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Calls for Bridgwater to be more ‘disabled-friendly’
THE ex-chairman of a Bridgwater disability service says the town’s lack of mobility scooter hire is driving away shoppers.
Ray Lamb, who used to run a Shopmobility service in the town, said ex-customers have told him they do their shopping in Taunton because Bridgwater lacks the facility.
He told the Mercury: “I also used to be a taxi driver and other drivers still ask me where they can take people in the town to hire a scooter.
“I’m disabled and, even though I have a mobility scooter, there’s nowhere to charge it.
“Just having a walking stick makes it really hard to get from one end of town to the other.”
The Shopmobility service closed a few years ago. It was struggling to pay the rent at its premises in Eastover after being asked to move from Clare Street by Sedgemoor District Council because of redevelopment.
Sally Jones, chair of action group Bridgwater Forward, also thinks the town could be made more accessible.
She said: “I’m disabled and I have a scooter. I don’t think Bridgwater is disabled-friendly. For example, the curbs are very high with the traffic lights in St John Street and we no longer have a Shopmobility.
“I’ve had a few people ask me where our Shopmobility service is located and when they find out there isn’t one it’s putting people off.
“We need it in Angel Place or Eastover - even if it’s just folding wheelchairs with a £5 deposit. It works in Taunton, why wouldn’t it work here?”
A spokesman for Sedgemoor District Council said it currently owns no empty shops to be used for the service, but people can apply for funding from its grants panel.
The spokesman added: “The funding comes from public money so applicants will need to provide details of exactly what the money will be spent on.”
For more information about disability services www.compassdisability.org.uk.
• Do you think Bridgwater is disability-friendly? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @BWMercury using #bridgwatermobility