Calls for more dropped kerbs in Eastbourne are falling on deaf ears, says councillor

Drop kerb for wheelchair and child pram/buggy use. Eastbourne February 7th 2013 E06179P
Drop kerb for wheelchair and child pram/buggy use. Eastbourne February 7th 2013 E06179P

A row is brewing over the amount of cash being spent on dropped down kerbs and other small infrastructure improvements across the town.

Dropped down kerbs make crossing the roads easier for wheelchair users and people with prams and buggies and East Sussex County Council holds the purse strings for paying for such works to be carried out.

But one Eastbourne councillor says the authority is not coming up with the cash and his pleas for improvements are falling on deaf ears.

Liberal Democrat Old Town councillor John Ungar said he has written to the transport and highways department at County Hall in Lewes asking for an investigation into what he calls the “department’s apparent inability to access available funding to enable it to carry out the much needed work”.

The director of transport at County Hall Rupert Club says he has received correspondence from Councillor Ungar and is looking into it.

But the Old Town councillor says he is still shocked.

“It appears the county council has not accessed this funding. This is despite Eastbourne Borough Council informing the authority of the monies available and requesting a Scheme of Works.

“There is a substantial need for dropped kerbs in Old Town ward and across Eastbourne as a whole,” he said. “It beggars belief that, despite requests from people with disabilities, the county council can’t even organise itself to meet those needs even when there is funding readily available.”

In a letter to Mr Clubb Councillor Ungar wrote, “I have concerns about your department’s ability to co-ordinate and carry out small infrastructure/highways improvements and I would be grateful if you would look into the information and report back to me.

“Here in Old Town there continues to be a need for dropped kerbs and other small infrastructure project to be carried out by the county council. When councillors and other bodies request these improvements they are informed that there is no budget. This implies that the work cannot be carried out.

“I understand Eastbourne Borough Council holds Section 106 monies which can be used for such schemes. In fact I believe that there is a pot of £100,000, of which up to £56,000 could be used for the above mentioned projects. On enquiring I find that officers from Eastbourne Borough Council have contacted your department and asked for a scheme of proposed works so that funding could be made available. Despite making requests some months ago no schemes of work have come forward.

“What further concerns me is that, at a recent meeting of the Eastbourne Disability Involvement Group I believe your officers admitted that they do not have a list of sites where requests for dropped kerbs have been made. This is giving me great concerns about your department’s ability to properly access and use the resources available to it.”

A spokesperson at the county council said this week, ““The director has received the letter and the issues raised will be examined in detail.”

The Eastbourne Disability Involvement Group is behind calls for more improvements to pavements in the town.

It meets regularly and on behalf of a wide range of organisations and charities in the town campaigns for dropped kerbs.