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MP looks at life in a wheelchair
WALLINGFORD’S MP Ed Vaizey looked at life from the point of wheelchair users to find out how hard it is to cross the town centre.
The Culture Minister joined county council highways chiefs to identify access problems.
Mr Vaizey toured the town centre to pinpoint where new measures could help the disabled, mobility scooter users and mums with pushchairs.
Nine months ago, town and county councillor Lynda Atkins decided that work needed to be carried out to make the town centre more accessible.
Ms Atkins met county council cabinet member for transport Rodney Rose and Mr Vaizey to highlight areas that are difficult for wheelchair users to access. She also met wheelchair user Andrew Risk, who lives in nearby Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.
Ms Atkins said: “When Wallingford was planned in the time of King Alfred little thought was given to wheelchair users in the 21st century, mums with pushchairs, or people using walking frames.
“There are flagstones in the central area and cobbles in front of the town hall and there is a need for quite a few new dropped kerbs. Dropped kerbs can cost between £1,000 and £2,000 to install but there is about £15,000 of county council funding available.
“It’s probably impossible for someone in a wheelchair to get themselves from the town centre down to the river to feed the ducks. We would like to install as many dropped kerbs as possible and identify places where some could be installed at a later date, when more funding becomes available.”
Mr Risk, 24, has used a wheelchair since suffering a spinal injury in a diving accident in 2009.
After Wantage MP Ed Vaizey pushed him in his wheelchair around the town centre, Mr Risk said: “Mr Vaizey told me on numerous occasions how difficult it was to push me.
“At one point in the Market Place I was nearly tipped out but I was able to steady myself.
“We founds lots of trip hazards and places where cobbles and flagstones made it difficult to push a wheelchair.
“I’m pleased we were able to carry out this survey and I think it will make a real difference.”
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