Published: 14:43, 20 June 2022
| Updated: 09:33, 21 June 2022
A mobility scooter rider says she won't be visiting Ashford's Asda again until controversial barriers are removed from footpaths near the store.
Jenny Kellam, 59, is one of many people to have shared their anger after the gates were installed in South Willesborough in April.
They were put in place by Kent County Council (KCC) at the request of South Willesborough and Newtown Community Council (SWAN CC) and police to stop nuisance motorcyclists that race down paths and tear up the grass in nearby fields.
But those with double pushchairs, large bikes and mobility scooters have struggled to get through.
Ms Kellam said: "I have to think where I’m going, where there’s going to be a dropped kerb, and now there are barriers – another obstacle.
"With Asda, I had to come back under the subway but I don’t like going that way.
“Or you have to go along the river which is quite secluded, and being disabled you don’t like to put yourself in secluded areas where there aren’t many people.
“My battery won’t last long enough to go through the Designer Outlet.”
Ms Kellam, who lives in Church Road, got stuck trying to get through the barriers recently.
"A lot of people walked past me but a young lad, maybe 18 years old, picked up each end of the scooter and got it through,” she said.
“It could have been very dangerous, supposing this young lad wasn’t going to help me, he could’ve taken my bag and I couldn’t have chased him.
“It’s putting disabled people in a very bad position.”
There are four barriers in total: One at either end of the footpaths at Herbert Road, one across a bridge opposite the outdoor gym and another at the beginning of the footpath near White Willow Close.
A spokesman for Kent County Council said they were installed after Kent Police and Ashford Borough Council said there had been complaints of anti-social and dangerous use of the path by motorcycles.
“An equalities impact assessment has been completed to ensure we balance the positive impact of dealing with the nuisance behaviour with any possible additional challenges that may arise for people," he said.
“In this case we have installed a motorcycle restrictor, specifically designed to allow access to mobility scooters, single buggies, and tandem prams as well as bicycles with narrow handlebars.
"The compound to the side is accessible by larger buggies and bicycles with wider handlebars."
KCC says it will continue to monitor the impact of their installation.