Is it the end for the kissing gate?

THEY are as much a part of traditional rural life as thatched cottages, village greens and babbling brooks.But now it appears the end is nigh for the kissing gate and stile due to recent changes in legislation.

THEY are as much a part of traditional rural life as thatched cottages, village greens and babbling brooks.

But now it appears the end is nigh for the kissing gate and stile due to recent changes in legislation.

The final sections of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 require those who provide public services to make “reasonable adjustments” to allow disabled access.

Local authorities have taken this to mean that stiles should no longer be installed as they can be an obstruction to those with mobility or visual impairments.

Although kissing gates are sometimes acceptable under the DDA - depending on how old they are - many councils have recognised these are also inappropriate.

As a result, Suffolk County Council has been looking at ways to replace the iconic countryside features, which enable members of the public to pass through fields, but keep livestock secure.

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A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said they would not expect local authorities to replace all their gates overnight.

He added: “Where a kissing gate or stile is an historic feature, there is no reason why it could not be left in place alongside a structure that is easier to use for those with mobility problems.”

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