‘Improvements needed to make our town centres more accessible’

As part of the council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group I visited Wotton-Under-Edge to take part in a sight loss awareness training session which showed some of the difficulties faced by visually impaired people.

Wearing glasses that simulated the effects of eye conditions we made our way around the town centre with a guide dog and representatives of Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council.

They told us about some of the challenges people who are blind, partially sighted or vision impaired face and taking part in this exercise helped us to get a very clear understanding of those issues. Feedback from this training session will inform future street design policies and improve accessibility.

Similar visits to other towns are also expected to take place.

One of the Council Plan’s three main priorities is strengthening and supporting our communities, so people feel included and connected. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, which I chair, has a wide remit and plays a central role in assisting with the Council’s commitment to providing an inclusive and supportive environment for our residents, our employees, contractors and visitors that is free from discrimination.

I was delighted to see more improvements on the multi-user path between Nailsworth and Stroud at Inchbrook. The Newman Henders Bridge has been replaced thanks to a joint project with Gloucestershire County Council, as the original bridge was in a poor condition and a safety risk.

Both councils have invested significant sums in improving the path, not least a new surface for much of it in 2019/20, and more recently widening at Bird’s Crossing in Woodchester and access improvements at Dunkirk Mill, as well as the new bridge. Supporting active travel is a council priority and this is just one example of investment in cycling and walking.

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