Warning after falls at Norwich's Memorial Gardens
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011
A spate of falls by elderly people at Norwich's revamped Memorial Gardens has prompted city council bosses to take action to prevent more accidents.
After more than six years of being closed to the public, the gardens finally re-opened earlier this month following a £2.6m revamp.
But council bosses admit there have been a number of accidents, the majority of which have happened when people have been walking through the gardens from the St Peter Mancroft end.
Temporary signs have been installed urging people to watch out for the steps, but council bosses say they are limited in what they are able to do to change the existing gardens.
One person who was hurt was retired 71-year-old Tony Lowery, who lives off Chapelfield. He has lodged an official complaint with the council after he tripped on his first visit.
He said: “Within seconds of walking into the gardens, I fell down the first of the hidden steps, and judging from comments of people sitting nearby I was not the only one to be caught out. The steps make it extremely dangerous for anyone with walking or sight defects and it is only a matter of time before someone is injured.”
He said the problem was that, from the St Peter Mancroft end, the gardens look flat, when in fact they are a series of terraced steps.
Tracy Savage, from Hellesdon, contacted the Evening News after her 79-year-old father tripped and broke his nose while visiting the gardens.
She said: “The walkway running through the centre appears to have no steps and as it is all one colour, the steps seem to blend in.
“I would hate to see another elderly person go through the pain my dad has gone through in the last week.”
A spokesman for Norwich City Council said, because the Memorial Gardens are a listed monument, there was a limit to what changes could be made.
While black strips could be placed on the new steps, because they were not part of the original design, they could not be included on the existing terrace, he explained. He said: “The stepped terraces were an important part of the original design which needed to be re-instated as they were before.
“The planters and lamp columns highlight the location of the steps.
“But we would urge people to be aware of the steps, particularly when using the entrance nearest to St Peter Mancroft.”
On the concerns over people in wheelchairs not having full access, he said: “The memorial itself was turned around to face City Hall to fulfil the wishes of veterans and other local people, and we took this opportunity to provide access to the central area for people with mobility problems and other disabilities.
“We also sought the views of the Norwich Access Group during the project to test its accessibility.”
What do you think of the new-look gardens? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email firstname.lastname@example.org