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This month it is five years since Ramsgate’s Joe Shaw was cruelly attacked in Ramsgate Town Centre and left with life threatening injuries. He has made amazing progress on the road to recovery and remains positive despite all he is coping with.
Joe and his mother Nancy have done what they can to highlight the issues they face on their daily outings round the town.
Joe is now 29 years old and I first met him last autumn when several of us met to consider setting up a focus and networking group for people experiencing accessibility issues in Ramsgate. We decided to call it Access Ramsgate. Joe is very keen to be involved and will be a good ambassador for the group.
I live in East Cliff Ward so my example is taken from near where I live but I am well aware that people all over Ramsgate are encountering the same issues
- Shop signs on pavements and café furniture
- Cyclists using pavements and driving too fast
- Potholes on pedestrian crossings
- Cars parking across dropped kerbs/blocked gutters
- Cars parked on pavements – which also destroy surfaces for pavement users
- Dog mess
- Shop doorways up steps
In March 2021 Joe featured in The Isle of Thanet News when he appealed to Kent County Council to make Ramsgate more accessible for wheelchair users.
Joe highlighted how a lack of dropped kerbs in the town hampers the ability of people using wheelchairs or mobility scooters to be able to get around freely.
A KCC spokesman said at the time: “Regular inspections are carried out of all footways in Kent to ensure the safety of all road users, this includes specifically considering wheelchair and mobility scooter users.”
I would like to know when an inspection of Ramsgate was last carried and by whom? I have not noticed any activity in the last two years apart from the dropped kerb near Aldi which I spoke to our ward councillors about. Some workmen filled in the pothole at Boundary Road pedestrian crossing too, but sadly the pothole has already reappeared. Does KCC actually involve wheelchair users and mobility scooter users when carrying out inspections or making decisions?
The KCC spokesman also said: “We will always consider specific requests for dropped kerbs and these can be made at Kent.gov.uk”
I suspect, however, that if everyone in Ramsgate requested a different dropped kerb on the same day the KCC website might go into meltdown.
In April 2021 Joe and his mother were filmed by Councillor Karen Constantine embarking on a typical journey into town. The film clip contained a link to a petition calling for urgent improvement to accessibility in Ramsgate. Whatever happened to this petition? I could not find it on the government’s list of petitions. An Equality Impact Assessment was also mentioned but how would we find out how to write one, or if any were carried out in Ramsgate since 2021?
KCC publish an Annual Equality and Diversity Report. In the introduction to last year’s report which covered the year up to April 2022 KCC claims to recognise the diverse needs of the people of Kent and says it is committed to promoting equality of opportunity. So why is Ramsgate being left out?
Last week I attempted to drive my mobility scooter along St Luke’s Avenue which also involved crossing the road where Joe lives.
Despite Joe’s cry for help two years ago there are still no dropped kerbs at the end of his road, and no dropped kerbs on three other junctions nearby either. It also puzzles me as I scoot around Ramsgate why there is sometimes a dropped kerb on one side of the road but not on the other. As for the state of the pavements, which for a pavement-only scooter or a wheelchair user become our route – words fail me!
The Access Ramsgate team plan to map all places where there are no dropped kerbs. We will then speak to KCC and invite them to spend a day here with a wheelchair user or riding a mobility scooter round the town. I doubt very much whether the people making these decisions live in Ramsgate or have mobility issues themselves.
Access Ramsgate holds regular drop-in sessions.
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Opinion with Laura Probert of Access Ramsgate: Keep fighting Joe
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