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Disabled people and cyclists oppose King’s Parade barrier in Cambridge

The anti-terror barrier in King’s Parade in Cambridge is dissuading disabled people from accessing the city centre and is opposed by 70 per cent of cyclists, a public consultation has shown.

The barrier was installed at the entrance to the iconic street in January last year on the advice of counter-terrorism police.

The King’s Parade barrier. Picture: Keith Heppell
The King’s Parade barrier. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge City Council said it is planning to install a permanent barrier when the legal permission for the existing one ends in July.

It held a public consultation for residents to give their feedback on the current arrangements in December and early January.

The results show most residents are not impressed with the barrier, and that it has had particularly negative effects for the disabled and cyclists.

Since it was first installed, critics have said the barrier is unsafe for cyclists, is reducing the available parking for blue-badge holders, and is reducing the visual appeal of the area.

The 11 blue-badge parking bays in King’s Parade are no longer accessible when the barrier is closed, between 9.30am to 7pm.

All 23 people taking part who said they used blue-badge facilities said the changes had caused difficulty or inconvenience, and 11 people said they do not feel safe using King’s Parade with their wheelchair or walking aids since the change was made.

All but one said there are insufficient blue-badge bays close to where they want to go in the city centre, and following the change, 21 out of 23 said they now feel “dissuaded” from visiting.

Roxanne De Beaux, from Camcycle, negotiates the King’s Parade barrier. Picture: Keith Heppell
Roxanne De Beaux, from Camcycle, negotiates the King’s Parade barrier. Picture: Keith Heppell

Of the 499 people who responded to the consultation in total, 69 per cent said they either disagree or strongly disagree that the changes have improved the sense of place, and 87 per cent said the barrier had impacted their experience of King’s Parade, with 42 per cent saying it had done so significantly.

Of the respondents, 85 per cent said they cycle in Cambridge. Of those, 70 per cent said the barrier had made the conditions worse for cycling, with 14 per cent saying it has improved the situation, and the rest saying the cycling experience is about the same.

Cllr Nicky Massey, the executive councillor for transport and community safety, said she understands concerns over the current barrier but said the city council is working on a longer-term solution.

She said: “This is not something we wanted to do, it is something we have needed to do for public safety. We will take on board all of the responses and comments, particularly in regards to disability, and we will work with our partners to see if there is anything else we can do to help the situation.

The anti-terror barrier in King’s Parade
The anti-terror barrier in King’s Parade

“However, we do feel that the barrier is needed because we were told to do so for anti-terror reasons. The threat level in the UK has been upgraded. We shouldn’t be complacent. But we will do what we can to help all users.”

She said the current barrier will not be a permanent solution, and that the council is actively working on the design for a longer-term option, the plans for which will be put to public consultation.

Cllr Massey said a longer-term solution offers a chance to do something “ambitious” and that “fits within our city”, for example something which may be considered public art.

She also said additional blue-badge bays have been put in place in Trumpington Street, and other city centre access is available, including free blue-badge spaces in the Grand Arcade and elsewhere in the vicinity, as well as the shop mobility service. And that the council is also looking to provide further blue-badge parking places.

A council report says the new blue-badge bays in Trumpington Street have provided an increase overall, since the existing King’s Parade bays are still able to be used before 9:30am and after 7pm, “with no incidents of demand exceeding capacity being observed”.

The anti-terror barrier in King’s Parade
The anti-terror barrier in King’s Parade

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