New hill steps causing falls for elderly walkers

FELIXSTOWE: New steps on Felixstowe’s steep and winding Bent Hill are doing the opposite to what was intended – and causing accidents rather than helping to make the climb easier.

At least six people have been hurt in falls on the new wide steps on one side of the road, three in the past two days.

Staff at shops on the hill say it is elderly people who appear to be having difficulties with the new arrangements, which were put in place as part of the new shared space scheme to make the hill more pedestrian-friendly.

Those who have fallen have suffered cuts and bruises and been left shaken.

The road has been made uphill only and people can now wander freely, with the onus on car drivers to go slow and look out for pedestrians.

Part of the aim of the work was to improve links between the seafront and town, though councillors and highways officials were concerned at how steep Bent Hill is and put in the shallow and wide steps to make the climb more gentle.

Denise Moreton, owner of Ruby’s Kitchen restuarant and tea rooms on Bent Hill, said her staff had seen several people fall and had given them a place to sit and a drink and recover their composure.

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“I have walked up and down there and haven’t had a problem, but elderly people do seem to have difficulty.

“We have been here two years and have never seen anyone fall over until now – it is a bit worrying,” she said.

“It appears people have to lean forward to reach the handrail by the steps and whether this is the problem I don’t know.

“I am a great believer in the scheme and the work the councils are doing and it may be people just need time to adjust to the changes.”

Town and district councillor Doreen Savage said she would bring the problem up at the next project meetingn but was mystified as to why people were falling.

“The steps are very wide and quite obvious and were put in place specifically to make the ascent and descent easier for elderly people,” she said.

? Have you had problems with the new steps? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or e-mail