Councillors try out Cheltenham streets in a wheelchair to experience the difficulties disabled people face first-hand
Disabled Cheltenham residents campaigning for more accessible streets challenged councillors to explore Cheltenham in a wheelchair, trying out some of the most difficult routes.
Dave Evans and Kay Torres use electric wheelchairs and met with the former Cheltenham mayor Klara Sudbury and her Liberal Democrat colleague Councillor Iain Dobie, who used Dave’s spare wheelchair.
Dave, 57, and Kay, 35, both live at Gloucestershire House, a care home run by disability charity Leonard Cheshire in Cheltenham.
A father of two and former manager of youth services, Dave has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) – a progressive condition that affects the nervous system.
He said: “Disabled people need accessible streets so we can get out and about and take part in our local community. It’s great that councillors could see the problems we face first-hand and recognise the need for change.
“I want the pavements safe not only for wheelchair users but for pedestrians too. Gloucestershire County Council is investing £150 million in the road network. Some of that money needs to be spent on necessary improvements to our streets.
“Raising awareness among local politicians and in local communities is an important step to highlight issues disabled people face every day.”
The group tackled the pavements on Leckhampton Road and Bath Road in Cheltenham. Dave, Kay and other wheelchair users say they face “constant problems” on these key routes to local shops, cafes, pubs and banks.
Councillor Iain Dobie, Deputy Leader of Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats, said: “It was an eye-opening experience for me. We will be taking what we’ve learned today back to the council and will be considering what we can do to make sure Cheltenham is an inclusive place to live.”
Lesley Gamm, Service Manager at Gloucestershire House, added: “Access improvements to our local streets and pavements are much needed. Everyone living here, and many other people, would benefit. So we are delighted to support people with their brilliant campaigning, and really pleased to welcome the councillors to Gloucestershire House.”
Gloucestershire House is a residential service with nursing care run by Leonard Cheshire. This service in Cheltenham supports up to 36 disabled adults and includes six separate bungalows as ‘supported living’ accommodation.
It has a hydrotherapy pool, a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist, and offers a wide range of activities to residents.