Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will remember how I have been fighting with my local council to get disabled wheelchair access to a new playground that has been built in my hometown. To get new readers up to speed basically a new playground had funding secured and planned and we got to look at plans and submit issues.
During the planning stage the positioning of the playground was moved, I instantly emailed them to say that they were moving the park away from existing pathways making it inaccessible to many wheelchair users. I received an email back from the town clerk telling me they would look to put in a hard pathway – great issue resolved.
Except in the building stage the playground was moved again and was a very long way away from any pathway. I spoke to Equal Lives and the Town Clerk Trevor Gurney and Councillor Lee Hornby agreed to meet me and Mark Reilly from Equal Lives to discuss the matter. We were told it basically comes down to money but that they would speak to other Councillors. I told them in my opinion it came down to the Equality Act and they were in my opinion in breach of it as they had built a new play area in the 21st century that did not have disabled access, I even offered them the opportunity to use my wheelchair and attempt to get to the play area themselves. Even though they do not have the mobility issues and/or pain that I suffer from they declined! I wonder why! The issue is that the ground is incredibly soft and boggy and even my mobility scooter won’t get across the ground it just sinks and gets bogged down, I have sent them photographic evidence of this!
Well the council then asked us to suggest pathway options that were aesthetically pleasing and to get quotes – so basically do what I pay my council tax for! Plus for me the paths priorities are that it needs to be functional and hard wearing. We suggested a couple but unfortunately the companies wouldn’t quote for us (after all they know we are not in a position to commit).
This week I received the following email from the town clerk as to where we are at in getting the path;
Thank you for your emails.
I usually see representatives from Play equipment supplier in early spring and I will make enquiries of them. The ground is too wet and boogy at present.
I assume what he actually meant was that he will make some enquiries with them in the spring. I also liked his line stating that the ground is too wet and (I assume he meant) boggy at present. So basically agreeing with my whole argument that for months of the year the ground is too wet and boggy for disabled people to get to it! I have not hassled the council over the inaccessibility of most of their playgrounds because they were built and in place before I was even born, having lived in my hometown most of my life I know this and their existence prior to the understanding of Disabled Rights and Equality values means I can live with not being able to take my LG to them. What I cannot live with though is a playground being built in 2015 with a wheelchair roundabout, numerous low level games and a disabled accessible swing (although minus the straps) built in an area that wheelchair users cannot get to. It is one thing ticking boxes on a form to say you have the equipment in place, it is a whole different ball game getting disabled people to look at the plans and highlight the pitfalls of design – such as not being able to access the play area in the first place. So it looks like my wait for a path continues, the war goes on 😦