Hartlepool Council responds to minister’s letter over disabled access

Minister for disabled people Esther McVey
Minister for disabled people Esther McVey

A COUNCIL says it is doing its bit to improve access for disabled people to Hartlepool’s open spaces and beaches.

The Government’s minister for people with disabilities Esther McVey MP wrote to local authorities up and down the country asking what they are doing to make their communities more inclusive.

Hartlepool Borough Council produced a report citing numerous examples of work and initiatives it was doing to benefit disabled people including access to open areas.

Ms McVey said in her letter: “As nearly 20 per cent of the population is disabled, it is essential that we work together to ensure that our open spaces and beaches are accessible to all of our population.

“This means the Government, local authorities, environmental trusts and disabled people all working in partnership to achieve a more inclusive society.”

She asked the council to consider how inclusive the local environment is, if it could be improved to benefit disabled people and how it was working with disabled people.

Alastair Smith said in a report that went to the Neighbourhood Services committee: “A wide range of developments have taken place and include simple access improvements to the local access network.”

The report cited new and bigger car parking facilities complete with toilet facilities for disabled and able people and new or improved play facilities.

The council also said the works to Seaton Carew Front and a multi-million pound sea defence scheme were an example of improving access to disabled people.

The report added: “This scheme, when complete, will provide vastly improved access facilities for disabled and able-bodied people.

“The sea defences will also provide safer access for equestrian users onto the beach at Seaton Carew.”

And Mr Smith pointed to the council’s Short Breaks Service as an example of what the authority was doing to benefit disabled people and businesses.

He said: “This work has culminated in improvements of services for disabled children and helped ensure and promote better outcomes for their families.

“It provides a valuable example of service user led improvements which have provided greater opportunity for discovery and life enhancement for children and the families involved.”