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Blidworth residents frustrated over lack of disability access to Sherwood Pines

Robert Pilling at the entrance to Sherwood Pines
Robert Pilling at the entrance to Sherwood Pines

Blidworth residents have spoken of their frustration as access to Sherwood Pines has been limited for those who use mobility scooters.

Jennifer Huntingdon, 65, and Robert Pilling, 63 used to be able to access the trails through Sherwood Pines to enjoy the countryside on mobility scooters, but are finding it increasingly difficult to access them due to gates and boulders that have been placed at the entrance to the paths to stop illegal off-road biking.

Mr Pilling struggles to access the trails on his mobility scooter

Mr Pilling struggles to access the trails on his mobility scooter

Ms Huntingdon said: “It feels as though because we are disabled, we don’t matter. We want to get out and see the forest and we can’t access it. We feel as though we are banging our heads against a brick wall.”

In a letter to the Forestry Commission, Mr Pilling said: “Sherwood Pines are now a no-go area for the disabled. "

“For many years I have enjoyed cycling around this area, but following a stroke in 2010 , a mobility scooter has enabled me to continue my excursions to Sherwood Pines, until the installation, by the land owners, of gates and stone block barriers.

“The local authorities provided me with keys so I could pass through the gates, although the stone block barriers would still be difficult to navigate. However, many gates have now been replaced with stone barriers, or the gates have had their locks replaced.

One of the gates, which is in place to prevent illegal off-road activity.

One of the gates, which is in place to prevent illegal off-road activity.

“There now exists a situation where all access routes from Blidworth to Sherwood Pines are blocked to disabled people. Although this problem is local to me, it seems to be developing all over the country.”

A Forestry Commission Spokeswoman said: “This is the first time we have seen the letter and we are going to respond fully to Mr Pilling’s letter, outlining our access policies. This is a complex issue that requires us to balance our desire to maintain access for all abilities while dealing with significant and serious safety risks associated with localised anti-social behaviour. We have worked with Mr Pilling as well as the local authority and local access forum in trying to find a reasonable solution and will continue to do so.”

Mark Spencer, MP for Newark and Sherwood said that the gates and rocks were put in place to prevent quad bikes and motorcycles using the paths illegally.

Mr Spencer added that the Forestry commission were under pressure to deal with such issues, and the lack of access for disabled people was an ‘unintended consequence” of preventing illegal activity.

He added that the woodland was there for everyone to enjoy, and that he would be looking into what can be done to ensure access for everyone.