Those rising bollards by Chester ’s Mecca bingo hall roundabout won’t be raising their ugly heads again after being decommissioned – but only after writing off countless cars and injuring motorists and passengers over more than 13 years.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has just revealed the bollards have been permanently deactivated due to the bus interchange development and future changes to the flow of traffic.
It was the defunct Cheshire County Council who installed the bollards in 2002 immediately off the roundabout at a cost of £70,000 to keep cars out of the bus lane which leads into Frodsham Street.
Buses were fitted with transponders which caused the bollards to lower on approach with errant drivers accused of tail-gating.
But the automatic bollards have been described as using ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut’ because motorists have suffered severely, often because of making a simple mistake. The Chronicle was so concerned about the damage and injuries being caused that we ran a campaign against them when they were first introduced.
The latest correspondent to contact The Chronicle about their experience is professional photographer Margaret Roberts from Liverpool who was in Chester to snap a graduation ceremony but never made it after taking a wrong turn in November 2013 which wrote off her £17,000 Toyota Yaris and caused seat belt injuries to herself and a colleague who has been unable to work ever since.
Mrs Roberts, who has only just been invoiced by CWaC to pay for the £260 damage, said: “I, the driver, was a stranger to Chester so was driving to instructions I had been given. It was a misty wet morning, before 7am.
I knew I had to leave the roundabout on the left and inadvertently took the road I now know was a bus lane.
“As a result of the bollard rising unexpectedly as I was already over it, my vehicle had to be written off and both my passenger and myself suffered from shock, seat belt injuries and severe bruising. We were treated at the scene by paramedics.”
She added: “I understand the rationale of local councils to install bollards on certain roads in order to control traffic flows. However in the interest of public safety, these bollards should comply with the specifications stipulated by the highways agency; that the bollards should retract immediately when a vehicle is detected above.”
“Would it not make more sense to install a camera and make a substantial fine to stop tailgaters. I, a stranger, made a mistake, a very expensive one. I think West Cheshire Council should hang its head in shame, so little care for the general public.”
Councillor Brian Clarke , cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure, said in response: “The bollards were clearly signed both at the bollards site and on each approach to roundabout, and a red/green light system was in operation which displayed green only if the bollards had fully lowered after being triggered by an authorised vehicle.
“The bollards would rise immediately after an authorised vehicle passes through. The bollards would not rise, or continue to rise, with any vehicle situated over the top of them - authorised or unauthorised.
“On any occasion when damage has occurred to a vehicle as a result of colliding with the bollards, it has been as a result of the vehicle attempting to tailgate another vehicle when the bollards were in the process of rising. If this occurred, safety loops would cause the bollards to lower as soon as an unauthorised vehicle is detected.
“The council regrets any damage caused to vehicles, which may have been possible while the bollards were lowering, but cannot be held responsible for the actions of individual drivers.
“There has been a delay in issuing an invoice in this particular case as we are currently working through a large quantity of works to be recharged. The bollards have been deactivated due to the bus interchange development and will be removed as the flow of traffic changes in the future.”