England

'Dangerous' pavements a hazard for wheelchair and scooter users

Wheelchair users
Image caption Wheelchair users highlighted the problems of pavements in Wiltshire

Pavements throughout the country still prove a battlefield for many wheelchair and mobility scooter users.

A group has got together in Wiltshire to highlight the problem still faced for many users in towns and city centres.

But the problem is not just confined to Wiltshire.

Despite legislation being in place, the Disability Discrimination Act was introduced in 1995 and superseded by the Equality Act in 2010, the issue of access remains.

Both Acts made it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport.

It remains difficult though to change cities, towns, buildings and streets which have been around for much longer.

Gwen Trigle, 77, from Marlborough, Wiltshire, has used a mobility scooter for eight years.

Bumpy ride

"It is a very roundabout route that I have to take to get into town and I have to bump up and down the kerbs along the way," she said.

"There are no dropped kerbs on what would be my direct route into town."

She added: "We want to make the council more aware of how difficult it is for people."

Sue Bott is the chief executive of the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL).

She said: "The Disability Discrimination Act means that provisions are required so people are not discriminated against.

"But it seems the onus is on the individual to complain rather than being taken on board as part of the course, which is wrong."

She believes access is improving for wheelchair and mobility scooter users but it does remain a significant problem across the country.

"Despite legislation access remains really patchy, it's not just the pavements but it is in the shops too, the steps, the heavy doors and the displays.

National problem

"Then there's public transport, there had been some progress but there is a long way to go."

James Harding from the charity organisation Leonard Cheshire agrees there is still much more to do.

"This a national problem. Pavements and access is the main issue raised by all the local groups we help.

"It can be dangerous, the state of some pavements with pot holes and the lack of dropped kerbs."

He added: "A lot of regulations are only met with the minimum requirements which doesn't help much at all.

"With the economic climate and council cuts the money just isn't there at the moment to make improvements."

A spokesperson at the Department for Transport said: "It is a decision for local authorities to put in place paving that is suitable.

"If people feel there is a problem then they can raise it and of course it will be addressed."

Sue Bott backs the group in Marlborough making a stand: "Highlighting the issue always works. This is very useful, so many people are not aware because they can't put themselves into their positions.

"Town planners need to work closely with those who use wheelchairs, they are after all the experts."

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