Town should be accessible

4th July 2012 – Worksop Independence Day

This day marked the return of independence to many hundreds of individuals who live in and around Worksop but for some this potentially meant back to the old ways.

For the previous few months, people who were eligible and entitled for a blue or green badge due to a long term health condition were not allowed to park in specially designated areas (Bridge Street/Place) of Worksop town centre due to an experimental traffic order.

This issue has been subject to many differing views, some of which have been poles apart, and lots of people have aired their opinion. It has caused much happiness to some and a lot of sadness to others but throughout the whole process there has been dialogue between both groups to try and better understand the needs or worries of each other.

Taking everything into account, it is clear that something needed to be done to ensure only those who are entitled to use this space were given access but this should not have been at the cost or additional burden of those who already lead complex, difficult and challenging lives. Unfortunately there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution to this issue as each person, has individual needs, to their particular circumstance. Therefore, it’s important that people understand the needs of others before making conclusions, acquisitions or comments which could be misguided. The following is written by someone who was affected by the order:

“Please don’t make assumptions about my life or about the lives of others like me who have a health condition. Poor health affects us all in many ways. For some walking a few yards can be like walking a marathon if pain follows every step. We take our health for granted but as we get older this can affect us all. Not everyone is mobile. Not everyone is able to ride a mobility scooter. Not everyone can walk far but what I am sure about is that everyone values what independence they have and if you take that away then life is not worth living.”

We are fortunate to live in a democratic society where issues like this can be resolved by working in partnership with anyone who feels they will be, or have been, affected by changes to a particular service, function or system. For many years we’ve lived in a free society where the rights of individuals have been fought to ensure liberty and as good citizens we all have a responsibility towards each other to live in a civilised society. This should start at a local level, with your neighbours, family, friends and others that share your community. It should also include communal spaces like the town centre, which is a space for all, no exceptions, no barriers, no exclusions. We should be promoting Worksop as a place of equality, fairness and tolerance if we are all to live here in harmony. Above all, be proud of Worksop.

There will be opportunities over the coming months for people to give their opinions formally and discuss practical solutions to ensure a fully accessible town centre for all. Watch this space and please get involved constructively.

Simon Bernacki

Disability Nottinghamshire