Concerns about wheelchair safety in town centre street

Woodbridge's Thoroughfare is home to a number of independent traders

Concerns have been raised that uneven pavements make it difficult for wheelchairs in Woodbridge Thoroughfare - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Concern has been raised about uneven pavements affecting wheelchairs in a town centre street where new traffic restrictions have been introduced.  

Karen Blake, who cares for her mother, was in favour overall of banning vehicles, except for residents and businesses in Thoroughfare, Woodbridge. 

However, she feared poor paving would create problems for people pushing wheelchairs. 

She recalled how she nearly tipped her 91-year-old mother out of her wheelchair due to an uneven tarmac following work to fill in two missing paving slabs near the Oxfam shop in Thoroughfare. 

She said: “I have on two occasions, one being in the pouring rain had to take my mother to the opticians at the top of town, near to the British Legion. We were obliged to park in the Elmhurst car park and then I pushed my mother to the opticians. She was cold and wet.  

“I cannot believe that there cannot be some lenience towards older people in allowing short term parking to essential services.” 

Mrs Blake called on councillors to try pushing each other in wheelchairs to experience these difficulties themselves. 

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An experimental Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) was made permanent on Sunday after a consultation revealed the restrictions were backed by many people affected by the changes, including residents, shopkeepers, police, traffic engineers and the disabled. 

The TRO restricted access to Thoroughfare to residents or businesses who had their own parking area, while loading bays could only be used for a maximum of 15 minutes. 

No other vehicles were allowed to use the street and drivers wishing to shop in Thoroughfare were required to park in the two adjacent car parks. 

Parking for disabled blue badge holders was also removed and they were directed to use the disabled parking bays in the adjacent Hamblin Road and Oak Lane car parks. 

The Suffolk Disability Forum was in favour of the TRO as cars were no longer parking on pavements, making it easier for people in wheelchairs. 

Access from car parks to Thoroughfare had also improved. 

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said: “The experimental TRO was introduced to reduce the amount of traffic in The Thoroughfare, to improve safety, create a better shopping experience and reduce any damage to the footways."