DISABILITY TODAY WITH RAY BLAKEBROUGH: Many issues still need to be addressed

Eastbourne Access Group is proud to have supported and campaigned on behalf of disabled residents for 40 years.

Whilst many campaigns have led to a growing understanding of disability locally we still find that society (Government and local councils) build in barriers that simply prevents disabled people from participating in society.

Much of this comes from poor design and decisions which fails to be inclusive.

We continue to campaign for a town centre which is inclusive to all residents.

Inclusive design goes beyond providing physical access and creates solutions that work better for everyone; ensuring that everyone can equally, confidently and independently use buildings, transport and public spaces.

An inclusive environment is one which can be used safely, easily and with dignity by all.

It is convenient and welcoming with no disabling barriers, and provides independent access without additional undue effort, separation or special treatment for any group of people.

Right now this is not the case in terms of the built environment in our town centre as many issues still need to be addressed.

Poor design can also disable the non disabled, lets face it a non inclusive town centre is not likely to entice a whole cohort of residents or visitors alike, thus, the design has to be right for all.

Likewise if our pavements are well maintained, with a flat surface, have step free access with dropped kerbs and are dedicated solely to safe walking those pavements become safe and comfortable for all pedestrians.

On the subject of safe walking we also seek to ensure that high volume walking areas such as park pathways, our town centre and seafront promenade are kept vehicle free.

With 20 per cent of our population being disabled it is essential that we maintain cycle and scooter free zones for vulnerable people to enjoy their exercise in a safe comfortable environment.

We also ask cyclists to please remember that ringing your bell or shouting your presence when approaching pedestrians does not infer right of way.

Many vulnerable people may not hear you, may be scared or frightened by your warning or even lose balance.

Please do not ride where riding is not permitted ie safe walking zones.

We look forward to playing an active part in regenerating Eastbourne with our spending power (20 per cent of all potential spending) and of course participating in active travel through safe walking and a local adapted cycling strategy which, will help Eastbourne reach zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Ray Blakebrough, Deputy Chair

March 2021

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