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Mayor rises to the challenge

One of the region’s mayors has taken up the challenge to experience in person what many disabled people face in maintaining their independence and mobility.

South Wairarapa District Council mayor Martin Connelly joined Martinborough resident Ted Colenso on a journey around town on mobility scooters.

The idea came from strong feedback the community has given to the Martinborough Community Board [MCB] about the difficulty driving scooters on Martinborough’s streets. Connelly and Colenso were joined on foot at the event by MCB chair Storm Robertson, deputy-chair Angela Brown, and committee member Karen Krogh.

Connelly confessed he was slightly nervous.

“It is my first time, and I’m a little bit scared. I got about thirty seconds of training. I’m not expecting to escape without a graze or a bruise,” he said.

“I was asked to join Ted by the MCB, who are aware of a number of issues for people with mobility problems around town. They wanted me to experience them first-hand.”

Colenso said people using mobility scooters face a variety of problems.

“Too many of the pavements are very rough now, and tree roots often come out onto the path. You can’t go onto the road because of the kerbing,” he said.

Connelly agreed keeping footpaths in good repair is the council’s responsibility, and he expects necessary remedial work will happen.

“There are two issues we have to think about any time we are monitoring our roads and our pavements,” Connelly said.

“Is it safe for people of all ability levels, and secondly, are our roads fit for cyclists to use because there are an increasing number of people who expect to have safe cycling routes.”

Brown said mothers with prams and those using wheelchairs are also affected.

Colenso hopes the exercise will be useful.

“I’ve been here for a long, long time – many years. And I’ve seen a lot of things that haven’t been put together by the council. I think it’s about time the footpaths and the roads were made suitable for every vehicle,” he said.

The scooter trip went from the Waihenga Centre to Wharekaka Villas via New York and other streets.

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