Frustrated by lack of disabled inclusive design in Eastbourne

Well done to Ray, our deputy chair who has written a letter to the local paper, Eastbourne Herald which was published in today’s edition, Friday 4th September 2020.

Frustrated by lack of disabled inclusive design in Eastbourne

Eastbourne Access Group is increasingly frustrated at the lack of inclusive design by East Sussex County Council when it builds new public realm schemes.

The latest scheme is the seafront cycle route. Once again we see more disabled parking bays lost (five in total), in addition to a loss of three bus stops and nowhere for taxis to park and drop off older or disabled passengers.

How does East Sussex County Council justify making this section of the seafront inaccessible to vulnerable people?

Simply put cyclists are being given access at the expense of another group of people, which is very much against equality and fairness standards.

Eastbourne seafront is the jewel in our crown and is the main attraction for visitors and holidaymakers.

To put this location and any if it’s associated business at risk is playing with its economic future. Bexhill has a wonderful scheme of placing hundreds of miles of cycle routes along little used side and back roads (quiet ways).

The beauty of such a scheme is that business in unaffected, special lanes are not needed, there is virtually no loss of parking and cyclists remain safe.

Why is this not considered as a compromise position for Eastbourne? If, as stated in last week’s paper that, we have tried to establish a seafront cycle route since 1994 perhaps it really is too difficult and we simply need to say no and look at creative alternatives as has Bexhill.

How do we best help vulnerable people In the medium term? ESCC needs to consider the percentage of people in Eastbourne that are disabled and how this is going to grow. This number, currently 20 per cent, will increase to represent 25 per cent of our population by 2028*.

With these statistics in mind we would like to see long term public realm developments reflect these numbers that is why we are asking ESCC and Eastbourne Borough Council to spend money from the walking and cycling strategy to repair our pavements and deliver safe non trip walking spaces.

We have heard a lot about cyclists but let’s ensure the 25 per cent of our population that need safe walking spaces actually get safe walking spaces delivered.

In response to recent letters published we also want to see the following issues addressed:

Pedestrian areas restricted to pedestrians only and signposted as such. We believe that more dropped kerbs are required across town. Blue badge holders should have priority access to parking areas in the town centre. ESCC should adopt BS 8300 fully inclusive design standard as its benchmark in all new buildings and public realm projects.

These campaigns are part of our ongoing work to try and ensure disabled people are not excluded from the social and economic development of Eastbourne.

We represent such a large proportion of society, we do not want to become isolated due to pressure group demands or our council using inappropriate design which takes away our access.

* Eastbourne Borough Council forward plan.