Ramsgate’s Joe Shaw urges council to make town more accessible for wheelchair users

Joe says there needs to be action over the lack of dropped kerbs in Ramsgate

A Ramsgate attack survivor who is rebuilding his life after suffering horrific injuries in 2018 is appealing to Kent County Council to make Ramsgate more accessible for wheelchair users.

Joe Shaw, 27, says a lack of dropped kerbs in the town hampers the ability of people using wheelchairs or mobility scooters to be able to get around freely.

Joe  suffered serious head injuries in an unprovoked attack in Ramsgate town centre in March 2018. The ferocity of the assault meant Joe had to be transferred to Kings College Hospital in London, heavily sedated and in the critical care unit in a coma, breathing through a ventilator.

Joe before reconstructive surgery

The severity of his injuries left Joe unable to walk, speak or complete many basic tasks for himself. He also had to have reconstructive surgery to reform his skull.

Joe had been staying at a rehabilitation centre in Herne Bay but his determination, and sustained community fundraising to help with specialist equipment, finally saw Joe return to the Ramsgate home of parents Nancy and Trevor in August 2019.

Continued hard graft has resulted in Joe learning to speak once more and ditching the letter board he once used for communication.

Progress is also being made on walking with Joe able to use a Zimmer frame and sticks. But for getting out and about Joe uses the wheelchair or the scooter and says the lack of access is unfair.

Joe with mum Nancy and former carer Patrick after returning home

He said: “I’d like to see dropped kerbs put in throughout Ramsgate. How on earth does the council expected someone who is disabled to get up the kerbs or for carers to push and bump them up the kerb? It isn’t fair.

“When I am in my mobility scooter or wheelchair it is really hard when there aren’t dropped kerbs and the town is dreadful.

“There have been many occasions when my carers have had to push me in the middle of the road, especially by the old pub (former Swiss Cottage) where there is scaffolding but no crossing and the pavement is completely blocked off. It makes me so angry.”

Joe says the lack of dropped kerbs means he has to pre-plan the route of every outing just so he can be sure he doesn’t get stuck anywhere.

He says there should be investment to change this, adding: “I read recently that Ramsgate has been allocated £2.7 million from the government. I strongly feel that some of this money should be spent on improving the path’s for wheelchair and pushchair users.”

Despite the access problems Joe is amazingly upbeat and says even the lockdowns have provided positive experiences as he continues his road to recovery.

He said: “I learnt to speak again just before the first lockdown began. I’m still trying to learn how to walk again, I can walk with the Zimmer Frame and sticks and then it’ll be crutches and hopefully then independently. I will do it.

“I was on my deathbed three years ago and the doctors told my mum I would never speak again but I am and never walk again but I will.”

Helen Kemp

Chair of Thanet Access disability campaign group Helen Kemp says dropped kerb provision should be considered under equalities legislation.

She said: “Dropped kerbs are essential for wheelchair and scooter users. They enable access for all to shopping and leisure facilities  and should be carefully planned with input from local disabled people.

“Scaffolding arrangements should not go ahead without consideration of safe routes for people with disabilities. In my view, the provision of adequate dropped kerbs and smooth surfaces for mobility should be considered by the council under equalities legislation.

“It is a terrible story in 2021 that someone with additional needs is forced to take risks getting round his locality. Again, I would expect a constructive response to be given by Kent County Council to introduce more dropped kerbs.

“This matter links to our campaigns in the past to remind local businesses to think of access for people with disabilities.”

A Kent County Council spokesman said: “We’re sorry to hear that Mr Shaw is finding it difficult travelling around Ramsgate.

“Regular inspections are carried out of all footways in Kent to ensure the safety of all road users, this includes specifically considering wheelchair and mobility scooter users.

“When we resurface pavements, we also look at whether we should install additional dropped kerbs.

“We will always consider specific requests for dropped kerbs and these can be made at Kent.gov.uk


  1. This is a serious problem in Margate and Broadstairs . KCC, TDC and our members shamefully do virtually northing for the less able bodies – and for visitors whose custom is so vital for all 3 towns

    • Dropped kerbs are nothing to do with Thanet District Council, they come under Kent County Council Highways, but here lays the problem! After weeks of cajoling I managed to get KCC to install Bollards at a section of my road, to prevent illegal car parking. This was after instances of emergency vehicles being obstructed, in one case a Fire & Rescue truck had to be reversed out 400 meters!

      The problem I found was KCC Highways will only accept cases for improvement from an elected Councillor! I argued that what happens if the Councillor knows you may have stood against them in an election, or otherwise have publicly opposed them, they are hardly likely to be helpful are they! I even took this to the Local Government Ombudsman, who upheld the KCC policy!

      So, if Joe or anyone else wants to get any improvements to dropped kerbs in Ramsgate, he will first have to approach his local KCC Councillor, Karen Constantine for her to take action! There is a KCC election coming up so now may be the best time to make this an issue!

  2. “Scaffolding arrangements should not go ahead without consideration of safe routes for people with disabilities.”
    This scaffolding in Ramsgate’s King Street completely blocks off the pavement. It’s bad enough for parents with pushchairs and toddlers. It must be a nightmare for less able people dependent on mobility scooters.

  3. Good for you Joe to highlight this problem. All the councillors from KCC / TDC need to go round Thanet in wheelchairs for a day so they can see for themselves how difficult it is for the disabled and those with prams to get past some of the obstructions on the pavement me and non-lowered kerbs.

  4. It’s great to see Joe out and about, and improving all the time.

    The same problem occurs in all three Thanet towns. Sometimes you can even find dropped kerbs that are so badly installed, there is a deep drop from the dropped kerb to the road. Totally unsuitable for some mobility scooters and wheelchairs.

    In other areas where you find dropped kerbs, selfish drivers often park across them.

  5. What a fantastic success story of overcoming disability- and how shameful our towns are so unfriendly to anyone with mobility problems. So glad the IOTN is regularly covering these important stories.

  6. Totally agree! I work with complex health needs in Thanet – the lack of dropped kerbs and poor disability access in Thanet is awful and the council should feel ashamed! And don’t get me started on the lift not working at Broadstairs!

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