Disabled Edinburgh student: ‘cracked pavements left me feeling like a virtual prisoner’
A disabled law student has demanded action because he feels “trapped inside his own home” due to uneven, cracked pavements.
Edward Maxfield, a 17-year-old wheelchair user, has launched a petition highlighting the difficulties he faces in Edinburgh’s city centre.
Mr Maxfield, a student at Edinburgh College, has started a petition asking local councillors to make Edinburgh more accessible for disabled residents.
Mr Maxfield said that the council does not “do enough for disabled residents” and the city streets are a “terrifying obstacle course” for people with disabilities.
He says he feels trapped inside his own Newington home and has called on other residents to help him tackle the issue of uneven and broken pavement stones in city centre streets.
He said: “I find it very difficult to get to my local shop, pharmacy or bus stop.
“This is all because many of the pavements are uneven and have broken paving stones. I’ve had many falls because of the inadequate pavements, one of these falls damaged my wheelchair and they left me quite anxious to go out.”
Mr Maxfield went on to say that the problem isn’t just the streets themselves but how others use them.
He said: “One evening I came back from a night out and someone had parked directly in front of my ramp and I couldn’t get in.
“I had to sit outside in the cold and dark for two hours waiting for police to turn up. They tried to find out who owned the car but couldn’t.
“In the end they had to carry me and my chair into my house. It makes me feel dreadful, like all of my independence has been taken away.
“Often I won’t go out unless I have to because of the anxiety, it’s exhausting.”
Mr Maxfield has taken matters into his own hands and launched a petition to lobby MPs and councillors to make the city more disability-friendly.
He said: “Edinburgh council should introduce measures to identify where to fix pavements, put in place drop curbs, check that businesses are following the equalities act and have a dedicated contact point for accessibility issues and provide a follow-up on what they have done to rectify the problem. They should also ensure the services they provide such as community hubs and libraries are accessible.
“These things are all vitally important in maintaining the mental health and independence of those with disabilities.”
Councillor George Gordon, equalities champion, said: “We take the concerns raised in the petition very seriously, we are always listening to public’s views and working to find ways to make our historic city more people-friendly.
“In terms of getting around our recent ban on temporary on-street advertising made a real impact reducing street clutter and opening up pavements for people with mobility issues while the Scottish Government’s forthcoming transport bill will give us more power to enforce against irresponsible pavement parking.
“We know there is work to be done in our own buildings too, and we have several actions in place to improve accessibility in our libraries and hubs, helping everyone to participate in community life.”