It's great to hear at last that the Government recognises that access to beaches for wheelchair users is less easy than it could be.
Minister for disabled people Esther McVey has spoken out and announced that councils risk missing out on an estimated £80 billion market if wheelchairs are restricted from coastal areas. It seems a huge figure so let's hope it s not ignored.
Westcountry councils have defended themselves stating clearly that they do make an effort to make beaches accessible by wheelchair users and disabled people in general.
The Devon based Countryside Mobility scheme run by the Living Options Devon charity, which operates across the South West already provides wheelchairs and all terrain chairs for disabled users as well as 'wheelyboats' that allow wheelchair users to get out in a boat for fishing and sightseeing.
This scheme is proving successful and is operated now in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset.
As we continue to have a reasonable summer this year and some relatively hot weather it has been a good year for wheelchair users to rediscover both beaches and the countryside, so we hope that further plans to make these areas more accessible are successful. Perhaps wheelchair rental is also a service that would be useful to those visiting our coast and countryside.
We recognise that not all coastal areas are going to be best suited to wheelchair users but do think that more can be done to make the more accessible beaches wheelchair friendly with more dropped kerbs, ramps and adapted areas to make wheelchair use easier.