Watton St on wrong path

Peter Buysen has launched an online petition calling on Wyndham council to fix footpaths in Watton Street, Werribee. (Ljubica Vrankovic)397122_01

Cade Lucas

Wyndham council is under pressure to improve the surface of its busiest thoroughfare, after complaints from disabled residents that it is unsafe for them to use.

Local wheelchair and mobility scooter users claim uneven pavers on Watton Street, Werribee, make it hard for them to travel along the shopping precinct and in one instance, resulted in an elderly man being tipped out onto the street.

“Basically a lot of people have been finding those paving bricks in the main street of Werribee have either been popping up because they haven’t been laid correctly or some of them are being very slippery to walk on,” said Hoppers Crossing man Peter Buysen who has begun a change.org petition demanding council inspect and repair the footpath.

A scooter user himself, Mr Buysen resorted to starting the online petition after a maintenance request he made to Wyndham council went nowhere.

Citing his own difficulties travelling along Watton Street and numerous complaints gathered from social media, Mr Buysen found the problem – literally – wasn’t big enough for council to worry about.

“The (Wyndham council) road management plan says anything under 20 millimeters of height difference, doesn’t get repaired,” he said.

“Because it fell outside their guidelines, they said there was basically nothing they could do.”

In response Wyndham council said maintenance and repair works to footpaths in and around Watton Street were underway.

“Through the Road Management Plan, footpaths in the Werribee CBD are audited on a quarterly cycle to detect safety issues and wear and tear,” said a council spokesperson.

“If any footpaths are identified as part of the audit cycle, they are then earmarked for replacement.”

Whether the 20 millimeter height limit was still in place was not addressed.

Any repairs to the footpaths will come too late for Tarneit’s Lorraine Chisholm, who has vowed to never push her wheelchair bound husband along the Werribee main street again.

“Last time I went to the bank I got someone to mind my husband so I didn’t have to wheel him down Watton Street,” said the 75 year old, whose stance is in response to an incident involving she and her 80 year old husband Tony, about a month ago.

“I walked up Station Place and when I turned left to go up the back door of the old shire building, I hit a brick with the wheelchair and he fell out and I went over the top and I thought I’d broken my finger.”

The Chisholms were on their way to a support group for Parkinson’s disease which Tony suffers from and for which he began using a wheelchair nine months ago.

“A man walking past helped me get him back in” said Ms Chisholm who at just five foot-two might’ve struggled to do so herself.

After months of getting wheels stuck in gaps or struggling to negotiate bumps or slippery and slanted surfaces, Ms Chisholm has no plans to bring the wheelchair back to Watton Street, regardless of what Wyndham council does to improve it.

“I’ve even offered them to come and wheel my husband down Watton Street and back to see how bad it is, but they wouldn’t do that,” she said.

To sign the petition go to shorturl.at/pqD14