Petition seeks better access to Brighton and Hove beaches for disabled people

More than 1,700 people have signed a petition calling for better access for the disabled to Brighton and Hove beaches.

The 1,716-signature petition organised by Claire Nelson is going before Brighton and Hove City Council tomorrow (Thursday 13 December).

Miss Nelson, 43, from Fonthill Road, Hove, started the petition in August after talking with people in Scope’s community engagement programme.

She said: “I am pleased we reached the threshold to present this to the council.

“A lot of people came up to me on the back of this petition as they want to get involved.”

Miss Nelson, who is severely sight impaired, worked as part of a team with two wheelchair users and a carer for a wheelchair user with complex needs, to come up with a plan for beach access.

They held an open meeting in May to find out what people needed.

She said: “We had people with hearing and sight needs come along.

“We asked people specifically what was inhibiting them from getting on the beach and what would make a difference.

“We have got quite a lot of evidence to present to the council through a white paper written with the New Economics Foundation.”

The foundation is a think-tank supporting people making a change.

Currently the council has two beach buggies available for hire to help people in wheelchairs on to the beach but these do not necessarily help people with other disabilities.

Miss Nelson has no night vision or peripheral vision and finds the lighting and limited signage difficult to negotiate.

Her eyesight started deteriorating 13 years ago, resulting in her becoming sight impaired last year.

She said: “I find it very disorientating as I do not know which way to go on the beach. There’s no map saying were ramps are or the disabled toilets.

“These are things most people have not considered before. Most are gobsmacked.”

She said that the situation was crazy and said: “We have sent people to the moon but cannot enable all people to get down into our sea.”

Miss Nelson is due to present the petition at Hove Town Hall where the full council is scheduled to meet at 4.30pm tomorrow (Thursday 13 December). The meeting should take place in public.

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