I have long been chronicling the issues I am having with my local town council having built a new play area that does not provide access to wheelchair users. I have met with Councillor Hornby and he intimated that any decision to put in a path would come down to finances (erm I think it comes down to Equality Law but lets leave that for now).
This news broke today (see link or read article in bold italics below), and bearing in mind the council still haven’t got back to me regarding making Ketts Park wheelchair accessible as they do not have funds, and I have an email from the Town Clerk telling me to use the play area pictured in the article as it is wheelchair accessible (which in itself is offensive and removes my right as a disabled person to have a choice of which play area to take my LG to) I was disgusted to read this. The park I was told to use is, it has been proposed, having most of its play equipment moved to another park that is INACCESSIBLE to disabled people in my home town with a £60,000 reserve pot being found to fund it so people can use their conservatories and gardens without the noise of children!
I cannot believe that this has been proposed by the Councillor who met me and Mark the Equal Lives representative at Ketts Park. It is as if he has slapped me in the face and said peoples right to not hear children playing is more important and a better use of “Reserve Funds” than using them to make parks accessible to disabled people.
A £75,000 play area in Wymondham which sparked a noise row when it was built just 15 months ago could be removed and relocated – to the tune of another £60,000 because of complaints about noisy children.
As reported at the time, when the playscape on King’s Head Meadow was finished in September 2014, neighbours overlooking the park complained that noisy children and teenagers were becoming a headache – something parents branded “pathetic”.
Wymondham Town Council pledged to look into the matter – and a proposal has now been put forward to scale down the area, by moving six pieces of equipment and a picnic bench to Browick Road.
Councillors will discuss the proposal, put forward by councillor Lee Hornby and seconded by councillor Peter Broome, at full council meeting on Tuesday night.
In the agenda, the council says: “We believe that the above proposals will allow the affected residents to enjoy their gardens and conservatories once again, and go a long way to reducing the anti-social behaviour that is taking place by older youths late into the night and early hours of the morning.”
A budget of £60,000 has been made available from the council’s reserves.
In letter to town councillors, Adrian Nichols, community protection team leader at South Norfolk Council, also says the area could expose the council to a legal challenge from frustrated residents.
The email says: “Given the significant noise impact that is being caused and the potential for legal action against you, we would strongly advise the town council to take action to address this situation.”
He adds the “reinstatement of the play area to its former scale and location” should deal with the matter.
The district council says investigations found that those living nearby were disturbed by the noise of screaming children and teenagers using the area during the evening and night time. They also found that complaints had been made to the police over the loss of privacy and damage to fencing.
A spinning swing will be moved from Kett’s Park to the meadow, while a High Five unit currently on the meadow will be moved to Kett’s Park.
See tomorrow’s paper for more.
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I have called the reporter on the number above and emailed Mark at Equal Lives the following email
Good afternoon Mark,
Below is a link to an article written by Lauren in which Councillor Hornby (who we met at Ketts Park with the Town Clerk Trevor Gurney) is proposing moving some play equipment from another play area in Wymondham following some noise complaints.http://wymondhamandattleboroughmercury.co.uk/1.4395133
I have just called Lauren incensed at two things, firstly that there is suddenly this money in reserve is available when at our meeting there was indication that any path being put in would be subject to cost implications. Secondly and far more importantly is that the play equipment that is being moved is being moved from Kings Head Meadow this is the one disabled accessible park in Wymondham and is the one that one of the Town Clerks early responses to me told me I should use because the equipment was accessible (in the picture in the article you will see the tarmac path behind the play equipment that runs right across the park with access to all gates that lead into the play area). The play area also has paths leading around all the equipment and is almost fully accessible by wheelchair or my mobility scooter, the Browick Road Park that they are proposing moving the play equipment to is yet another inaccessible play area in Wymondham. Access is via a very steep uneven slope and whilst the ride down into the play area may provide me with an exhilarating run I would not be able to get off the park again, my scooter would not power up the slope and I certainly wouldn’t be able to manually do it. Further more once on the play field that is no paths to get to any of the play equipment that is there already.
I feel as if peoples noise complaints and ability to be able to use their conservatories is in the opinion of the Town Council far more important than making play areas accessible to Disabled parents/carers/grandparents in the town!
I will try and attend the council meeting on Tuesday night but I am in a period of significant increased pain at the moment so cannot guarantee my attendance. Lauren has agreed to call me on Wednesday with the outcome of the meeting and to take things from there.
Yours very disappointingly
I cannot begin to express how disappointed and upset I will be if this use of funds go ahead. It will result in all the main play areas in Wymondham being inaccessible to disabled parents and make a mockery of all correspondence I have thus far had from the Town Council. I once again plead with you all if you know of any law firms that would be willing to help me on a pro-bono case to take the town council to task and ensure that disabled people do not continue to be discriminated against. I will not be able to take my LG to these play areas without help, completely removing my independence and ability to enjoy time with my LG – the anger in me is simmering!