Oh bollards! Well, oh barrier!

A story from last year. “Oh bollards,” or, more likely something stronger, slipped out of my mouth when I was cycling through Croyland Park in Wellingborough and was presented with a new barrier completely blocking my path.

Through a rather lengthy campaign, I got North Northants Council to replace their recently installed barrier, which completely blocked pedestrian and cycling access, with three retractable bollards which allow legitimate. In this blog post I explain how I went about doing it.

This is what I like to do. I call them my civil duties. My efforts doing this go towards making my life and the vast majority of other people’s lives that bit nicer, simplier and easier. Life does not have to be difficult. Particularly with issues around access, it is something I try and dedicate attention to.

In this case, likely one person made an incorrect decision who is not familiar with guidance and in fact the law, or chose to install a perhaps temporary measure hoping no one will say or do anything. This caused a hindrance to me, but I could walk around it but it is a complete obstruction to disabled people or those who use wheels. Not acceptable.

Before.  This is what I saw had been installed on a visit to Wellingborough back in November.

After my lengthy request, here it was after they were forced to make a change:

Me and Wellingborough

Briefly, I used to use this pathway a lot. This was my sole route that I could walk or cycle off my estate. The car centric designers and town planners had allowed my estate without creating any other routes off it by active travel. I had lived in Wellingborough since I was 5 and have now been left for just over two years. I have fallen in love with my new home here in Nottingham. However Wellingborough still has a place in my heart somewhere. Over the years I have put so much effort into trying to make the town better, often to be ignored, and then I even stood for election to be a unitary councillor to miss out by just 150 votes. There is a fondness albeit it is curently deeply buried. I still want to make the place better.

I had the knowledge to get this barrier taken out from afar. Equipped with some photos, a template on what to do, and my PC, I got to work.

The sequence of events

On a visit to Wellingborough in November of 2023, I was utterly gobsmacked that the council had recently installed a full barrier that took the entire width of the path and completely blocked access for legitimate park users. People walking, using a bicycle, adapted cycle, in a wheelchair or mobility scooter were blocked from entering or exiting at this point. For those who were physically able to, a desire line formed as people were nipping around but it soon became muddy, slippery and dangerous.

Wheelchair users, those in mobility scooters, on adapted cycles, cycles with a trailer, or even standard cycles were completely excluded from entering the park here. Did they complete an Equality Impact Assessment when they were fitting this? No.


This is one of the ‘green fingers’ of Wellingborough, a series of green offshoots around the town where people can walk or cycle away from the car dominated roads. Declared in the 2000s as an important asset, the idea of now restricting access to them was mind boggling.

Prior to when they installed this barrier, there used to be three bollards which let people through. Screenshot below from a couple of years ago from Google Street View. The width here between each bollard would the very vast majority of legitimate users to pass.

To be completely clear, there is an underpass but this is partially blocked at either end with odd ‘pedestrian chicanes’.  It was drummed into me as a child to not pass under here.  The lights were often out, broken glass and rubbish across the floor and near the metal railings accumulated, it smelt of urine and people used to gather.  The only photo I have of it, is on a lovely summer’s day and with it recently painted.  It usually has graffiti.  It usually is grim.

Not only does it look awful but it does not function as an access point to the park.  I called for the removal of the pedestrian chicanes 4 years ago as it is impossible to access for some wheelchairs, adapted cycles or mobility scooters because of the incredibly tight turning angle required.  On the rare occasion I did cycle through here on my standard narrow bicycle, I would sometimes misjudge the very tight angle and clip my handlebars.


I messaged one of the councillors for the town on Facebook and he was not interested saying it was now the vehicle access as they are building across from here and that was that. I said this was not an acceptable solution and bollards needed to be installed. I am sure I messaged another hoping she would lend her voice to help local users of this park, alas nothing. I regret asking them by tagging on Facebook comments as now I cannot find the messages despite a vigorous search. I cannot verify the second councillor attempt.

Screenshot of FixMyStreet where I inititally said about the barrier.

I then reported it on FixMyStreet hoping that by quoting the Equality Act 2010 which it was breaching, it would be enough to spring them in to action.  It was not.  Instead it was internally referred to the BCW General Enquiries Team.  I did not read the bit that followed – the team at North Northamptonshire Council.  

I therefore concluded it was the new version of the BCW – Borough Council of Wellingborough, which is now the town council.  I recall from a few years ago when I took interest in its formation that the powers and assets it has are very low.  This mistake I made led me to firstly try contacting the town council.  It was North Northamptonshire Council I had to send the message to.

Freedom of Information Act

Using legislation passed by the Labour government, I have the power to ask questions to public authorities and answers must be given – although there are exceptions.  It is an important tool to ensure transparency and hold decision makers to account.  To note here, I recognise that some misuse it.  Some organisations use the act to ask very complicated questions which are very time and resource consuming.  There needs to be a balance.

In this case, I thought it warranted as already I had tried going down the councillor route and my concern was dismissed.

Using WhatDoTheyKnow, in order to have it on public record, I asked 38 questions.

Screenshot from the WhatDoTheyKnow website with my FOI request.

The reason I asked so many questions was that I used an known-to-work template. If I had composed something alone, going by my track record, it would have have been full of description and explanation and had not the pressing questions which were needed.

The part of the blog is dedicated to Richard Bennett, also known on Twitter as ‘Heavy Metal Handcyclist’ @CrippledCyclist.

Image of Richard Bennett

I remember a few years ago coming across @CrippledCyclist and noting his determination to make access fair. He would often tweet photos or videos of discrimination and breaches of the Equality Act 2010 and importantly how he went about getting authorities or businesses to do it correctly. He campaigned for positive change and was successful not only in the acts he witnessed but he was conscious of getting the message out there. I remember seeing that he had had numerous successes with getting barriers removed and I wondered if I could be successful in following through.

I write in the past tense as sadly Richard Bennett passed away. I found out when I went searching for his template regarding the barrier. I recommend you read his timeline.

Following this template, with some adaptations, I submitted the Freedom of Information request and waited.

After a while a response came back. I remember reading through. No Equality Impact Assessment was carried out. My heart started to sink. They answered each question but you could see that they were wiggling out. They mentioned there are ‘three other access points’ into Croyland Park. What?! Yes, but if you are going along the greenfingers through the park, you would get to a deadend and to backtrack. In response to many of my questions, they pasted this response. I got towards the end.

I wrote “34) Finally, Finally, I expect immediate and urgent action to be taken in order to
bring this barrier into compliance with the above legislation;”

To which they replied:

“We have instructed a contractor to remove the barrier and replace it with collapsible bollards.”

I was so pleased!

Thank you for reading,

Samuel x


Oh bollards! Oh rather oh barrier! I discovered a barrier had been installed completely blocking access to a park. It was not possible to go around. This was illegal under the Equality Act 2010. I submitted a Freedom of Information request and got North Northants Council to instruct contractors to replace it with three bollards. bollards barriers #freedomofinformation NorthNorthantsCouncil Wellingborough blockedaccess disabled #wheelchairuser discrimination replaced happy access

♬ original sound – samuelshoesmith – samuelshoesmith
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