Monday, 12 November 2012

Fire at recycling plant near A414 St Albans Road

Source - news release from Hertfordshire County Council  12/11/2012

As the result of smoke from a fire at a wood recycling plant on Appspond Lane, Potters Crouch, St Albans (adjacent to the A414 St Albans Road), two nearby roads are closed for the safety of the public. The closures are:

* A414 St Albans, both ways between A405 Park Street roundabout and M1 J7 

* A4147 Hemel Hempstead Road St Albans, both ways between King Harry Lane and A414 Breakspear Way.

It is anticipated that the road closures could remain in place until mid-week.

The following diversion route is in place: A414 St Albans Road, A414 Two Waters Way, A41 Watford Road, A41 Gadeside, A405 North Orbital Road.  

Expect heavy congestion in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans throughout the duration of the closures. 

Updates on the closure are available on twitter - @Herts_Highways

A fire crew from Hemel Hempstead was called to the scene at midnight on Saturday night (10 November). Since then crews have been working hard tackling a deep-seated fire in a very large pile of recycled timber.

It is normal for a fire of this scale to take days, or even weeks, to extinguish. The Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is working closely with the Environment Agency, St Albans City & District Council, Highways Agency and Hertfordshire County Council.

Fire crews from Watford, Wheathampstead, Redbourn, Hatfield and Royston are on the scene at the moment (10.30am, Monday 12 November), along with the Incident Support Unit from Hitchin.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Aladdin comes to town for St Albans Christmas Lights Switch-On

Source: St Albans City & District Council News Release - 5 November 2012

Pantomime stars from Aladdin will help transform St Albans into a Whole New World when they switch on St Peter’s Street’s Christmas lights on Sunday 18 November.

Organised and delivered by St Albans City and District Council, the Christmas Lights Switch-On promises to bring all the fun of the fair to St Albans. 

The Mayor of St Albans City and District will switch on the lights at 5.30pm, helped by Phil Gallagher. Phil Gallagher is CBeebies’ Mr Maker and is playing Aladdin at the Alban Arena. They will be accompanied by Bob Golding and Jemma Carlisle who are also appearing in the pantomime Aladdin. 

The fun begins at 11am with a children’s funfair, Santa’s Grotto and a Christmas Market featuring stalls selling gifts, hot food and drinks.

There will also be a jam-packed programme of entertainment hosted by Heart FM, starting with a DJ set from 12 noon. This will be followed by a series of performances from youth performing arts groups to get residents in the festive swing. There will be performance poetry, jazz Christmas classics, a sing-a-long and two large choir performances, with song arrangements in pop, Motown and gospel. Residents will then be treated to a section of entertainment with an oriental theme, featuring a dramatic Lion Dance. This will culminate in the pantomime stars from Aladdin, the Mayor, Cllr Eileen Harris and Santa taking to the stage for the Christmas Light Switch-On.

More information about the entertainment programme for the day is available at:

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Half-term & Halloween activities at Butterfly World

Creepy crawlies, beautiful butterflies and phenomenal flowers provide the inspiration for a range of artistic and fun educational workshops for children at Butterfly World throughout the half-term holidays from Sat 27th October until Sat 3rd November, culminating in a fireworks extravaganza on 4th November. 

Young visitors will be able to step into costume and join the ‘Ugly Bug Ball” with Herts Inclusive Theatre drama sessions, get crafty with sand art, pumpkin carving and making birdfeeders with Herts University Art team, and make masks and learn about nature with Butterfly World’s education team.

They can also meet our ‘giant’ creepy crawlies and interact with them in our insect handling sessions to be held every day. Children can imagine life as a tinyinsect in the giant ‘Through the Flower Pot Garden’ and Insect Study Centre, home to hissing cockroaches, stick insects, ant colonies and African snails.  There will also be some special sessions on Monday 29th October all about bees, so that visitors can learn all they can about this incredible species and visit our on-site hives.

There are face-painting sessions every day from 12 to 3pm run by Wendy, whopaints beautiful butterfly and fun creepy crawly creations and a special session on Saturday 3rd November involves having your caricature painted.  The season closes with a Fireworks Extravaganza on Sunday 4th November, from 5 to 7pm.  Please buy tickets in advance for this popular event in order to avoid disappointment, from or 01727 869203.

Butterfly World is open until 4th November, with a special offer of £5 per person in October (Under 3s and Blue Peter badge holders go free).  Opening hours are from 10am-5pm, seven days a week with last entry at 4pm each day. It is served by local buses and St. Albans train station and is situated just off the M1, junction 6a and M25, junction 21a. 

Halloween and Half-term Holiday Activities

Insect handling sessions 11.00. 1.30pm and 3pm every day (free)
Facepainting every day from 12 to 3pm (£4)

Saturday 27th October11-12.30 and 1-3.00pm Pumpkin carving (£3)

Monday 29th October11.00, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm Bee Zone (half hour sessions – lots of fun and education about bees (£3)

Tuesday 30th October 10.30am-3pm Kids Bee Happy, Sand art sessions (£4)

Wednesday 31st October11-12.30 and 1-3pm Big Draw art sessions (£2)

Thursday 1st November10am-12.30pm Herts Inclusive Theatre ‘Ugly Bug Ball” £10 (To book call Caroline England at HIT - 07857986364, 01923 499310 e-mail:, 1-3pm Mask-making

Friday 2nd November11.30 Storytelling (free), 1-3pm Make a birdfeeder session (£2.50) with Herts University Arts team

Saturday 3rd November Have your caricature painted (£5)

Sunday 4th November5-7pm Butterfly World Fireworks Extravaganza (£5); food and drink stalls, BBQ, children’s fairground, facepainting (£4), free parking.  For tickets:; or call 01727 869203

2012 marks Butterfly World’s fourth phase of development. The project, which is backed by Sir David Attenborough and Professor David Bellamy, is hoping to secure the final tranche of funding to enable it to open its doors as the biggest butterfly experience, conservation and education centre in the world complete with living rainforest, 10,000 tropical butterflies, Mayan ruins, caves, streams and rope walkways, all housed in a massive 100metre diameter biome.  There are currently 27 acres of beautiful interactive gardens and a huge natural play area, a tropical butterfly house with over 600 spectacular butterflies, a leafcutter ant exhibition, insect study centre with butterfly emerging cabinets and a whole host of unusual creepy crawlies.  The Nectar House Café provides a selection of hot and cold drinks and meals and the plant and gift shops offer a huge variety of ideas and presents to take home.

Major Roman coin hoard found near St Albans

Source - News release from St Albans City & District Council - 16 October 2012

A nationally significant find of 159 Late Roman gold coins has been found by a metal detectorist on private land in the north of the district of St Albans in Hertfordshire. The find is believed to be one of the largest Roman gold coin hoards ever discovered in the UK.

A team from St Albans City & District Council’s Museums’ Service investigated the site at the beginning of October and confirmed the find. The coins are in very good condition and were scattered across a fairly wide area.  Evidence suggests that the hoard was disturbed in the last couple of hundred years due to quarrying activity or plough action.

The coins date to the very end of Roman rule in Britain, and there are practically no other comparable gold hoards of this period.  After AD 408 no further coin supplies reached Britain.

The coins – called solidus (plural – solidi) date to the closing years of the fourth century.  They were mostly struck in the Italian cities of Milan and Ravenna and issued under the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, Theodosius, Arcadius and Honorius.  

David Thorold, Prehistory to Medieval Curator at Verulamium Museum in St Albans said:  “During the period of the Roman occupation of Britain, coins were usually buried for two reasons.  They were buried as a religious sacrifice to the Gods, or as a secure store of wealth, with the aim of later recovery. Threat of war or raids might lead to burial in the latter case, as may the prospect of a long journey, or any other risky activity.

“Gold solidi were extremely valuable coins and were not traded or exchanged on a regular basis.  They would have been used for large transactions such as buying land or goods by the shipload. 

“The gold coins in the economy guaranteed the value of all the silver and especially the bronze coins in circulation.  If you saved enough bronze, you could exchange it for a silver coin.  If you saved enough silver, you could exchange it for a gold coin.  However, most people would not have had regular access to them.  Typically, the wealthy Roman elite, merchants or soldiers receiving bulk pay were the recipients.”         

Such finds come under the Treasure Act 1996.  The next stage is for the British Museum’s panel of independent experts to examine the coins and make their report to the Coroner who will determine whether they are to be considered as ‘treasure’ under the Act. The value of the gold coins is not yet known.

Cllr Mike Wakely, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage at St Albans City & District Council said:  “This is an exciting find of national significance, and one that our museums’ team is very excited about.  We hope to have an opportunity to display these coins at Verulamium Museum in St Albans over the coming months, once the formalities have been dealt with.”

Verulamium Museum in St Albans will be presenting a talk on the Roman gold coins hoard on Thursday 1 November at 7pm.  Tickets cost £7 and are available from the museum on 01727 751810, email

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

St Albans Food and Drink Festival 2012

News release from St Albans City & District Council on 25 Sep 2012:

This year’s St Albans Food & Drink Festival runs from Wednesday 26 September to Sunday 7 October. This is your opportunity to enjoy 12 days of delicious food and drink throughout the district.

See cookery demonstrations, visit cheese and wine tastings and beer festivals, hear live music, and enjoy fabulous food and drink at great prices.  There are bargains to be had at local pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars including buy-one-get-one-free offers, 25% off offers and complimentary wine when dining.

The Festival kicks off with the St Albans CAMRA Beer Festival at the Alban Arena from Wednesday 26 to Saturday 29 September.  There are up to 350 beers and 60 ciders on offer.

The Gourmet Night on Monday 1 October from 7pm is a fabulous cookery demonstration by chefs from two of the city’s Good Food Guide listed restaurants.  The event is held in aid of the Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice. Buy tickets online

Don’t miss the colourful Festival Finale in St Peter’s Street on Sunday 7 October from 10am to 4pm. There are dozens of stalls selling delicious food from all over the world, plus live music entertainment.  Local chefs will also be cooking live for the crowds at the outdoor AGA Rangemaster cookery theatre.

This week is the last opportunity to vote for your favourite venue or producer in the Food & Drink Festival Awards.  Vote for your favourite restaurant, bar, pub, café, family friendly venue, local producer and ‘local gem’.  Voting ends 6pm on Sunday 30 September.  This is also the deadline to vote in the Kate D’Arcy Award for Exceptional Customer Service, a reward recognising an individual’s excellence.

Winners of all the awards will be announced at the Award Ceremony at St Michael’s Manor on Thursday 4 October. Buy tickets online

For more information about the event, pick up a brochure at the Tourist & Information Centre and participating venues or visit You can also join our Facebook page or email to join the mailing list.

Councillor Beric Read, Portfolio Holder for Community Engagement and Localism at the Council commented.  “The St Albans Food and Drink Festival is a great opportunity for people to sample the delights of our local cafes and restaurants.  You can also vote for your favourite venues and producers across the district.  Make sure you get your Awards votes in by Sunday 30 September.”

Monday, 20 August 2012

Celebrate arrival of Paralympic Flame in St Albans at Sports Fest 2012

Source - St Albans City & Distict Council

Verulamium Park, St Albans will come alive on Saturday, 25 August as the District’s first inclusive Sport Festival is held to welcome the Paralympic Flame to the city. 

The St Albans City and District is among 34 communities across the country hosting an official Paralympic Flame Celebration Event. The aim is to celebrate the start of the Paralympic Torch Relay and the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Kicking off the celebrations, the UK’s number one wheelchair badminton player will carry the Paralympic Flame, along St Peter’s Street to Verulamium Park. The Flame Ambassador, Gobi Ranganathan, will be accompanied by local children, young people and disability community group representatives carrying 89 flags.

Residents and visitors will then be invited to join in a variety of free sports and physical activity sessions at Sports Fest 2012 in Verulamium Park.

Community organisations taking part in Sports Fest 2012 include St Albans City Youth Community FC, Marshalswick Judo Club, St Albans Cricket Club and Verulamians Rugby Club. World Rhythms, another local group known for their involvement in the council-run ‘adiZone Fun Days’, will be giving residents the opportunity to participate in an outdoor Zumba dance class.

There will also be a full programme of live music and entertainment throughout the day with MOBO award-winning Tinchy Stryder topping the bill. Known as the ‘Prince of Grime’, Stryder is one of the most successful UK male solo artists of the last five years, clocking up two number one singles and nine top 40 hits. He has worked with Jay-Z and collaborated with such stars as Tinie Tempah, Emeli Sande, N-Dubz, Taio Cruz and Pixie Lott. He has also been licensed to release an official song for the Olympic Torch Relay, ‘Spinnin for 2012’, which he recorded with Amy Winehouse’s god-daughter, Dionne Bromfield. A number of local acts including The Cautionaries, Telstar and Go Monaco, as well as vocalist, Melissa O’Donnell, will also be on the bill. 

Details of the event are below:

Paralympic Flame Celebration Event - Event Format

11:15 - 12noon: A procession to welcome the Paralympic Flame. The Flame will be carried by Flame Ambassador Gobi Ranganathan, the UK’s number one Wheelchair Badminton Player along St Peter's Street to Verulamium Park. The procession will also include local children, young people and disability community groups and showcase 89 banner flags designed by children from local special schools and adults from local disability organisations. The flags have been designed to celebrate the Paralympic Games.

12noon - 12:15pm: Welcome ceremony in Verulamium Park for the Paralympic Flame. This will feature a short speech from Gobi Ranganathan, followed by a fast-moving and dramatic dance-theatre performance from, ARC; the professional arm of Redbourn’s Inclusive ArtsBase, ActOne. 

12.15pm - 5pm: Sports activities, entertainment, live music and dance programmed throughout the day

5pm - 9pm: Live music from local artists and musicians, featuring headline act Tinchy Stryder.

For more information please visit 

This blog content was sourced from a St Albans City & District Council news release.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Sky Ride Local – free, fun, friendly bike rides in St Albans

Sky Ride Local, the popular programme of friendly community-led cycle rides, is coming to St Albans District starting on Sunday July 15.

The bike rides will take place every Sunday until mid-October. With British Cycling-trained Ride Leaders on hand to offer encouragement and support, it's a great way to get out and explore local areas. Registration is free and open now for rides already taking place in St Albans, Watford and Dacorum districts.

More rides are being added all the time, so families, friends and groups can check out the dates and details of rides taking place. Rides vary in levels, from beginners to experienced cyclists, so everyone can pick a level to suit their skills and enjoyment. This year there are new ride levels to excite and challenge, including some tougher rides and new off-road rides at all levels. There are great gifts for children available too.

Sky Ride Local is provided by British Cycling and Sky. For more information visit

This blog content was sourced from a St Albans City & District Council news release.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Olympic Torch is coming to St Albans

Press release from St Albans City & District Council on 2/7/12

The Olympic Flame will arrive in St Albans at 4.06pm on Sunday 8th July.

Our Torchbearers will carry the flame along the length of Hatfield Road from its junction with Charlotte Close (near Oaklands College, Smallford Campus). They will then take it across St Peter’s Street into Catherine Street, along Folly Lane joining Verulam Road before finishing near the Batchwood roundabout.

Large crowds are expected, so the advice is to get there early for a good view. There are lots of events and celebrations going on in the city on the day. Many local people, community groups and clubs are having parties and celebrations and many are open to the public.

Along the torch route, you can enjoy music, face painting and ‘Play in the Parks’ at Fleetville and Oysterfields recreation grounds. Clarence Park has fun and games with St Albans City Youth Football Club. The fun continues at Victoria Playing Fields with the Friends of Victoria Playing Fields organising lots of activities and a community Cricket Match. There is judo, zumba, street entertainment, music and lots more in the city centre. Many of the pubs and eateries have their own entertainment planned.

The churches along the route are laying on celebratory events. Hatfield Road Methodist Church, St Paul’s Church and St Peter’s Church all have activities galore. St Peter’s Church is offering tours of the tower.

Cllr Mike Wakely, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage at St Albans City and District Council, said: “This is one of those historic moments for St Albans and we are expecting lots of people to line the streets. We have gone to town on the bunting and there are flags designed by local children to wave as we cheer the runners on. The Olympic Torch is due in the District from Hatfield at 4.06pm, but there is plenty of fun and things to see all day, so people can make a real day of it. In the morning, the Freedom Parade* is taking place in the city, and with the Farmers Market, the Wheathampstead Village Day, and all the community events all over town, there’s going to be a real buzz. Make sure you get your spot early, crowds are expected.”

For more information about the Olympic Torch relay in St Albans, visit

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Restoration work begins on The Odyssey cinema after £1.2m is offered by local Angel investors

Edited version of press release issued on 23 May 2012

Four local Angel investors have invested a total of £1.2million in loans. Names have not yet been released but they consist of passionate supporters of the work of The Rex and The Odyssey.

Over the past two years, the team have spoken and negotiated with seven banks and a handful of venture capitalists with the aim of raising enough finance to turn The Odyssey back into a working cinema. In April, one financial services organisation got closer to lending the necessary money than any of the other banks, including those publicly owned. However, one thing led to another, terms were found to be unmanageable, and later that day, the answer returned to ‘No’.

James Hannaway says “By 9.45 on the 1st May, the word ‘Yes’ came from one man, whom, along with his family, agreed to step in to the bank’s pockets, without a second thought. After two solid years (almost to the day) of endless talks, emails, meetings, tasks and questions answered, re-answered and repeated, it was all over in two days! Suddenly every hoop and tedious question seemed worth it. A virtual repeat of how the Rex was won. One odyssey over; the best to come.”

The team will start rebuilding the Odyssey from the inside. Quietly, much of the work to satisfy the fire brigade’s and Council’s prohibition notice last September (which halted the Grease event and following Open Sunday) has been completed, and all four screen pits have been demolished and removed. Nevertheless, money is still tight. The quantity survey confirms a finished price of around £1.6m. 

With the new investment, The Odyssey hopes to show its first film at the beginning of 2014.

For anyone wanting to provide financial support, loans and equity are now closed - this year will be your last chance to buy an ABL, sponsor a seat and/or other parts of the building listed on the website. Advanced Booking Lists (ABL) are still available. To purchase any of these go to the website and/or send an email with your request to

Supporters and interested parties can sign up to our mailing list at to be kept up to date with the latest news and opportunities to get involved. On the site, you can also find contact details.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

St Albans City and District Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

Edited news release from St Albans City & District Council on 9 May 2012

A giant street party in St Peter’s Street, St Albans will be among the events held across the District to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The celebrations will run from Saturday 2 June to Monday 4 June, culminating in Diamond Jubilee Beacons being lit across the District and a fireworks at the St Albans Diamond Jubilee Street Party.

St Albans City and District Council is organising the street party on Monday 4 June which will provide a fun day out for the whole family. St Peter’s Street will be closed to traffic but the shops will be open for business as usual. Everyone is welcome at the exciting Jubilee celebrations with ten hours of fun and entertainment for all. You can dine al fresco at the Bring or Buy Lunch from 12 noon to 3.30pm by taking along your own picnic or buying food from the many stalls hosted by local restaurants and eateries. You can also enjoy live music from the Swanvesta Social Club, and family entertainment including a funfair which will stay open until 9:30pm.

The Diamond Decades Gig, showcasing music from each decade of the Queen’s reign, will take place in front of the Town Hall from 4pm to 9:45pm. It will include performances from Ricky Lopez, Scam 69, and The Faith Stealers. The gig will be followed by the lighting of a Diamond Jubilee Beacon on the roof of the Town Hall at 10.15pm and a short firework display.

Other Diamond Jubilee Beacons will also be lit at events in Highfield Park in St Albans, Harpenden, London Colney, Greenwood Park at Chiswell Green and Jersey Farm Woodland Park.

Throughout the long weekend there will be other celebrations across the District. These will kick off on Saturday 2 June with a Diamond Jubilee Family Fun Day at Harpenden Common, running from 11.30am to 5pm. In the evening, the London Colney Jubilee Ball will be held at the Community Centre in Caledon Road from 7pm. This will be followed on Sunday 3 June by Redbourn’s community celebrations which will include a service at St Mary’s Church and a ticket-only street party.

On Monday 4 June, Wheathampstead will play host to a variety of Jubilee Celebrations including a picnic, concert, bonfire and fireworks at the Marford Road Playing Fields. Celebrations are also taking place on the same day at Jersey Farm Woodland Park between 3pm and 11pm with lots of family activities and a Diamond Jubilee Beacon. Other events being held to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee include Jubilee activities for all ages at St Albans Museums on 2, 7 and 8 June. And don’t miss the extremely popular Adoramus choir and orchestra when it returns to the Alban Arena on 30 June with a musical extravaganza to celebrate the Jubilee.

More information about the events is available on the Council’s website or from the St Albans Tourist and Information Centre on 01727 864511 or at If you would like your event to be added to the listings, please contact the St Albans Tourist and Information Centre.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Under 11s school places for 2012

News release from Hertfordshire County Council on 18/04/2012

Despite a large increase in the number of applications, this year 400 more Hertfordshire children have been allocated a place at one of their three preferred primary, junior or middle schools when compared to last year - equivalent to almost 93 per cent of applications.

Nearly 18,000 applications have been dealt with and over 17,500 Hertfordshire families will be informed of their offer of a school place today or tomorrow. 

The vast majority of parents and carers in Hertfordshire will be able to access their allocation information this evening.  After 6pm, allocation emails will be sent to all parents who have confirmed their email address. The online allocation system will be available for other online applicants only after all emails have been despatched.

The number of children applying for a place in a Hertfordshire primary school has risen by 835 this year - a total of 14,436 applications for reception places were received.  Despite this significant increase, 13,254 Hertfordshire children have been allocated a ranked primary school. Similarly, more children were allocated their first ranked school compared to last year - 11,682 in all, an increase of  279 since last year. 

Over the last few years the number of applications for reception places has been steadily increasing and 17 additional forms of entry have already been made available for September 2012, as published in the “Applying for a School Place” booklet. However, more places are needed because applications are even higher than anticipated: over 6 per cent up on last year, which is equivalent to over 800 children or a form of entry at 28 schools.

In order to ensure that additional places provided matches local demand as closely as possible, some potential expansions were identified but were not finalised until after primary applications for 2012 had been received and analysed. On the basis of this work the following schools will also be admitting an additional form of entry in September 2012: 

Baldock: Hartsfield Primary
Harpenden: Wood End Primary; Manland Primary
Hatfield: DeHavilland Primary
Hertford: Bengeo Primary
Hoddesdon: Cranbourne Primary
Redbourn: Redbourn Infants
Watford: Central Primary; Orchard Primary; Watford Field Infants; Kingsway Infants
Welwyn Garden City: Springmead Primary
Wheathampstead: Beech Hyde

These additional places will be added at the continuing interest stage, in the week commencing 14 May 2012. 

Justin Donovan, Director of Education and Early Intervention, said: "Starting primary school or moving on to a junior or middle school is an important step and we are pleased that even more children have been allocated a ranked school this year, despite the increase in the number of applications. 

“We have been working closely with schools over the last two years to create additional reception places and, although across the county as a whole there are enough reception places for all children, schools with vacancies are not in the right locations to cater for the increasing demand for reception places in other towns and communities. This year, if in one area it has not been possible to offer a significant number of children a place at one of their ranked schools, and  the distance to the nearest school with an available place is  over five miles, places have not been offered at this stage in the process but will be offered next month. This strategy means that, for the first time in Hertfordshire, some applicants in Watford, Harpenden and Wheathampstead will not be offered a reception place on allocation day.

“I recognise this is always a difficult time for these parents. However, although allocations for these families will be delayed for a month, I am confident that every child not currently offered a reception place will be offered one at the first run of continuing interest in the week commencing 14 May 2012.”

The decision to add places at the continuing interest stage was taken because confirmation of these new places became available after the application process closed, and we want to make sure that all families have equal access to them. It is vitally important that all families are treated within a clear and transparent process.

All Hertfordshire applicants for reception places will receive a letter and/or email on allocation day outlining the process for applying for the additional places available in the first continuing interest run.  All applicants who have not been offered their first preference school will automatically be placed on the continuing interest list for any schools named higher on their application form than the school offered. Parents can also consider making a new application to any of the schools offering additional places. Full information on how to make a continuing interest application, and the timescales involved, is available in the “Under 11s - What Can You Now?” leaflet, which is included with the allocation letter for all children not offered their first preference school and also available at (this site goes live after 4pm today).

All parents and carers offered a school place must respond by 2 May 2012. Parents who applied online must also accept the school place offered online. Families are advised to visit the school they have been offered before deciding whether to accept or decline the place. If a response is not received the offered place may be withdrawn.

The deadline to submit an appeal is 4pm on 18 May 2012. All information concerning post allocation processes is available in the “What Can You Do Know leaflet”. Additional information, including school summary reports, is available at (this site goes live after 4pm today).

Monday, 26 March 2012

New Focus for Trestle: Expansion of mask work and launch of new website

Press Release from Trestle Theatre on 26 March 2012

Trestle, the St Albans based mask and physical theatre company, is to expand its highly acclaimed mask making business, backed by a programme of workshops and performances. Participatory and performance work for 11 - 25 year-olds will be Trestle's priority. A year of consultation, reflection and restructuring followed Arts Council England's decision not to award National Portfolio funding to Trestle.

The Company has reviewed its mask making business and will be taking the creative stimulus of Trestle’s work with young people and physical storytelling theatre into its mask resources and workshops. Driven by the last five years of international influences and cross-cultural collaboration, Trestle aims to take the masks in a new direction, with the offer of digital and live resources to support training, participation, and performance.

Emily Gray says: ‘It was tough losing Arts Council subsidy, of course, but being forced to focus on what we do well, and what our stakeholders would like us to offer, has driven a creative process which has been liberating and fruitful. In the past year, with a reduced, but highly effective staff team, we toured three productions, developed arts programmes for young people at Trestle Arts Base and Platform and continued our workshops and training across the UK and abroad. Looking forward, we will launch a new website, deliver work with and for young people  which responds to masked and unmasked performance and continue collaborating with our partners and supporters.’

In the next year, Trestle will enjoy working with its new partners, looking for innovative ways to fund new performances and inviting young people to experience and shape the Company’s work. Trestle continues to have a good relationship with the Arts Council, who have a vested interest in the lottery funded Trestle Arts Base.

In the past year, Trestle has consolidated a number of strong international and local partnerships and been nominated for two awards; the Peter Brook Empty Space/Equity Ensemble Award and a prestigious local award, the details of which will be released shortly. Trestle has also been successful in securing funding from two Local Councils; St Albans District and Islington, where Trestle is in a partnership developing Platform, the new youth arts hub at Hornsey Road Baths.  

Trestle will launch its new website on Thursday 29th of March at 12 noon. We hope that you will be able to join our Artistic Director Emily Gray, live on Twitter and Facebook to share your feedback on the new site and Trestle’s new focus, one year on from the Arts Council Cuts.

To be involved, please follow us on Twitter at the handles below

Or post/message us on our Facebook

Friday, 16 March 2012

New vision to improve St Albans’ museums agreed

Press Release from St Albans Council - 16 March 2012

The Museum of St Albans will be relocated to the Town Hall as part of a new 10-year vision to improve the City’s museums agreed by St Albans City and District Council’s Cabinet on 15 March.

The vision is to create two state-of-the-art museums; one to showcase the City’s Roman history and the other to tell St Albans’ story from the post-Roman and medieval period through to the present day.

The plans include:
· the development of the Town Hall in Market Place as a new city centre museum over the next five years, and
· the expansion and improvement of Verulamium Museum to provide more exhibition space and educational facilities over a 10 year time frame.

The existing Museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road suffers from being located away from city centre and an inflexible layout. In contrast, the Town Hall is located close to historical attractions, such as the Abbey, the Clock Tower and French Row, which will help the museum attract more visitors. It also has the potential to be extended to provide additional exhibition space. Any changes made to the Old Town Hall will be sympathetic to its grade II* status.  The Council will draw on the expertise of specialist architects to deliver an exciting iconic building.

The vision also makes provision for Verulamium Museum to be turned into a centre of excellence for the understanding of St Albans’ pre-Roman and Roman period and the archaeological and natural heritage of the local area. To help develop these plans, a partnership with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is being considered.

Verulamium Museum already benefits from a good reputation and location close to the Roman Theatre, the Hypocaust and the city walls. However, the existing building needs additional exhibition space and educational facilities to accommodate school visits.

Councillor Mike Wakely, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage for St Albans City and District Council, said: “Cabinet has agreed a new vision for St Albans’ museums that will help them both attract more visitors and contribute to the local economy. The exciting plans for the Museum of St Albans will breathe fresh life into the Town Hall and mean that more space can be devoted to explaining the post-Roman history of the City in its entirety. The existing museum fails to pay full regard to this history and is located in an inflexible building that is out of the way. The vision also provides for the extension and updating of Verulamium Museum to help it become even an even more popular destination for school visits.”

Cabinet also agreed that officers should look into the merits of disposing of the building currently housing the Museum of St Albans to help raise funds to facilitate the new vision for St Albans’s museums.

The meeting can be viewed online via the Council’s website.

The agenda and reports for the meeting are available on the Council’s website at:


1. The proposed new location for the Museum of St Albans will:

· help it attract more visitors, due to its city centre location and close proximity to other historical attractions.

· provide an opportunity to work alongside the Abbey on its ‘Alban Project’ and to develop a medieval heritage quarter that will attract more visitors to the City and benefit the local economy.

· bring to life the iconic grade II* listed Town Hall, a valued heritage asset in the city.

· offer a new visitor attraction in the form of the law courts and cells, all currently located in the Town Hall.

· involve the creation of more exhibition space by means of a new basement area and mezzanine galleries so that the City’s post Roman history can be fully displayed.

· have modern facilities, dependent on the availability of external funding and relevant planning and listed buildings consents.

2. The proposals for Verulamium Museum include:

· an extension to the existing building to provide an extra 625 square metres of public space.

· a working partnership with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to promote the natural heritage of the area.

· increasing education facilities.

· adding exhibition space.

3. More information about St Albans’ museums is available at:

Monday, 12 March 2012

St Albans MusicCity 2012 - 17 to 25 March

St Albans MusicCity week will once again celebrate the wealth of amazing music venues and promoters in the St Albans district.

St Albans MusicCity runs from Saturday March 17 to Sunday March 25. As well as gigs at key venues all over the district, there will be special events including live music in St Albans town centre on the opening Saturday and a ‘60’s special at The Museum of St Albans featuring some of the best acts from the local acoustic scene. The opening night will feature the unsigned gig of the year, MCU1 at The Alban Arena. You can also join in with workshops in blues guitar and drumming,

The celebrations on the opening Saturday will kick off in town with live music from Sambuka, Scarlette Fever and King Alfred’s Cakes prior to the evening’s events.

St Albans has a rich musical history and continues to foster a vibrant scene. St Albans MusicCity is a celebration of that scene which encompasses everything from traditional folk, blues and jazz through to indie, metal and pop! MusicCity will remind you of the variety and quality of local music venues and promoters who make St Albans such an amazing city all year round!

Full listings can be found at and a programme is available to download at Programmes can also be picked up from all participating venues as well as other public agencies such as The Tourist Information Centre, St Albans Library and St Albans City and District Council Offices. You can join in too learning DADGAD guitar, joining in a drumming session or by stepping on stage at an open mic or jam night!

The St Albans public has voted in their hundreds for the acts they wanted to see at the inaugural MCU1. The top three bands had very little between them and they will all play the first MCU1 showcase at The Alban Arena on Saturday 17th March 2012. The bands are: Waiting For Katherine, Rae Kelly and Tranquil Fury. The Horn will keep the music flowing between sets with their resident DJ Hansi. Runners-up, Swanvesta Social Club will be appearing at The Horn MCU1 After Show Party and tickets for both The Arena & The Horn will be available individually from each venue, or a combined ticket can be obtained from The Alban Arena Box Office. There will also be an "Acoustic Guerilla" gig outside the Arena in the afternoon, making this one of the biggest celebrations of the local music scene ever - a perfect way to kick off St Albans MusicCity Week!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Work set to start on new cycle way in Verulamium Park

Press release from St Albans City & District Council (7 Mar 12)

Plans to put in place new cycle routes in Verulamium Park in St Albans are set to come to fruition, with works due to begin later this month.

Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles, Portfolio Holder for Environment at St Albans City & District Council, met with members of the Verulamium Park Consultative Forum on 5 March to discuss the project for delivery of cycling in the park.  Cllr Chichester-Miles presented plans and answered questions from the Consultative Forum.  The feedback from the meeting was positive and provided some clear areas for further investigation prior to implementation of the new cycle way. The slides presented as part of the project discussion can be seen on the Council’s website.  

This new cycle path initiative follows a decision by Full Council last July to work in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council to provide east/west and north/south cycle routes in the park.  Consultation with residents and the need to take into account the safety of all park users were seen as important criteria.  Council’s decision came after a petition was presented at the July Council meeting by the St Albans Cycle Campaign.

The design work for the new cycle way incorporates ideas put forward by residents, elected members, Hertfordshire County Council, District Council officers, external experts and other groups. The safety of all park users is fundamental to the design.  Speed bumps and different coloured surfaces are both featured.   Signage is being kept to a minimum and will be as unobtrusive as possible, in keeping with the park setting.  The ongoing involvement of key stakeholders, including access groups and others, will be vital in successful delivery of the project. It is currently envisaged that works will begin later in March.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Secondary allocations announced for 2012

Press release from Hertfordshire County Council

Nearly 95 per cent of Hertfordshire children have been allocated a place at one of their three preferred secondary schools.

Most parents and carers in Hertfordshire will be able to access their secondary transfer allocation information this evening. Allocation emails will be sent, after 6pm, to parents who have who have confirmed their email address (over 90 per cent of parents). Over 97 per cent of parents applied online and the online allocation system will be available for all online applicants later this evening after allocation emails have been despatched. The website is:

The county council will only be sending allocation letters to parents and carers who applied on paper or who were not successful in obtaining a place at their first ranked school. Parents and carers who applied online will be able to accept the school place offered online, as well as pursuing a continuing interest place and lodge an appeal. This year 11,901 children in the county have been allocated one of their ranked schools, a success rate of 94.7 per cent, despite an increase in the number of applicants. 79.13 per cent of children gained a place at their first ranked school.

All applicants who have not been offered their first preference school will automatically be placed on the continuing interest list for any schools named higher on the application form than the school offered. However, as was the case last year, parents should note that all new applications for continuing interest must be made to their home local authority, i.e. to Hertfordshire County Council for families living in Hertfordshire.

Further detailed information can be found in the 'Secondary - What Can You Do Now?' leaflet, which is included with the allocation letters for all children who have not been offered their first preference school. This leaflet which explains the continuing interest process and how to appeal is also available on the website Parents can also access other useful information, such as school allocation summary reports, through the website.

School places must be accepted by 16 March. This is also the last date to 'opt out' of continuing interest for community and voluntary controlled schools. The deadline to submit an appeal is 4pm on 29 March, 2012.

Secondary Schools in St Albans

Sunday, 19 February 2012

First Capital Connect’s performance comes under scrutiny

- an update from St Albans District Council on 15 Feb 2012.

Senior management from First Capital Connect and Network Rail have been questioned about the performance of the Thameslink service by St Albans City and District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee at its last meeting. This was a follow-up meeting from an earlier one in June last year to monitor the progress of the rail companies implementation of their action plans to improve rail services. The Committee was particularly concerned about clear communications with the public when there are rail delays and the compensation policy as well as other issues that they raised at the previous meeting. 

At this latest meeting, the Committee heard a presentation from Neal Lawson, Managing Director, and Larry Heyman, Integration and Partnership manager, at First Capital Connect and Martin Frobisher, Route Managing Director, East Midlands from Network Rail, outlining a number of improvements the companies have made since last June. These include improvements to customer information; a change in approach to managing disruption, and upgrades to the electrification plant, track and signalling. At St Albans and Harpenden stations more ticket vending machines and new information screens have also been installed, platform lengths extended ahead of the 12-car trains that were introduced in December 2011 and there are also plans to introduce free cash point machines by the end of March. Planned future changes include an extra 20 parking spaces at Harpenden station, mobile phone texts to update customers on the service and a new style of customer service training for all staff.

However, while the Committee noted the progress that had been made, including improvements to First Capital Connect’s communications with passengers during times of disruption, members expressed concerns about other issues such as parking charges and the clarity of the compensation policy for commuters when delays occur. The Committee agreed to ask First Capital Connect to reconsider the parking charges at St Albans City and Harpenden Stations and to consider the terms of its compensation policy for passengers affected by severe disruption lasting over 60 minutes.

First Capital Connect and Network Rail will be invited to return to give a further update to the Committee in September. Written questions and comments received recently by the Council from the public about the service have been collated, with all the personal details removed, and passed to First Capital Connect for consideration. In due course, responses to these will be included with the Minutes of the meeting on the Council’s website having now been received from First Capital Connect.  

A webcast of the meeting on Thursday, 26 January can be viewed on the Council’s website at: . People with access to an appropriate computer with broadband internet access and Microsoft Windows media player will be able to view the meeting.

Monday, 6 February 2012

New parking measures to attract shoppers to St Albans

Press release from St Albans Council on 6 February 2012

St Albans City and District Council is planning a number of new parking measures, including freezing most parking charges, as part of a move to help attract more shoppers and tourists to St Albans. The plans were discussed at a meeting with managers of Christopher Place and The Maltings shopping centres and then unveiled to retailers at the Retail Forum on 31 January.

They include:

  • a review of parking to the south of the city centre including Holywell Hill, Belmot Hill and London Road (south of Alma Road) to identify ways of supporting retailers. This could include the introduction of new free one-hour on-street parking spaces. 
  • the freezing of on-street parking charges across the District.*
  • the freezing of parking charges at council-owned car parks across the District*, apart from the rate for 3-5 hours which will increase by 20p to £3.40. (The increase is a contractual obligation set out in the Council’s contract with NCP).
  • a review of coach parking facilities with the aim of providing additional spaces to help attract more tourists to the City.
  • exploring pay by phone technology at council-owned car parks to make it easier for people to extend their stay without the need to return to their vehicle.
  • the promotion of free on-street parking on Sundays and at council-owned city centre car parks**, as well as parking for a £1 at Christopher Place and The Maltings.

These new initiatives are in addition to the Council’s introduction of 20 new free one-hour on-street parking spaces at the north end of St Peter’s Street at the end of last year.***

* For the year from 2 April 2012.
**Parking is free on Sundays in St Albans city centre at the following council-owned car parks: 

London Road 
Keyfield Terrace 
Civic Centre 
Bricket Road North 
Adeleide Street 
Townsend Avenue 

***The new 20 free one-hour on-street parking spaces to the north of St Peter’s Street are located at Etna Road and Upper Marlborough Place and opposite St Peter’s Church.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Join in the flippin’ fun at St Albans Pancake Races

Get your frying pans ready for not just one, but two pancake races that will be held in St Peter’s Street, St Albans on Shrove Tuesday. A traditional running race and the Flippin' Walkers race, sponsored by McDougalls and organised by St Albans City and District Council, will take place outside the Town Hall on 21 February, from 12 noon.

The St Albans Pancake Race is a running race where each team member has to run very fast, stop suddenly, flip a pancake and set off again at a sprint. The St Albans Flippin’ Walkers’ Race is a walking race where you must toss a pancake continuously. It is all about good hand, eye and foot co-ordination. Teams of four can chose to enter either race. Fancy dress or corporate branding is welcome, so get some publicity for your organisation, or just come along with friends for some fun. 

If you want to take part in one of the two pancake races, simply register your team and team name with us by 4.30pm on Monday, 20 February. To enter, simply complete and return an entry form to us. These are available from the Tourist and Information Centre, Market Place, St Albans or on the Council’s website at: For further information please contact the Tourist and Information Centre by telephone on 01727 864511 or by email at

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

First Capital Connect’s performance to come under scrutiny

Senior management from First Capital Connect and Network Rail are to be questioned on the rail companies’ performance by St Albans City and District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee on Thursday, 26 January 2012.

At a meeting in July 2011, the Committee raised with management of both companies a number of issues relating to the Thameslink Service operating from St Albans City Station. It was particularly concerned about delays with the service, the need for prompt and clear communication with commuters at times of disruption and the clarity and consistency of the compensation policy for commuters. The Committee asked First Capital Connect and Network Rail to return in six months time to review progress on the implementation of their action plan. This review will now take place on 26 January. 

Councillor Robert Donald, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee at the Council, said: “Following the Committee’s questioning of First Capital Connect and Network Rail last July, members are anxious to hear what improvements have been made regarding better communication with passengers when there are problems and delays to the train service and to the compensation policy, which I feel has been unclear and inconsistent in the past. The Committee will be keen to hear how much of the action plan, that the representatives of both rail companies informed us about at the last meeting, has actually been implemented since then. However, very recent delays and problems to the service indicate that there is still considerable work to do on both these issues. Local commuters are fast losing patience with the explanations and excuses and, on their behalf, we will robustly press both companies regarding the progress or lack of it on these matters at the meeting. If any residents have got recent experience of problems with either First Capital Connect or Network Rail, please contact the Scrutiny Support Officer and these will also be put to the rail companies.” 

The Committee would also like to hear from local commuters with their views about the service provided by both companies by 20 January. Anyone who wishes to raise any issues can email  or write to Catherine Comfort, Scrutiny Support Officer, St Albans City and District Council, Council Offices, Civic Centre. Questions will either be addressed at the meeting or receive a written response.  

The meeting on Thursday, 26 January will be open to the public. If you are unable to attend the meeting in person, you can view a webcast of the meeting live or at a later date on the Council’s website at: . People with access to an appropriate computer with broadband internet access and Microsoft Windows media player will be able to view the meeting. The agenda for the meeting will be available shortly on the Council’s website at: