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The moral of this story is that you can make a difference.
Although it's about Swanage in Dorset, it could
apply to your area just as well.
have been disabled for nearly 50 years and thought I was fully aware of the
pavements, kerbs and obstacles to mobility in Swanage, and that the
situation was reasonable - until there was a change in my condition, forcing
me to use a wheelchair and mobility scooter.
I found out the hard way.
The height of pavements coupled with
the lack of drop kerbs at junctions
are a nightmare for the unwary - and not just for people who rely on
wheelchairs or mobility scooters. This applies to users of prams and
baby buggies too. Quite often, people who are already vulnerable are
forced out into the street, competing for space with fast moving cars.
The County Council's
policy is not to install drop kerbs at junctions if there a crossing
point within 100 metres. This policy relies on the goodwill of
householders not to park in front of their own drop kerbs, a fact of
which I'm sure they're unaware. Apart from that, is a detour of up
to 200 meters acceptable?
Due to the lack of drop
kerbs much of Swanage is
inaccessible to me unless I drive my mobility scooter off the
pavement and in the road. The law prohibits these scooters from
travelling faster than 8mph. Is that what the authorities really
want? Mobility scooters holding up traffic because they can't use
If the people in charge had to put up with 200 metre detours to
cross the road, the possibility of having to retrace their steps or
going home because cars or rubbish sacks were obstructing the
pavement, or having to walk in the road 90% of the time to get
anywhere, we'd soon have a change in policies.
What I Did - 2004/2005
In 2004 I set about trying to change the situation in Swanage. I
discovered that Alison Stockley, manager of the Tourist Information
Centre, had already conducted a survey of the town centre some
months earlier and passed her recommendations for improvements
through the Clerk to the Town Council on to the Highways Department
at Dorset County Council.
survey had been ‘filed’ and was eventually found and a copy sent to me. I
started my campaign "Accessible Swanage" and with
the backing of local MP Jim Knight, I
contacted decision makers at local, district and county level and found that
they were all interested in getting changes made, but everybody was waiting for somebody
else. A not-too-unusual situation I was told.
All that was needed was co-ordination, a task I set myself.
Therefore it was great to see the first new drop kerb being installed at the High Street end of
Institute Road. Before this was built, mobility scooter and electric
wheelchair users needing to cross there had to make a detour of over 200
metres. (For those who know the town, the length of
Institute Road, over the pedestrian crossing to K's Cafe and Amusements, then over
Shore Road to the Mowlem Theatre and back along Institute Road again.)
In April 2005 I
had a meeting with Jon Munslow, the County Council’s Highways Engineer
responsible for Swanage. With Jon on foot and me on my mobility scooter, we
travelled round the town centre and along the routes leading to it for two
hours. I pointed out the difficulties that existed, and Jon could see for
himself the problems caused for me on my mobility scooter.
result of this, a programme to install drop kerbs was scheduled! Again, it
just goes to show what can be achieved if you want to get involved.
Following our walk
around Swanage, Jon Munslow at Dorset County Council planned
improvements for completion by the end of July 2005. Drop kerbs
will be installed:
De Moulham Road at the junction with Victoria
Avenue - this will be temporary as there is a major scheme in 2006/07 to
replace the existing kerbs and install a proper tactile crossing
De Moulham Road at the junction with Walrond
Road - all four corners
Walrond Road at the junction with Shore Road
Victoria Avenue at the junction with Northbrook
High Street at the angling shop where the
Commercial Road at the junction with Station
In addition a large 'H' will be painted on the
road by the drop kerb outside K's Cafe and Amusements in Shore Road. This will hopefully make
drivers of cars and delivery vehicles think twice before parking there.
It took some time for the work to start, during which
I was fed up with being unable to cope with the dreadful pavements in
Swanage. I was fortunate to have the money to spend on a top-of-the-range mobility scooter with
a five inch ground clearance so I can get up and down high kerbs and legally
travel on the roads when necessary. You really need a good one that will
cope, and if you need a bit of advice, see
November to December 2005
By mid-November 2005 work had started on drop kerbs at the
junction of De Moulham Road and Victoria Avenue. The major ones at the
junction of Walrond Road and De Moulham Road had still not been touched,
meaning that there was still no pavement route into town from North Swanage
other than on the road.
In Shore Road the replacement of sand on the beach and the new groyne work
meant that the only route from North Swanage into town was blocked. Mobility
scooters were now being forced to travel in the road, competing for space
with cars, buses and other vehicles.
Jon Munslow, the District Highways Engineer, told me that there were plenty more places where
improvements could be made and drop kerbs installed, and suggested that
I should collate requests for where they should be done. Articles appeared
in the Dorset Echo and Swanage Advertiser, while various commercial radio
stations reported my campaign.
Still Waiting - MP involvement
On 19 January 2006 I sent this letter to the local Member of
letter four months ago - dated 15 September 2005 ref:
DARR001HP051302 - you stated that you were disappointed that
Dorset County Council still had not carried out the work on drop
kerbs in Swanage.
how do you feel now, four months later, to hear that they've
only done one quarter of what they intended to get done by 31
2005 Jon Munslow, District Highways Engineer, agreed a schedule
of works that needed doing, and told me that he intended to get
it all done by the end of July. This date has just crept on and
on till it's still not completed.
worst aspect has been that due to the essential works on the
beach in Swanage, Shore Road has not been accessible for
pavement scooters. This has meant that they have had to travel
in the road along most of its length - the kerbs are too high to
allow them to go up and down the pavement where the works have
means mobility scooters and cars in the road together, with the
knowledge of Dorset County Council.
more: there are only two other possible pavement routes into
town from North Swanage: Northbrook Road, which is so bad for
lack of drop kerbs it cannot even be considered by wheelchair or
mobility scooter users; and De Moulham Road.
the beginning of my dialogue with Jon Munslow nearly a year ago,
I pointed out that if drop kerbs were installed on the east side
of the junction of De Mouham Road and Walrond Road, this would
provide the much needed pavement route into the town centre for
everybody coming from North Swanage. Despite all my pleading
this has still not been done. One little job would have
prevented a lot of upset for a lot of people.
everybody in North Swanage has been, and still is, forced to
travel into town by either going on the road in Shore Road or De
Moulham Road, and to travel back by going on the road along De
Moulham Road only (Shore Road being one way at the moment).
that neither myself nor anybody else gets injured, though it is
very scary to be forced to travel like this.
is enough, I'm going national with this, I've tried to do things
reasonably and the media is most interested as to why one little
job should take so long, especially when it's putting so many
people at risk.
it on TV. The visual is a scathing indictment - mobility
scooters being forced out into traffic for most of the length of
Shore Road, from Ocean Bay at the bottom of Ulwell Road to the
clocktower at the junction of Shore Road with Victoria Avenue -
it will look awful on TV for all those responsible for this
£million for sand on the beach, yet DCC can't find the men to do
a couple of drop kerbs?
your comments with interest.
advised Jon Munslow of Dorset County Council that I would be
sending this letter to you at the beginning of the week, and he
asked me to hold back for a couple of days to see what he could
just telephoned me to say that the work is still not being done
and he doesn't know when it will be. Apparently, "potholes in
the road" anywhere else will always take precedence. Maybe you
can get them to do something other than putting you off with a
letter, like four months ago. Thanks.
Stage Completed January 2006
Following the letter above,
Richard Bastow of Dorset County Council wrote to me on 25
January 2006 to state that the work would be done without further
delay, and it was within about a week.
Jon Munslow came back from holiday and on 3 February 2006 we
went around Swanage looking at the works that had been done, and
earmarked other areas that he would include in a schedule for
the financial year April 2006 - April 2007.
The matters agreed were:
From April 2005's schedule:
drop kerb for Walrond Road/Shore Road - Jon to follow
drop kerb for Northbrook Road/Victoria Avenue - wait to see
what the developers have planned
to be painted outside K's Cafe and Amusements - already built into line painting
areas to be considered for Drop Kerbs
Shore Road at the town end just inside the barrier, enabling
(i) a safer crossing point than on the corner by K's Cafe and
Amusements all year
round, and (ii) a crossing point when the barrier is closed
during the day from May to September
the two junctions along Northbrook Road at the Victoria Avenue
Priest's Road/High Street
the rest of Northbrook Road
If anybody has other areas they would like to see improved,
please contact me and also write to Jon Munslow, District
Highways Engineer at Dorchester County Council.
31 July 2006 Jon Munslow wrote to say that Dorset County
Council has marked out the work to be done in Swanage this
year. The locations are:
Shore Road at its junction with Victoria Avenue
Shore Road between the Kays crossing point and the point on the
northern side of the tourist information office. This will
allow more crossing points to the promenade when the gates
are open or closed
Victoria Avenue at the Northbrook Road junction
Victoria Avenue at the De Moulham road junction - they are removing
the tactiles because they do not line up and are causing an
issue for blind users because the crossing is on a radius
Arkwright's Stores area to provide crossing points to link the
High Street/ Priests Road junction. This is a difficult one to deal
with because of the visibility problems at the junction.
They think they have come up with a reasonable solution that
at least makes thing better for all even if it isn't
looking at the possibility of funding further works along
Northbrook Road and will soon be working with the Town Council
to improve the area around the train station.
had suggestions for various other places but it's important
that we look at these annually, so please let me know where
else you think they should be. Thank you.
Please contact me at
FURTHER SUGGESTIONS RECEIVED
Beach Gardens/Northbrook Road entrance to the central recreation area
around Select & Save supermarket, 208 High Street
the existing pedestrian crossing in Institute Road at Kays - pavement still
the existing pedestrian crossing from the Post Office to the Health Centre
- only one side is a drop kerb
By the fire station where Court Road meets Kings Road opposite Church Hill
Second Stage partially completed
7 March 2007 Jon Munslow (Corset County Council Highways
Engineer) and I toured Swanage to look at the work
carried out and to consider other areas that might require
We noted two spots that definitely need improvement:
by Alfie's Restaurant, Institute Road
by the Angling Centre, High Street
It was agreed that a closer inspection
of other areas was required and four walks
needed to be arranged:
(1) from the Railway Station along
Kings Road West to Court Hill
(2) from Arkwright's along the High Street and
along Priests Road
(3) from Priests Road along the High Street to
(4) from Victoria Avenue along Northbrook Road,
(with consideration for access to Beach Gardens recreation area)
I asked if I could be be present, so that the engineers and
I could become more aware of each other's requirements.
We agreed that once all the information was obtained, we would consider
which work should be completed in what order. Given the
financial constraints, I suggested that it might be better to
develop two routes half way out of the town centre, rather
than one route all the way.
Then there was a change in personnel at Dorset County Council
and everything ground to a halt.
County Council Initiative February 2007
- so all work ceases in Swanage!
On 13 June 2007 Jon Munslow advised me that Nigel Hamer
had taken over the drop crossing programme. Jon told me
that the sites we looked at 3
months ago were put on plan and he passed it to Amy Holleyman
to inspect and cost up the works. Unfortunately as part of the
reorganisation they had, she moved on to another section.
Nigel was told the locations and would be programming the
works. Jon was sure that Nigel would be able to schedule the
programme (as much as they could afford) for the back end of
the summer early autumn 2007.
On 24 October 2007 Nigel Hamer suggested this wording
for the website:
A report in February 2007
identified 17 centres of population in rural Dorset plus the 2
Agency Boroughs of Christchuch and Weymouth & Portland. Rod
Turner is working on the implementation of a co-ordinated
approach to identifying and prioritising the dropped crossing
programme within these centres of population. This will
involve working closely with just a single nominated person
per area. A letter was sent to the Town/Borough/Boroughs on
18th October on the subject of Footway Dropped (Tactile) Kerb
Provision to clarify the situation.
When I asked why there had been such a long delay from the
report in February 2007 to the letter being sent to Swanage
Town Council on 18 October, Nigel replied that they are:
1) carrying out a review of
the footway hierarchies prior to the implementation
2) carrying out an assessment
of existing tactile paving sites.
He added: "Also, as you are
aware, our Highway Management group has undergone a major
restructuring exercise over these months. This has resulted in
other priorities. The process is ongoing with a proposal that
the procedures will be fully implemented before the start of
He agreed to arrange a meeting with me and Rod Turner.
I suggested that he might like to take part in a 'Stroll And
Roll' exercise whereby 'able-bodied people who can make a
difference' experience trying to get round Swanage in a
wheelchair or mobility scooter.
I also advised that I will be looking into a
central register of accidents involving the kerbs in Swanage,
and perhaps he could put me in touch with his legal team so
that the register will be in an acceptable format for them.
Over to the professionals in November 2007
2 November 2007 Three years
ago when I had the accident that put me in a wheelchair, I
started my campaign Accessible Swanage to improve the
pavements for users of wheelchairs, mobility scooters and baby
Now that there is an initiative
across the county to provide a consistent approach to the
provision of drop kerbs, and I am starting to walk a little
again, I must concentrate on trying to earn
The matter is now in the hands of
the professional civil servants at town and county council
level, so I'll leave it up to them. Good luck!
2 July 2008 The Swanage &
Purbeck Rotary Club awarded me (a non-Rotarian) a Paul Harris
Fellowship, named after their founder, in honour of my
sustained contribution towards the community in making Swanage
more accessible. I felt deeply honoured by this and, at the
same time, sad that I was too busy to take up the fight again
at this stage. Because nothing has happened since I stopped.
November 2008 - sadly since
the County Council's Initiative to improve disabled access
across the county was launched in February 2007, no work at
all has taken place to improve the streets of Swanage.
Swanage Town Council
approached me and asked if I would like to put forward my
recommendations for drop kerbs in Swanage, so I am helping
them with advice when requested.
The following places
have now been recommended for Dropped Kerbs:
4 April 2009
opposite the Select and Save, High Street, Herston;
Kings Road at the junction with Church Hill;
Top of Gordon Road;
between the Corner Restaurant and the Mowlem;
pedestrian crossing outside K’s, Station Road
(existing dropped kerb requires lowering);
the fire station where Court Road meets Kings Road opposite Church Hill
The County Council have been asked to look at these
other two places and asked for their guidance:
7. De Moulham Road at Battlegate;
Road, outside 4, Bishops Row;
25 November 2010 Time for a review of all
that has taken place!. I had a meeting at Swanage Town Hall
with the Town Clerk and a Council Officer who has been
appointed to help with these matters. Dorset County Council
has agreed to another site meeting to assess the situation.
More to follow..