Paralympics 'can prompt better access for disabled'

Campaigners hope the legacy of the Paralympic Games will be improvements to disabled access in Cambridgeshire.

Kilian Bourke, county councillor for Romsey, said a study was needed, followed by a rolling programme of upgrades.

He said he regularly had residents complaining about struggles with uneven pavements, narrow paths and other problems.

“Reviewing disabled access across Cambridgeshire and then taking steps to improve it would be a lasting Paralympic legacy that would benefit many lives,” he said.

“The bottom line is that from a budget of roughly £1 billion the county council has no dedicated programme or budget for improving disabled access. 

“The county needs to take a more proactive and co-ordinated approach to engaging with this issue in Cambridgeshire.

“It should take a critical look at disabled access across the county and put together a list of the most urgent changes that need to be made.

“A modest rolling programme of annual improvements could then be funded that would provide for the rollout of dropped kerbs and other accessibility measures.

“Even if the annual budget was relatively small, it would make a big difference over a long period of time.”

He was backed by Elizabeth Lawes, mother of Rebecca Lawes, 18, a champion swimmer who has cerebral palsy and chooses to use a wheelchair most of the time.

Elizabeth, of Coleridge Road, said Rebecca often struggled getting around and that better access would leave a “tremendous legacy”.

She said: “Things are much better than they used to be but it’s still quite awkward and she often finds it frustrating, especially when going out shopping on busy days. She often feels vulnerable.

“Improving access would open more opportunities for people with all sorts of disabilities.”

Cllr Ian Bates, cabinet member for growth and planning, said: “The county council is fully committed to improving access for all residents. We have made significant improvements in the past and will continue to strive to improve accessibility for all.”

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