Buckingham Town Council has worked hard to improve accessibility in recent years, but there is still work to be done.
With a growing population and people living longer, there are increasing numbers of people finding it difficult to get around Buckingham on foot, by mobility scooter, or with a child in a pushchair. Buckingham town centre was created in mediaeval times and retains many of the narrow streets from those times. While these streets form part of Buckingham delightful and unique character, they are clearly unsuitable for today’s heavy traffic and lead to many pavements being very narrow. Many shops and other buildings have steps, or stairs to upper floors, which both require a creative approach to permit easy access for everyone while preserving their historic character.
The town also suffers from disabled parking bays flanked by kerbs and rear vehicle access in the road, along with mis-aligned dropped kerbs in many locations.
In recent years, the Town Council has:
- In partnership with DisabledGo, we had many properties surveyed for accessibility by the less mobile and included on their website, so that anyone visiting our town could see which shops and services were more suited to their needs
- But when DisabledGo became AccessAble, we noticed that the web-based service was less helpful and omitted some earlier content about Buckingham. We decided to make better use of your money and seek other means to fulfil our wish to make our town accessible to everyone. We encouraged developers and others to consider the needs of the less mobile, perhaps along the lines of the sloping access to Lloyds Bank or the portable wheelchair ramp at Esquires
- We moved some events away from premises with poor access for the less mobile
- We provide an audio version of our Buckingham Town Matters newsletters
- “Access” is now a standing Agenda item at our Committee meetings
- Thanks to donations from Buckingham Access4All, we designed and installed a more accessible picnic table, that is also wheelchair accessible, in Bourton Park
What the Town Council will continue to do:
- We ensure that our events are as easily accessible as possible
- We continue to press for easy access to be considered by developers, and lobby existing properties to consider what improvements they might consider (wheelchair ramps, doorbells to summons assistance etc).
- We report to the appropriate authority when urgent repairs are need to badly worn pedestrian areas – including pavements
- We plan to install more wheelchair-accessible picnic areas in our parks, starting by adding a tarmac path to the accessible bench in Chandos Park
Councillor Mike Smith, who has chaired the Council’s Resources Committee until standing down at the election on 6th May, said: “The council continues to work hard on behalf of the less able, but it is something of an uphill struggle (no pun intended) as much of what needs to be done falls beyond the Town Council remit”.