Archive for the ‘Parks/Green Spaces’ Category

Silt removal from Verulamium Park lake

2017_04_19_V P Lake silt extraction

St Albans City & District Council is removing more silt from Verulamium Park lake, at the opposite end to where silt was removed last year, today and over the next week or so. I imagine this comes as very welcome news to many residents and visitors.

It’s a tricky situation though and silt removal isn’t a sustainable solution to what will be a problem for forever and a day….this takes me back to my GCSE biology days….

The lakes are made from concrete (both edging and bases) no more than 1m deep and they support a large population of waterfowl, which in part is maintained and increased through the popularity of feeding by visitors. This has resulted in a great input of nutrient-rich bird droppings leading to a highly eutrophic (an oversupply of nutrients, inducing explosive growth of plants and algae which, when such organisms die, consume the oxygen in the water), heavily-silted water body. In addition, low water levels in the river mean that the lake does not receive any fresh water from the river for months on end during the summer.

Simply put we MUST stop feeding the birds and I think Mary Poppins and Burt would approve.

The Council is working on a longer, sustainable solution driven by the Environment portfolio holder, Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles and you can read about it here. A cross-party working party has been formed (I am part of it) and meets for the second time this coming Monday.

(And in case you’re wondering, the silt’s going to be pumped into a tanker before being taken to a treatment plant near Redbourn for disposal).


Comedy Night for Verulamium at Play

It’s St Valentine’s Day and I’m expressing love and gratitude for the people who have come forward to be part of Verulamium at Play, the charity I have co-founded to raise money for a new play area in Verulamium Park. We have a huge fundraising challenge (get the background on the Council website) and Ye Old Fighting Cocks are the first business to support us financially. I met with Cristo, landlord of YOFC, at the end of last year asking if he thought there was a way to raise money for VaP and help his business at the same time. It turns out Cristo had been thinking about hosting a comedy night with a top notch tasting menu and launching it as a charity fundraiser was a perfect way to road test it.

So here we are, four days away with all the tickets are sold and a promise of £1k from Cristo and the team. Thank you all so much, I am really looking forward to Saturday night and getting closer to reaching our target.

YOFC Comedy Night

Also singing out in praise of Ember Designs, who produced this promotional flyer without charge. Thank you!

Thanks to Waitrose for having Verulamium at Play as one of their three Community Matters charities this month. The conversation with store manager David happened a very long time ago and putting those green tokens in the box is very satisfying! Thank you.

Waitrose Community Matters

St Michael’s ‘beach’ tidy

St Michaels Beach Clean 1

There’s been an explosion of greenery on the ‘beach’ next to St Michael’s Street bridge over the river Ver. I, with the blessing of the Ver Valley Society, invited residents to join me in bringing it under control during the half term holiday. It’s amazing what a few people can do in 90 minutes and thanks park ranger Bernard for disposing of all the green waste the group generated! I’m now working with a resident, John Cadisch, to find funding to lay new gravel on the beach.

St Michaels Beach Clean 2


St Michaels Beach Clean 4

My kids are brilliant in the way they tolerate my political activities. They joined me in the water, wading out to pluck weeds from the bridge. Payment came later at the Waffle House!

Verulamium At Play

VP playground_2016_05

I’ve been working to get a solid group of residents together to drive fundraising to upgrade the play area in Verulamium Park (click here for the back story on the Council website).

The group has settled on a name and is setting up as a charity (‘Verulamium At Play’) and local dad and designer, Daniel Swainsbury, has produced some design concepts for our logo.

One member of the group, Alex (also a dad) has put together a last minute grant application to Aviva – PLEASE VOTE FOR US by 17th November.

The group really needs 6-8 more volunteers and a particular area of expertise/interest needed is links to the business community in St Albans. If you don’t have links into the business community and you have ideas and energy to set about engaging businesses then that’s great too!

We are also looking for someone:

Working group meeting_2016_10_03

Verulamium At Play working party meeting October 2016

Our challenge is to raise somewhere in the region of £150-200K for a terrific new play area. This may sound a lot and that’s because a) it is and b) the park is what’s called a ‘scheduled ancient monument’ (Roman Verulamium) which means the area has to be developed very sensitively and that could come at a significant extra cost compared to a stunning play area placed elsewhere  in the district.

We’ve got five sub-groups to work on different strands of the project:

  • Shaping a design brief
  • Children’s engagement
  • Business engagement (much more help needed here!)
  • Community engagement
  • Major fundraising event(s)
  • Trusts/grant applications

The sub-groups will get together as and when and the whole group will meet 7.30pm for 7.45-9.30pm in the Blenheim room, Waterened Barn, St Albans on these dates:

  • Monday 7th November
  • Monday 21st November
  • Monday 5th December
  • Monday 16th January
  • Monday 30th January
  • Monday 20th February

Want to get involved? Thank you! E-mail me

Silt extraction from Verulamium Park lake

**UPDATE since original post on 31st May – Environment portfolio holder explains the plan for the lake to the City Neighbourhoods Committee on Wednesday 8th June: click here watch the recording, start at 4 mins and 15 seconds in. **

If you’ve poked a stick into Verulamium Park lake recently you’ll know just how much silt is sitting there, contributing to algal blooms. You’ll also have noticed the stench near the Fighting Cocks end. The Council and the portfolio holder for the Environment, Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles, are working on a long term solution with the Environment Agency. Daniel also agrees that some short term action, specifically the extraction of silt that has accumulated near the Fighting Cocks, is needed and this is happening tomorrow.

Verulamium Park Lake_2016_05_16

A skip containing the silt will be next to the toilet block until the water has drained away. It will then be taken to a licensed waste site. The extraction would have happened sooner but it was decided that it was probably better to wait until after the bank holiday weekend.

There are signs around the lake giving information about how the lake is being managed andthis is being regularly updated.


Although the algae is no longer on the lake surface and the lake water is clear, and the park rangers have been ensuring the outlet grid is clear of twigs to ensure the water can exit the lake and have a constant flow through, the algal problem will probably return. Extracting silt from Verulamium Park lake isn’t a sustainable solution and when I asked how much and how often we’d need to do it (if we went down this route) the answer was about £200K every 10 years. I am pleased the Council and Cllr Chichester-Miles are working with the Environment Agency on a long-term sustainable solution.

Jessica Chivers

13 Jerome Drive,
St Albans,

01727 856169

Twitter: @JC4SADC

The views expressed on this website are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Conservative Councillors' Association or the Conservative Party.