Calls for action on disability access to centre

Wheelchairs in city centre feature --  Dave Wait  , Barry Plumb   and Simon Machen EMN-170211-132812009
Wheelchairs in city centre feature -- Dave Wait , Barry Plumb and Simon Machen EMN-170211-132812009

Disability campaigners want answers on whether better access to Queensgate from the railway station will be delivered more than 10 months after action was promised.

Last November the Peterborough Telegraph joined senior figures from Peterborough City Council and Queensgate to try the different routes from the station to the shopping centre in a wheelchair to better understand how difficult the journey is for people who are disabled.

The difficulties identified during the activity prompted council cabinet member Cllr Peter Hiller to remark: “People are coming into the city and can’t access the main shopping centre.

“I will certainly be lobbying for changes. Having had it demonstrated to me I had not realised the impediment for disabled, blind and partially sighted people.”

Mark Broadhead, centre director at Queensgate, also acknowledged at the time that a solution needed to be found, adding: “There’s a great dialogue between the owners and the council and it’s something that will come on the agenda shortly.”

However, a frustrated Bryan Tyler, access and inclusion manager at Disability Peterborough, told the PT last week talk of introducing a ramped entrance or a lift into Queensgate from the entrance on Bourges Boulevard had stalled. He said: “We are getting nowhere. We want some sort of yes or no - are we getting a ramp? There are 35,000 people in Peterborough with a disability. There are people sat at home that would come out if they could.”

Cllr John Fox, who was formerly co-ordinator of Shopmobility in Peterborough, which lends wheelchairs to disabled shoppers, revealed he had met a disabled person who shops in Grantham because they were struggling to get into Queensgate.

He said: “That’s just one person, but how many other people go to other shops? And there’s no signage from the station on where to go.

“They are spending all this money on a remodernisation of Queensgate. We would like an answer on the ramp.”

Responding to the comments, Cllr Hiller said: “We have been working with Queensgate to establish and develop a long-term and cost effective solution that caters for all.

“In the meantime we have provided pedestrian crossings across Bourges Boulevard, so disabled access is now possible into Queensgate through the Westgate entrance.”

Cllr Fox added that going to the Westgate entrance is difficult as it involves passing the entrance and exit of a car park.

Last November the PT attempted to navigate three routes into the city centre from the station, either using a wheelchair or glasses that replicated the limited visibility of people with impaired vision.

The first was up a ramp and into the lift in the Yellow Car Park near the station, before going across the footbridge into Queensgate.

The second involved going through the pedestrian crossings on Bourges Boulevard, and the third was through the subway by Cowgate, which has a steep slope at the end.

The PT asked Queensgate for a comment, but we had not received its response at the time of going to press.