Let’s create access for all - campaigning group put questions to policy makers

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Members of a disabilities campaigning group put their questions directly to policy makers as councillors and an MP attended one of their monthly meetings.

Residents of Agate House, in Ampthill, invited Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries and Ampthill Town Councillor Mark Smith to discuss the issues they face.

The residents are part of the Community Action Group but also campaign on national issues with Leonard Cheshire Disability, which runs Agate House.

Cllr Smith said the residents raised many points relating to the difficulties people who use wheelchairs or mobility scooters face when getting around Ampthill.

He said: “It was a really useful meeting. The group asked questions about improving access to Ampthill Park, and the park Hub Cafe.

“The town council got Heritage Lottery money to improve the park, and we have promised to liaise more with the group as we go forward with improvements.”

Cllr Smith said other issues raised included working on improving access to shops in Ampthill, some of which are listed and will require a creative solution to make historic entrances accessible to all.

He added: “We also discussed the issue of crossing Woburn Road. When the laybys were introduced, one of the dropped kerbs disappeared. This is a huge issue for anyone going to the park by themselves in a wheelchair or mobility scooter.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability is a national charity which supports disabled people with a wide range of services, including accommodation, care, and social, education and leisure services. It also campaigns for a society where every person is equally valued.

Cllr Smith said he intends to attend the monthly Agate House group meeting regularly, adding: “It was a very productive meeting. They are a great campaigning group, and a lovely bunch of people.”

Nadine Dorries said: “I have visited the Leonard Cheshire Home in Ampthill many times during my tenure as the MP for Mid Beds and it feels like only five minutes ago we were fundraising for the renovations.

“None of us know how we would cope if we were faced with such adversity. I know many of the ‘back stories’ of the residents and some have lived a very different life before tragedy or illness kicked in.

“Many thanks to Cllr Mark Smith for answering so many of the council related questions.”