Kenilworth Mayor and councillors see streets from a different view

Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins and councillors Felicity Bunker and Kate Dickson took part in the exercise, alongside resident Chris Edgerton
Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins and councillors Felicity Bunker and Kate Dickson took part in the exercise, alongside resident Chris Edgerton

Councillors are looking at addressing issues faced by wheelchair users following a hands-on experience of navigating through Kenilworth.

Following a public question at a recent Town Council meeting, the Mayor of Kenilworth, Cllr Mike Hitchins, led an exercise in pushing another member of the council along Warwick Road in a wheelchair to highlight and understand the safety issues along Warwick Road and surrounding streets.

Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins and councillors Felicity Bunker and Kate Dickson outside Enhanced Mobility.

Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins and councillors Felicity Bunker and Kate Dickson outside Enhanced Mobility.

Resident, Chris Edgerton had suggested the exercise for empathy of what it is like in Warwick Road for the people who push and are pushed in wheelchairs.

The mayor and councillors Felicity Bunker and Kate Dickson took part in the exercise last Wednesday.

Mayor Mike Hitchins said: “The first thing I noticed was that at a raised kerbstone the wheelchair came to an abrupt halt – after that I began to look ahead to plan the route and avoid raised or lowered manhole covers and uneven paving.

"You learn to plan your route carefully, to avoid obstacles, you cannot just take the shortest pedestrian route. It has changed my perspective and I’ve learnt that planning the route ahead is essential.

Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins and councillors Felicity Bunker.

Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins and councillors Felicity Bunker.

Cllr Bunker, who was sitting in the wheelchair, said: “There were numerous obstructions along the route, particularly A-boards and street furniture.

"The footpath was particularly narrow in places and I was dependent on other pedestrians giving way to allow us to pass. The ride was very bumpy because of uneven paving slabs, and as it had been raining there were numerous puddles.

"I noticed that tarmac surfaces made for a smoother ride. It was difficult to navigate kerbs, in places. It wasn’t always obvious whether ramps were available outside businesses with a step.”

Cllr Kate Dickson added: “Thank you to Mr Edgerton for the challenge. It is important to make Kenilworth accessible for all members of our community.”

The Town Council will liaise with Warwickshire County Council to address the issues that were found. They will also look at giving guidance to local businesses in relation to pavement advertising.

Kenilworth Town Council would like to thank the staff at Enhanced Mobility, for the loan of the wheelchair and the useful advice in conducting the exercise.