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November 2010

On the Home Front

Although it has generally been business as usual since the last update, the past few months have been especially exciting for us. After much discussion we have taken the bull by the horns and given ourselves a new project. It is a big undertaking, but we’ve done our research and work has already started on gathering the necessary information to create our own ‘Chichester City Access Guide”. During the winter months, our auditors will be out and about collecting all the information we need to compile an accurate guide in the spring.

At present, information about places that are accessible in Chichester is mainly available on websites; not easily obtained by those without a computer. Our aim is to give residents as well as visitors full details about every accessible, publicly used building, business and facility in the city. Assuming all goes well, we anticipate that the guide should be completed in June or July 2011.

 

Centurion Way

Our persistence has finally paid off and the good news was announced in late October. For almost a year the Group has been in discussion with WSCC to solve the thorny problem of disabled access to the Lavant end of this safer, alternative route along the western side of the city. We are delighted to report that this long drawn out dispute has now been settled to the satisfaction of all parties. Work on the present, unmade public footpath is due to begin on 22nd November. When completed, this will provide a fully accessible, 3 metre wide link between South Lavant and Centurion Way. Our thanks go to Duncan Barratt and Simone Makepeace, of WSCC, for all their hard work in making this possible.

 

Highlights of Other Activities

Toilet Campaign – The points raised in the responses we received were combined into a report which was submitted in time to meet the deadline in August. We now have to wait until next year to find out if the changes we recommended are included in the revised Part M of the Building Regulations.

New Park Centre – Several months ago the Group had commented on various access issues shown in the exciting plans for rebuilding and refurbishing this well used community centre. At our September meeting we heard that the project architect had accepted our recommendations.

Kingsham Footbridge – In response to a request from Chichester District Council, the Highways Authority design has been changed and the gradients improved.

Drop Off Area – At an October meeting, Group members expressed their satisfaction at finding the newly-hatched area outside the District Council buildings.

 

Chichester Festival and Minerva Theatres

As a result of receiving comments from disabled theatre goers, two of our auditors arranged to meet theatre staff to discuss the provisions for assisting disabled people. They checked general fire arrangements and carried out an audit at the same time. They found that despite being hampered by the design of the theatre buildings, and the fact that the Festival Theatre is listed, all the staff are very aware of accessibility issues. They are to be congratulated on their efforts to make the theatre accessible to all. The discussion covered all the concerns raised and our Chairman has been invited to sit on the Access Advisory Committee that the Theatre Manager is setting up.

Parking at the gated entrance to the theatre had also been the subject of complaints as ‘Wheelchairs only’ signs had been placed on some of the designated spaces. These prevented ambulant disabled drivers from parking. Following our advice concerning them, the signs have now been removed by CDC.

 

Disability Related Hate Incidents or Crimes

In an effort to increase the reporting of hate crimes or incidents related to disability, the West Sussex Hate Crime Project Manager for Victim Support has asked us to spread the word about the Hate Incident Support Service. This service is a partnership project between Victim Support and West Sussex County Council and offers support to those who have been affected by such events. The partnership is committed to ensuring everyone living in West Sussex is free from discrimination and harassment irrespective of a person’s ability.

Discrimination and harassment based on a person’s physical or mental faculties is called disabilism and is illegal. It can take many forms - e.g. name calling, graffiti and other written insults, refusal to co-operate with a person because of their disability, vandalism or damage to property motivated by disabilism.

Disabled people do not have to tolerate this - but the Support Service cannot provide its service unless someone reports what has happened. An incident can be reported by the victim, a witness, or someone who has found out about it. Even if you do not have all the details, any information that you can provide may be valuable.

 

To make a report, you can:

If an incident is particularly serious and there is a risk to anybody involved you should report it to the police by dialling 999.

For Further Information Contact: West Sussex Harm Reduction Team
Telephone: 01243 382604
Email: harmreduction@westsussex.gov.uk
or go to: - www.westsussex.gov.uk/harmreduction