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So just how friendly our city is to the disabled?

Councillors accuse KCC of not using its powers to ban A-frames

MORE needs to be done to keep the pavements of Canterbury safe for the city’s disabled population to travel through, according to the city’s councillors. Leader John Gilbey criticised the county council for having the power to remove obstructions to the pavements, including A-frames misused by local businesses, “but doing nothing with it”.
Speaking at the first full meeting of the city council this year, councillors discussed how to deal with obstructed pavements in Canterbury with many referring to their own experiences with limited mobility, or with members of their families.
Councillor Jean Harrison said the obstructed pavements were “a terrible blight on the district”, and coundillor Alan Baldock talked about the experiences of his father. He said:

“My 90-year-old father has come home at times covered in bruises from falling over. He certainly doesn’t need it. In a survey, 91 per cent of blind neoDle. almost all of them, have had some kind of issue with the pavements. Almost everyone.”

KCC has released a “code of conduct” for businesses to manage their A-frames on pavements and foot paths, or risk them being confiscated, but according to councillor Alex Perkins, who owns a business that uses A- frames, this simply doesn’t work.

“I was a big supporter of the code of conduct, but the problem is many businesses ignore it and we simply do not have the enforcement officers to enforce it.”


APPEAL: Kent Association for the Blind manager Mandy Bodemeaid

But according to councillor Vickery-Jones, the portfolio holder for transport and parking, the city council simply does not have the power to remove these obstructions. That power lies with Kent County Council.

“We have offered, for free, to change it, but they will not let us do it; they won’t give us the power, so this is not something we can resolve.”

Mandy Bodemeaid, a manager at the Canterbury branch of the Kent Association for the Blind, said that CCC had been helpful in looking at ways to improve mobility for the disabled but said more would need to be done.

“We are an aging population more people are living longer and remaining active longer. As we move forward, this issue is going to affect more and more people. It is inevitable. Canterbury is a medieval city, so it has its own share of problems pavements, cobblestones. It can be difficult and we have had people coming in with injuries after falling. If anyone with sight impairment has concerns about getting around the city, I would recommend they get in touch with us on our phone line, or at our London Road centre.”

• Do you have experience of difficulties navigating our streets? E-mail us your stories at newsdesk.times@KRNmedia.co.uk.

Herne Bay Times, January 21st 2015

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