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April 2011

On the Home Front

As this year began we were very pleased that the optimism we had felt at the beginning of 2010 has proved to be justified. The updates that follow show some of the many reasons the Group has to be even more optimistic as we progress through 2011.

 

Chichester City Access Guide

Everyone we consulted was most complimentary about our project and this gave members of the Group all the encouragement they needed. We have found that creating our booklet has been a fascinating journey into previously unknown territory. It has given us an opportunity to learn about what goes on behind the scenes of the process, as well as a welcome break from our usual activities.

Thanks to funding received from Awards for All England, West Sussex County Council, Chichester District Council, and John Wiley & Son, the production of the Guide is now able to go ahead. In spite of the weather, and time off during the Festive Season, our assessors and their helpers have collected all the information we need. Now we are at the final stage before we send our pride and joy to the printers. The launch of the Guide is expected in late June.

 

Midhurst Leisure Centre

In October last year CAG was asked for advice about a condemned lift at the Grange in Midhurst; an old building that is soon to be closed. The advice was duly given and led to an invitation to become consultants for the new, purpose-built Midhurst Leisure Centre. This will replace the Grange on the same site. In December, auditors from the Group had a productive consultation with architects for the new build and were reassured that the new Leisure Centre would be able to accommodate a supportive day care centre if required.

 

The Ridgeway, Parklands

The Group first reported on this issue in September 2009, but the negotiations to solve the problems of the shopping arcade still continue. The access issue had become especially important because Hyde Martlett, the area social housing provider, had developed an assisted living complex at the rear of The Ridgeway. The fact that disabled people cannot access their local shops makes a complete nonsense of the term ‘assisted living’. Councillor Clare Apel is committed to improving disabled access at the Post Office and shops and has been active in attempting to break the deadlock. We will support her efforts in any way we can.

 

Accessible Chichester

The Group were approached by the Centre for Accessible Environments for examples of public areas where accessibility has been much improved. The first place we were pleased to suggest was Bishop’s Palace Gardens. These beautiful, tranquil gardens are now a year round attraction and very well used. The paths are wide and fully accessible and we congratulate Mick Gore, Manager of Parks and Open Spaces, and his team of gardeners and volunteers on the work they have done./

 

We are also suggesting the Little London Car Park because of its safe paved pedestrian areas and new Public Convenience Block. Every WC cubicle is large enough to accommodate a motorised mobility scooter or a large children’s buggy, making them all accessible to ambulant disabled people or parents with a number of children. There is, of course, the statutory accessible cubicle and the baby change unit, but making every cubicle accessible to all is such a very good idea.

 

Kingsham Foot Bridge

For a variety of reasons, depending on who is being asked, the construction of the Kingsham Foot Bridge over the A27 has been cancelled. The Group were consulted about this project way back in 2009 and had advised on acceptable gradients and the necessity of providing level resting places on both sides of structure.
We understand that work has already been undertaken to clear the site prior to the announcement. What a waste of time, theirs and ours, as well as the money.

 

Centurion Way - Success at last!

The Group has been negotiating with the County Council to provide an accessible link between South Lavant and Centurion Way since March of last year. In November we were pleased to report that work to create an accessible diversion was due to start. We are now delighted to announce that our persistence has paid off. The work has been completed and the upgraded footpath is wide and accessible, with a good surface. We can fully recommend this link as a suitable route for those using mobility aids, as well as families with pushchairs and young cyclists.

 

Another Countryside Access Campaign

Once again we are joining forces with West Sussex Association for Disabled People (now known as Voice for Disability) to support the provision of another accessible footpath in the South Downs National Park. Our previous co-operation resulted in a much improved, re-aligned, accessible footpath at Pitshill. (See the report in the July 2009 Page).

A picnic for disabled people, their families and friends, is to be held at The Old Tithe Barn, Ditcham Park, Nr. Petersfield on Sunday 15th May, 2011. This is to promote ‘Access to the Countryside’ in the form of a proposed circular walk. It should be a pleasurable occasion with tea and cake provided by the promoters to top-up your own picnic. We hope for fine weather, but the barn will provide shelter if it doesn’t materialise. There is plenty of hard standing and also an accessible toilet.

For further details, directions and map please go to the Countryside Access Page on the Voice for Disability website:

www.wsad.org.uk