Last week, we launched out Peterborough Unlimited campaign which included a set of five proposals for Town Hall chiefs after speaking to dozens of disabled residents who have outlined significant barriers which deter them from heading into the city.
Our campaign calls on the council to make sure disabled people are not forgotten about in the rush to ‘build back better’ following the coronavirus pandemic, with many already facing a sense of complete isolation.
PETERBOROUGH UNLIMITED CAMPAIGN
The changes being called for by campaigners, which are being backed by the PT, are:
- Building of a fully accessible toilet block in the city centre
- The creation of a disability officer post at the council
- More Blue Badge parking spaces
- Keeping St Peter’s Arcade permanently open
- Improved access for disabled people into Queensgate.
Last week, we highlighted comments by prominent disability campaigners in the city outlining the desperate need for change, while we also featured a recent tour of the city centre which revealed just how difficult an experience it is for people with disabilities.
Since the campaign launched it has received widespread support across social media, as well as from politicians.
One of those to back Peterborough Unlimited is leader of the city council’s Labour group Cllr Shaz Nawaz, who said: “The city centre has to be welcoming and accessible to all sections of the community.
“People with disabilities are as important as another section of the community. They want to live normal lives and want to be treated equally. That is not too much to ask for.
“I believe there are improvements we can make to the city centre to make it more disabled friendly. If we make the city centre more inclusive and accessible then, naturally, we will increase footfall and it will be good for both consumers and retailers.
“What’s really important to me is that it will enable families to visit the city centre who don’t or can’t at the moment due to the area not catering for their needs as it should.
“I welcome the PT’s campaign and will support it because the overall impact will benefit everyone and that is surely a good thing.”
Cllr Nick Sandford, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “I fully support the five asks in the Peterborough Unlimited campaign. Our city centre should be open and freely accessible to everyone and that includes people with disabilities.
“Some people have disabilities now, of varying degrees, but others may have them later in their lives.
“Some of the measures have a cost attached. But one - re-opening the St Peter’s Arcade - is cost free. That saga is yet another illustration of the way our city is run.
“The whim of one Tory Cabinet member was going to lead to the arcade’s permanent closure and now the whim of the new council leader means it gets re-opened.
“It’s a vital route not just for people with disabilities but for all pedestrians. The council talks about giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists but its delivery on that aspiration is sadly lacking.”
MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow also tweeted: “This made very concerning reading and viewing - clearly a need for the City Council and others to work closely with disability campaigners to improve matters in our City Centre!”
Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has also given his backing to the campaign.
He said: “It’s clear that too many people with disabilities have been left struggling to do things the rest of us take for granted. Sadly, their needs have been forgotten and they have been made to feel almost invisible within our community.
“As a doctor, I’ve always focused on people’s wellbeing from both a mental and physical point of view. So, if I can provide my support to this campaign and help improve their experience of visiting Peterborough, I’ll be happy. It’s all about delivering my priorities of compassion, co-operation and community.”
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, which the mayor leads, added: “Dr Nik Johnson has made a commitment to speak to city leaders and key influencers with a view to finding ways to improve facilities and services across the city.
“Of particular concern is the need to improve access to basic amenities like toilets and the routes between transport and recreations pursuits like shopping and eating out.”