Improving streets in Barnsley

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Experts in Barnsley have welcomed a new report which suggests measures to improve the town’s streets for older people.

The proposals include better pavements, more access to public toilets, benches and ‘walking buddies’.

The study was carried out by Age UK and the International Longevity Centre which spent six months looking at how communities need to adapt to an aging society.

Darren Padgett, director of Team Activ, is leading the Walk Barnsley initiative which is a two-year project aimed at encouraging more people to take the first steps to a healthy life.

He said: “This report reveals how planning and street maintenance goes hand in hand with public health.

“It’s estimated there will be six million people aged 80-plus by 2037 and we need to look now at encouraging people to use their car less.

“This will help people’s health now but also it will help the transition when they become too frail to drive or don’t have access to a car.

“We can’t encourage people to walk more if there are no streetlights or public toilets, and potholes can be lethal for older people. 
“There are very simple ways to make street-life easier, such as providing more benches so older people can rest.

“The report also mentions a buddy scheme where a younger, more able person walks with an older person.

“Acting now means we can start to build better communities for our older relatives and ourselves.”

Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “The availability of public toilets should be a public health priority. Retailers and businesses should have corporate social responsibility strategies to include access to toilets for non-customers.”