almost seems, after all this time of the council telling people they cannot park here, that local residents and visitors to the park are voting literally with their cars to tell the local council what they think about this issue. Do drivers think they are above the law? Or is their excitement at seeing the sun in the sky for the first time in weeks marring their judgement?

Well, I'm going to make a suggestion to all those who have not yet been deterred from parking here:


Clear enough for you? It looks like it could be a field summer of commission for the local traffic wardens if not.

So where could you park instead?
  • Verulamium Car Park - An NCP Payg carpark close to the park. 
  • Westminster Lodge Car Park - The first three hours are free and then you have to pay after this.
  • The Town Centre Car Parks - Cheaper on a Sunday than in the week, Drovers Way, Christopher Place and The Maltings Car Parks are all about a fifteen minute walk to the park from here.]
  • The Verulam/St Stephens Estate - This does seem to be where most local people are tending to park as it is free and there are currently no parking restrictions in place. A ten minute walk away, this estate is turning into a nightmare to park during the weekends as everyone seems to have had the same idea. 
  • For more information on parking available in St Albans, see the local Council Website
What do you think of the new parking restrictions? Do you agree? Have you been hit with a fine?

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