Port Fairy's new footpath 'a step back'

PORT Fairy’s celebrated new bluestone footpath in Sackville Street has had an uneven response. 

Port Fairy resident Jeremy Clarkson, who has MS, says Sackville Street’s new bluestone footpath poses safety and access issues for the disabled and elderly because of a step left at the entrance to many shops.     140808AM18   Picture: ANGELA MILNE

Port Fairy resident Jeremy Clarkson, who has MS, says Sackville Street’s new bluestone footpath poses safety and access issues for the disabled and elderly because of a step left at the entrance to many shops. 140808AM18 Picture: ANGELA MILNE

The footpath, which is being laid with local bluestone pavers thanks to a community fund-raising effort, has left a noticeable step at the entrance to some shops, meaning people in wheelchairs and using walking frames are finding it difficult to access the stores. 

Work is almost completed on the eastern side of the street and some traders and landlords believe it’s the Moyne Shire’s responsibility to restore disabled access. 

But a shire spokesman said the new footpath complies with standards, and the onus is on the building owners. 

Port Fairy resident Jeremy Clarkson said the noticeable step now at the entrance to some stores meant his partner, who is in a wheelchair, cannot access at least five shops. 

“It’s not just a problem for people with a disability. It’s a problem for elderly people as well,” Mr Clarkson said. 

“In some shops there is now a noticeable step down to the footpath when there wasn’t one before, so it’s only a matter of time before someone who isn’t used to a step being there trips and falls. 

“This project cost thousands of dollars, but this seems to be an oversight.” 

A Moyne Shire spokesman said the footpath complied to standards and they could not replace “ramps” that had been previously installed. 

“The contractors have completed work up to the line of private property. We cannot work on private property or replace the ramps that property owners had previously installed because they would not conform to standards we have to meet,” the spokesman said.  He said an offer had been made to businesses to have contractors fix access issues on private property at cost price.

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