A Bridge to Nowhere in Wales

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Campaigners Finally Get Wheelchair Access -- At Both Ends Of Footbridge

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 4, 2005

CWM, WALES-- "Unbelievable!"

"Scandalous!"

"Ridiculous!"

"Pointless!"

Those are just a few of the words disability rights advocates and local residents have used to describe a new bridge designed to link one side of the village of Cwm to the other.

When the St. Paul's footbridge was completed last spring, the problem was immediately clear: The beautiful, new £500,000 structure had steps leading to it on both sides, thereby keeping away any strollers, wheelchairs, and people with disabilities that affect their mobility.

"It is absolutely ridiculous," said Bob Brain, of the Cwm Welfare Tenants and Residents Association, last May. "We have got a lovely modern bridge but to get on or off it you have got to use steps."

After pressure from local residents and disability advocates, the Blaenau Gwent Council decided to correct the problem -- at least half-way -- by building one accessible ramp on one end of the bridge. The other side still has steps.

"The situation is quite extraordinary and would render the bridge totally unusable for disabled people," said Alun Thomas of the Disability Rights Commission. "To put a ramp on one side of the bridge would be a scandalous waste of money unless they intend to put a ramp on the other."

Finally, the Council has decided to go ahead and make the transition complete. It has announced a new plan that will make both ends of the bridge accessible.

"It is like a shot in the arm - everyone is so chuffed [pleased] at what has happened," said Mr. Brain.

Related:
"'Ridiculous' bridge's second ramp" Feb. 3, 2005 (BBC News)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/4233707.stm

"New bridge disabled access row" May 12, 2004 (BBC News)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/3705161.stm

"Anger at 'ridiculous' bridge plan" June 16, 2004 (BBC News)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/4233707.stm

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