TIM LOUGHTON: Balance needed to avoid obstacle course
I spent a very worthwhile Friday and Monday morning finding out at first-hand about some of the challenges facing constituents with disabilities.
As a former chairman of the Conservative Disability Group this is an area I have long taken an interest in.
On Friday I joined members of the excellent Worthing RNIB in Warwick Street in Worthing to see how much of an obstacle course it has become.
It is bad enough trying to squeeze a wheelchair, pushchair or mobility vehicle through what little clear space is left between chairs, tables and A boards.
However when you have sight problems it is little short of an assault course and now a lot of RNIB members avoid the whole area.
Whilst not wishing to suppress the explosion in ‘café culture’ there has to be a balance and certainly A boards should be closer to shops and in a straight line rather than creating ‘chicane’ hazards.
This is something we looked at in Shoreham a while back and I will now be taking up with Worthing Borough Council.
Meanwhile the Worthing Society for the Blind are looking for more volunteer drivers to help their members. You can find them in Rowlands Road.
On Monday I came up to London as usual but this time in the company of the formidable Anne Bates, a Worthing constituent and doughty disability champion. Anne has had a major influence on the design of new trains and procedures for staff to help people in wheelchairs such as herself.
Incognito we turned up at Shoreham where a member of staff produced a ramp and then again at East Croydon where we changed on to one of the new 700 trains (when it eventually turned up), which has much more room and technology for people with disabilities.
Impressively on this ‘secret shopper’ occasion the service worked and the staff were excellent and helpful and I will produce a longer report in my newsletter.
Do take the opportunity this weekend to look at the draft proposals for a development on New Monks Farm in Lancing being put forward by Brighton & Hove Football Club.
They are on view at the Shoreham Centre initially before moving to Lancing later.
This will no doubt prove a controversial plan though they do appear to have put a lot of work into alleviating the flooding issue.
Rumours that a mega IKEA will form part of the development inevitably drawing in traffic from a very wide catchment area do however fill me with horror.
This one is likely to run and run.
• If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at [email protected]
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