Council agree to replace inaccessible barrier

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Update (22 July 2022): Since yesterday’s news, the Council has changed its position slightly and will not be pursuing bollards. However, it will still look to resolve the issue the barrier presents by installing a bypass path. Details have yet to be released as to what this will look like, but it overcomes an identified issue where bollards may be heavy, causing issues for staff who must manage them on a daily basis.


In May this year, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council started closing an inaccessible barrier across the access road to its Museum and Art Gallery/Registry Office and main town centre park, Riversley Park. This created an obstruction on a National Cycle Network route. Today, the Council have agreed to replace the barrier with removable bollards!

The change comes about following my raising the matter in May, in which a Freedom of Information Act request asked for a copy of the Equality Impact Statement relevant to the barrier being closed. It transpired that such a document does not exist as the barrier is a long-standing feature; the access issue came about due to a change in policy requiring it to once again be closed out-of-hours – a condition of the museum’s insurance.

With the response to the FoI, the Council suggested an alternative route that pedestrians and cyclists could take to bypass the barrier. However, not only does this add a notable diversion, potentially against the Equality Act 2010 which requires that a disabled person experiences no disadvantaged compared to someone who is not disabled, cyclists are not permitted to ride on those paths which are not designated as shared use space. Not every cyclist can comfortably dismount and push a cycle around this diversion, never mind the additional time that doing so would require.

Google Earth map showing Riversley Park, Nuneaton. Annotated with two routes between the same points - one direct, one a longer diversion.
Riversley Park, Nuneaton: two routes between the same points – one direct, one a longer diversion for pedestrians only (Google Earth)

Pushing back against this suggestion with the above points, I noted that the issue could be solved with collapsible bollards or by moving the barrier so that the existing shared use path is within the secured area. I also noted that I had raised the matter a number of years back and the Council has therefore had significant time to consider a solution (incidentally, NBBC made the same diversion suggestion back then). The matter was escalated, and just a day later on Thursday 21 July the Council confirmed by email that bollards have been ordered.

Having looked at the details provided, we can confirm the following actions have been taken:

I would like to confirm that removable bollards have been ordered to replace the gate at Riversley Park. Once installed these bollards should provide access to cyclists and the disabled at all times unhindered.

Unfortunately in the interim we cannot leave the vehicle gate open when the Museum is closed as this is prohibited by the Museum’s insurance. I hope you will therefore bear with us until they are delivered and subsequently installed.

We trust that this will resolve the issue.

Regards
Customer Services
Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council

Email from Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, 21 July 2022

Unfortunately, the barrier will remain closed in the short-term due to that insurance condition, however changes should soon be seen which will make the route in this location more accessible to all legitimate users out-of-hours, including evenings and weekends.

Just two questions remain unknown at this point – whether bollards be installed adhering to minimum spacing standards detailed in current guidance (see LTN 1/20, paragraph 8.3.5), and a rough timeframe. Both questions have been put to the Council and this post will be updated if that information is forthcoming.


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