St Albans Times issue 68

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A substantial detached family home, boasting2400sq ft of accommodation, with a lengthy well tended garden backing onto woodland Located in a sought after location of Park Street, within walking distance of lovely green spaces and good transport link, viewing is highly recommended.

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Editor's Note

There are a number of politicians out there who are quite happy to bombard us with demands we cover particular stories and seek certain comments without being prepared to stick their own heads above the parapet, so it is genuinely refreshing to see the new leader of SADC is not one of those

Not only is he outspoken, he is also opinionated and willing to take the flak for decisions made by his administration

Now I’m not for one moment saying that his predecessor did none of those things, just that it’s a positive start to his tenure that Paul de Kort is continuing this approach

What I can’t understand is why people become involved in politics, going to the effort of getting voted in at whatever level, and then disappear from public view until the next election.

Locally, Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has been notable only for his absence over the past seven years, and there are also many local councillors who hide away from the spotlight in much the same way

Surely they need to embrace the daily dramas we find unfolding throughout our community and do their bit to get involved? There’s no point becoming a public servant if you’re not going to serve the public

So to all our recently elected councillors, and those who have been quiet since gaining their seat, take a risk, offer your opinion, and get your name out there! Otherwise you’ll soon be forgotten by those who put you in office

This issue's contributors include:
Published by St Albans Media Partnership Ltd. TheStAlbansTimesanditsjournalistsarecommittedto abidingbytheEditors'CodeofPractice.Ifyouhaveany complaintsaboutthecontentofthismagazine,pleaseemail
Jon Wilson Cooper, Laura Bill, Darren McCabe, Karen Snook, Emma Kosh, Eris, Anna Shreeves, Stacey Turner.
Highlights 2-3 Property 6-12 Paul de Kort 18-20 The Boot 46-50 Write Now 52-53 Interiors 54-55 Family 57 Nostalgia 61-62 Wine 65 City Diary 66-68 Restaurant review 72 Feelings Forum
Toby Shepheard has been out and about photographing people enjoying the warmer weather, see picture spread in this week’s issue Image by Matt Fisher Photography

y g y p fanfare One of the other potential candidates, Cllr Helen Campbell, will continue in her role as deputy leader

Perhaps against expectations, there was no leadership contest, with Paul selected by his fellow Liberal Democrat councillorsincluding those newly elected - through a secret ballot What will follow at next week’s Full Council meeting is the selection of what is known as the Lead Councillor team, heading up the various committees, and then it’s noses on the grindstone… Before he became a teacher, Paul worked in the oil trade industry, and therefore has a background in team leadership –so how will he approach overseeing the SADC administration? p y p

always say there are other people around here helping me make a decision, but that's not the same as saying I chuck them under a bus because it wasn't my decision, that's not how it works.”

With their main opposition coming from the Green & Independent group, the Tories having been whittled down to just three councillors, it’s arguably more difficult to present opposing viewpoints to policy proposals

“It's certainly not easy having more limited opposition because of all the accusations which you ' re well aware of being thrown around ’We won't listen to anyone because we can do what we like’. ‘Other voices aren't being heard’. I massively contest that.

“The Conservatives don't get out on the doorstep I have some understanding why they don't, given the reception they get, but by the same token, we do get out and we talk to people and not surprisingly you get some people saying, ‘You’re not doing the right thing, why haven’t you thought about that?’ That’s a good thing but that's where you ' ve still got to be open to people

“I think what I'm keen to do as a group is actually talk to that full range of people. I think social media’s got a lot of strengths, but there's only a select group of people who will talk about political matters on social media

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in a limited amount of time campaigning and getting elected is that you can really only find that out by talking to a wide range of people. The various interest groups like the Harpenden Society, the Civic Society, CPRE, they’re all an important voice, but there are more people living in the district who aren’t a member of any of those, and you have to think about the other voices

“I think it's really important in the debate about housing, for example We all know there's a massive national and local housing crisis But for many of the people who suffer from that, their voices are harder to hear.

“I also think more account should be taken of the forgotten communities within the district, as psychologically it’s much harder to live in an affluent area when you ' re not affluent.

“For obvious practical reasons, everything costs more, rents cost more, etc but also just people's perception, for example if you can’t afford for your kids to go to the cinema with their friends then that's a different sort of cultural exclusion There are pockets of relative deprivation here, nothing like as bad as some parts of the country, but it’s still there

“I’m sure you ’ ve seen the sort of literature and social media the Lib Dems put out, but we do talk about the whole community rather than just interest groups, and I just think we have a really good record of talking to people and finding out what they want ”

One of the biggest challenges faced by the district council is piercing through the soundbites and suggestions surrounding the new National Planning Policy Framework, and applying them practically to a new Local Plan

“If you ’ re told you can’t put houses on a plot of land which is effectively brownfield or previously developed, like the rail freight terminal site, you think OK that’s a national decision, but how can we have a situation where the national government is setting top-down targets and also saying we should not build on the Green Belt because it’s politically appropriate.

“I think most people agree we should build on brownfield sites first, but we don’t have many We’re not the industrial North where there are old steelworks and mines, we ’ ve never been very industrial as a district so we just don’t have those sites

“We talk about community and devolution on a more national scale, and I would welcome local authorities having much greater tax-raising powers That’s not the same as increasing taxes, it’s being able to make long-term decisions about what is funded

“One of the elements that people don’t grasp, and it took me a while when I became a county councillor, is that developers’ contributions in infrastructure under Section 106 agreements always have to be capital.

“It’s always somethin lik b ildi l h b ib i a new school But it’s for the building, and the county council sa “So you need the rev not saying taxes shou locally.

“In Bristol, 6 per cent businesses goes to Br just over 30 per cent some extent determin The local governmen funding agreed by th the whims of the Gov “It's ridiculous I mea moment It's actually as it’s just before Chr “We want to see the o that ”

The growth of social officers, something P can’t reply to posts on “What you get, and I' Because you are sayin cannot respond. The get back to people, fo huge pressure

“For example, there was criticism during the election campaign that the planning department was failing But we were not making the wrong decisions, we weren’t making them fast enough in one particular category SADC has the most planning applications of anywhere in the country, and has done for quite a few years, which is a huge workload, but at the same time St Albans is just about the worst place in the country to hire a planning officer because it’s so expensive to live here and they can get paid more in the London boroughs or the private sector “So is it difficult being a council officer? Yes it is ”

Apart from the criticism of the planning department, Paul is also unhappy with the way the Conservatives focused on SADC’s late accounts in their campaign literature.

“The people who were writing that, who were stirring it up, absolutely know what the real story is, and it's nothing to do with this council. It's a national problem, just Google it, it’s not just councils either, it’s hospitals as well, all public sector bodies are having trouble with the way we ’ ve been told to calculate our accounts, and everyone knows it’s nonsense and needs to be resolved at Parliamentary level

“For example, somebody said ‘Wow there’s a big difference between St Albans’ accounts and the auditors of £30m, so they must have lost £30 million’ That was over the value we put on our housing stock, they didn’t say we were wrong, they just said they’d come up with a different number

“We’ve got 4,800 social houses, think how many billions that is worth, and the difference is £30 million Now I don't know if you have a house, but when do you want to know the market value of your house? When you sell it. We're not planning to sell any of our stock so it doesn't matter

“If they'd have said we ' ve lost 100 houses, we'd let somebody steal them and walk off and they'd been turned into a factory, that's a proper criticism

“It's all a nonsense and it’s all down to the privatisation of what used to be called the Audit Commission, the public body was set up to audit all these public sector organisations, hospitals, fire services, local councils. In 2015, Eric Pickles decided he'd let it be privatised, and it's been an absolute fiasco since

“But it’s nothing to do with this council's officers, and that's the one that's made me so cross, because there's been a sort of suggestion, that our finance people are not doing their job, they’re too lazy, they don't know how to do it, they’re incompetent, when you know that's not true, and if you don't know it's not true you should have asked somebody else who would tell you very quickly.”

The importance of getting a Local Plan in place cannot be ignored, as the district faces an onslaught of speculative development: “We see a lot of negatives from a Local Plan, people think we are committed to all these houses, but if we don’t have a Local Plan, every single house that will get built will be a five-bedroom executive house with no infrastructure

“In our Local Plan we have spelt out already that once you get a certain number of houses there will be this much social housing. This is the provision

“Without the Local Plan, developers can come along and say, I've built a thousand houses here, I'll do this affordable thing, that's 20% cheaper than too much, but social housing is social rent, which is set at a different level.

(Above) Former leader Chris White at his leaving party

“Now, I would like more social housing in that package than we ' re going to get, but there's another thing called a viability test which comes from the Government which says you can’t stop houses being built around you by putting the costs up so high the developers won't build them ”

Did he get any advice from Chris when he handed over the reins of power? “Not specifically. The advice I got was very much about one or two people you need to talk to, like you, they'll be quite useful

“But we ' ve been working together for quite a long time – and I mean people like myself, Helen Campbell, Jacqui Taylor – and it wasn’t a surprise when Chris stepped down Remember that he became council leader in 2019 in a minority administration, which has its own issues, and then Covid comes along, so there's understandably a huge amount of directed focus. What is the leader and what is the council going to do about these things?

What I would say is he said to all of us is that he's not the power behind the throne or anything

“He knows that the power has moved on, and it’s with us, and we had conversations for quite a while about how this was likely to go down How was more important than who took over, and that’s what was agreed on for a long time ”

So what are going to be his other priorities as leader?

“It’s going to be communities first, that’s the centrepiece, and obviously environment, which we must lead on I like the phrase I must have picked it up from an American politician recently, who said, ‘You can't teach temperance from the barstool’

“People say, ‘You do all this, what does it really matter, the planet's going to hell anyway?’ But you simply cannot say, well it's a bit too difficult for us, it’s a bit awkward and some people don’t like it, and then tell other people we ’ ve got to sort the planet out So we ’ re going to do our bit, but we ’ ve got to stage that

“Then there’s business. We’re not going to subsidise every business that’s closing, but it’s about making the district a place where businesses will be able to thrive because they'll know it’s a community that's cohesive, they're going to have quality open spaces, that the bins get collected, the leisure centres are working ”

Having come out of an election still very much in the majority as a party, with popular support behind the Lib Dems, what is he looking forward to moving forwards?

“I'm looking forward to continuing to do what we ' ve done, which is show a Lib Dem council can make tough decisions and run things properly I'd also like there to be a second Lib Dem MP represented, and there’s some really interesting, positive things that we ' re going to be saying very soon, and I think that will point to the fact that things are going in the right direction

“I’m looking forward to seeing a replacement for Telford Court agreed, I’m pretty confident we’ll soon get people into Jubilee Square, I’m looking forward to getting the Local Plan resolved “It was a tremendous achievement to balance the budget and I can absolutely defend the things we did, and I can absolutely defend the things we didn't do ”


Sopwell schools are embracing five-day walking challenge

Children attending Sopwell schools are doing their bit for the environment and for their health and wellbeing in this year's Walk to School Week: May 20-24. St Peter's School, Mandeville Primary School, St Adrian's Catholic Primary School, and Old London Road Preschool are all taking part in the five-day walking challenge. Class activities and assemblies are planned in the school settings, with resources from Living Streets, who organise this annual national event.

Colourful banners celebrating the week will be on display inside and outside the schools and are provided by Sopwell eco-stars – which is a sub-group of Sopwell Residents Association, with a grant from Hertfordshire Community Foundation. Kate Swindells, from Sopwell eco-stars said: “Our small group usually focuses on events such as local repair fairs and sustainable cooking events, but we also have a lively community network, including schools, and we wanted to help encourage young people and their parents to move towards more active transport.

“It really makes a difference – to health, and to the environment - when parents can replace short car journeys with walking, where possible. We’re delighted that the take-up of our offer of banners has been so positive in Sopwell schools, and that we can use our grant to encourage a more environmentally sustainable way to get to school in the morning!”

Mandy Zawadzka, deputy head of St Peter's said: "Walking to school is more sociable with some exercise being a great way to start the school day, helping with concentration and focus. It helps families to try out more environmentally friendly travel and benefits the children’s health.”

For families driving from further away, the Cottonmill Community and Cycling Centre welcomes parents to park up there and walk/wheel the remaining distance to school.


As this article goes to press, we’ll be midway through Mental Health Awareness Week 2024.

We happen to believe that everyone needs to be aware of our mental health all year round – which is why we support Youth Talk They provide free, confidential counselling to 13–25-year-olds in our own city and district of St Albans they do amazing work to young people when they really need it

We also know that running a business can be really tough It can be isolating, scary and full- on exhilarating all at once! We were so pleased to see that Jen Smith (aka The Curious Mentor and/or DigitalJen) has brought Netwalks to St Albans

These free monthly walks (on different days each week because were all busy at different times) are enabling people from all sizes of business, charities and other organisations to go for a walk together, have a chat and have a coffee afterwards The aim is to help improve our mental health by getting outside moving more and appreciating our beautiful city

As the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is

movement (see where we ’ re going here), Youth Talk are joining forces with the Netwalk this month – and would love you to join them The walk is held at Clarence Park starting at 10am on May 21 The walk will be gentle – dogs and small people in pushchairs are welcome and will be followed by coffee and cake at Verdis at 11am

Although we can’t be there (plenty of eye examinations to do and a shop to keep open!) we’ll be sponsoring the coffee for this event Hopefully doing our bit to encourage you to move more get away from your desk make new connections and look after your mental health

Verdis are providing the cakes and if you cant make the walk, do pop in for the coffee and chat at 11am

Jen’s leading the walk, ably assisted by Gavin Bray from Heartwood Glass

We’ve still got their St Albans collection for sale in the shop – with a proportion of their profits being donated to Youth Talk

Full details of the walk are at thecuriousmentorcom/Netwalks – please do book your place there so they know how much cake is needed!

We’re stronger together – and we ’ re proud to be part of that



St Albans High School for Girls merger is announced

St Albans High School for Girls (STAHS), STAHS Prep and Stormont School - an independent girls’ prep school in Potters Bar - are to merge in September to form the St Albans Education Group.

The schools have enjoyed a decades-long relationship, and the merger provides an exciting opportunity to further develop their already close ties through a more formal partnership, widening opportunities for all three schools. The essential character and ethos of the schools will remain unchanged, and so will the experience of parents and pupils. The rationale behind the merger is focussed on bringing together two similar institutions to operate under one umbrella so they can share support, expertise and resources in order to help all of the schools in the group to continue delivering an outstanding educational for years to come. The new group will be led by STAHS current head, Amber Waite, head of STAHS since 2019, as founding principal. She will be supported by Drew Thomson-Jones as acting head of senior, Mike Bryant who will continue as head of STAHS Prep and Louise Martin, who will remain as head of Stormont School.

Louise Martin said: “This is an exciting new chapter in both our schools’ histories. At a time when independent schools face greater challenges than ever before, we are bringing together two similar institutions to operate under one umbrella and continue to improve, the outstanding educational opportunities we deliver for all our pupils.”

Amber Waite, who takes up her role in September, added: “With both STAHS and Stormont in good financial health, the St Alban Education Group’s focus will be on the development of a new, group-wide development strategy to ensure that each school continues to offer a world-class girls’ education in topquality, purpose-built facilities that support their academic, social, and co-curricular development and all-round wellbeing.”

(Top) St Albans High School for Girls, (above) STAHS Prep, (far left) Louise Martin and (right) Amber Waite

Looking back over 20 years at The Boot for father and son team

Since they took over The Boot two decades ago, father and son team Will and Sean Hughes reckon the pub has sold more than 2 2 million pints

Last week they were presented with a Dedication Award from owners Star Pubs in recognition of their milestone anniversary and the £200,000 they have raised on behalf of the local community.

We caught up with Sean to reflect on the past 20 years, and find out more about their plans to celebrate the time running the hostelry

Flashback to 2004, and Sean was running The Stable Door in old Welwyn village when Will noticed The Boot was up for sale.

“Dad, myself and a few friends went to have a look at The Boot and fell in love with the building We decided to put an offer in with the owners of The Stable Door. The pub was in a pretty poor condition when we took it over and in a transitional period of ownership which meant it wasn’t looked after It had one beer on tap, no real ales and seven fruit machines

“It even had an acrow [a vertical support system] holding up the ceiling - something which cost tens of thousands of plans and eight years of planning consultations to repair with, you guessed it, a permanent acrow with a brick pillar in the cellar!

“Although it had been very busy in the past, the year leading up to my family buying The Boot had been very quiet ”

Once they took over the lease, the Hughes swiftly removed all the fruit machines, and installed 10 real ale pumps and eight draught lines to ensure they could serve the perfect pint

Drawing on his experiences at The Stable Door, Sean introduced a high-quality wine list using similar products to the Welwyn restaurant to attract a new clientele

They also started serving food, featuring a traditional menu for lunch and dinner with a focus on fresh fish

“Our Ploughman’s soon became famous!” Sean recalls

The more recent Mexican-inspired kitchen came about during the pandemic when they had to introduce an evening menu to adhere with Covid restrictions after re-opening

Head chef Lloyd Pell had always had a passion for authentic Mexican cooking and decided St Albans needed some decent tacos so The Boot Cantina was born

But changing perceptions was not as easy as changing barrels: “It took a number of years to change people’s opinion of the pub as it had a bad reputation when we took it over, but we changed that with by starting a Tuesday night music club, listening to the community, introducing a good menu and huge support from

locals so it was eventually thriving again

“Over the years we have won many awards, been part of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, made many friends and even seen new family members ”

Looking after a Grade II-listed pub with such a rich history must surely carry a weight of responsibility?

“It is an honour looking after this building and has taken a lot of work to keep in in good order to ensure it is here for many generations to come

“We have been trying to find out who has run the pub over the years and we have met many landlords - including the son of one of the landlords that ran the pub during the Second World War

“The history is immense, and being on the battlefield of the War of The Roses, we were the first pub in the UK to be honoured by the Battlefield Trust a few years ago.

“We have been lucky to have many favourite customers, people who we first met 20 years ago who still come back today, and it is amazing to still hold onto that community. We have had amazing bands play and many famous visitors including The Hairy Bikers ”

Considering The Boot dates back to the 15th century, Sean is open to the possibility of paranormal activity occurring within the pub’s walls.

“During the three years that I lived above The Boot there were many noises, bangs and unexplained changes in atmosphere

“I was once told that the wood in old buildings reacts like a tape cassette by holding sounds and releasing them so maybe that is a more rational explanation

“One of the most interesting things that has happened during our tenure was a phone call on a busy Saturday lunch from a lady in Tasmania who had been researching her family and discovered in the mid-19th century that her great-great-great grandfather tried to murder somebody upstairs

“Luckily he was unsuccessful but as punishment for attempted murder he was sent to Tasmania at the age of 17

“Her whole family came to The Boot to visit and see the room where the attempted murder took place It’s incredible to think about the impact that one night made to her entire family growing up in Tasmania rather than England.”

Looking back over the past 20 years, how have things changed?

“There are many similarities to now as when we had first opened, it is a place for locals and visitors to the city and sits proudly next to the Clock Tower in one of the oldest parts in St Albans. The building itself hasn’t changed but gone are the days when the price of a pint was under £3 When we first arrived you could get four pints of ale for £9 60!

“I feel that there are too many people to thank for their support over this time, but it would be impossible to not mention the incredible Jody Lloyd who managed the pub for way over half of the time we have had it We have been blessed to have had some amazing people work with us over the years and Lloyd Pell has been with us for nearly 13 of those years too!”

So how has it been working alongside your dad? “Oh God I thought you would ask this Between a nightmare and a privilege ha ha. It has been amazing working with Dad but we have very different management styles - we have hurled many a plate, beer, spatula at each other over the years!

“Dad loves real ale and music, he’s given The Boot its character and as a family we ’ ve loved the privilege of running the pub over many years Working with family is always a challenge but always good to finish the day with.”

To thank residents for their support and mark their 20th anniversary they are kicking off a year-long campaign to raise money for the charity St Albans Community Pantry, which collects surplus food from supermarkets and offer it to those in need through a community fridge and bread pantry

Sean explained why they chose to support this particular good cause: “We have worked with them for a couple of years They are a lifeline for some members of our community and all their volunteers work incredibly hard to support the vulnerable We want to make sure that they are able to continue providing this support.

“We have a year of events planned, including music events, food events, all finishing on the 5th May 2025 (Cinco De Mayo) where we will present St Albans Community Pantry with our funds raised. Keep an eye on our website and Instagram for more information at the beginning of June

“One of our charity days will bring back some familiar friendly faces from the team over the past 20 years. One definitely NOT to miss!”

Sean added some final thoughts on their time at the pub: “We never thought we’d be here this long but we can’t imagine life without The Boot now It’s like our home and our staff and customers are like extended family.

"St Albans has an incredible community spirit We can’t thank people enough for all the backing they’ve given the pub since we started.”

End to free parking set to go ahead despite public consultation

There will be no U-turn over controversial plans to eliminate free parking bays across the district, the new leader of SADC has confirmed Free car parks in Redbourn, Park Street and London Colney, and one and two hour bays across Harpenden town centre will all incur charges later this year

Although the initial cost of scrapping free parking bays and installing new signage is predicted to be in the region of £40K, fees would generate approximately £185K for 2024/25 and almost £268K in subsequent years Charging for free car parks would bring in £14,300 for the next financial year, and £66K per annum going forwards

Additionally, senior citizens parking permits will now be meanstested, so only pensioners on benefits are likely to qualify This is all revenue which has already been included in SADC’s budget for 2024-2025, alongside increases to the existing parking tariff structure which have already been introduced

A consultation on the plans is due to commence next month, but council leader Cllr Paul de Kort said it was not a matter of whether they go ahead or not, it was a necessary evil to balance the budget.

Addressing the issue of senior citizens permits, he said: “Firstly I totally get it when somebody's had something, and then they have it taken away Even if you could step outside it and look from a helicopter and say ‘Well really was that right in the first place?’

“Senior citizens parking permits don’t exist anywhere else in the country and we ' ve looked They were only brought in we think about 10-12 years ago so they hadn’t existed before and now they’re going to be means-tested, they haven’t all been taken away We've never known of a permit for a 45-year-old nursery assistant or any other low-paid worker helping the whole community That's never existed

“I totally get why people are resistant to it and feel they've lost something and I'll be absolutely clear that if we didn't face the financial position we were in we wouldn't be doing it ”

He elaborated on the importance of SADC keeping control over its finances: “The one thing worse than balancing the budget is definitely not balancing the budget, and that's horrendous You can see it with different councils – a 10 per cent increase in council tax in Birmingham, and the problems others have had –we would totally lose control over decision making.

“The car parks which the district council own are very valuable, but I tell you what is more valuable – more housing. Any plot of land in Harpenden and St Albans that you said you needed to get some money from, the most money you’ll get is to build more houses

“So if we failed to balance the budget and lost control of the council, effectively we’d go into something like administration, and the administrator would look at ways to raise some money fast They could then say, ‘Let’s sell those two car parks!’ People would say, ‘You can’t do that, what about parking?’ I’m sorry, your views would not count anymore, and that’s why we were determined that wasn’t going to happen on our watch ” He confirmed that the proposals were definitely going to go ahead, despite opposition, because they had no other choice

“There are three parts to parking increases this year, which add up to about a third of the total budget gap we ’ re making up About a third has already happened, that's parking charges going up above inflation It’s not quite a third, but about 20-25 per cent is the senior citizens permit changes, and the rest is free parking bays being charged for.

“We don’t know, and that’s why there’s a consultation, exactly how it’s going to look, it isn’t a consultation on whether we ’ re going to do it or not because it’s in a budget and the only way the senior officers signed off on our budget was by us saying we ’ re going to raise some money from this activity ”

Harpenden retailers and opposition politicians alike have said scrapping free parking in the town will have a detrimental effect on trade, but Paul doesn’t agree.

“OK, cards on the table, I hear this is going to destroy the High Street, but I don’t buy it I mean, put that in the context of I don’t want to do it because of what I’ve previously said, but if people say we ’ re going to ruin the High Street, I don’t see it

“I can’t take seriously the politicians who put out a leaflet that said we are going to turn Harpenden into a wasteland like St Albans city centre That was a gift to me, because I didn’t have to answer anything else in the leaflet when they put that out

“When the level of hyperbole is so high you ' ve got to say let's take a reasonable view of this So here's the thing, I haven't found any piece of research that says parking charges are a key deterrent to people going into town or city centres

“Certainly there are two things that are far more influential in terms of transport, just in terms of transport.

“One is access, can you get there? How easy is it to get into the town centre? And then secondly, can you park?

“When I travel around the country, and and we book a restaurant or something in a place I don’t know, I say ‘Is there some parking somewhere?’ I don't ask how much is it going to cost to park?

“If we were saying, we ' re actually going to reduce the parking spaces because we ' re going to put something else there, like houses, I would say that's a much stronger position to say it would damage the High Street.

“On top of that, I've heard people say, ‘Well, okay, I'll just go somewhere else where it's free car parking’ I just don't know where those places are you could drive to apart from Tesco in Hatfield, where it's still free

“Without getting too deep, I’ll talk a bit about free I don’t think anything’s free Milton Friedman famously said ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’, nothing’s really free

“I’ve got a neighbour who rents out his driveway to commuters using an app Nobody gets in touch with him and says, ‘Oh I see you ’ ve got a space on your driveway, we’d like to use it for nothing for the day, is that alright?’ and he then goes, ‘Yes, alright, come along’

“Disabled bays are staying, there are loading bays already, and the thing we have to be careful about is the short-term pick-up and drop-off spaces as there are a nursery and a school in the town

“I’m not dismissing the issue, but it’s overblown I would welcome it if somebody could show me a piece of well-put together research on the High Street that says a council put up car park charges near a city centre and it blew the whole place up That’s different from getting rid of all the parking spaces ”

So what do Harpenden residents think of the proposals?

Mary Tate, 79, says she objects to scrapping senior citizens parking permits as although house prices have gone up in the town, many locals are not actually wealthy.

“It’s ageist and discriminatory to take them away completely, and would be cheaper all round if they put up the cost of the permits to a level where it is viable for them to continue

“If they scrap free parking altogether it will kill the small High Street businesses.

“An awful lot of people I know don’t have a smartphone so can’t park, some are applying for disabled badges now or driving out of town to places they can park for nothing.”

Marie Cvetkovic, who has lived in Harpenden for over 30 years, said: “I feel horrified and helpless about what the local

council are trying to push through, for example, parking meters in the High Street? Really? Where will that start and end?

“We need to protect our Green Belt as the town is already oversubscribed on all levels Hopefully a campaign will stop this madness to ruin our town and drive us out.

Nigel Gardner, Conservative prospective Parliamentary candidate for Harpenden and Berkhamsted, has been campaigning against the plans

He said: “The means testing of pensioners' parking permits is something with which I profoundly disagree.

“It is simply wrong that those who have worked all their lives and paid their taxes should have their parking permits taken away.

“My inbox has been full of messages from Harpenden's senior citizens dismayed at this change

“The axing of the permits comes as the council also plans to cut free on-street parking bays and hike parking tariffs - all in all this is terrible for our hard-working, hard-pressed High Street businesses

“I’m calling on our Lib Dem colleagues to put our pensioners and high streets first and rethink these draconian changesand I’m happy to work with them to come up with better proposals ”

Parking fees have already gone up across the district
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For any professional rugby player, there will always be a point in your career when it’s time to hang up your boots, but exactly what you do afterwards is perhaps not as obvious. After tenures with major local clubs, plus a stint representing his native Wales, Will Harries made the perhaps surprising move into personal finance, working for St Albans-based Lumin Wealth.

His involvement in rugby started when he was in Wales with junior clubs Cowbridge and Llandaff. This then progressed when he moved to Millfield School in Somerset, but it wasn’t until he started his degree that he realised he could make it professionally. After receiving an offer to study sports science from Loughborough University, he established links with nearby Northampton Saints, signing for their Senior Academy.

“I think in my third season I broke into the first team and played a couple of games but Northampton had a lot of money, so they were getting lots of players in making it difficult to secure consistent game time. When I was there, they signed Shaun Lamont, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden, who played in similar positions to me, so while I was doing well it was hard to break through, and I thought, I really need to start getting consistent game time now.

“Because I’m Welsh, my end goal was always to play for Wales, I thought I was good enough and from the Saints conditioning, my fitness level was high, so it was just a case getting a bit of game time and a bit of exposure.

“I started looking for other clubs and signed for the [Newport Gwent] Dragons, and literally within six months I was paying for Wales. It was a different culture and different environment at Dragons.”

But despite initial promise, it wasn’t all plain sailing from the start and enroute to international status . He soon found he wasn’t being picked, and partly through the season, was told there would not be a contract for him the following year.

“My first game for Dragons, I'd had food poisoning two days before, but you can't have excuses in rugby. Even if they know you're ill, you either don't play, but if you decide to play, you've got to play well as there are no excuses.’

“So I didn't play that well in my first game and I felt like that was their first impression of me.”

But all that was to change when he appeared in a LV Cup game against the Saracens in January 2010, scoring two tries and being named Man of the Match.

“They played me in a game against Saracens, when they were at the Watford ground, which

was on Sky Sports. I was flying out to Vegas the next day for the [IRB] Sevens, so I was really fit, really sharp, because in Sevens you get to take people on all the time, in 15s you don't as often. We weren't expected to win that game so it was a huge bonus to play well and help the team win in a game like that. The following day I landed in Vegas and the Dragons team coach called me in the middle of the night and said there was a contract on the table for me as they really wanted me for the following season and that I would be starting against Ulster away the day after I landed back. He also added not to get injured in the meantime!

“So it literally went from nothing to everything.” In May 2010 he was selected to join the Welsh national rugby union team standby list for the summer, joining the full squad after Shane Williams pulled out injured, and going on to make his international debut against New Zealand, who were a powerhouse to be reckoned with.

“Playing for your country is amazing, especially out in New Zealand when they were like out and out the best team in the world. They basically just didn't lose back then. So yeah, it was a good place to go, and an amazing experience as well.

Will Harries playing for Ealing Trailfinders in the last few years of his career as a professional rugby player

“The culture out there is quite similar to Wales really, where rugby is everything. People would stop you in the street and say, ‘Oh you’re here with the Welsh squad, you know you’ll lose don’t you?’ It always ends with that!”

After New Zealand, he made his first international start against Australia, but then injury struck: “Just before the World Cup I did

my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] in my knee, so I was out for ages. That was the first major injury I’d ever had.

“When I came back I got back into the Dragons team and was picked for Wales against the Barbarians, which was a capped game. We played at the then-Millennium Stadium, now the Principality.

“I think I got 20 minutes, I didn’t really have much to do, but playing in that stadium is amazing anyway, I think it holds 75,000 when it’s full.”

It was to be his final game with the national team, and at the end of the 2013-14 season he finished with the Dragons, and focused on Wales Sevens aiming to play in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“That was an amazing experience. The village was like a campus and you’d see Usain Bolt walking around.”

He then spent five seasons with Championship team Ealing Trailfinders, at which time he began to consider his options for when he eventually retired from professional rugby.

“That’s when I really thought it's probably time to get a proper job because it's not like golf, you can't play rugby until you're 60, you have to work afterwards.”

Will was fortunate to have come away from sport without any really serious injuries.

“I avoided people rather than go straight into people. I did have two bad ones, my knee and then I snapped my Achilles tendon, that was my worst one, and they had to reattach that. I'll probably need a clean-up in my knee at some point, but other than that I'm okay.

“Being off injured does make you think and when I came back I was thinking, ‘Am I still as sharp now?’ So I moved up this way and signed for Ealing, who are in the Championship at the moment. My partner’s family lives around here, she got a job in London and while I was paying for Ealing that's when I started studying finance.”

He had met some financial advisors while playing, and although he did consider coaching, he realised it would be a similar lifestyle to playing, so decided on a completely different career path.

“What really gave me the idea was when an advisor came in and spoke to the team when I was at Ealing, and said, ‘We think you guys would be good for the company when you finish playing rugby’

“You get a lot of time off while you're playing rugby, so I started studying, getting experience, going to meetings in London and that was when I made the decision.

“From the experience I gained through working with an IFA, I really enjoyed the role and realised I was quite good at it, and it was at that point I knew it was the perfect career for me.

“I think being a professional athlete provides you with certain skills for any job - maybe I specifically suited financial advice because of how my brain works – the attention to detail is huge because when you're at that top level you can't make mistakes, you have to prepare to take on a different team each week, there’s high pressure to perform, and it’s just being really organised and disciplined, so there are particular skills you develop to survive.”

Having completed a Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, Will joined Lumin in 2020, using his skills to help clients streamline their financial situation, creating an efficient financial plan that is specific to their objectives and situation.

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Wildlife charity encourages residents to go 30 Days Wild

From butterfly spotting to barefoot yoga in one of St Albans’ wonderful parks, from listening to the dawn chorus to watching bats at dusk, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is inviting the local community to take part in 30 Days Wild and connect with nature this June

Over the past decade, millions of participants have benefitted from countless acts of wildness, and it is hoped even more people will take part this year with individuals and families, schools, businesses and care homes encouraged to sign-up for specific participation packs

Back in 2014, the inaugural year of the challenge, nationally 12,000 participants led the charge, whilst over half a million people signed up to take part last year 30 Days Wild has helped people to get outside, enjoy and connect with nature as part of their every-day lives - and there is scientific evidence that it has delivered many benefits for health and wellbeing

A study found a significant increase in people’s health, happiness, and connection to nature through participating in 30 Days Wild People reported feeling more relaxed, reduced stress levels, and a greater motivation to protect wildlife which lasted long after the campaign ended

Herts and Middlesex Trust engagement manager Heidi Mansell said: “This June promises to be a bumper 30 Days Wild as we celebrate 10 years of the UK’s biggest nature challenge, as well as the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s 60th anniversary year We would love to see people of all ages and abilities participating and enjoying the health and wellbeing benefits of getting closer to nature. Everyone who signs up gets a useful pack full of great ideas to inspire them to do a small, wild thing every day during June and there are some great freebies too, including packets of seeds

“June is a fantastic month to appreciate nature and the outdoors – there’s just so much to see at this time of year and hopefully we will get the weather to enjoy it too!

“In terms of some ideas, how about eating your breakfast outdoors, or setting a timer for one minute and listening to bird song? Simply watching the clouds from your window can provide a moment of peace and a connection with nature

“The live peregrine webcams at St Albans Cathedral are available for everyone to get a bird’s-eye view of chicks on the nest – if you haven’t tuned in already, why not take a look? Perhaps you could make a conscious effort to enjoy watching the bees and

A photographer snaps a photo of a marsh fritillary butterly. Photo:Tom Hibbert

butterflies in your school grounds, garden, neighbourhood, or local park? Maybe take a nature-inspired selfie and send it to your mates?

“How about doing something community-minded such as putting on some gloves and picking up the litter in your street or workplace, organising a plant swap with your neighbours or colleagues in the office, or meeting up with them at dusk for bat watching? You could make your 30 Days Wild a social occasion and get together with colleagues, friends or family for a local stroll, taking in what blooms, moves or makes a noise as you go?

“If you have the flexibility to get down low, you could take a closer look at the cracks in the pavement and watch the busy critters who live beneath our feet! There’s just so much you can do to suit your own circumstances and it needn’t take much time or money - I really can’t emphasise enough what you will get out of taking part and forging a deeper connection with our natural world ”

Here are some more specific ways to enjoy taking part in 30 Days Wild in St Albans:

Come along to the free, drop-in Peregrine Watch events, which the Trust is running in collaboration with the St Albans local RSPB Group, in the grounds of St Albans Cathedral and enjoy a close-up view of the birds through the binoculars and telescopes provided. Go to hertswildlifetrust org uk/events for more information

Visit the Trust’s Wildlife Garden in Verulamium Park and see if you can spot the newts in the pond – you certainly won’t be able to miss Willoughby, the giant hedgehog!

Get along to SustFest Expo being held at Alban Arena, from June 7-9 More information can be found at hertswildlifetrust org uk/events/sustfest-expo-2024

St Albans resident Lee Wood and his daughter took part in 30 Days Wild in 2023: “There was a time when thinking about a summer evening, my memories were of the smell of a barbecue and the distant hum of a lawnmower somewhere down the road

“30 Days Wild and the joy it has brought to my daughter and I now means that summer is now chasing butterflies, the sparkle of sunshine on the river, the smell of ripening berries and the taste of the ones not quite ready. We can recognise the sound of swifts, the rustle through the trees of the warm breeze and following the sound of a honey bee

“We’ve always loved being outside, but the challenge of finding new things to do, new stories to tell on our return home (complete with grass stains and mud!) gives my daughter and I a togetherness in nature which we’d never swap Summer is so much more when you embrace the world beyond the front garden and 30 Days Wild sets the stage for that.”

30 Days Wild encourages individuals, families, schools, and businesses to connect with nature on a daily basis during what many argue is the best month for wildlife spotting This year ’ s participants will receive a special 10th anniversary pack, targeted to their specific needs and designed to make their 30 days even more fun

To sign up to receive your free 30 Days Wild pack, please visit

A peregrine falcon at St Albans Cathedral Photo: Patrick Wainwright Willoughby the hedgehog. Photo: Debbie Bigg Stone painting Photo: Lee Wood Some of the different activities Lee Wood has enjoyed with his daughter


Coming face-to-face with a suspected serial poisoner might be the career-defining anecdote which most solicitors would dine out on for years to come, but for Peter Goodman it is just one of many fascinating stories from his time in law.

A former President of St Albans Chamber of Commerce and one-time celebrity manager, Peter spent 35 years in commercial lawincluding around 15 years at local firm SA Lawbut was also heavily involved in the world of motorsport, advising teams and drivers for many years.

Most recently, he appeared in the Amazon Prime documentary Murder in a Teacup, which charted the notorious career of serial killer Graham Young, who used thallium to murder two people at the John Hadland Laboratories in Bovingdon in 1971, and his stepmother Molly Young some years before when he was just 15.

Meeting for lunch at the Courtyard Café in George Street, Peter regaled me with his vivid recollections of Young from over half a century ago, when he was working for Pickworths solicitors.

“I remember various bits. I remember his performance in the trial, which was very impressive, I think that’s the simplest way of putting it, the way he outclassed one of the top QCs in the land.

“I mean, he clearly knew what was happening in the trial, he knew procedure, an he obviously knew the chemicals that he was using better than anybody else.

“But the great moment was where he persuaded, through very, very clever use of words, to get the lawyer prosecuting him to say he'd never met a serial poisoner, when he was actually talking to one at that particular moment.

“Everybody admired it, and regardless of the

rights and wrongs of the guy and everything else, that was an exceptional moment because this guy was top, top dollars as a QC. He really was the best, and to turn it around I didn’t see it coming at all. But that is what you’re supposed to do as a trial lawyer. You get some idiots who have no idea what they're doing who shout at people and say, ‘You didn't say that, did you?’, but that never ever works. You've just got to ask a clever series of questions until they have no option but to say yes, and that's what he did here. It was great.”

Peter is reluctant to describe Young as either a sociopath or psychopath: “The trouble with labels is I have never come across orheard of anybody like him, and don’t imagine I will ever again. In his head he was behaving in a completely rational manner, totally sensible, and all that was missing was a total lack of empathy for human beings, whereas to me

(Left) Poisoner Graham Young Image courtesy Woodcut Media (Above) A young Peter Goodman at the time of the Young trial.

when I hear the words sociopath and psychopath, I hear it almost as an explanation for appallingly violent behaviour or that sort of thing.

“This was just a scientist at work, and certainly in terms of the chemicals he was using, he was unique in British history. He had his idols from the past, who he mentioned to me a few times, but I'm not sure they ever did as much harm as he did, and it was so strange because he genuinely liked the people he hurt. “I mean, I was so lucky I never came across him outside of jail.”

Young died from heart failure in HMP Pankhurst in August 1990, aged just 42, and for many years it was assumed he was the victim of an attack by another prisoner, but Murder in a Teacup actually has another theory that he took his own life.

“You know, being logical, that probably does make more sense than him being bumped off. “But the story definitely is there that he was poisoning people with stuff in the tea when he was in Broadmoor as a teenager. And it's hard to imagine he'd just stop work because he was in a proper prison, rather than a mental hospital. I genuinely don't think so, and that's why when I first heard the news he was dead, I thought, that's easy, he's been killed, but now it doesn't look like it, and that's a bit of a mystery to me.”

When Peter first met Young in prison to represent him, the suspect offered him a boiled sweet, which the cocky young lawyer decided to accept, a story he has told many times.

But in fact, there is a detail he has not previously revealed: “The true story, perhaps the reason it's not as scary as I've tried to make it sound, is that it was a sweet called Spangles. They're individually packed in paper, as well as being in the tube, and I reckoned it would have been difficult to have got poison into the Spangle, but he could have smeared it on the outside quite honestly.

“Whether that would have been enough to do me serious harm I don’t know!”

Surely Peter’s role was to get him off the murder charges, so why would he poison him?

“Yeah, and his dad's role was to provide him with a home and food. And that didn't stop him. His stepmother's role was to do the same, his sister's role was to support him, and Bob Egle's role was to mentor him etc etc. So it really is the people he's closest to and he owes most to that he's been trying to kill.”

So when did Peter realise he’d lost the case?

“Probably as soon as I heard about the diary.” Police had discovered Young’s detailed diary, which included details of the doses of thallium he had administered to each person – identified by their initials – the effects, and whether he was going to allow them to live or die.

“Quite frankly, take away the diary, there's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but no direct evidence he actually did it. There were occasions where people were with him, when it was just the two of them, like when he makes Jethro Batt a drink for the only time and he's sick after that. As a defence solicitor my job was to go and see a suspect in prison and go through the statements which seem to suggest he is guilty and ask for his explanation of them, so it’s a process.

“But Young hadn’t actually admitted it - and we’re talking here of the days when the police didn’t even make notes unless required to have signed statements of admission - there was no real evidence of any admission in this particular case, it was circumstantial because of his possession of chemicals that were used to kill people, and you and I now know there’s evidence he’d done it before, but of course nobody knew that then.”

There are weird parallels between the lives of Graham Young and Peter Goodman which the latter couldn’t help noticing.

“It was completely bizarre because he’d just come out of Broadmoor – he was two years older than me – and I’d come out of boarding school. We were both extremely well read, I had an English A-level and obviously he didn’t have any A-levels but he knew English literature really, really well, and that’s a side of him that

never, ever gets mentioned. The whole thing was a very strange experience.

“It’s totally weird looking back on it when it's that long ago and I'm just a bit player, frankly!

“With the Senna case, the trial was only 27 years ago, but at least I was in charge, and I’ve still got all my files and everything, so that's a lot easier for me to talk about.”

At 2.17pm on May 1 1994, while competing in the San Marino Grand Prix, three times F1 World Champion racing driver Ayrton Senna left the track and collided with a concrete retaining wall at about 145mph. His death was to throw the world of motor sport into turmoil after key Williams team members were investigated and charged with manslaughter.

Peter was their lawyer, having moved away from criminal law into the field of Formula One, which included negotiating and writing driving contracts for six different World Champions.

Peter appeared in the documentary Murder in a Teacup Photo courtesy Woodcut Media

“I remember seeing what happened and rushing out to my wife who was in the garden, saying, ‘I think my life is about to change’, and it absolutely, totally changed my life.

“I'd been the Williams team’s lawyer for eight years at that point, and I had drafted and cosigned the Senna contract, which had taken us three years to get to that point, so, I was very much right in the middle of it before all that started.

“I never thought I'd be doing any more criminal trials at that point in my life, I was a full-on sports lawyer. I definitely think that Williams were fortunate that their lawyer also happened to be an experienced criminal lawyer.

“I remember my first advice was to keep all of your documentation, preserve everything, but they didn’t and much of it got lost or thrown away!”

It was to take some time before Peter’s advice was taken on board.

“Right at the beginning, I think they saw me as an outsider.

“Let's remember this was before anyone's been charged. The accident happened on a Sunday, Monday was a bank holiday, and I was at the factory at 8 o'clock on Tuesday morning and I basically stayed there for the rest of the week.

“I was mostly talking with [team principal and founder] Frank Williams and with the guy who became our friendly Italian lawyer as opposed to the one who conducted the trial for us.

“I was really keen to get in on the nitty-gritty but they totally excluded me from their engineering discussions.

“At that point, honestly, I don't think they ever guessed there'd be criminal proceedings. and obviously all that changed as time went on.

“As soon as the criminal charges came along, they were much more free and open with me,” he explained.

He said the Williams team’s reaction to the proceedings was above all one of surprise.

“The driver who died on the Saturday, Roland Ratzenberger, was a much more likely case for prosecution, but I don't think either of them

were manslaughter cases, they were just accidents.”

The consequences of a guilty verdict would have proved devastating for the sport as well a the team: “We know that several Formula One chiefs said if it was a guilty verdict they would not be racing in Italy again. That was made very, very clear. Formula One was definitely at risk at that point, so that was an added responsibility involved in the case. It wasn't just my people, it was Italy, Ferrari and Formula One and all the rest of it was at risk.

“The really, really strange thing for me about the case was how in Italy, nobody could

Peter meets the press after the not guilty verdict is announced in the Senna trial

understand why we were pleading not guilty.

“I remember the case got remarkably little publicity in the UK compared to what it seemed to get in the rest of the world. The attitude in the UK was why are you even bothering to charge them it’s clearly an accident therefore we're not interested, it's a farce, it can only end in a not guilty verdict. So the two countries were absolutely diametrically opposed.”

Could there have been jail sentences if there had been a guilty verdict? “Yes, in theory. In practice, I think not. But yes, the power was definitely there. It's not some special form of protected manslaughter, it’s the formal manslaughter for which in the UK the maximum punishment is life in prison.”

But he said he was quietly confident of exonerating his clients, despite problems with Williams’ Italian lawyer, who didn’t seem to understand the case.

“The prosecutor’s case was all about how, after the accident, Senna's steering column seemed to be broken.

“Senna's car didn't turn round the corner: QED, steering column broke, accident, death, manslaughter.

“But we had evidence that the steering column was still attached right up to the moment of impact, through electronic signals coming from it. The whole of the Italian prosecutor’s case seemed to be based upon whether or not the steering column was suitably put together, was it fit for purpose, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and to me this was utterly and completely irrelevant.

“As I remember saying to someone after my first meeting with the lawyer, it could have been made of chocolate, it really doesn't matter, because if it didn't break, it didn't cause the accident, so it doesn't matter what it's made of.

“But that attitude carried on right the way through from when I first met him, which was probably November 1996, to probably October 1997, when my wonderful Italian engineer basically got a hold of the guy, sat with him for three days, went through everything in complete detail and explained it, so when the moment came for him to give his final speech, he was brilliant.

“But up to that point, he just didn't get it at all. He was concentrating totally on the quality of the steering column, which in my mind, had no causal effect at all.”

Fortunately the language barrier did not prove to be a problem: “During the days of the trial, I had this Italian university student who had English parents, who basically sat with his mouth in my ear and translated everything that was being said. He did a wonderful, wonderful job, that lad. And number two, when I had conferences with the lawyer, his number two was a woman who spoke perfect English and she was able to translate everything that was going on when I was in conference.”

An attempt by parties who should have been on the same side to effectively lay the blame on each other also caused problems at the start of the court case.

“The issue here was that the circuit was prosecuted as well as the car manufacturers [Williams], and for the first half of the trial, the prosecutor just sat back and watched the two

defendants attack each other. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was absolute nonsense.

“In the summer holidays I called all the other lawyers over to England for a meeting with Frank Williams and told them ‘Look we've got to stop attacking each other’, and from that point on, the prosecutor couldn't prove this case and eventually all the parties were found not guilty. So that was my main contribution.”

He said nothing changed after the result: “A couple of years later [in 2000], a marshal was killed at the Monza Grand Prix by a Ferrari car of all things. and Ferrari actually hired me as a consultant to advise them on how to behave in the result of death in a motorsports accident in Italy. I don't think the prosecutor was silly enough to think he could make political capital out of prosecuting Ferrari in Italy so that was just brushed over but that was a potential one, definitely.”

Victory meant less work for Peter with Williams as they had to hire a full-time in-house lawyer, although he did help them win an appeal four years after the main trial.

He has plenty of other stories about his motorsports work though: “Doing contract negotiations with Nigel Mansell was always really interesting. He seemed to like me and he invited me down to his golf club near Torquay as he felt that if he could persuade me that he needed to be in the Williams car the next season, I could then persuade Frank. I mean, quite honestly, no, the world doesn't operate like that.

“People used to mock him a bit, which is totally unfair because of what the man achieved from absolutely nothing, but he kind of didn't fit in with everybody else. You kept hearing rude comments about him which I defended as much as I could until I went to this event with him at

(Above) Nascar 2006 and (below) Indy 500 2006

his golf club. Sitting down to dinner was him, me and probably eight of his acolytes and they were all totally po-faced about any suggestion that Nigel was anything other than the greatest driver of all time. Really, really funny.”

The conversation moves away from serial killers and motorsport to drug smugglers in the form of the infamous Howard Marks, known as “Mr Nice” after buying a passport from convicted murderer Donald Nice, who was found not guilty of his role in importing 16 tons of cannabis (then worth £15m) into Scotland in 1980.

“A little bit later in my career I came across Mr Nice. I didn't defend him, but I did defend his main co-defendant in the first half of the proceedings. Because I think in memory only two people got off, which was him and my guy, who were alleged to be the two main organisers.

“Somehow or other they persuaded the jury they weren’t guilty. They had one of those socalled old-style committals up in London and that was really, really interesting because he was behaving like a prima donna.

“It was a shame really that his co-defendant’s original lawyers took over the case from us because I think they'd represented him before. We were the local lot called in, but the judge wouldn't let him change lawyers until after the committal, so we had about three months on the case which was truly amazing.

“The thing I'll always remember about him, is when he was being questioned by police after being arrested he started off by saying ‘No comment’ in response to the questions, but after he’d done this about 15 times, he said to the police, ‘Look, I’m not going to say no comment anymore, I’m just going to say blip’ There then followed about 20 pages of evidence with ‘blip’ as the sole answer, and that’s something I’ve never seen before either!”

In 1999 Peter went to work as a sports and celebrity manager for West End-based media company CSS Stellar Sports, specialising in motorsports but also working for well-known celebrities in entertainment, TV, music and books. There was a lot of travel, glitz and glamour, but Peter found the role was not intellectually challenging enough.

“I guess the highlight of that was probably working with Richard Burns, England's only ever World Rally Champion, which was great. But it wasn't my sort of work, it was too much about, how can I get profiles in the news? How can I build up images? Really not my stuff, so in the end I kind of had to admit defeat, went back to law and joined Schillings.”

The Soho-based firm’s clients at the time included Naomi Campbell, helping her win a landmark privacy case against Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror in 2004, Kate Winslet and various other A-listers, and Peter was again involved in contract negotiation.

“It was an interesting time of my life, because I got to meet some really good people, you know, Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley and people like that, so that was very, very nice, but in terms of work, I had little to do with them.”

At the same time he was building up a business representing young motorsports drivers looking to make their mark in the Indy 500.

Peter was President of St Albans District Chamber of Commerce.

“It came about because of a lovely Brazilian guy who I represented in Formula 3 called Gil de Ferran. Like so many of these people, you get to Formula 3, but unless you're a superstar you basically can't get into Formula 1 because it's just too expensive.

“He got the chance of a place in America in their IndyCar championship, and made a great success out of it.”

De Ferran was the 2000 and 2001 Champ Car (IndyCar) champion driving for Team Penske and the winner of the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

“Just after Gil moved to the USA I met a Scottish guy, Dario Franchitti, who was in exactly the same situation. He did well in Formula 3, couldn’t get promoted, did a quick stint for Mercedes and then moved to the States.”

Franchitti went on to win the IndyCar Series Drivers' Championship in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011and the Indianapolis 500 in 2007, 2010 and 2012.

“Then the third one I met was Dan Wheldon, who was very, very, very brilliant, probably the most talented out of all of them. But I think they felt he was a bit flawed, so he never got a chance in Formula One and he went over to the States largely, at my suggestion.

“I was just representing them as a lawyer, giving them advice all the time because they were my friends and I had so much more knowledge than they did about what was going on with all this stuff. I was absolutely delighted about their careers. Dan sadly died in a big crash in Las Vegas in 2011 and since then I've had very little involvement with motorsport. I'm certainly not interested in cold Sunday afternoons at Silverstone anymore. I've done all that. I don't need to do that anymore.”

Coming to St Albans and SA Law must have been a change of pace then?

“It's been a bit of a change, but you know, I learned early on in my career that I like a good deal. I like to negotiate and get a deal done, and the skills I picked up from being a trial lawyer have been incredibly useful in

commercial negotiations.

“It is all down to asking the right questions in the right order, so as to persuade your opposition to come to exactly the conclusion you want them to come to. So to me, although it's also been different I suppose, it's all been very similar, and I finished off as a corporate lawyer doing more of the same deals and negotiations.”

Peter first came to St Albans in 1968 after a childhood spent somewhat on the move:

“Having lived in three continents, six countries and 15 different addresses up to the age of 17 and a half, I got to St Albans and I've been here ever since.

“I'm really grateful to this place. That's why I've got involved in so many voluntary roles – the St Albans Enterprise Agency (STANTA), the Chamber of Commerce, Grow Chiswell Green community garden - just to give a bit back, because I really love the place. My latest exploit is volunteering at the Cathedral, helping the team when there are events on.”

One last story from your career to leave our readers on then Peter?

“I worked with Damon Hill, and we had a meeting with the police during the early part of the Senna trial. I can't actually really remember why the prosecution would be wanting to spend a day with us, maybe taking some statements, I truly don't remember, because of course, Damon wasn't a defendant, so it could have been for a witness statement.

“I just remember us getting later and later and later, and then somebody looking at their watch and saying, ‘Hey we're late, we've missed the last plane!’ and the police said, ‘Oh no you haven’t, we’ve held it, it’s waiting for you’

“We then get into our hire car which Damon was driving and this lovely police officer couldn’t believe his luck at racing Damon Hill through the streets of Bologna to get to the airport.

“It was really dangerous! A lot of tyre squealing going on and all that sort of thing, but it was absolutely all for show!”



Mental Health Awareness Week for me is all about raising awareness of the year-round struggles people face with reminders of the help and support available.

This year’s theme is movement and while it serves as an important reminder to aim for movement and to try and build movement into our daily routines, let’s not allow this theme to intimidate those who can’t move or have restricted movement for various reasons.

For me, from an inclusive perspective, through this them, it is important to acknowledge how anxiety and depression (to name just two) can cause physical and mental exhaustion and if people need the time to rest through difficult times, that’s OK too.

This week plays a role in inspiring people to reach out, knocking out the stigma still attached to mental health and bringing mental health to the forefront. If you or your organisation would like to know how It’s OK To Say can help, please email. I have had so much fun this week catching up with three amazing local women who make a profound impact within our community. I asked them what Mental Health Awareness Week means to them.

Karen Snook, founder of the hugely popular St Albans Mums Facebook group and Instagram page.

“Mental Health Awareness Week is super important to me because it shines the light on something that affects us all in one way or another. As a mum, content creator, and someone involved in the community, it’s a reminder to prioritise mental wellbeing for myself, my family, and my followers.

“It’s about breaking stigma, spreading understanding, and supporting each other through tough times. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to share resources and start important conversations.”

Helen Whittington, owner of DJ’s Play Jungle and volunteer.

“DJ’s Play Jungle supports Mental Health Awareness Week. As a local business we are understanding to Mental Health issues, for both staff and customers and supporters of charity, It’s OK To Say.

“Our team at DJ’s are from diverse backgrounds and we, as an employer have undertaken Mental Health First Aid. It really helps the workplace to be a safe space for people and we often make adjustments for anyone finding themselves affected by anxiety or depression. Our play centres are central to to the community and welcome parents, childminders, grandparents on their own or in groups.

“It’s a facility for children that often provides a break for mums, dads and carers while the children make new connections and they can relax. There is always a friendly staff member to talk to and it’s an environment that encourages interaction and fun that might just make someone’s day! Ohana is a support group for young care-experienced parents that is free to attend at DJ’s Play Jungle, plus an exclusive SEN session every first Sunday of the month in St Albans.

“Anyone having difficulty accessing our facility can get in touch and we will always endeavour to help.”

Helen also said: “We support the lunchtime event running this Friday May 17 as well as a future event on Friday June 14 by St Albans Community Pantry. ”

Lesley Garner, general manager at Everyone Active.

“Everyone Active whole-heartedly supports Mental Health Awareness Week and in doing so provides additional programming and reaches out to different sectors of the community to join us at the centre, use our facilities and feel better for it. Monday 13th May we offered a relaxation session, with meditation, which was so successful we are considering adding it to our programme.

“We also hosted an open day in support of those from the sheltered housing charity Hightown, this was geared towards

Helen Whittington and Stacey Turner.

highlighting the link between physical activity and positive mental outcomes.

“Studies have shown that regular physical activity can make a big difference in our mental well-being. It’s like a superhero for our self-esteem, as it boosts it up. And that’s not all – exercise can also help reduce anxiety and depression. Plus, it can even help slow down degenerative cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“So, how much exercise is enough? Well, for adults, the goal is to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, five times a week.

“And guess what? You don’t have to do the same thing every time. Whether you’re

swimming, running, walking, playing tennis, cycling, doing some badminton, or hitting the gym, it all counts!

“At Westminster Lodge we are always looking for ways to support and make a difference, and being the hub of the community helps to be the place to go for support. Only today I have been approached by Man Made – a unique fortnightly support group dedicated to men’s mental health and wellbeing, who I am hoping we can work together with and provide a safe space for those that might need it.

“Westminster Lodge wants to help in making a difference, we have a fantastic building, a team of brilliant colleagues and a safe space for anyone that needs support.”

I hope we have demonstrated the importance of looking after one’s mental health and well-being, talking is the most underrated form of therapy and we encourage people to consider their mental health on a daily basis and put in place what is needed in order to thrive and not just get through rather than wait until things escalate. Often people discover what their essential needs are by talking it through.

It’s OK To Say is a mental health care and wellbeing charity offering a comprehensive range of mental health and well-being support for all ages. As ever, please reach out and find out more about us.


Stacey with Karen Snook (top) and Lesley Garner (bottom).

Welcome to The Green House!

St Albans’ first eco hub has just opened its doors, with the aim of helping local people to live happier, healthier and greener lives, writes Anna Shreeves

The Green House, a new sustainability hub which can be found on London Road above Jefferson Eco, officially opened for business on Friday

Similar to a community centre, The Green House will support and guide residents to move towards a greener lifestyle

Its main focuses are to promote sustainability, help people connect with nature, protect the local bio-diversity and to help people reduce their carbon footprint

Trish Gibbons, who runs The Green House describes the hub as a starting point for change: “We are just a group of ordinary local people who just want to help residents in the district of St Albans to take the steps towards a more sustainable life ”

Jane Corndhwaite, one of the directors, made a very apt bee analogy; she described The Green House as a hive, and those who volunteer are bees who they spread their pollen (expertise) to the flowers which is our community

Taking 18 months to be finally realised, the hub now provides a space for local people to learn, socialise, create and inspire

The Green House aims to be the first port of call for residents who want information, whether that be about retrofitting or rewilding your garden

They also offer facilities where people can recycle pill packages, Pringles cans and other rubbish which cannot be recycled at traditional centres.

Cookery courses, seed swaps, workshops, talks from experts and pop-up events will all be happening in the future

From 11a till 3pm on a Wednesday the hub hosts ‘What next Wednesday’ where they encourage locals to come to the centre to share their ideas of what St Albans can do better in terms of being green

Trish said: “Tell us your ideas and we will see if we can make them happen ”

Working in partnership with the hub is Wilderhood Watch, who are a local group of St Albans residents striving to make our city as wildlife friendly as possible and they will be at the hub every

Jane Corndhwaite and Tricia Gibbons at The Green House

Friday from 2-4pm.

They are transforming St Albans one street at a time, by working with residents to coordinate a unique wildlife action plan based on the individual streets’ needs and capabilities

There are currently around 60 streets across St Albans signed up to this movement, with a few other streets around Herts too

The team at The Green House have big goals but they are wary not to alienate people, as Trish said: “We can’t be preachy.

“We are not here to tell people what to do, we are here to help people do what they want to do

“Give it a go, and if it doesn’t suit you that’s okay ”

Trish’s mantra is ‘the biggest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it’

“We have all got to do our bit – it does not matter how small”

To get involved visit their website: Or follow them on social media: https://www instagram com/thegreenhousestalbans/

Visitors at the official launch of The Green House included MP Daisy Cooper and St Albans Mayor Cllr Anthony Rowlands.

Clarence Park’s Italian restaurant Verdi's is up for sale

Much-loved Clarence Park eatery Verdi's has been listed on RightMove for £250,000.

The restaurant, which also includes takeaway and standalone ice cream van, caters for approximately 50 covers.

The listing states: "Trading as an Italian restaurant, café and takeaway, Verdi's consistently offers a quality level of service and high standards of food, and has done so throughout its 30 years of trading.

"Family run, the business has evolved over the years and adapted to changes in their offering, now providing a 'through the window' takeaway service for customers visiting the park, as well as hosting monthly jazz afternoons and regular coffee mornings. The impact of these changes has resulted in a steady growth in turnover coming out the lockdown period, having stayed open throughout in line with government guidelines.

"Verdi's opens and trades seven days per week, breakfast through to dinner. A new operator would immediately benefit from the

excellent reputation the current owners have built, with a constant stream of returning customers."

The £250,000 figure is for the sale of the lease, with an additional rent of £22K. It is being marketed by Christie & Co.

Owner Terry di Francesco said: "It is no secret that after more than 30 years of trading we are marketing Verdi’s with Christie’s as a retirement sale.

"This was originally planned to coincide with our lease renewal which has unfortunately taken far longer than we expected, however as with all things commercial, these things take time.”

He added: "We are immensely proud of the business that we have developed as Verdi’s is in a fantastic location and is absolutely thriving.

"We know that whoever takes the opportunity will not only benefit from our reputation, our loyal and local customer base and park footfall but they will be able to bring their own ideas and take Verdis to the next level."

“Everybody is so committed to giving the best possible service they can.”
C H R I S T O P H E R P L A C E S H O P P I N G C E N T R E A MINI DEPARTMENT STORE IN THE HEART OF OUR CITY CENTRE Explore the range of timeless quality goods from The White Company. S p o n s o r e d f e a t u r e

Luxurious, classic and fresh will never not be of the moment, will it?

When you think of The White Company you probably think of crisp cotton bedding and nightwear, stylish yet classic clothing, gorgeous scented candles and bath stuff, fabulous children and babywear and toys. Brilliant for gifts such as a cashmere throw, the perfect sized leather make-up bag or Herman Hermit Crab – who wouldn’t want one of those?

A brand known for its reliably high quality which stands the test of time, The White Company in Christopher Place has been popular with St Albans shoppers for almost 20 years

Manager of the St Albans store Gerry Woods has worked there for the last four years, after joiningThe White Company 15 years ago as a Christmas temp in Marylebone High Street

He said he loves the bustle of St Albans Charter Market and the wide range of restaurants, cafés, shops, and bars: “It’s a lovely place to work Christopher Place offers a quiet, relaxed shopping experience away from the hubbub of the high street ”

Gerry said that the best part of his job is and has always been meeting customers daily. He said he enjoys reviewing the store, seeing new collections and working for a brand that continues to grow The amount of newness which arrives can even present a challenge as there are always too many great products, he joked At the heart of everything they do, is Gerry’s “amazing team”: “I am so lucky to work with a wonderfully supportive group of women They are all very different individuals and together they bring a wide range of knowledge and experience to the store

“Everybody is so committed to giving the best possible service they can ” We asked what makes The White Company the best place to go shopping for a gift for a friend or family member He said: “The shop is a like a mini department store with beautifully crafted products across a wide range including fragrance, bath and body, daywear, homewares, nightwear, bedroom and, of course, The Little White Company for babies and children.

“Added to that we offer our complimentary gift wrap, so every item comes in a beautiful bag, ready to give to that friend or loved one ” So what is Gerry’s favourite item? He said there is so much to choose from, but his current favourite is their new Sicilian orange candle: “It’s the mix of orange, ginger, and sandalwood It is just gorgeous, and the scent takes me away on holiday, sitting by the pool at an Italian villa looking at the orange groves ” For more information visit

Open MondaysSaturdays 9.30am5.30pm, Sundays 11am - 5pm

the next
of journalists It’syourtimetobeheard...

A platform for young voices

Have you ever felt ignored, patronised or angry because your opinion wasn’t valued due to your age? Do you think you have something worthwhile to say about the issues which matter to you? Do you want to be heard?

The St Albans Times wants to give you that opportunity. We believe in providing a platform for the district’s young people to have their say, and we want to give you a chance to reach an audience in the tens of thousands. Our new initiative, Write Now St Albans, aims to show the importance of allowing the young generation to have a voice by creating a movement for open and informed writing. We are looking for between 400 and 1,000 words – printed, emailed, handwritten – on a subject which you feel passionate about, for publication in a future edition of the St Albans Times and on our website.

You could write a report on an eco-campaign, review the latest restaurant, comment on the performance of a local sports team, present your thoughts on the US Presidential elections or examine the impact of climate change on local wildlife. It’s your choice, your voice, your opinion. It should relate to one of the following categories:

· Environment and sustainability – Potential stories could include the state of Verulamium Lakes, sustainable businesses or the future of the Green Belt

· Politics – Why not write about the forthcoming General Election, the rise of Reform UK, or how grassroots campaigns are shaping local politics?

· Science – Has the electric car revolution delivered on its promises? Should be spend billions of pounds sending people into space? What will the next generation of smartphone offer?

· Sport – Report on local matches, interview players and managers, explore up and coming sporting activities

· Nature – How have watervoles been reintroduced to the River Ver? Has the return of red kites to our skies changed the food chain? What can be done to protect our hedgehogs?

· Education – Are schools providing lessons which matter? What does it mean to be a teacher today? What should pupils really be learning about?

· Entertainment – Tell us what you think about the latest film, restaurant or leisure venue, interview the next generation of acting talent, or look behind the scenes at our local theatres

· Arts and literature – What does art mean to you? Who are the local talent who should be showcased in the district?

· World news – What will it mean to the world if Donald Trump is re-elected? How has Brexit affected modern Britain? What can be done to control immigration?

Our panel of experts drawn from the local community will provide constructive feedback on submissions, with the best chosen for publication

Top tips from our journalism experts

* Do you have a story to tell? - Choose a subject you can write about with passion and enthusiasm;

* Use simple language - Avoid long words, jargon and complicated sentences – imagine you ’ re writing an article to be read by a classmate;

* Check your facts – Opinion is fine as long as it’s backed up by genuine facts We don’t want any fake news thank you!

* Include full details – Make sure you have the who, why, where, when and how taken care of

* Make it entertaining – You’re writing something for other people to read, so make sure you’ll keep their interest throughout the piece

We don't want this to be a daunting experience for you, so hopefully these tips should make it less stressful. We really do want to hear from you, and look forward to being able to share your stories with our readers!


Makesureyourentriesarevalidbyfollowingtherules detailedbelow:


Entryisfreeandyoucansubmitasmanyentriesasyou wish

Eachsubmissionmustbebetween400and1,000wordsin length

Youcanchooseoneofthecategorieslistedorwriteabout asubjectthatyouarepassionateabout


Pleaseincludeyourfullname age fulladdress contact detailsandnameoftheschoolyouattendwithyourentry Eachentrymustbeyourown,originalworkandtheuseof artificialintelligence(AI)isnotpermitted

Youretainthecopyrightofyourworksbutbysubmittingto thiscontestyouallowtheStAlbansTimestopublishyour work(s)acrosstheirmediachannels


Everypersonwhoenterswillgetfeedbackontheir submissionfromtheeditorialteamattheStAlbansTimes

Eachmonthwewillpublishwinningsubmissions Winners willbecontactedinadvanceofpublication

InMarch2025anawardsceremonywillbeheldto celebratethecategorywinnersandcrowntheyoungwriter oftheyear


Sendyoursubmissionsbyemailto editor@stalbanstimescouk

PostyoursubmissionstoWriteNow StAlbansTimes 26 CliftonStreet StAlbans AL13RY

Dontforgettoincludeyourname age address contact informationandyourschool


Weareheretohelp!Ifanythingisunclearoryouhave questions emailusateditor@stalbanstimescouk

Show your support and get involved in developing future journalists

We’re on the lookout for local companies to sponsor categories in our Write Now initiative Anxiety is a leading cause of illness and disability among young people; ‘News anxiety’ is real with social media and rolling 24-hour news coverage reporting negative stories and powerful pictures; Children are switching off from the news. They struggle to know what to believe ; As a leading voice in the community, St Albans Times editor Matt Adams is launching Write Now; This initiative gives young people the chance to be heard and share their opinions on local, national and global topics; Write Now offers them a chance to have their say through informed writing; They are the future generation of St Albans We all must listen and learn

Category sponsorship includes:

· Logo inclusion in each issue of the St Albans Times featuring Write Now;

· Year-long logo inclusion and link to your website on the St Albans Times website;

· Promotion across social media;

· PR and thought leader opportunities;


to register an interest in becoming a sponsor.

How Write Now can help our young people’s mental health

During adolescence, teens often find themselves in a paradoxical situation, where they have an abundance of thoughts and opinions to share, yet struggle to find someone willing to listen to them or to take them seriously.

Add to this the further conflict of needing to stand out, develop an identity and pursue autonomy but also to fit in and gain acceptance within the construct of education, parental expectation and peer pressure

The end result can be bad mental health

Whilst working as a counsellor in secondary schools I see how this fear of sharing manifests; in isolation, self-harm, OCD, anxiety and depression; a belief that they are the only one who feels this way.

I have seen how healing it can be to give them a space to express themselves without worrying what others might think

Providing a safe space for teenagers to explore thoughts, feelings and opinions without judgment is crucial, and initiatives like Write Now offer a platform for them to share openly, fostering a sense of community and acceptance.

Our sponsors...

Chiswell Green residents say they are ‘under attack’ by developments

A decision by the Planning Inspectorate to approve a development of 53 houses on Green Belt land on the northern side of Ragged Hall Lane is a further blow to villagers in Chiswell Green say campaigners, but what are the wider implications?

Despite detailed surveys of the usage of the very popular rural footpath St Michael FP10 which traverses the Ragged Hall Lane site, and a transport survey that demonstrates that the site could not be considered sustainable in transport terms, local residents were not successful in persuading planning inspector Simon Dean that the development should be refused

Despite only a 200-metre strip of Green Belt land currently providing the separation between Chiswell Green and St Albans, the inspector's assessment of the site was that there is already no perceptual separation of the village from St Albans and therefore no additional harm would be caused by the development

It comes within just six weeks of the Secretary of State's decision to approve 721 new houses on Green Belt land on the western boundary of the village, and recently approved plans for 190 homes in Bricket Wood on what is known as the Copeswood development

Local resident Robert Bolt, who has followed planning in the parish for 20 years, said: "We're under attack! This is like nothing we ' ve experienced in the past With the developments already approved, then the Copsewood application, plus those recommended for approval through the Local Plan, Chiswell Green will literally double in size, and that doesn't count the application in Lye Lane for 115 new houses which is going in front of the Planning Inspectorate on June 11

"We are fully expecting all these developments to be approved, but where is the infrastructure to support the existing residents, let alone all the new residents?

"Modifications to the A405 dual carriageway will see two full sets of traffic lights, a separate crossing and a roundabout all between the Tippendell Lane roundabout and the M25. It's ludicrous. “With the 10,000 additional vehicles expected to be generated by the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, the A405 will be gridlocked, morning, noon and night, and any vehicles that can

will divert and come through Chiswell Green, where they will be sitting in traffic queues at the five-arm traffic lights that are proposed to replace the double mini-roundabout!"

Local campaign group, Keep Chiswell Green, has lodged a claim for a judicial review of the Secretary of State's decision to approve the Cala Homes and Headlands Way (the Polo Field) developments.

Chair of the group, Shirani St Ledger McCarthy, said: "We have to speak up, we have to stop the governments - national and local - from making these decisions which appear to satisfy one set of needs, but completely ignore the implications of the decisions on the existing population.

"Government housing targets are based on predictions, estimates and suppositions Of course, we have to help those who have a genuine need for housing, but the current 300,000 number is arbitrary - a guesstimate of future need, just like the targets put forward by the other parties which are all different

We need to make the government understand that housing needs to be better thought through - for the sake of existing residents in an area, but also for the sake of the new residents.

"We need to consider all the usual infrastructure issuesemployment, schooling, health care - but also community, air quality and climate change, mental health, leisure time.

“Tacking huge new developments onto villages, such as in the case of Chiswell Green, does not address any of the above and will cause problems for all the residents as well as a reduced quality of life "

Local residents have rallied to the call to support Keep Chiswell Green with volunteers delivering 2,500 leaflets within five days to all properties from the Noke roundabout to the King Harry pub, the Park Street roundabout to the Verulam estate.

A significant number of fundraising events are being planned such as a quiz night, sponsored walk and summer fête, with KCG needing to raise around £45,000 to fund the costs of a judicial review

"One good thing that has come out of the Cala and Polo applications is the sense of community that has been built up with everyone pulling together to raise money and defend our Green Belt," added campaigner Bea Savage.

Emma Kosh is an Interior Designer and award winning Designer on CBBC's The Dengineers Emma has a passion for creating one of a kind Interiors and Empowering people to celebrate their uniqueness through design. She joins us to share her thoughts on Home and Interior Style.


We have been working on a design for a bar inside an impressive house near Whipsnade Zoo. It has been a tricky brief to pull together because the client’s ideas were like the first clue in a murder mystery. It had the bones of an idea but we needed to add that Emma Kosh flair and flesh it out into a full scheme. We used the style of Art Deco and Hollywood glamour to pull together the space and this week I wanted to talk to you about how this classic style could work in your home decor.


I am a born storyteller, it helps me in my work to create deeply personalised interiors as I love to hearotherpeople’sstoriesandreflectthoseinthe interiors

It is also fun to create a fictional narrative for a space, one that leads you through a space and unveils itself Some of the greatest stories of all timearefixedinapointofArtDeco,youonlyhave tohearthewords‘GreatGatsby’or‘Titanic’ andit conjuresavisualpicturesynonymouswiththeart decostyle

In the bar we are working on the story evolves as you move through the space It is hinged around a woman moving to a city and all the things she encounterswhilesheisthere

There are ways to bring this into your home without creating a museum piece - the key is to know when enough is enough At what point it is adding to the space and at which point it is becomingatheme.

AtitsheartArtDecoglamourinteriordesignstyle is characterised by luxurious materials, bold geometricpatterns,andasenseofopulence.

@emmakoshinteriors @ownithome www.ownithome


Use luxurious materials such as velvet, silk, satin, marble, and lacquered wood These materials add a senseofrichnessandsophisticationtothespace

Play with geometric patterns: Art Deco design often incorporates bold geometric patterns, such as chevron, zigzags, sunbursts, and fan shapes These patterns add visual interest and create a sense of movement in the space. We are using black and white geometry to contrast bright red in the bar space

Add metallic accents: Art Deco design frequently uses metallic accents such as gold, silver, and chrome to add a touch of glamour and shine Mirrored surfaces and metallic finishes are common inArtDecointeriors.

Explore rich colours: including jewel tones such as emerald green, sapphire blue, ruby red, and amethyst purple These will add depth and drama Equally softer shades such as those shown on the right can be used to make Art Deco more contemporary

Achieve symmetry and balance in the arrangement of furniture Furniture is often arranged in pairs or symmetrical groupings to create a sense of order andharmony

Source statement pieces such as a geometric chandelier or an ornate fireplace These pieces serve as focal points in the room and add to the overall glamourofthespace




Use Art Deco motifs inspired by the machine age, such as stylised flowers, sunbursts, and geometric shapes. Glamorous lighting is key such as crystal chandeliers, sculptural sconces, and sleek floor lamps Adding a sense of drama and creating the rightambience.

If you use this guide but choose things you love then you’ll have the perfectly curated Art Deco space


@emmakoshinteriors @ownithome www.ownithome E M B A R K I N G O N A P R O J E C T ? BOOK A FREE DISCOVERY CALL NOW VIA OUR WEBSITE PHOTOS
Family | Community | St Albans Karen Snook Family Blogger Cacao Tasting Experience Hotel Chocolat 16th May 6.00-7.30pm Reading for Wellbeing Books on the Hill Until 5th July ‘What’s On’ and things to book! Spring Market St Albans Museum + Gallery 19th May 11.00am Montet Mosaic Making Fun Greenwood Park 30th May 11.00-12.00pm Earthwork’s Plant Sale Hixberry Lane 18th May 12.00-4.00pm Ladybird Book Exhibition St Albans Museum + Gallery From 10th May


29 High St, Wheathampstead, AL4 8BB

If you fancy a little trip out, head to Wheathampstead and meet Robyn of Village & Co. Open in term time, she has created a space for local artisans for brilliant gift shopping. The suppliers and stock are updated regularly and there is also a calendar of crafty workshops.

Wheathampstead is a great place to go to follow a heritage trail, and there’s free parking behind the High Street. I grabbed a bite to eat at Loafing before heading to the shop for a nice cup of tea and chat!

A few of the recent featured brands include Pour Quoi, Lucie & Olivia, That Girl in Green, Fabbi and Julia Wood Art - I can’t wait to see who pops up next.


Yesterday Once More: photos from our archives

Actor Michele Lee, star of the comedy How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967), opens a St Albans shop in our top photo - can anyone remember which one? Our second photo shows a timeless Platform 2 at St Albans City Station - can you see the advertisement for Holywell Hill? All photos by Tony “Greg” Gregory


Welcome to Jurassic Farm Park as dinosaurs invade Willows

Prepare to discover the land that time forgot when Willows Activity Farm welcomes some visitors from the dawn of history.

The venue will be welcoming a triceratops, velociraptor and tyrannosaurus rex between May 27-June 2.

The prehistoric predators will be making regular appearances throughout the day in the outdoor arena as part of the farm park’s Dino Ventures event.

Promising palaeontologists can also dig deep into the Big Dig sand pit to unearth fossils, and every fossil finder gets a certificate to take home with their Jurassic find.

Chief executive Lyssa Elster said: “We’re heading back in time this half term and have a T-rex-a-rific week of Mesozoic madness lined up.

“The only thing that’s extinct at Willows this half term is boredom. We will be celebrating everything prehistoric in our Jurassic arts and crafts marquee with dinosaur headbands for little ones to decorate and take home.

“And our Dino Hunt trail around the farm will be running everyday of the half term holiday with a prize for every dino hunter who takes part.”

The interactive Dinosaur Encounters takes place eight times a day where visitors will be able to see the cretaceous creatures with their handlers and watch live as the giant reptiles have their huge teeth cleaned. There will also be different baby dinosaurs to meet in special shows about the prehistoric hatchlings.

In addition to a jam-packed programme of Dino Venture Fun this half term, there is also all the usual Willows farm fun for visitors to look forward to including the Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground and shows, tarmyard animals, funfair rides and inflatables, Tristan the Runaway Tractor and the Puddle Play Park.

For more information, call 0333 331 2060, go to

Enterprise Agency hits 40

STANTA (St Albans Enterprise Agency) welcomed over 100 guests to mark its 40th anniversary. Attendees at the OAK Sport Club included past clients of the Agency, fellow business contacts from the St Albans and Harpenden community, along with representatives from other enterprise agencies and representative bodies.

Also attending were local dignitaries including Daisy Cooper MP, St Albans Mayor Cllr Anthony Rowlands, Annie Brewster, High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, and Cllr Paul De Kort, now leader of SADC

The guests received a warm welcome from STANTA’s management team who provided a short video presentation and speeches from the recently retired executive director Mel Hilbrown and the soon-to-retire operations director, Ginny Cooper

New executive director Steve Bedford gave thanks on behalf of all those present for the incredible dedication and long service of both individuals, which amounts to a total of 43 years!

Focusing on the future, Steve envisages further in-person support for start-ups and young businesses in St Albans, Harpenden and surrounding villages, whether through personal advice meetings, business planning sessions or attendance at STANTA’s wide range of workshops Despite an uncertain national funding scene for enterprise agencies, STANTA’s long-term planning should enable the agency to play an increasingly active role in the local community

Thanks were also provided to the sponsors that made the event possible: Debenhams Ottaway, Visionary Accountants, Franklin Insurance and Insite M&A Thanks also went to musical duo Katie plus Juan for the entertainment, Old Albanians RFC for hosting the event, and Heaven is a Cupcake for the celebratory cake

Wine Times


A Greek wine renaissance

Greece has a rich viticultural history dating back to around 3,000 BC

However, until the last few decades, its wines were relatively unknown beyond local consumption or tourist enjoyment

Recently, a renaissance has transformed Greek wine. Producers shifted from co-ops to bottling their

own wines, using indigenous grape varieties from diverse terroirs

The results are remarkable, and the next generation of winemakers continues this legacy

Greece’s landscape is Europe’s third most mountainous, with over 150 inhabited islands. Vines thrive in challenging conditions, often growing

in nutrient-poor soils on mountainsides These harsh environments yield some of Greece’s finest grapes, contributing to the current fine wine renaissance

Greek wine boasts a rich tapestry of indigenous grape varieties, each with its unique character. Let’s explore some of the local gems

Pappagiannakos Assyrtiko 2022

Attika, Greece (£16.95 from Cellar Door Wines)

This easy-drinking Assyrtiko hails from Domaine Papagiannakos, an influential Greek winery situated about 20 miles from downtown Athens Established in 1919 the winery has a century-old legacy

The Papagiannakos family’s passion for viticulture and winemaking has been passed down through three generations Vassilis Papagiannakos, the current steward was born and bred in Markopoulo, and grew up around the family winery At that time the Savatiano variety was the winery’s sole focus - but later Malagouzia was introduced, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other varieties Vassilis owns 10 hectares of vineyard in the Attica region, and maintains long-term leases on a further 20 hectares, with vines on average 50-60 years old

Produced from 100% Assyrtiko grapes, the 50-year-old vines are grown on unirrigated limestone soil at around 100m altitude, in north-east Attiki Grapes are typically harvested towards the end of August and matured in bottle for up to a year It offers juicy ripe peach aromas, herbaceous undertones, a textured mineral palate with refreshing acidity, and a zesty, crisp character perfect for aging It’s the perfect accompaniment to shellfish, fish and white meat.

Mikph Kibotos Little Ark Rosé 2022

Attika, Greece (£17.95 from Cellar Door Wines)

Lantides Estate was established in 1993 by Panikos Lantides, driven by a mission to promote high-quality Greek wines The climate and soil of Nemea, in the heart of the Peloponnese, attracted him to cultivate fine grape varieties Situated around the mountainous valley of Skoteini, Lantides Estate spans 25 hectares of vineyards These vineyards lie at an altitude between 500 and 650 meters above sea level, creating an ideal terroir for grape cultivation

The Mikph Kibotos Little Ark Rosé is made from 100% Moschofilero grapes, native to the Peloponnese Peninsula

The Peloponnese Peninsula’s diverse landscapes, from rugged mountains to fertile valleys, provide ideal conditions for vineyards Here, indigenous grape varieties like Agiorgitiko (known for rich red wines), Moschofilero (producing fresh whites), and Mavrodaphne (used in sweet fortified wines) flourish This rosé offers elegant strawberry and cherry aromas with floral undertones Its fresh, lingering finish pairs beautifully with Greek salads, shellfish, and grilled white fish

If you’re eager to explore more of what Greece has to offer, head across to Cellar Door Wines

There, you can chat with Penny and her team, who are passionate about fine wines from all over the world, and will introduce you to their range of Greek wines

If you’re looking for even more wine recommendations, then please follow me on Instagram @dmc uncorked. And if you are a wine retailer or a drinks PR company who would like me to feature your range of wines, then please contact me via

Birthday bake sale for new Quadrant business

To celebrate their first birthday at The Quadrant, Nadya Giffen Therapies held a taster weekend and bake sale in aid of St Albans Action for Homeless

The event raised a £787 for the local charity, which aims to make a difference and improve the lives of our street homeless

Nadya said: “Doing charity work is very important to me, and I asked friends, clients and our local community to see if anyone wanted to so a bit of baking!

“Initially I was worried we may not have enough cakes but as it turns out we had enough cake to feed a small army as many more people came forward and offered to bake

“I would like to thank Vicky Thomas Nee Chapman, Grace Anstis, Marta Nejman, Apollo Anderson and family, Helga Samler, Joyce Goodwin, Nicky Sawday, Rina Kanani, Julie Slater and everyone else that baked and contributed to make this happen

“We are very grateful and proud to be part of such a wonderful community ”





Some of the last few vacant shops on the route into St Albans are seeing welcome signs of life as the London Road renaissance continues The throughfare has undergone a major transformation in the past few years with the arrival of popular tenants like Brad and Dills BoConcept and most recently Jefferson Eco

Refurbishment work is now taking place at two of the last vacant sites - 50 (the former Darwoods premises) and 26 (previously Sponge and Cream)and there is another new hoarding up at the former Fire and Fry/Bombay Kitchen/Frydays at 96, proudly announcing the arrival of Urban Eats: The Food Shack



We ve not forgotten to keep tabs on the site of the former Poundland and One Below stores in St Peter s Street months after builders were last seen on the site

From what we understand from our sources, with building costs currently very high on brownfield sites, many construction firms are undertaking what is known as “value engineering to increase value and reduce costs

That may explain why there are now various applications for other sections of that block:

67 St Peter’s Street - subsequent applications for amendments including 5/2024/0393 which is pending a decision

69 St Peter’s Street - an application in to amend the proposal which is awaiting a Deed of Variation to the legal agreement

There is also another application for a Drovers Way roof extension submitted by one of the applicants which is subject to an appeal Hopefully once these particular issues are resolved one way or another we will see work recommence on this particular stretch of the road with a new four-storey building - including 14 new dwellings and a retail space - slotted in at 69 and 69a St Peter’s Street





With the volatile nature of British weather it’s always good to seize the day whenever we’re treated to any sustained period of sunshine, and what better way to enjoy a warm May evening than dining al fresco in one of the district’s finest country pubs?

Located in Hatching Green on the edge of Harpenden, The White Horse dates back to the 17th century, a history reflected in its oak beams and cosy open fire

(If you’re coming from St Albans it's just a short stroll across the Common from the station, and worth popping into The Silver Cup for pre-dinner drinks if you have time )

Outside, the spacious terrace offers extensive seating without feeling cramped, an old well and strings of fairy lights for added ambiance when the sun goes down. It also means parents with “lively” children like four-year-old Connie can be seated far enough away from other diners so as to avoid disturbance

From casual arrival to hurried departure in order to make one of the few trains running on a strike day, the service we enjoyed from our host Bronte was nothing short of faultless. Every restaurant needs a Bronte

She immediately noticed our hangry daughter was a ticking timebomb and prioritised getting her food to the table as soon as was humanly possible, whereas we’ve known her to be left until last at other establishments Not a wise move by any stretch if the imagination!

Connie’s starter of lightly battered halloumi fries came with a thick rich ketchup which lifted them far beyond the usual standard of what Connie calls “squeaky cheese”, while I opted for the soup of the day, because I always do

This particular blend was sweet potato and chilli, crème fraiche and basil oil, presented with crunchy spring onions for added texture It was smooth, sweet and sumptuous, with just the right amount of heat to avoid it being overpowering. Possibly the best soup I have tasted in an age of insipid, grainy substitutes

Having stopped eating eggs when Connie was a baby due to initial intolerance issues, my partner chose to finally break her self-enforced ban on this very night And what was it that tempted her to take the plunge? Only the finest fresh English asparagus served with a poached egg, Hollandaise sauce and added Dunkeld smoked salmon.

She enjoyed it so much that I’m sure if nobody had been watching she would have licked the plate clean, it was literally that good – and especially the egg.

Moving onto our mains, and we both picked from the extensive specials board, with my partner

going for the oven-baked plaice, served with crunchy new potatoes, and added purple broccoli with toasted almond slices

The fish portion was insane in its size, a whole plaice dominating the plate It slid off the bone and was comforting in its simplicity It was just fish, but at the same time so much more. You can’t go wrong with a burger, and there was certainly a lot to shout about the Aubrey Allens Wagyu option, which came with caramelised Marmite onions, pickled sweet red onion, gherkins and sauce, alongside a decent portion of skinny fries The meat was juicy, tender and almost sweet in its flavour, and I have to say I polished it off rather too quickly Having declined the suggested blue cheese accompaniment, I probably should have opted for an extra side dish to pack out my plate

Connie was very happy with her fish and chips: “I love the lady who made me the food!” she enthused, crediting her for a little bit more than she actually did She was also keen on the presentation of her mother’s meal: “I liked the fish with the eye – it was funny!”

Eating outdoors for the first time this year probably added to the experience, with a chorus of birdsong piping from the trees and the golden light of the fading sun transforming the garden, but eventually there was a noticeable chill in the air so we sought refuge indoors for dessert.

Sinking into the real leather chairs surrounding the fireplace, I could not resist the Amarena cherry bakewell with clotted cream, an indulgence my waistline probably wouldn’t thank me for, but a perfect coda to my meal, with a slight tartness to the fruit and a satisfying crunch to the tart.

Although the summery heat of last week is now a distant memory, there are months ahead of us where a night dining outside at The White Horse will certainly be on the cards again, although possibly without the four-year-old next time round

After an uncharacteristically wet and chilly spring, the weather finally took a turn for the better last week, with some spectacular days of sunshine and soaring temperatures Our sensational snapper Toby Shepheard was out and about in Verulamium Park and at St Albans Sub Aqua Club to capture the sun before it inevitably disappeared again We’re walking on sunshine as weather warms up




Privacy is a wonderful thing and the ability to experience it is vital for our emotional wellbeing.

Having a safe place to be, that’s all yours, can be such a delight! Even if it’s only one room with a door that is your territory where you get to control what goes on, what the space is like and who can come in!

The same can be said for your inner world. This is your domain, you can decide what and who you let in, how long they can stay and what you get up to!

It seems easy to lose touch with our ability to say no to intrusions. Certainly, within my lifetime, I’ve seen radical shifts in my public / private boundaries. When I was growing up there were long periods of time when no adults knew for certain where I was. I largely chose who I hung out with and what I did. Now it’s possible and even probable that parents know minute to minute where their children are and who they are with. In addition, seeing as a lot of communication is happening is online, it is even feasible that parents can monitor conversations and what their children are looking at. Although this largely comes from a desire to keep children safe it can also stunt their growth. When the fishbowl is too small the fish don’t grow.

There is also a change in what and how our behaviour is remembered. Years ago, it was possible to do or say something really stupid even horrendously embarrassing and the memory would only exist in the minds of those who were present. Now those moments can be captured and broadcast literally to the world and then be resurrected at any time in the future.

In terms of our private selves being exposed, in days gone by there was a very specific threat of embarrassment from our parents if we brought someone home. Under certain circumstances if our guest was approved of, the family album might come out with those humiliating photos of our younger selves. In the world we live in today some parents might post all sorts of details about their children on social media which can potentially be mortifying.

The range of potential intrusion into our private worlds is scary. What once was private is often offered up for very public consumption and comment from what an individual is having for dinner to the row with a partner, and all sorts of dramas involving each other’s love lives being effectively broadcast in the town square.

The potential for deep shame has risen exponentially. This lack of privacy from birth can mean we can become very inhibited, or we develop major exhibitionist tendencies curating our lives for the benefit of our audience and what gets “likes” instead of what is right for us.

Authentic relating becomes difficult. Not only is the tendency to put out into the world intimate sensitive information about ourselves, and those in our lives, but we have also evolved into a society which welcomes into our homes and our minds huge amounts of information, and characters, that can have quite

a harmful effect on us. The pandemic accelerated this change with most people needing to bring work or school into their living space as well as being bombarded with 24-hour news of disasters and suffering literally on a global scale.

Without the sanctuary of a private space, it is hard to feel safe, take a breath, to relax and reset our nervous systems. It can be difficult to let go of the issues from the day.

The bullying that may take place at work or in school can easily continue into our personal spaces in ways which were never possible a few years ago. The bully rarely came home with us until recently. Without a private space we might find it hard to explore our more vulnerable parts, trying something new, knocking around some alternative ideas, exploring areas of ourselves and our lives that are scary or painful.

In order to sleep deeply we need to feel safe. We need to know the building is secure. When we have a safe space either physically or inside ourselves, we can choose who we invite in and who we want to keep out.

If we are experiencing physical illness or emotional distress, we need a safe environment to work things out without that setting being bugged. The most exclusive luxurious places in the world have top level security and to be invited in is very special. Maybe we all need to adopt this approach and create a haven where we can soothe and be soothed without the intrusion of those who might unsettle us? Maybe we need to encourage our inner bouncer to do their job?

Northern Lights seen in skies over St Albans

The aurora borealis - better known as the Northern Lights - put on a rare display over St Albans last weekend As seen in our photos, they became visible after the Earth was hit by one of the strongest geomagnetic storms for years,

The lights are caused by charged particles from the sun hitting gases in the Earth's atmosphere, with oxygen glowing green and nitrogen purple, blue and pink

Photos: Toby Shepheard, Carol Morton, Sandy Denyer

The Northern Lights from Heartwood Forest in Sandridge, photos by Toby Shepheard The aurora borealis seen over St Albans Cathedral. Photo: Toby Shepheard. Sandy Denyer took these photos of the Northern Lights on Friday night. The Northern Lights over Fleetville as photographed by Carol Morton


why do we need more houses?

People are genuinely perplexed about why the council wants to build thousands of houses locally. Given that there are less than 200 families ‘homeless’ in the district and the birthrate is dropping they consider there is no need for these new homes. Why on earth lose valued Green Belt and add to our congestion on the roads and impact on local services? It’s hard enough to get a doctor’s appointment without adding even more houses!

Looking at housing from a national perspective there is a serious shortage, which has been apparent for many years.

This has driven house prices up to the level that they are becoming increasingly unaffordable to ordinary people on modest incomes. Why has this happened?

It is a straightforward growth issue. Since 1996, the UK population has increased by nearly 15.5%, ie nine million (58 to 67 million in 2021).

Average household size has dropped slightly from 2.4 to 2.35 people per household. This means we needed four million more new homes..

Over the last decade we have only been building on average 180,000 homes per year

This means that we have created a shortage of houses. Scarcity leads to rising prices, so prices have gone up as a result.

The Government is trying to address this by calling for 300,000 houses to be built annually. Labour matches them, wanting to build at least 1.5 million houses over the next five years.

The Liberal Democrats are more enthusiastic about house building and want to build at least 380,000 a year.

These numbers will help home our existing population and ease the overcrowding in our major cities.

However, net immigration, which has been fuelling this increase, continues to add 700,000 people a year to the population. So, the predictions are at least a 1% rise every year for the foreseeable future. This is a net figure, taking into account emigration.

The true immigration figure last year was 1.2 million people aka the population of Hertfordshire.

There is an argument that taking growth and falling household sizes into account, the annual housebuilding figure should be 461,000 houses. What does that mean in practice?

Between 2015 and 2021, 65 square miles of ‘protected’ Green Belt land was set aside for housebuilding. That figure will increase dramatically over the next ten years, particularly in Green Belt zones around London and other major cities. This is because that is where people actually want to live and work.

So given that there is limited land and most of the brownfield sites (nearly all of them around St Albans) have already been earmarked for building, in future, we will need to build on Green Belt land. The alternatives to building more homes and infrastructure are unpalatable. Increase household size (we live in a democracy, so how?), reduce the number of children (already happening, birth rates amongst British born women are falling) or dramatically limit immigration (politically toxic).

‘Not in my back yard’ is increasingly going to be met with the response: ‘Why not?’

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Ladybird exhibition takes flight at city museum

Hundreds of people have flocked to St Albans Museum + Gallery to spot their favourite Ladybird book. Uncovering the story of the talented artists who illustrated the iconic books, ‘The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Artists’ recounts the fascinating history of the little Loughborough print business which became a giant in children’s publishing.

Last Thursday's private view was attended by the Mayor, local dignitaries, councillors and representatives from local organisations including St Albans Library and Oxfam Bookshop, and by collector and curator, Helen Day (pictured above), who grew up in St Albans and now lives in Harpenden Helen said: “It feels incredibly special to open this exhibition in my home city It's been brilliant to show my friends and family my collection, as well as meeting many local fellow Ladybird fans ”

Displayed in the Weston Gallery and showcasing an unparalleled collection of books, original artworks and artefacts, the evocative exhibition takes visitors through different zones and themes including Nature and the Environment, History, Fairy Tales, and Learning to Read Each section explores the story and work of different artists including photographs of the locations, families, friends and neighbours who inspired them, and looking at the moments in time they were capturing Museums audience development manager Catherine Newley said: “Opening weekend was a great success with the exhibition connecting deeply with both locals and visitors from afar - people were eager to visit before the doors even opened! We’ve had lots of comments from people enjoying the experience of re-visiting their childhood through the hundreds of books and artworks on display, finding long-forgotten favourites and sharing them with their friends, children or grandchildren It’s been a joy to see so many visitors, young and old, engaging so keenly with the exhibition ”

The free exhibition runs until September

All photos by Toby Shepheard

Ancient ceremony around city’s historic boundaries

Around 80 people took part in the ancient custom of Beating the Bounds with the Mayor of St Albans

Cllr Anthony Rowlands led a procession in brilliant sunshine along the historic boundaries of the city in a ceremony that dates back to 1327

During the 4 5 mile walk, which started at the puddingstone in St Michael’s Village, willow wands were used to beat the ground The ceremony was devised to allow people to pass on knowledge of where the city’s boundaries lay and assert their rights as citizens

Cllr Rowlands was accompanied by the Mayoress Annie Stevenson, the Deputy Mayor Cllr Jose Madoc and her husband Rhys.

He said afterwards: “Blessed by fine weather, the ancient Beating the Bounds ceremony along the medieval bounds of St Albans was a great success.

“Many thanks to all the noble citizens of St Albans and their four-legged friends who accompanied the Mayoral party. The bounds were duly beaten with willow wands at four points en route, prayers offered by the Mayor's Chaplain and a young volunteer repeatedly bumped - though gently.

“If you missed it, fear not: the next Mayor will be walking the same route on Rogation Sunday in May 2025.”

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