Council will ‘not be able to please everybody’ with Coastal Path barriers changes
Councillors have agreed to consult with disability groups about barriers to the region’s coastal path, but have warned they will ‘not be able to please everybody’.
The authority’s environment and economy scrutiny committee has been asked to consider changes to some of the barriers along the county’s stretch of the Wales Coastal Path.
This was due to concerns that chicane and A-frame barriers installed in 2006 to prevent anti-social behaviour and illegal biking along the path was now prohibitive to people reliant on larger mobility scooters.
The council is looking to potentially trial a new form of barrier on the stretch between the Jubilee Lift Bridge in Garden City, and the Wales/England border.
Engineering consultants have suggested either radar key operated barriers or staggered gates.
The council’s chief planning officer Andrew Farrow explained that plans are also being shown to Flintshire’s Local Access Forum.
Saltney Ferry Cllr Richard Lloyd (Lab) said it was important to prevent anti-social behaviour but there is also an onus on the police.
He said: “This is a difficult one – to keep disabled access and to prevent motorcycle access.
“The only way around it I can see is these radar keys. I’m a bit concerned about how they’re going to work.”
Cllr Lloyd said he was concerned about motorbikes frequently being ridden along paths and cycle paths, adding that some of the electric bikes are more dangerous because they’re “even more quiet.”
Helen Mrowiec, from the council’s natural environment and access team explained that while radar keys can be easily purchased, they are not an attractive option “if you’re trying to whizz through”.
Llanasa and Trelawnyd Cllr Glyn Banks (Ind) said Talacre is being “absolutely terrorised” by off-roaders on the coastal path and in the dunes, and also called for more police help.
Buckley Pentrobin Cllr Mike Peers (Ind) suggested a recommendation that the council discusses the issue with disability groups in more depth and asked how other councils deal with the issues.
Ms Mrowiec said the council has close links with other areas, and places like Swansea have similar issues.
Natural Resources Wales is trying to improve the coast path for people with mobility issues but there is no solution to allow mobility scooters of all sizes but still prevent large bikes from gaining access.
Shotton East and Higher Cllr Dave Evans (Lab), chairing the meeting, expressed his concern about poor behaviour along the coastal path.
He said: “There are issues on the footpath, bullying and intimidation of cyclists.
“Sometimes you get the large 20, 30 plus cycling groups in the lycra down there basically bullying everyone else off the path.
“You also get families out there with little children who will struggle to keep to one side of the path.
“I’ve seen it occasionally when I’ve been out with my son and we have bells on our bikes to let people know we’re coming but a lot of people don’t until they’re actually breathing down your neck and forcing you into the undergrowth at the side.”
Buckley Bistre West Cllr Dan Rose (Lab) told the meeting he is an avid walker but goes out of his way to avoid paths with A frames. He also called for more input from disability groups and people with mobility issues.
“If an A-frame puts me off as an avid walker, I can’t image opening a gate several times along a path”, he said.
“It’d be interesting to know how many disabled people specifically don’t use the path for those purposes.”
One potential solution was put forward by Holywell West Cllr Paul Johnson (Lab) who referred to Cannon Kissing Gate in Chatsworth Park, Derbyshire, which is a secure gate but designed to be wheelchair friendly.
Holywell East Cllr Ian Hodge (Ind) wondered whether something could be done to the surface instead to deter use of speed. Ms Mrowiec said that could be looked into with the council’s Active Travel team.
Mr Farrow noted that is “a classic case of not being able to please everybody”, as councillors opted to support the recommendation to consult with disability groups on the proposals.
By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter (more here). Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com