Leading Labour councillors have welcomed the suggestion from the City’s Liberal Democrats that the Council’s Budget plans are amended to include the Labour proposal for an in-depth review of the City Centre to consider how to improve its accessibility. The review has been championed in the City Council by Councillor Gerri Bird, a longstanding disability rights campaigner, who has regularly highlighted the need for better accessibility through a range of initiatives such as: a wheelchair tour of the City Centre in 2011 with the then Mayor and other councillors; the successful campaign to save Lion Yard toilets and the recent revisions to the city council’s plans to remove some disabled parking spaces in the centre.
Speaking after the Strategy and Resources committee meeting on Friday 7 February where Labour accepted the offer to include the £15,000 review in the City’s 2014/15 Budget, Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Labour Group, said: “This review is vital to ensure that the City Centre is not a hostile environment for those who have mobility, sight or hearing problems but remains a place where all the City’s residents and visitors feel they belong. By identifying the core issues together with partners like the Cambridge BID and the County Council, we hope to suggest a range of solutions and an action plan to implement them in the short amd medium term.“
Cllr Bird said: “I am really pleased that this review will go ahead. In the last year many disabled people have raised concerns alongside me about a wide range of issues. Advertising A-frame boards and street cafes can make negotiating the pavements difficult for those in wheelchairs or with sight problems. The state of some pavements which are uneven and breaking up can cause tumbles, and we need to have seating in public places and make sure disabled parking places are in the right locations. The city centre mustn’t just be a place for the young or the fit to go.”