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Kerb plan is a big boost for people on wheels
7:00pm Wednesday 27th February 2013 in News
A £20,000 project to improve access for the disabled, the elderly, and mums with pushchairs has been completed in Wallingford town centre.
But campaigners for lobby group MIGWAL (Mobility Issues Group Wallingford) say the work to install new and refurbished drop kerbs should not be the last improvements.
The scheme in and around the Market Place was completed last month after Independent county councillor Lynda Atkins allocated money from the council’s area stewardship fund.
Mrs Atkins said: “New drop kerbs have been installed in a number of locations, and in other places drop kerbs have been redone because they are too steep.
“I think at least another £20,000 could be spent.
“King Alfred designed this town and when the Victorians put down road surfaces they were not taking into account the needs of wheelchair users or other people with mobility issues.”
Other new drop kerbs have been installed on both sides of the Market Place, in High Street, in St Mary’s Street, and in Reading Road.
Ms Atkins said new drop kerbs should include one at the junction of Castle Street and High Street, known as The Lamb crossroads.
She added that discussions would also take place with several shops about improving access.
And she said town council meetings could be made more accessible if they were held in the town council building instead of at the council office.
The work so far has been praised by wheelchair user and MIGWAL member Liz McIntyre, 70, from Allnatt Avenue. The former nurse and mum-of-three has been using a wheelchair since 1998 when she suffered a stroke.
She said: “This is a good start in the town centre but much more work needs to be done because it is very difficult for people with mobility issues to access the centre from the outskirts.
“The camber on the pavements is particularly difficult in Wantage and Reading roads.
“I got a motorised wheelchair last month costing £9,500, but last year the one I had before slipped off the pavement in Wantage Road – it was lucky there wasn’t any traffic coming.”
Patricia Sutcliffe, 80, of St Lucian’s Lane, Wallingford, set up MIGWAL in May after noticing pavements and kerbs were proving a challenge for wheelchair users and others.
In September, Wallingford MP Ed Vaizey met Ms Atkins and wheelchair user Andrew Risk, from Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, to pinpoint where new measures could help the disabled.
The test drive followed an earlier meeting between Ms Atkins and county council cabinet member Rodney Rose over problems wheelchair users faced.
MIGWAL, which now has about 100 members, has been working on a map showing trouble spots for wheelchair users which it hopes to publish later this year.