Councillor works to improve Eastbourne pavements after accepting unusual challenge

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An Eastbourne councillor is working to improve pavements for wheelchair users after taking up an unusual challenge from one of his constituents.

Cllr Steve Wallis said he is asking what can be done to improve the town’s highways for disabled people after a first-hand experience of using a wheelchair in Eastbourne.

The experience came at the hands of Harry Pope, a constituent of Cllr Wallis’s, who challenged the councillor to be pushed around town in a wheelchair to see the hazards facing users.

Mr Pope began to raise his concerns over the state of Eastbourne’s pavements after seeing the experiences of his 99-year-old aunt.

He said, “She has survived two world wars, but her biggest achievement has been surviving Eastbourne’s hazardous pavements.

“The wheelchair has been her only method of appreciating what our town has to offer over the past 18 months, and the jolting and jarring she experiences is most unpleasant.”

To prove his point, Mr Pope invited his local councillor to be pushed around the town’s streets in a wheelchair in order to see some of the hazards for himself.

Cllr Wallis accepted the challenge and agreed to be pushed by Mr Pope.

Mr Pope said, “It was a real eye-opener for him. I am a considerate wheelchair pusher, avoiding holes, raised manhole covers and slowly lowering the chair when approaching a road junction without a dropped kerb.

“Councillor Wallis was still bounced around – no, it wasn’t deliberate on my part – as he managed to write observations and take photos of particularly notable pavement bad spots.”

Cllr Wallis, who is Devonshire councillor for both Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council, has now written to East Sussex County Highways to share his experience and ask what can be done to improve the hazards.

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