HOW easy is it to get around Sleaford for people with disabilities?
That was the question that was being posed when, last Wednesday, members of North Kesteven Access Group went out and about in the town to find out just how accessible the town is, not only for wheelchair users but also for elderly residents who use mobility scooters or walking sticks.
Vice chairman of the group, Thelma Smith, who uses a wheelchair herself, went out with chairman Coun Ian Carrington and Sharron Routledge from North Kesteven District Council’s building control section to put town centre businesses to the test.
They took with them a tick-list of points to see how many businesses are disability friendly, for example checking if the shop had a ramp for wheelchairs or if they allow guide dogs in?
The Access Group intends to visit all of Sleaford’s offices, businesses and commercial premises in the coming weeks.
The outcome of the survey will then be included in an on-line guide which will detail how accessible each business premises are and what facilities are available. This will go live once all the data has been collated.
The group found that one of the common problems was the height of steps to enter some shops.
Mr Carrington commented: “The truth is Sleaford is a very historic town and it does have narrow pavements and some shops have been here for many years before there was a concern about disabled access.
“Having said that, given how historic Sleaford is, it does very well for accessibility. There are many lower kerbs on the pavements and a lot of shops have doorbells to summon assistance.
“Our aim is to solve problems, not create them. The NK Access Group tries to give out friendly but expert advice without waving a big stick.”
Thelma said: “Some of the shops were ‘interesting’ to try and get into but generally Sleaford is quite good.”
Sharron Routledge added: “This survey is really useful. I had never seen Sleaford from Thelma’s point of view, but talking and listening to Thelma makes me understand how difficult things can be.”