Wheelchair and mobility scooter users unable to enjoy Flintshire's coastal paths due to barriers

Reporter:

Amani Khan

A group of campaigners are fighting for the removal of barriers along the coastal path.

The Flintshire Disability Forum (FDF) centre for independent living are campaigning to Flintshire Council against barriers scattered along the coastal path.

FDF campaign to empower people with disabilities to live independently.

This campaign comes after some wheelchair and mobility scooters users were restricted from going through to the coastal path due to their wheelchairs being restricted by barriers.

The barriers were first put in place to prevent access for motorbikes and horses to the coastal path but as a result, they also restrict access of mobility scooters and wheelchairs.

Jan Thomas, chief officer at FDF, said: “Barriers are on the Talacre Coastal Park Gronant Dunes accessed from Station Road, Talacre. There are other frame barriers on the Dee Coastal Path Deeside at Connah’s Quay and Queensferry.

“Some wheelchair users are frightened to even attempt going through the barriers.

“It is sad that if a family wanted to go along the coastal path they could not take their a family member if they were in a wheelchair.

“It is difficult for big power wheelchair users because they have wheelchairs which specifically cater to them so it is unfair for them to be restricted.

“We have been campaigning for 18 months now and nothing has been done about it.

“We are already halfway through summer and some people still can’t enjoy a summer day along the coastal path.

“The coastal path is supposedly welcoming to all.. but those in a wheelchair.”

She added: “The FDF centre for independent living firmly believe that disabled people are only disabled from the environment, community and attitude of others in which they live, not by their impairment.”

Andrew Farrow, Flintshire Council chief officer planning and environment said: “In 2006/7 a decision was taken to counter the problem of illegal and dangerous motorbike activity along the Flintshire coast by installing ‘Three Valley Access Barriers’. These barriers allow wheelchairs and smaller mobility scooters to pass, but larger specification mobility scooters cannot.

“This is a difficult balance to achieve, however the need to control motorbike activity was such that this was considered to be an acceptable position. There are more than 40 of these barriers along the Flintshire coast and they have been effective in the reduction of the problem to such an extent that it is most unusual to hear of illegal motorbike activity.

“We have had other requests to widen these barriers, however to do so would be against the manufacturers’ recommended specification and could leave the path vulnerable to access by motorbikes. However, we are looking for a practical solution to this issue which would allow access to all types mobility scooters, but continue to act as an effective barrier against motorbikes.”

Email:

amani.khan@nwn.co.uk

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