Wheelchair users left stranded

Gerry Simpson has concerns about wheelchair access in Alnwick.
Gerry Simpson has concerns about wheelchair access in Alnwick.
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A WHEELCHAIR USER has expressed his frustration about access in Alnwick – with much of the blame falling on drivers.

Gerry Simpson, who lives in Longhoughton, said that there aren’t enough dipped kerbs in the centre of Alnwick to allow easy access for people who use wheelchairs or pushchairs.

Gerry Simpson has concerns about wheelchair access in Alnwick.

Gerry Simpson has concerns about wheelchair access in Alnwick.

But the 58-year-old’s main gripe is that often cars park over the dips, leaving him stranded.

Mr Simpson said: “Unless someone has sat in a wheelchair and done it, I don’t think they appreciate the difficulties.

“At WHSmith, people park across the dipped kerb, particularly white vans.

“Across the road by Costa, there are wheelchair bays, but there’s no dips so you cant get onto the pavements

“Outside Iceland, there’s another dip marked with ‘keep clear’ but people still park there.

“People see it as an empty spot.

“People abuse them and sometimes it’s people with blue badges, and that’s worse because they should know better.”

He also pointed out that at the top end of Bondgate Within, there are no dips, meaning that you have to go up to the pedestrian crossing by the Alnwick Playhouse to get to the other side of the street.

And halfway down Bondgate Within, there is a dropped kerb on the side where the banks are, but none on the other side.

He even saw one woman in a wheelchair going up and down the road, trying to find a way onto the pavement.

Mr Simpson wanted to highlight this issue as it is something that affects all users of wheelchairs and pushchairs in the town.

He also suggested that the dropped kerbs need to be better enforced.

“I think the dips should be more clearly marked and someone needs to clamp down on it,” he said.

“If it’s about access for all and equality, it’s my right to be able to get around in Alnwick.”

He also said that if ever he confronts people for parking over the dropped kerbs, they are always apologetic and claim ignorance, but he feels people just choose to park there regardless.

“Sometimes I just want to scratch their cars,” he joked. “But I don’t really want to cause confrontation.

“If it’s the only way I can get past though then it might happen.”

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “Where dropped kerbs are not at a controlled crossing point or already have parking restrictions we can put markings in front of them, and would be happy to discuss any particular locations where there is a problem.

“Until civil parking enforcement is introduced the Police are responsible for enforcing illegal on-street parking.”