……………………………hmmmmmmm advising an aggrieved disabled person that there is unlikely to be any further action taken is like chucking yourself in the lion’s den and expecting not to be eaten. Once again the reply was sent only to me so the first thing I did was obviously forward the Wymondham Town Council reply to the other interested parties – Equal Lives, Lauren Cope at the Eastern Daily Press and Wymondham Stuff who run their own website. I also emailed the town clerk back acknowledging that he was on holiday and saying that I’d love to have the chance to meet him and a number of other people upon his return. Furthermore I asked if prior to arranging a time to meet
“could you please answer a couple of questions for me, firstly you keep referring to Ketts Park and the Play Area as compliant, can you tell me what is it compliant with? Secondly could you give me the names and the contact emails of the people you keep referring to in your replies, namely the Chairman of the Council’s Leisure & Environment Committee and South Norfolk Councils play equipment officer
Now I’m not suggesting that the town council are becoming petty over this situation but the reply I got was
Thank you for your email.
As Mr Gurney said in his email to you he is on annual leave this week. I will ask him to contact you on his return.
I replied with what I thought was very polite considering the circumstances and how much I have been messed around already with;
Thank you for your reply, yes I understand he is on leave this week, are you or anybody else able to answer my questions in the email prior to his return? Not a problem if you cannot just thought some of the information I asked for was fairly generic,
Erm, I mean surely the job titles being quoted to me were not so magical and mystical that nobody other than the town clerk knows who they are. Needless to say I got a response giving me the contact details of the mystical Chairman of the Council’s leisure and environment committee and South Norfolk Councils Play Equipment Officer – although I am still waiting (over a week after the Town Clerk’s return from his holiday) to be told what or who the playground is compliant with.
Well whilst the town clerk was on holiday I was busy networking to add to my case. I spoke to Mark Reilly the Community Support and Enquiry Line Service Manager from Equal Lives ( http://equallives.org.uk/ ) who was very keen to read through all my emails and was some what surprised to read the responses. I also kept Lauren Cope from the EDP in the loop and my predicament was shared with some other local disability access rights groups based in Norfolk. Unfortunately the closest one covers Dereham and it’s surrounding District their website can be found here http://www.derehamaccess.org.uk/ it is run by volunteers and it helps and most importantly works alongside local councils when they are proposing new developments.
This has highlighted a need for there to be a Wymondham and District (Hethersett / Attleborough) access group to be set up. This I have explained to all parties currently helping me is something that I would love to be involved with creating and any help that they can give me to get this set up/advertised for creation etc would be greatly received.
Mark from Equal Lives contacted Wymondham Town Council on Wednesday 16th September on my behalf and copied in the original email sent in Part 1 where the town council confirmed they’d look into putting in a hard surface. His email is below
Dear Mr Gurney,
My name is Mark Reilly and I work for the national disability rights charity Equal Lives – based here in Norfolk.
I’m offering Neil Seach my support regarding his wish to ensure that the great new playground you have built in Wymondham is accessible for him (by wheelchair) from the car park.
I know from the correspondence you had with Neil in April (below) that he was delighted with your email to reassure him that you would be working to ensure that there would be access for him from the car park to the play area.
I can understand why Neil was particularly disappointed when the reassurances he’d had from you did not manifest themselves in the final build – meaning that he is unable to watch his children whilst they are using the play area. Even with assistance (and in dry weather conditions) the journey from the car park to the play area is incredibly difficult and dangerous – even if Neil were to use a motorised chair. In his non electric wheelchair without assistance it is almost impossible.
On the face of it Neil’s initial request to you (pre-build) looks like a reasonable one – and it received a reasonable reply from you.
Is there anything I can do to progress this situation and help out?
The Norfolk media have already expressed an interest in covering the story and it would be nice if we could find a resolution that was suitable to all parties as soon as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Community Support & Enquiry Line Service Manager
Tel: 01508 ######
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The local press coverage he refers to is because Mark also spoke to Lauren from the EDP on my behalf and she is keen to do some sort of Newspaper report with Equal Lives involvement, now hopefully this will be a positive one as to how the Town Council have come good and installed a path after my issue was brought to their attention, and then running some details asking if other disabled people locally are wanting to help volunteer with me to set up a Disabled Access group for Wymondham to help try and prevent this sort of thing happening again to contact the paper and they will then pass details on. We can then work with Dereham and other groups to help us get our own group up and running.
To date we are waiting for a response from Wymondham Town Council with regards to what the park is complient, complaint, no compliant with and a response to the Email sent fro Equal Lives. Fingers crossed this means some positive action is being taken in the background before formulating a response to us all! Goes to show I think that the little man on his own cannot achieve much, but united and with support hopefully we can challenge inequalities and prejudices and make positive changes for the future. I only hope I haven’t spoke too soon! – Next stop a Twitter Campaign #itisonlyapavement