Our Man in West­min­ster

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View - By Damian Green

One of the char­i­ties I have en­joyed be­ing as­so­ci­ated with for many years is Ash­ford Ac­cess, which has done a great job since it was formed 20 years ago.

The an­nual meet­ing last week was the last in the cur­rent for­mat of Ash­ford Ac­cess, so it is worth mark­ing.

The group has cam­paigned hard and ef­fec­tively on be­half of dis­abled peo­ple who find build­ings and pavements a strug­gle to get around. Whether through prob­lems with sight, or hav­ing to use a wheel­chair, or other rea­sons, many peo­ple find ev­ery­day life a strug­gle, and the Ac­cess Group has per­suaded a num­ber of lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions to do bet­ter by dis­abled peo­ple. Their work is by no means done, so I am glad to re­port that although Ash­ford Ac­cess will cease to be a char­ity, it will re­main in be­ing as an ad­vi­sory group to Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil.

This will be an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role, with the many ma­jor new de­vel­op­ments now com­ing to fruition in the town. Not just housing de­vel­op­ments such as Chilm­ing­ton Green but the cin­e­mas and restau­rants in El­wick Place will ben­e­fit if they are de­signed from the out­set with the needs of dis­abled peo­ple in mind. I vividly re­mem­ber how my own knowl­edge of this sub­ject was raised by be­ing blind­folded and led around town by a guide dog or­gan­ised by the RNIB.

Cross­ing the road is an or­deal when you can­not tell when the pave­ment ends and the road be­gins, and in parts of the town cen­tre that is the case.

Over 20 years the trustees and com­mit­tee mem­bers of Ash­ford Ac­cess can be proud of the real dif­fer­ence they have made to the qual­ity of life of thou­sands of peo­ple in the area.

I am sure that in their new in­car­na­tion they will be equally ef­fec­tive.

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