Mobility scooter riders, tired of uneven pavements and a lack of abandoned curbs, are calling for access around a Kent town to be improved before anyone gets injured.
Ashford Scooter Club members say it’s become a daily struggle to get from point A to point B due to poorly maintained paths, countless potholes and cars parked on the sidewalks .
Margaret Pryke, from Willesborough, started the group just a few months ago after picking up her first mobility scooter, which gave her a chance to gain independence.
But she has noticed how difficult it can be to navigate through Ashford and hopes something can be done to improve access.
“I’ve met some really lovely people through my scooter,” she added.
“It really started with Covid. We were locked down for so long that when I broke free I couldn’t stop talking, that’s why I started the band.
“What I take issue with is the condition of some of the trails, especially on the main street, and the lack of proper lowered curbs as some are too high.
“On the High Street and in Country Square we have the added danger of e-scooters – one of them almost got me flying the other day.
“If you cross the road, you are putting your life in anyone’s hands.
“Then there are potholes and clumps growing through the tarmac.
“I hope the council will consider that there are more people with disabilities using these mobility scooters than ever before and that something needs to be done to make the paths more accessible.”
Gary, who is from Kennington and a member of the club, says one of his scooters was written off due to damage from missing drop curbs.
He also believes electric scooters should be “banned before someone gets killed” and says people who don’t watch while on the phone are also a nuisance.
In South Ashford, Anne Wilson, who has been using her scooter since December, would also like to see people change their attitude towards those who use mobility aids.
“You get people staring at you, and you can feel the bumps and bumps all the way and it’s absolutely awful,” the 77-year-old added.
“There are always people parking on the sidewalks which means we can’t pass; even schoolchildren can’t move and have to use the road.
“I want the council to do something about all this curbside parking.”
Mike Thorne of Beaver Lane says tree roots blocking paths are a particular problem near Jemmett Road.
The 74-year-old said: “The closer you get to Beaver Lane there’s a tree and the roots have come on the sidewalk so the sidewalk isn’t flat anymore.
“It will only get worse unless something is done about it.
“A lot of sidewalks need resurfacing, but in general I can get where I need to go.”
Geoff Hayes, 76, believes there is “room for a lot of improvement”, particularly in Hythe Road and around Willesbrough, where he lives.
South Ashford resident Paul Alan Coley, 74, relies on his scooter to walk his dog Peanut every day.
He thinks Ashford “could use a few more sidewalks” and says “the roads have so many potholes”, that he would like to see fixed.
A Kent County Council spokesperson said: “Our highways team is strongly committed to helping people with disabilities get around and recognizing the challenges faced by people with additional needs.
“That’s why KCC has a Mobility Action Plan, which outlines the steps we are taking to enable greater accessibility to roads and pavements in Kent.
“Our road officers regularly inspect our roads and sidewalks to ensure that obstacles are removed and defects, such as potholes, are identified. We also work with the Department of Transportation to support District and Borough Councils as needed, including when improvements are suggested by residents through the Joint Transportation Boards.
“Abandoned curbs are an important part of the pedestrian network and KCC has committed a sum of money to install abandoned curbs where needed, according to an agreed set of priorities.
“Also, people can visit kent.gov.uk/highways to self-report issues.”