Published: 19/04/2017 19:00 - Updated: 18/04/2017 12:05

Streets no longer a no-go zone for wheelchair users

Written byVal Sweeney

David Sansum has welcomed work by Highland Council to improve the accessibility of the city centre.
David Sansum has welcomed work by Highland Council to improve the accessibility of the city centre.

ATTEMPTS by Highland Council to make Inverness streets and pavements more disability-friendly have been welcomed by a wheelchair user.

Campaigner David Sansum is delighted by the work, which was carried out after city leaders took part in a wheelchair challenge two months ago to see for themselves how difficult it is to navigate the city centre – but he wants to see even more improvements.

The local authority has now reduced the height of some kerbs to make it easier for wheelchair users to cross the road at various locations including Academy Street and Strothers Lane.

Mr Sansum of Charleston View, Kinmylies, said the adaptions, made using tar and gravel, were a temporary measure, as major work is due to be carried out in the area, but he was pleased at least some action had been taken.

"Simple changes like this make such a big difference," said the 38-year-old who was born with spina bifida. "It has been a big improvement."

He added the wheelchair challenge taken up by city councillors had acted as a valuable eye-opener.

"They have noticed and they have listened and that has been very good," Mr Sansum said.

"The councillors had not realised how difficult it was to get around. It isn’t just for the likes of people in wheelchairs – it’s also people with buggies, or people with walking sticks."

He hoped more improvements would be carried out to address the access challenges such as uneven roads and steps instead of ramps.

"Doors can also be a big problem for people like me," he said. "If you are sitting in a wheelchair and trying to open a door, it can be difficult to push your way through. Some you can manage but others you can’t, if they are heavy."

Muirtown community councillor Bill Anderson, who issued the wheelchair challenge, was also pleased to see action had been taken and now wants to see it extended to other problem areas including Tomnahurich Street.

"I am delighted that Highland Council took on board the challenge in the first place and have already taken temporary measures in and around Academy Street," he said. "But there is still a lot to do in Inverness and the wider area."

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