A PROMINENT Cumbrian politician has thrown his weight behind plans to make Keswick more accessible for disabled people.

Tony Lywood, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Copeland, said he became involved in the Accessible Keswick initiative because of his role as a county councillor representing the ward.

An event due to be held in the town on Wednesday April 10 at 12 noon will see eight wheelchair and mobility scooter users test how accessible the town is.

Through his work seeking cash for adding dropped kerbs and better pavements Mr Lywood met local wheelchair user Keith Watson.

He added:  “We decided not to stop there but try to persuade shops and public premises to improve accessibility. Then we contacted the Calvert Trust and Amy’s Care and others joined.

“For me the focus should be always trying to make the Lake District National Park more accessible for people with disability. Often it is small things that can make a big difference.

“People with disability who cannot enter a shop can’t buy anything, so it is not only ‘doing something right’ but actually helping commerce.

“The purple pound as it is called is worth £12 billion to the economy and we should tap into that.”

The event will see people split up into groups and try to access as many shops, pubs, public spaces and cafes as they can.

Those premises where access is possible will receive an ‘Access Champion’ sticker.

This whole event is to raise awareness of the issue of accessibility and also to show what can be done with very little effort but with a huge impact on those who are disabled.

Accessibility Keswick also aims to tap into a huge potential market by encouraging owners of premises to make them more accessible and to get out information about what is already available.

On average it costs a disabled person £550 more per month to live than an able-bodied person.

In the UK spending by people with disability is worth £249 billion to the UK economy. This spend is called the purple pound.

93 per cent of people with disability will research a destination in detail before going there so not only is it a ‘right thing’ to do to cater and advertise accessibility but makes economic sense.

£12 bn is spent in the UK tourism industry by those with disability.

Around 15 per cent of the world’s population are disabled.