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Newbury Racecourse to pull the plug on 'danger' bollards

Vehicles damaged in 'on-going safety problem'

BOLLARDS at Newbury Racecourse, reputed to have damaged or written off scores of vehicles, are to be switched off.

A new barrier system is to be installed instead, which West Berkshire Council said would “remove an on-going safety problem”.

Indeed, numerous Nuffield Health gym users have contacted the saying that rising bollards had injured them or damaged their vehicles.

More than 40 vehicles were reported damaged or written off between May and November 2016.

But Greenham councillor Billy Drummond (Lib Dem) said last week that there had been more than 120 collisions involving the bollards since they had been installed (see picture, inset).

The bollards were installed next to the Rocking Horse Nursery, to prevent access to and from the Stroud Green end of the 1,500-home development, although gym members and racecourse vehicles are allowed through.

Members of Nuffield Health have permission to access the gym via the bollards, which are meant to lower using automatic number plate recognition.

One recent victim of the bollards told the that she had been off work for a month with injuries sustained in a crash.

The driver was heading to the gym and said that the security operator had manually lowered the bollards after they had become stuck.

But, as the driver followed the car in front over the bollard, it rose, writing off the vehicle and leaving her with abdominal bruising, whiplash, concussion and chest pain.

She said: “I assumed he was going to let the traffic through. Unfortunately it came up underneath and ripped out the bottom of the car.

“Something’s not right if so many people are having accidents.

“The fact that they employ someone full-time to manage them means there must be a problem there.

“If they were working normally it might not have happened. They are not consistent.”

The racecourse has now been granted permission to vary the condition, which will see barriers replace the bollards.

The asked the racecourse how many collisions involving the bollards had been reported and whether the application represented the course accepting liability.

The racecourse declined to comment on these points, however.

In a statement the racecourse said: “Our recent planning application to refine the traffic management plan at the racecourse was submitted after an extensive consultation period with the local authority and our residents.

“We are happy to make these changes which should be to the benefit of all parties using the facilities on site and those living at the racecourse.”

One set of barriers will be installed in Racecourse Road, approximately 100m to the north east of the current bollards.

Another set will be placed in the nursery and hostel car park, in order to prevent vehicle access on non-race days.

Mr Drummond said he hoped that the new system would solve the problem.

West Berkshire Council’s highways department welcomed the application, saying that it would “remove an ongoing safety problem which has arisen with the current location of the bollards”.

“This new proposal will have the benefit of removing an existing amenity problem away from existing occupiers so reducing stress, noise and disturbance.

“It is also expected to improve local highways safety as many accidents have unfortunately occurred with the bollards.”

The council said that the current bollards may remain in place, but they will not be used at all.

However, it added that the application would not rectify the underlying problem of traffic accessing the gym, but recognised that the racecourse “appreciates the ongoing difficulties which has meant this amendment being submitted”.

The barriers will be controlled by bollard-mounted automatic number plate recognition cameras, connected to a Racecourse-controlled database.

The new system will not be operational on racedays.

Many Racecourse Road residents claim the bollard system is being abused by gym members using the access at other times, but the gym has said that it is difficult to monitor.

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