Council strengthens commitment to access for all disabled people

Cabinet councillors agreed on Tuesday (9 July) that an audit of public buildings and services in the borough will be carried out to determine the current levels of accessibility for disabled people.

The access audit is to focus on the full range of disabilities covered by the Equality Act 2010 including physical disability, visual impairment, being deaf or hard of hearing, having mental health conditions, a learning disability, an acquired brain injury or autism spectrum disorder.

Councillor Rebecca Whippy, Cabinet Member for Disabilities and Community Safety, said: “This administration is fully committed to the inclusion of all disabled people, mindful that a disability is not always visible.

“This audit will build on the access work already carried out at the council and we hope it further raises the profile of this issue, leading to further improvements in accessibility across the town.”

As part of ensuring the council fulfils its requirements under the Public Sector Equality Duty, it agrees an equalities and fairness action plan every year.

Under this, the council’s Neighbourhood First officers have already been trained to understand access issues and to undertake simple access audits, with training updated as new staff join the team.

In addition, the council supports a Disability Involvement Group (DIG) which organised an Access Day last year at The Beacon, highlighting the importance of disabled access as well as encouraging disabled people to try something new.

Councillor Whippy added: “Although the council strives for equal access and usability for its facilities for everyone, it is aware that the disabled community still struggle to access public facilities, our own included. 

“The council wants to work towards being a leading council for equality and inclusion - setting the benchmark for other councils and making a better life for all our residents, including those that are different needs. 

“Our accessibility audit is just the start of our work in this area and from this, and our work with DIG and other local community groups, we hope that great things will come for all our residents.”

The access audit will be undertaken in autumn/winter 2019.

Published on 11 July, 2019