Japanese government officials paid a visit to Sutton this week to learn how we help disabled people access the town centre.

Two delegates from Japan’s ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism visited Sutton Shopmobility, based in the St Nicholas Centre car park, to find out more about how it helps disabled people on Monday.

The ministers, Yoshikazu Shimamura and Toshimasa Nakagawa, were accompanied by an interpreter and the First Secretary for the Japanese Embassy, Katsuhiko Kita.

They spoke to Sutton Shopmobility's manager Amanda Beck and service users about how it makes wheelchairs and buggies available to people who want to shop in the town centre.

Mr Shimamura said: "We found the visit very useful as part of our research into measures for helping elderly residents’ mobility.

"We were made to feel very welcome and enjoyed seeing and hearing the difference Sutton Shopmobility makes to improving people’s quality of life."

Sutton Shopmobility was founded in 1990 and now has 730 regular members and hired out 2,300 wheelchairs and scooters last year.

Councillor Simon Wales Sutton Council's lead member for finance, assets and the voluntary sector, said: "We were proud to welcome the delegates from Japan and show them how we help to increase the independence of people who have limited mobility.

"Sutton Shopmobility is partly funded by Sutton Council, and the motorised and non-motorised wheelchairs and scooters that they hire out ensure that people who would otherwise struggle are able to get around the town centre.

"Our visitors took away plenty of information which I hope they will be able to use in Japan."