Page last updated at 09:41 GMT, Saturday, 14 November 2009

VIPs join disability access task

Ian Arundale
Ian Arundale took part in the challenge with an MP and council chief

A chief constable has joined an MP and a council chief executive in a challenge to highlight the problems faced by people with disabilities.

Ian Arundale, head of Dyfed-Powys Police, took part in Brecknock Access Group's (BAG) "big challenge".

He, local MP Roger Williams and Powys council's Jeremy Patterson, were asked to find their way around Brecon in a wheelchair and then in dark glasses.

Alex Robinson of BAG was impressed by how well they handled the tasks.

Mr Robinson, the group's vice-president, said: "We think today was really constructive and we got a lot of points across."

Mr Robinson, a wheelchair user who was injured while serving in the Army, said: "They saw a lot of the problems we have to deal with and they were sympathetic and said they would try and fix them for us.

Whilst I feel access in our towns and villages across Powys has improved in recent years, it was obvious to me today that there is still work to be done to improve the current situation
James Patterson, Powys council chief executive

"The chief constable is good and usually delivers what he promises."

BAG said some people in Brecon did not take care parking their cars which often blocked drop-kerbs.

The charity also complained that its members were impeded by advertising boards and other items on pavements.

Mr Patterson said: "I was pleased to be able to take part in today's big challenge.

"Whilst I feel access in our towns and villages across Powys has improved in recent years, it was obvious to me today that there is still work to be done to improve the current situation.

'Simplest task'

"I am confident that the council will tackle these issues and will consult with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that the best possible results are achieved."

Mr Williams said: "Even the simplest task of popping to town to buy a paper or a loaf of bread can cause difficulties for people with disabilities.

"Wheelchair users and people who are blind or partially sighted face particular problems when cars are parked on pavements or signs are placed in the way. New road layouts and shared surfaces also cause problems."

Mr Arundale said Dyfed-Powys Police was working hard to ensure that "all aspects of diversity and equality are a core part of our day to day work and we recently launched a single equality scheme for the force that integrates all the strands".

Here are a selection of readers' thoughts on the issue of access in Brecon.

A big problem with the new pavements is that buses and lorries regularly drive on the pavements and not slowly either. More than once I have pulled my child out of the path of a bus thundering down the pavement outside Millets.

Everything the council does with the roads in Brecon is a disaster. The planners rarely even visit the sites prior to submitting their plans and then the council wonder why the roads don't work properly or safely and that people complain so much after the work is finished.
Steve, Brecon, Wales

When at last the council put dropped kerbs in the Rumney village pavements for me to shop there ( I have a power wheelchair ) I still couldn't go there cars parked across the 3 dropped curbs, the minute that was sorted and other issues were sorted here come council with wheelie bins, a total nightmare every Thursday it is for me like an army assault course weaving in and out the times I have had to go out on to the main very busy Newport road to pass I have lost count, some times a pavement is very narrow and it is either tip into the gutter or back track to find another way to go not a good idea if the batteries are running low.
Margaert Jenkins, Old St Mellons, Cardiff

I sprained my ankle, I could get round fine except in Brecon Town Centre, The pavements were so uneven, The pain was too much in my ankle walking along the uneven surface, I had never realised before how uneven the surfaces were in the town.
Mrs Jones, Brecon, Powys

Being a Welshman with disabilities, I find quite a number of places that wheelchairs have limited access. Drivers are often ignorant where they park such as by drop kerbs and on the pavement.

I am a frequent visitor to Brecon and find it rather irritable to manoeuvre my scooter as billboards are obstructing pavements, motorists are parking their vehicles erratically.

Not only Wales but most of the UK needs to go to the drawing board and start thinking of access as the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) is not being adhered to. Brecon's car park is well away from the shops and tourists hog into vacant spots in the town for hours on end as if they "own" the spot. Time limits should be implemented on street parking all over the country so that others can have the opportunity to park.
Taffy, Swindon.UK

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