Deckchairs have been removed from a city park amid “health and safety concerns”.
The seating was laid out by a local cafe and was free for anyone in the park to use regardless of whether they were customers.
Now however, the deckchairs in Clarence Park, St Albans have been removed by the district council with one official claiming the seating “could be vicious” and could "trap little fingers".
A petition has been set up urging the council to reconsider, with one woman arguing “children can learn to use deckchairs safely like they do with playgrounds”.
The chairs were first introduced by Italian restaurant and café Verdi’s during the height of the pandemic in summer 2020.
Councillor Josie Madoc, chair of the Clarence Park Consultative Forum, said there were a number of concerns with the deckchairs that had led to their removal.
‘Nasty little accident’
She said: “Verdi’s have a certain set area outside their restaurant which is their licensed area and where they are permitted to put tables and chairs.
“The deckchairs were placed far and wide outside of this area. This means it’s a breach of their license by quite a long way.
“Secondly, anything outside of their licensed area is not their legal responsibility. The chairs, therefore, become the responsibility of the council and the park, however, their health and safety cannot be verified.
“Anything, as you can imagine, that is in the park has to be carefully checked and maintained on a regular basis and if these chairs have not been checked then the risk is that there will be a nasty accident involving little fingers, as we all know deckchairs can be a bit vicious.
“We’d like to know we are comfortable with the quality and safety of them before allowing them into the wider park, or that Verdi’s take full responsibility for them but keep them within their licensed area.”
But Cllr Madoc also offered hope for their return: “If Verdi’s wanted to discuss with us the possibility of doing this with proper process and due diligence, it’s a definite possibility that we might see the deckchairs come back.
“It just needs to be done the right way to ensure the license is not being breached, and that more importantly, we are happy with the safety of them.”
‘Popular with young and old’
However, Charlotte Chesrye from Verdi’s refuted the claims made by the council.
Speaking to The Telegraph, she said: “We weren’t made aware of the reasoning prior to the removal. We were just told to get rid of them.
“The chairs were so popular with old and young alike and we have never had a single problem or accident. They are covered by our public liability insurance and quite frankly you could arrive at the park with your own chair and there wouldn’t be an issue.”
She added: “We are absolutely not in breach of our licence or lease and as such Cllr Madoc is misinformed.”