Festival threat averted as County Councillor steps in

June 15, 2014 12:00 AM
By Cllr Paul Zukowskyj

The summer festival (28th and 29th June) at St Mary's Church, North Mymms, open to all as a community fun day, was recently under threat because of health and safety concerns over the access road to the church.

The road, a 'patchwork quilt' of repairs, potholes and ruts, was concerning organisers as a serious trip hazard for people attending the festival, especially the elderly, who would have to use the road to walk between the church and other festival events.

St Mary's Churchwardens approached Hertfordshire County Council's Highways officers to see if they could get the road fixed, only to be told that the road wasn't 'adopted' and therefore wasn't the Council's responsibility. The Church would have to find the funds themselves to repair the road if they wanted it to be made safe.

A local road repair company quoted the Church over £2300 pounds for the critical safety works on the access road. This would have to come from Church coffers, already squeezed by other costs, putting the safety of festival goers at risk if not completed or reducing funds available for other good causes the Church supports.

The Churchwardens approached local Lib Dem County Councillor Paul Zukowskyj to see if he could help.

Paul agreed to fund the safety-critical repairs from his Locality Budget, designed to support worthy causes across Hatfield South and Welham Green.

Paul commented "Whilst I'm delighted to be able to help such a worthy cause and ensure the safety of festival goers, I'm deeply frustrated that HCC are not doing this work. I've seen documents held by the Church and there's no doubt in my mind this road is the responsibility of the County Council.

"Having to spend my locality budget on this is annoying, there's lots of other things I'd rather spend it on, but HCC's processes are so difficult to work through, there's no way this would get sorted in time. The ONLY option was to use my Locality Budget to deliver these repairs in time for the festival.

"I'll be taking the council to task over this in the coming months. They need to properly repair the road so that people attending weddings, christenings, funerals and the regular services at the Church can do so in safety. It seems incredible to me that the County Council thinks an access road to a Church shouldn't be considered a road used by the whole community. This is what we pay our council tax for, exactly this sort of work."