Timothy fed up with access battle

Having battled Spinabifida and Hydrocephalus for 28 years, Timothy Webb is fed up also battling to get better footpath access for wheelchair users.

An independent young man, Timothy enjoys meeting friends in his hometown of Portadown.

Timothy at the corner of his Beechcote Ave home and the busy Killicomaine Road

Timothy at the corner of his Beechcote Ave home and the busy Killicomaine Road

But the constant plague of cars blocking footpaths and lack of road crossings make it more of a monumental challenge than a joy.

And it all came to a head recently on a visit to a band event at Scarva with his father Ivan. His dad was forced to push Timothy’s wheelchair on a busy road.

Timothy is an active young man, involved in the Craigavon Archery Club and a former wheelchair basketball player. He explained he had to give up the basketball due to the Hydrocephalus (Water on the Brain) as a knock to the head could be very dangerous.

Recently, while in his chair close to his Beechcote Avenue home, Timothy fell out of his chair when trying to negotiate a difficult, narrow corner at Killicomaine Road and broke his leg.

Timothy explained that trips into Portadown on his own are hazaardous as he negotiates broken and crooked paving, busy roads with few crossings and cars parked on pavements.

“At Scarva, it wasn’t just two wheels parked on the pavement but all four wheels of nearly every car. There was no way we could get through with the wheelchair.

“Both me and my dad were furious. It’s just too dangerous to take a wheelchair onto a busy road,” he said.

Timothy is also keen to get a safer crossing across the Killicomaine Road which comes to a blind bend close to the entrance to his cul-de-sac.

He said it is treacherous trying to get across and called on the authorities to either erect traffic lights or a zebracrossing to help wheelchair users and parents with prams and young children.

Timothy said the standard of the footpaths are very dangerous. And he added that the fall from his wheelchair had knocked his confidence

Jonathan Buckley MLA said: “I commend Tim for coming forward and highlighting this problem, which clearly continues to have such a significant impact on not only his life, but the lives of many living with a disability in our community.

“As a community we must recognise that we need to do much more to ensure that wheelchair users have the right to access that most of us take for granted.

“Wheelchair users already face too many unnecessary barriers.

“Having sat down with Tim I am committed to help raise awareness, and make sure that both statutory organisations such as the Police, Roads service and the general public do all they can to assist and ensure that wheelchair users and others with disabilities feel comfortable and respected in the community they live in.”

A Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesman said all issues regarding blocked pavements should be referred to the PSNI who are responsible for enforcement.

He added: “There are currently no plans to upgrade footways in this area however the Department will arrange to carry out an assessment for a controlled crossing on the Killicomaine Rd near Beechcote Avenue.”