Opinion with Christine Tongue: Ramp rage and other every day obstacles

Christine enjoys the sun in the Pavilion garden

As a new mobility scooterer I’ve found some enormous pleasures from being able to leave my house relatively safely — well, better than on my failing legs.

And the fine  #weather means outdoor seafront cafes are good places to meet friends without a risk of infection. I’m on a waiting list for major surgery which may sort the legs out. Or may kill me, to be brutally honest! Infection would delay everything and the risk of my demise or increased disability makes me keen to see people while I can. But preferably outdoors where the bugs flee the sea breezes.

But this week I’ve been stopped in my tracks by incidents that are easily solved but paralyse the newbie wheel user.

The Broadstairs Pavilion is a favourite place  for outdoor coffee and food. It has a huge terrace —the sunniest spot for your morning latte in Thanet. It’s got a large garden and apparently access for wheelies. So off I went, optimistically to try it all out.

It took me a while to have the courage to go down steep slopes like Broadstairs Harbour Street and I’m having to use the road where the pavements are narrow. It’s quite thrilling to be counted as proper traffic when you’re riding something that’s little better than an electric tea trolley.

The main entrance to the Pavilion is off a narrow pavement, a sharp right turn for a wheelie as there is  — of course — no dropped kerb from the road to the entrance.

But — wonderfully— at the bottom of the street is another entrance with a long concrete ramp up from the road to the side door of the restaurant. Up I go easily. Wheel over a tiny ramp into the building. I’m in! Hurray. Wheel to the door to the terrace thinking it looks exactly the same as the entrance. Big mistake! Suddenly I’m paralysed halfway, completely stuck!

“Your scooter’s too low” says someone nearby trying to be helpful. Oh, my fault then? People rush to try things, pulling, lifting, giving me a big shove in the back that sets my back pain zinging….

Eventually they find a chair I can tumble off into and the scooter is rescued from the doorway. I’m torn between weeping and screaming while reminding myself to be basically polite and grateful.

We finish up in the garden, opened specially for us, with a nice coffee. Of course, it’s a luxury being able to get into a café with a spectacular terrace overlooking the sea, but I’m left worrying about other places with apparent disabled access that might not be as wheelie friendly as you’d expect.

A friend who is a retired occupational therapist and so can speak more freely, told me about the battles she had with housing estate developers. Her job was sorting out housing for disabled people in a big London borough. Her experience was of building companies always trying to cut corners on provision for the disabled or health and safety. The excuse for cutting costs was that this was public money being saved.

But it often involved cutting down on housing for the disabled as it was more expensive to provide things like flat entrances, wider doorways, two lifts in a building in case one failed etc etc. Imagine a wheelchair user housed on the second storey of a block of flats with only one lift.

The friendly folk at the Pavilion are investigating better access for me onto the terrace. I’m sure they’ll find a way.

All buildings need disabled access, especially new ones. What we want is to do what everybody else can do, even if we have ride a tea trolley to do it.


  1. Do you do anything but Moan? Give it a rest Christine. I’d give you a soap box but you would complain that didn’t have a ramp as well.

    • Give the lady a break she is making accurate and valid comments, I expect you are young and fitand able to do cartwheels in the sand.

    • How incredibly rude, do you do anything but pick on people making a valid statement?, and if the day ever occurs when you need access to just enjoy a view of the sea, i hope you look back on your ignorance with shame, feint chance eah!

    • What would you like me to write about? Give me some good news on disability issues and I’ll happily write about it.

    • Who is doing the moaning you Pillock, you are? I have been looking at getting a mobility scooter, and have several problems, the first one I had demonstrated couldn’t get up a dropped kerb, as it was really a shopping trolley, and only had ground clearance of an 1.5 inches, duurh! I also need to be able to remove and charge the battery, so have sent for a brochure of the Lupin Folding Scooter! It has ground clearance of 5.7″ and a separate battery charger, so it looks the bill!

  2. She’s not moaning! Just carrying out a piece of investigative journalism. Reading between the lines she is obviously very happy getting out and about more easily.

    • Correct, she’s not moaning at all. Do any these expressions in the article look like moans?
      “enormous pleasures”
      “optimistically to try it all out”
      “It’s quite thrilling”
      “with a nice coffee”
      “The friendly folk”

  3. Excellent article, don’t worry about the negative people all of has a right to a bring up issues.. , I’ve never seen any new builds planned for thanet with any provision for the disabled.

  4. well its hardly a joyfull tale is it ? , its all doom and gloom to me. i dont think there will be many good samaritans coming forward after reading this , they will be to frightened to get involved.

    • I don’t know what what ‘real world’ you inhabit, but just for once try a moment of empathy for those of us who would just like to enjoy a cup of tea overlooking the sea without overcoming huge obsticals just to get there. ohh of course you may believe that disabled people don’t deserve equal access, so I’m probably trying to reason with a brick wall

  5. I have seen more flying pigs than good Samaritans in Thanet and before any one comments no one would help me because of how I am is nonsense no one knows who I am on here or in the street only one person does and I doubt even he recognises me from how I was years ago.

    • I’m sorry to hear that.
      I’ve never seen a y flying pigs, but have benefitted from the help of Good Samaritans several times.

  6. Christine highlights a serious problem. When planners and developers plan and develop, they all too often overlook relatively simple and cheap adaptations that would make access for mobility scooter users (and everyone else with mobility problems) far easier.
    It would be quite straightforward to put lots more dropped Krebs in town. It would help if motorists didn’t park over them.

  7. It would seem the disability discrimination act hasn’t reached the back water of Thanet yet, those who provide a service to the public are obliged to provide access for disabled people not me saying it but the DDA. It is about time we were stopped being treated as second class citizens and helped to lead as normal a life as possible outside of our own homes, all Christine wanted was a cup of coffee and look at the pallaver the lady had to go through to get it totally unacceptable.

    • Doubt the people who have bought one of those have regretted it. I would say it does exactly that – improves people lives. Check out the videos of what does.

      • Doubt the people are disabled either these things are more than likely used by idiots racing around ripping up the country side and making peoples lives a misery with the noise these machines make

        • Your comments are so cringeworthy! They are electric, what noise? Your really need to look further into something if you want to make a point. Disabled people are allowed to have fun, dont be so discriminatory.

    • Mini version 85cm wide 140cm Long. Supermarket entrances are wider than that and as long as there is the usual wide aisle checkout then it fits.

      If you really needed to pull me up on something it should have been the fact that you need to take out a small mortgage to buy one. Also you could have mentioned that it might not fit through front doors like standard mobility scooters can. Then there is the issue of getting it to another location. You wont be getting one of these in the back of most vehicles. Servicing one of these is probably more expensive than a standard mobility scooter as well.

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