'˜Wheelchair challenge' accepted by Chichester's deputy mayor

The claim that uneven streets are stopping disabled visitors from coming to the city sparked the deputy mayor's challenge to tackle Chichester's cobbled roads.

Tuesday, 7th June 2016, 9:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th June 2016, 10:37 am
Chichester wheelchair challenge. Deputy Mayor Cllr Peter Evans and Prue Sokell. Photo by Derek Martin

Cllr Peter Evans accepted the task after resident Pru Sokell brought up the issue at a city council meeting, with city councillor Sarah Sharp stating that many drive to Gunwharf where it is easier to get about.

Cllr Evans pushed Mrs Sokell in a wheelchair through the city centre, travelling through East Street, North Street, Black Lion Street and through North Gate and up St Paul’s Road.

After the exhausting trip, Cllr Evans said: “It brought it home to me that simple barriers that we, the able bodied, just accept and step over or simply just don’t notice can be very challenging for wheelchairs.

“Loose paving slabs and bricks, gaps between flagstones and roads without dropped kerbs are all uncomfortable for the person steering the chair and especially the occupant.

He added: “I noted some of the fixes that I felt should be undertaken as quickly as possible and will raise these with West Sussex Highways.

“I now have a better understanding of accessibility issues that the less able bodied face on a daily basis and will think carefully when involved in discussing future plans for our beautiful city.”

Cllr Sharp brought to the council’s attention that with an aging population, it needs to be considered whether the sort of paving stones currently on the streets are best serving the public.

“As part of the Vision for Chichester, we need to be planning carefully what sort of city centre we would like,” said Sarah Sharp.

“People say that we are a Georgian city and so we need these old flagstones and the oldly worldly look, however we should be aware of the needs of the more vulnerable and look into whether we are best serving the more fragile in our society.”