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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
New bridge disabled access row
Curre Street steps
New steps have been erected at the lower end of the bridge
A new bridge which can only be reached via steps on either side has angered villagers living in Cwm, near Ebbw Vale who want proper disabled access.

St Paul's footbridge was built after the original crossing had to be pulled down to accommodate a new bypass.

Disability Wales also said it could see no reason why ramps had not been erected for disabled people to cross the 500,000 bridge.

Blaenau Gwent Council said a ramp on one side is planned but no funding is available for a ramp on the other.

It is unbelievable. They have obviously spent a lot of money on this and disabled access should have been thought about
Graham Findlay, Disability Wales

Bob Brain, who lives near the new bridge and is part of Cwm Welfare Tenants and Residents Association said that people in the village were unhappy with the access onto the crossing.

"It is absolutely ridiculous. We have got a lovely modern bridge but to get on or off it you have got to use steps," he said.

Bob Brain
Bob Brain said that residents are angry about the access to the bridge

"With the old bridge, there was no disabled access because it was built years ago, but now we have this new bridge and the perfect opportunity for proper access for all and yet that opportunity appears to have been missed.

"It is very frustrating and just about everyone in the village is talking about."

Mr Brain said that a petition demanding disabled access on both sides of the bridge was planned.

"The bridge is well used because it the main crossing for people from one part of the village to the other," he said.

"Lots of parents walk their children to school across it.

"Everyone was hoping that they would build with no steps so that parents with prams and disabled people could use it with ease.

"But steps have been built leading up to the bridge from the lower side of the village and even the bridge itself has steps on it.

"A set of steps that led to the old bridge from the Cwm Road side is still in place too.

"It is appalling that they have spent so much money building this new bridge but haven't addressed the issue of access properly.

"Even if they did put a ramp on one side, how do people get off on the other? Its ridiculous.

"It really does limit the number of people who can use the bridge and it is supposed to be there for everyone to use," he added.

The bridge, which was funded by the Welsh assembly, is part of the 29m Cwm Road Relief Scheme which is due to be completed by the autumn.

Graham Findlay, the access officer for Disability Wales, who represent different disability groups, said he was surprised that the entries onto the bridge were only accessible by steps.

Cwm Road steps
Existing steps leading towards Cwm Road will not be replaced

"It is unbelievable," he said.

"They have obviously spent a lot of money on this and disabled access should have been thought about.

"There is no reason why there shouldn't be disabled access especially with the new legislation coming in October which is to remove barriers.

"They should really have thought about ensuring there was adequate access to the bridge," he said.

'National requirements'

But Blaenau Gwent Council has said that a ramp will be built on the Curre Street end of the bridge once the demolition of the old bridge is completed.

"The bridge itself is compliant with the national requirements," said a spokesman.

"The existing steps [on the Cwm Road side] will remain as they are and will link up with the bridge.

"The relief road works do not extend to cover the steps, and there is no funding provision for replacing the steps under the original scheme."

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