AN Alcester resident says large part of the historic market town is a ‘no-go area’ for wheelchair users.
Pensioner Tony Wyer of Blackthorn Way has hit out after becoming frustrated at being unable to get into various businesses and shops.
The 77 year old, who suffers from a degenerative spine disorder, is reliant on his electric wheelchair but feels shut out from the life of the town.
“You have to be disabled to appreciate the issues we have to face,” he said.
“Try going round in a wheelchair and see how many shops you can get into.”
He added that the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act had given local authorities ten years to make their towns more accessible but that scant progress had been made in Alcester.
“I can’t get into the Post Office, the bank, there’s meant to be a 1.8metre gap on pavements but some shops have stuff outside and sometimes I just can’t get through,” said Tony, who has been a wheelchair user for 20 years.
“I was diagnosed with my condition when I was 21 and it’s got worse and worse, you put on weight because you can’t exercise.
“They say they’ve made the old town hall wheelchair accessible but that’s only if you use a manual one, for me and my electric chair it’s impossible.”
Town and Stratford District Councillor Mark Cargill said they had been working for years to make Alcester more wheelchair accessible.
“It’s not easy and it’s not from the want of trying – regarding the shops, we’ve looked at the angles for ramps and in many cases these would extend halfway across the pavement.
“We have talked with Lloyds Bank about putting disabled access in there. We want to retain Lloyds as it’s the only bank left in Alcester and I’m pleased to say we now have planning permission for a ramp there.”
He added that campaigns had been carried out to keep the pavements clear of obstructions and cars parking on them.
“Alcester is a historic town and changing things can be difficult.
“Where we have something new, for instance with the Greig Hall, we have made sure there is disabled access and facilities with sufficient space.
“So it’s a balance, and life is a balance – some things may never get done, but it’s not from the want of trying.”