Upset over access to Eaton Park’s boat pond

Disabled model boat enthusiasts are disappointed they are no longer allowed to drive through Norwich's Eaton Park and park their cars close to the boating lake.

They say Norwich City Council previously granted them a pass and key which gave them easier access to the boating pond seven days a week. However, the council stopped this last month because it said it was forced to review the situation after complaints from people about cars in the park.

Brian Lockwood, from Hethersett, who has post-polio syndrome and likes to sail model boats on Saturdays and Thursdays, said: 'We have always been very courteous and considerate of all other park users and pride ourselves that our models add considerably to the interest and enjoyment of the public.'

He added: 'The main concern seems to be movement of vehicles through the park, but we drive very, very carefully.'

Malcolm Jay, 79, of Old Lakenham, and his wife June Jay, 73, are also disappointed at losing their pass.

Mr Jay said he thought it was ridiculous to have a beautiful facility like the boating pond and not allow disabled people easy access to it throughout the week.

Mr Jay and Mr Lockwood, 72, are members of Norwich Model Boat Club. This month the club is opening a new gate, giving direct access to the pond at weekends for members to drop off model boats and for disabled members to park near the pond – but Mr Jay and Mr Lockwood said there would still be no disabled access for non-members and that disabled club members would have no access on weekdays.

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A Norwich City Council spokesman said: 'Previously, cars were permitted to gain access and park by the boating pond.

'However, following a number of complaints from other park users, including a potentially dangerous incident involving a toddler learning to cycle and a passing car which caused them to wobble, the council was forced to review the situation to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all.'

He added: 'By working closely with the Norwich Model Boat Club, a solution that balances the needs of all users of the park has been created, including the provision of new disabled parking bays at the end of the path and additional benches at intervals along it.'

Richard Thurston, vice- chairman of the Norwich Model Boat Club, said the club had been campaigning for about 15 years for the new gate for its members and that club members had funded the new �6,000 facility. The new gate, opposite Pettus Road, will be officially opened on Sunday, April 15.

Mr Thurston said he sympathised about the disabled access situation, but said the gate could only be used by members on Saturdays and Sundays because there was a condition that it had to be manned by somebody when in use. He said there would also be a 10m by 2.5m area for disabled members to park their cars close to the pond, but because of the limited space this could not be opened up to non-members.

To find out about joining Norwich Model Boat Club visit www.norwichmodelboatclub.com

Do you have a story from the Eaton area? Email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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