The Clonakilty Access Group welcomed the positivity of their recent meeting with Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce; a number of its officers, along with two local visually-impaired people and one wheelchair-user, met with three directors of the Chamber.
The Access Group had sought the meeting and thanked the Chamber reps for taking time to meet with them. The meeting started with a five-minute video compiled by TY students at Sacred Heart Secondary School; the students had borrowed a standard wheelchair and recorded obstacles on footpaths and crossing points.
The video and subsequent discussion clearly illustrated the problems of these footpath hazards, many of which are placed by businesses as forms of advertising. It was acknowledged by all that times are difficult for businesses and whilst they are striving to attract customers, none intended to cause obstructions for people with physical or visual impairments. It was simply a lack of awareness in most cases.
As well as obvious items, such as large sandwich boards and menu boards that can physically impede a wheelchair user, pot plants, wheelie bins, beer barrels and goods on display are also problematic on narrow footpaths – not just for those with disabilities and sight difficulties but also for people with prams and buggies.
The input of the four people who are directly affected by these issues on a daily basis was gratefully acknowledged. The meeting also raised the problem of low-level floral displays, which those with poor or no sight constantly bump into.
The Chamber representatives pledged to circulate to their members a request to keep the footpaths in front of premises free of obstructions and to be conscious of the height of flower baskets.
They emphasised however that not all businesses in the town are affiliated members and they suggested that the Access Group compile an information leaflet highlighting the issues of concern generally and to circulate it amongst all businesses on the town.
The meeting also discussed how Clonakilty could become an attractive town for disabled tourists in the future by highlighting the positive aspects for people with disabilities, when current issues were resolved and the resurfacing of the main thoroughfare next Spring was completed – something that will be further discussed at future meetings.