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Plans for new gate to improve access for Wales Coast path agreed

Saltney Footbridge (Pic: Google Maps)

COUNCILLORS voted in favour of plans for an access barrier on the Wales Coast path in an attempt to improve access for all legitimate users.

The Environment & Economy Overview & Scrutiny Committee met on Tuesday, December 19 to discuss plans for a radar lockable gate to be installed near Saltney Footbridge, replacing the current A Frame, to improve access for disabled users.

They also agreed to the proposed improvements to the access points in the Saltney Footbridge areas detailed in the plan and specification.

Tom Woodall, Access & Natural Environment Manager introduced a report into the proposed gate.

He explained that the radar gate is “still not an ideal solution” as it comes with problems of its own, including some users finding the operation mechanism difficult to use, and keys being readily available on the internet.

There was lengthy debate at the meeting, with Cllr David Coggins Cogan (Lib Dem) disagreeing with the officer saying that it was not a positive step, highlighting the problems relating to feedback detailed in the report.

He said: “I don’t think it should have come to this committee for approval. The majority of people who are active users on there have said that they cannot use it and unfortunately I just think this is a very bad idea.”

Cllr David Healey (Lab) commented that it was “quite a troubling dilemma” but said he was leaning towards ensuring the “safety of users of the coastal path”.

Cllr Richard Lloyd (Lab)spoke about the Saltney area, and how he knows it well. He thought it “might be worth a try” and explained he’d once nearly been run over by an electric bike on the path once, but added he doesn’t think there’s an answer”.

The officer then explained that the feedback was that there should be a “positive environment” meaning removal of the barriers altogether, but that there is a need for “some form of control” on antisocial behaviour. He said that the proposed gate is “a compromise in a positive way forward”.

Cllr Coggins Cogan said that the path being a straight line was why it is attractive for antisocial behaviour, later adding it was a “mistake” for this barrier when feedback showed people cannot use it.

Cllr Bill Crease (Ind) said he is a “legitimate holder of a Radar key” and raised more concerns about radar keys on the internet, adding he had “sympathy” for the officer due to the difficulty of the situation.

Councillorsagreed to the recommendations in the report:

That Members note the feedback on the proposed access improvements and the potential risks to the Authority.

They also  agreed to the proposed improvements to the access points in the Saltney Footbridge areas detailed in the plan and specification.

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