TV presenter ‘blown away’ by response to petition for maintaining access to Hatfield House’s park
- Credit: Archant
Since launching a petition for fair access to be maintained at Hatfield House’s park, a TV presenter and Time Team archeologist has been “blown away” by the amount of public support.
In less than a day, Mary-Ann Ochota has had over 600 residents sign her petition that calls on Hatfield House to postpone the launch of the scheme until the community can agree on something that’s fair.
She, along with residents, also wants to revise the price structure, which has increased from £13 a year (a nominal administration fee for the pass) to £50 per person (£75 for two passes), so no-one in Hatfield will be excluded because of cost, and they want a guarantee that the fees will not rise year on year.
She said: “[I am] blown away by support for this petition to protect fair access for local residents to beautiful Hatfield Park. The community has spoken and we want to work with Hatfield House.”
The petition explains that: “It means Hatfield Park will effectively be out of bounds to everyone except the wealthy. That’s not fair. We all know how important access to green space is for our health and wellbeing.
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“The beautiful grounds of Hatfield Park are an asset the whole community treasures. They must continue to be an asset the whole community can use.”
The WHT already covered this week that Hatfield has a lack of access to green space and a report by the environment charity Friends of the Earth in September confirmed this.
It gives Hatfield Town Centre the worst rating as it lacks publicly available green space and its residents do not generally have gardens. Hatfield North West, near Ellenbrook, and Hatfield South are also given the second worst rating.
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But the map, by Friends of the Earth, does show that Hatfield East residents – where the park is located – have lots of access to green space.
The House will continue its work giving free passes to the local food bank to distribute and keeping access for the scouts and schools.
When asked by the WHT about the cost of the new scheme. Hatfield House’s estate director Anthony Downs said: “We looked long and hard at the fee structure. It’s easy to administer and strikes a price that is at a good level and is comparable with schemes elsewhere.
“This is lower than the cost of parking [at Stanborough] or even buying a coffee,” he added. “It’s 20 pence a day.”
He also explains that COVID-19 has left them extremely vulnerable when costs have risen for large estates, in recent years, due to more regulation such as on maintaining the trees so they are safe for those walking the grounds.
In a letter to residents Hatfield House added: “We have been forced to make a number of redundancies and put a temporary stop on some important expenditure. However, we have tried to maintain the basic upkeep of the Park which, of course, involves a similar order of expense in terms of conservation and maintenance to Hatfield House itself.”
Mr Downs also told the WHT that fees will not be rising each year.
If you’ve been affected by this news please let the WHT know here Charlotte.McLaughlin@archant.co.uk.
You can sign the petition here you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/give-residents-fair-access-to-hatfield-park.
For more see here hatfield-house.co.uk/friends-of-hatfield-park.