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Councillor used car to block contractors in ‘kissing gate’ row

 
Created on 01/08/2022 @ 06:49

 

A Welshpool town councillor took drastic action by using his car to block contractors who were sent to remove a gate that was “protecting the safety of children”.

The row broke out when Cllr Phil Pritchard said he could see from his Oldford garden contractors arriving to remove the ‘kissing gate’ located at the top of Berriew Street Car Park that links the estate with the town.

Cllr Pritchard was sharing the spat with fellow councillors at the latest Welshpool Town Council meeting when he said: “There was no way I was going to let them do the work and take that gate away.”

He explained that the gate was placed there at the request of the former Oldford Primary School when a child was struck by a car several years ago running out of the path and into the car park. Luckily the child only suffered minor injuries but there had also been a number of near misses.

With the school now closed, Powys County Council wants to widen the path entrance and remove the gate so disabled people, pushchair users and cyclists can use it.

“I ended up having to park my car, at the gate, to stop them digging it out. And I left my car there for four days.” said Cllr Pritchard. “Only because I couldn’t get an answer one way or the other. Some of the reasons given (to replace it) are right and proper. We shouldn’t have people in this day and age lifting push chairs, or bikes over.

“But at the end of the day you don’t have to touch that kissing gate. It serves a purpose, just have another gate at the former lane (close by) with a gate that can be opened by adults.”

Cllr Pritchard said that one survey carried out showed that 213 residents wanted the gate to stay, with only four against.

And his concerns were shared by Cllr Hazel Evans who added: “That gate has been there years. If you take it away, you will have more accidents than ever and the people of Oldford don’t want that gate taken away.

“If they want to go to town they will use the road way like anybody else. That is a large car park with lorries, buses, you name it using it. It is very busy. They come up to that end to turn around and at night time you have the COWSHACC. That gate needs to stay and if they try to remove it, I will have loads of people there (to stop it).”

Cllr Nick Howells pointed out that the gate did not meet the Equalities Act 2010 because it is not usable by anybody with severe mobility problems or a wheelchair user.

“I don’t think it should be an open entrance but there are alternatives,” he said.

Cllr Neil Bayliss also added that his partner was one who had to lift a pushchair over it to get through.

Cllr Richard Church, who is also a county councillor, said Powys wanted to change the entrance as part of its project to develop the former school into a family centre.

“Elsewhere things have been done to prevent young people running out onto main roads and that is done without using kissing gates,” he said. “There are other solutions like steel gates or railing like a chicane which are more suitable for people with push chairs and wheelchairs.”

Cllr Pritchard has called for the council to rethink and to re-open an alternative path close to the nearby cottage concluding: “The last thing any of us want is a child hurt there. We can’t allow that to happen.”

 

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