Those with mobility issues need to be involved in decision-making over pavement cafes, says McMullan

Those with mobility issues need to be involved with any plans to introduce further pavement cafes in Belfast, Alliance Councillor Ross McMullan has said.

Ormiston Councillor Mr McMullan said while the Infrastructure Minister’s recent call for Councils to have a ‘flexible and pragmatic approach’ to the use of on-street seating for cafes and bars was welcome, older people and those with disabilities in particular should be central in any designs.

“Social distancing has brought a new challenge for and impact on those with mobility issues,” said Councillor McMullan.

“The top priority for Belfast City Council must be helping our city recover from the pandemic and reopening it but it is vital we ensure it reopen for everyone in whatever the new normal looks like. We can do that by making our city centre and its streets more inclusive and accessible than ever.

“The Minister has now called on Councils to have a flexible and pragmatic approach, so I have written to the Council Chief Executive to ask how that can be practically implemented and enforced, and how people with mobility issues, including disability groups, should be included in decision-making. Social distancing may be with us for some time, therefore making an even greater issue of pavement space required for pedestrian flow.

“We need to ensure our pavements are accessible for everyone to use and I welcome thoughts around the reallocation of road space, to enable social and physical distancing in appropriate areas.”