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September 2009

A BIG THUMBS-UP FROM MATHEW

 

Mathew Palmer, aged 22, of Sherborne Road, Chichester, has at last achieved a lifelong ambition.  Mathew, seen above with Laura McDermott, has never been able to enter any of his local shops.  While other children were able to spend their pocket money and choose their sweets he had to watch from his wheelchair and wish.

Thanks to the new owners of Stephens Pharmacy, also on Sherborne Road, his days of exclusion are over.  He is now able to enter and browse to his hearts content.  Mathew jokes “I still can’t buy my sweets but at least I can choose my own aftershave”.

An extensive refurbishment of the store included raising the pavement height to give
level access to an automated door.  Extra wide aisles allow free movement for wheelchairs and buggies and stock is at a reachable height.  Mathew is now able to choose from a wide range of goods, including gifts.  The store’s manager states “We are very aware of the need for accessibility to local shops within the community and are delighted to be able to provide such a service to Mathew.”

Mathew’s parents, Lou and Steve, are also delighted and stressed that Mathew longs for a degree of independence.  Being able to ‘pop down to the shop’ whenever he feels like it gives this to him.

From the Access Group’s point of view this is only a start.  The Parklands community have waited  almost 18 months for the owner of the Post Office to fulfil his very public promise to make his shop accessible.  In fact, we understand that it was a condition  of the closure order being lifted.  The Parklands area now has a purpose built Independent Living Complex of apartments at the rear of this parade of shops.  These are specifically for disabled people, and the Chemist is the only shop with adequate access. The people who live in these apartments are unable to buy a book of stamps or a local paper. We would urge Chichester District Council and the shop owners to get together and solve this problem.

Not such good access!

AT  YOUR  CONVENIENCE!__THE PROBLEM WITH ACCESSIBLE TOILETS

 

Life for wheelchair users is never easy but picture this.  You wheel into the disabled toilet cubicle and are presented with a problem; there is not enough room!  The wheelchair’s front wheels are wedged by the toilet and you cannot turn sideways.  You struggle to shut the door but the rear wheels prevent you doing so.  There is no alternative but to leave the door open...
and forget dignity.  This situation is quite possible under The Building Regulations Document Part ‘M’ as it now stands.

The problem is that wheelchairs have got larger.  The 1500mm turning circle, recommended by Part ‘M’, is no longer enough.  Motorised wheelchairs need more turning space, as do mobility scooters.  The Chichester Access Group would like to see Part ‘M’ revised to reflect these needs.

Chichester Access Group (CAG) is an active and established group.  The committee members are volunteers.  All have personal experience of disabilities and some are Members of The Centre for Accessible Environments.  We promote Access for All within the built environment.

Although some property developers favour Homes for Life principles, which allow more space, most do not.  The majority of developers stick with Part M minimum requirements, especially in commercial developments.  In the opinion of CAG, these are totally inadequate for toilet provision.  There is no room for a carer and there is certainly no room to transfer from either side.

The situation is worse in private dwellings.  In the case of new built homes, Part M Section 10.2 states that “it will not always be practical for the wheelchair to be fully accommodated within the WC compartment”.  Part M Section 10.3 then gives guidance to access the WC.  CAG argues that, if this means that the door cannot be closed, it is degrading and embarrassing and the regulations should be altered.

Chichester Access Group understands that the Part M document is to be revised and republished in 2010.  The Group would like to see changes to Part M requirements relating to toilet access.  At this stage CAG is inviting comments and views about Part M from other interested individuals and groups.  CAG welcomes your opinions as we need to know where we stand with the pros and cons of Part M.

Please send your comments by letter to Chichester Access Group, c/o WSAD, 7 St. Johns Parade, Alinora Crescent, Goring by Sea, West Sussex, BN12 4HJ.  If you prefer, the email address is info@wsad.org.uk

CAG looks forward to hearing from you, this is an important issue of accessibility.  Please reply by 30th November, 2009.

ON THE HOME FRONT

The Group continues to expand it’s remit.  We are now partners of the City Centre Management Partnership. We look forward to working with Kim Long, the City Centre Manager, in promoting and improving accessibility within Chichester.

A further two members of the Group are completing the Access Auditing Course run by The Centre for Accessible Environments.  This is held at Birkbeck College, London, and will bring our total of available Access Assessors to three.  Funding has been made available for another 3 members to attend the course in March 2010.

We are consultees for the Highways Agency with regard to the new footbridge over the A27. It’s a pleasure for us to say that Thursdays Nightclub is now accessible for wheelchair users, so they too can dance the night away.  It’s all about equality, my friends.