Published: 14/02/2017 17:30 - Updated: 14/02/2017 14:23

City leaders pledge to try wheelchairs in the centre

Written byNicole Webber

Andrew Jarvie in the city centre.
Andrew Jarvie in the city centre.

City leaders accept the challenge to take on Inverness in wheelchairs.

Following an article in the Inverness Courier to highlight the plight of wheelchair users trying to navigate the city, local man Bill Anderson called for councillors and business district bosses to try it out for themselves.

So far, Councillors Graham Ross, Richard Laird and Jean Slater have agreed along with BID manager Mike Smith.

Mr Smith told the Courier: “I am happy to learn more about the situation and to get involved, I have an open mind and I hope that it will give me and others a greater knowledge and experience.”

The invitation was made to all Inverness central councillors as well as members of the Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

Bill Anderson, who sent out the invites, has received backing from wheelchair users and from Inverness Ableworld who have kindly offered to lend the wheelchairs for practice.

He said: “I will take them on a set course around Inverness - I have a walking group and some of those who join us are in wheelchairs, I know where the pitfalls are.

“I want them to recognise that there is a problem in the town and it will be interesting to see who turns up.”

He added: “I wouldn’t want to be in the position that I was in a wheelchair and I feel for the people that are - we should be going out of our way to make it easier for them.”

Councillor Richard Laird has also agreed to try. He said: “There is no better way to understand how a wheelchair user experiences the city centre than to do so myself. Whilst my experience will obviously not be the same as that of a permanent user, I still hope to learn how it feels for our less able residents and visitors.”

Conservative council candidate, Andrew Jarvie raised the issue and took a reporter from the courier around Inverness to point out problem areas. He will be joining the councillors on their journey to point out further areas of difficulty.

He said: “Just being able to show them the issues and how easy so many of them would be to fix will be so helpful. I am slightly disappointed by those who did not express interest but I think the general public are behind it.”

One reply to the article said: “I’m not a wheelchair user but I do use my sticks and I do my very best to avoid town at all costs, the pavements change texture and are not even I have had some nasty falls.”

Another posted: “I agree especially about the dropped kerbs. They are not low enough, and I have an excellent wheelchair, but find it very difficult on some kerbs and end up on the road looking for somewhere to get on the pavement. It is very dangerous.”

The date for the councillors and leaders is yet to be confirmed but is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

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