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Soho to become more accessible

Streets of Soho
Streets of Soho Image credit: uncomo.com

One of London’s most popular districts is set to become more accessible after campaigners finally won a battle they have been fighting for several years.

Disabled activists have argued the streets of Soho are difficult for wheelchair users because of the amount of high kerbs.

One of the people protesting for a more adaptable road plan is Christopher Andrats who says the victory means disabled people will have a less “lengthy, tedious” journey.

He told the Evening Standard: “There are some streets in Soho and the West End which it is simply impossible to get along in a wheelchair because of high kerbs at junctions and lack of kerb drops.

“I myself have witnessed many other wheelchair users making detours, or going into the road.

“I saw one man, in Noel St, who had to get out of his wheelchair and hobble in clearly visible pain across a junction without kerb drops, pushing his wheelchair in front of him, before effortfully sitting back down into it.”

Andrats added: “It's disgraceful and grossly unfair that wheelchair users are presented with these frequent barriers. This is not in line with modern ideas about accessibility, equal rights, and discrimination.”

Cabinet member for city highways Danny Chalkley told said: “Improving accessibility for residents and visitors is a high priority for the Council, and we are currently implementing a programme of improvements that includes more dropped kerbs around the city.

“Soho is one of these areas scheduled for a series of improvements, which includes 20 new dropped kerbs."

He added: “We always appreciate feedback from the public on how we can improve the accessibility of our public roads.”

Chairperson for Transport for London Alan Benson said: The fact pavements in Westminster – one of the most touristic areas in London - have been missing them for so long is a scandal.

Our member Chris Stapleton, who is a wheelchair user, has spent years contacting the council on this crucial issue but was always knocked back.

"Transport for All therefore really welcomes the great news that after much campaigning Westminster Council has finally agreed to install some drop kerbs around Soho.

"Disabled and older people are not second-class citizen: we want to travel, shop and enjoy the West End like everyone else.

"We really hope that Westminster Council will work to improve access to their streets for wheelchair and mobility scooter users.”

King Henry VIII’s hunting grounds used to be located in Soho when the area was heavily woodland.