Council reacts to Welwyn Garden City’s ‘cubegate’ with public seating consultation

PUBLISHED: 16:17 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:35 20 August 2018

Six hardwood blocks replaced the benches at Woodhall Shopping Parade. Picture: supplied

Six hardwood blocks replaced the benches at Woodhall Shopping Parade. Picture: supplied

supplied

After an outcry in response to wooden cube seats, Welwyn Hatfield Council will be asking for your views on public seating.

Six wooden cube seats were installed at Woodhall shops in June to replace four benches that had stood there previously.

This was part of measures to deter large groups of young people gathering, as part of broader council efforts to counter anti-social behaviour which had dogged the area in recent weeks. However, Paul Bishop at WGC-based Herts Action on Disability pointed out that the cubes were inaccessible to people who need back support and armrests.

“It’s a lack of thought about accessibility for older and disabled people,” he told the WHT in June, branding the Iroko hardwood cubes, which cost £3,140 to replace, as an attempt to be “trendy”.

READ MORE: Disability group slams new Welwyn Garden City cube seats

The question was discussed at a council meeting on July 9 where a motion, by Labour councillor JIll Weston, to restore the original seats and review youth activities in the area, was defeated by 24 votes to 20.

Instead, the council has decided to put the question to the public, and officers will be out and about at the shopping parade at Woodhall on Tuesday August 28 from 10am to 4pm, and Wednesday August 29 from 4pm to 7pm with surveys gathering views.

The feedback will be used to help the council decide on any future seating in the area.

Councillor Mandy Perkins, leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said: “The seating changes at Woodhall have been part of a much wider project with many local partners, which – in addition to a range of improvements to the physical environment – includes working closely with young people, schools and their families to prevent anti-social behaviour.

“And it’s really encouraging to see calls to 999 and 101 from the area reduce by 85 per cent since last September.

“We’ve listened to feedback from residents and businesses about the seating and want to make sure they’re involved in helping us decide what we do next.”

In addition, the council plans to seek views in an online survey.

Between Tuesday August 28 and Sunday September 9 you will be able to register your opinions online at www.welhat.gov.uk/woodhall

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