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Axe falls on £66k County Hall barriers
11:50am Wednesday 16th May 2012 in News
“OVERKILL” road blockers at County Hall have been replaced after concerns about their heavy accident rate and high maintenance costs.
Heavy metal blockers which rose automatically from the ground were removed and a barrier arm system installed after 301 reported accidents involving the old system in nine years.
A freedom of information request by the Worcester News revealed the cost of repairs and maintenance to the barriers during those years was £76,404.33.
That was more than the barriers’ £66,058.20 original cost. The road blockers were installed during the 2003/4 financial year.
Worcestershire County Council said studies at the time indicated that there were more than 900,000 cars and vans passing through County Hall every year.
The blockers were put in place to avoid people using the campus as a cut-through, partly because of safety fears for staff and visitors who were on foot but also because of complaints about the high-volumes of traffic in Spetchley Road.
The amount of traffic reduced by about 50 per cent after the blockers were installed.
David Thain, the council’s cabinet member for transformation and change, said the road blockers were unpopular due to the high cost and heavy accident rate.
He said: “The new barriers are in operation.
“To minimise costs we waited until a section of the contract was up for renewal so we got the best deal with it.
"We’re also saving money on the power costs. The heavy metal things that came up from the ground took electricity to run as opposed to the barriers with arms that lift but we still get the effective restriction in traffic.
“This is a far more effective and reasonable measure to put in place. The blockers were overkill.”
Coun Thain said he did not know why the road blocker system was originally chosen.
He said the accidents were caused by people not waiting for lights to change rather than any fault with the road blockers.
Councillor Tom Bean, who had questioned Coun Thain about maintenance costs, said his main concern had been that the system wasn’t working.
He said: “What it has cost over the years is actually peanuts in comparison to what the county council’s expenses are.
"It was just a case that the system really wasn’t working.”
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