Call to make Hartlepool's facilities more accessible for people with disabilities
Calls have been made for work to be carried out in Hartlepool to provide more facilities and greater support for residents with disabilities.
A motion was raised at the latest full council meeting by Cllr Stephen Thomas calling for greater work in Hartlepool around equality and inclusion, to ensure everyone has access to facilities in the town.
Cllr Thomas therefore called for a review of Hartlepool Borough Council regeneration development activity and accessibility to services, to ensure those with disabilities and life long conditions have access to all resources.
He said although a lot of great work has been done in Hartlepool in recent times to ensure inclusion for everyone across all services, there is still more to be done.
Cllr Thomas said: “One of the outcomes of covid has been that it has cast a spotlight on the levels of pre-existing health inequalities and levels of disability and life long conditions that are present in the communities of Hartlepool.
“One of the important things to remember about access and inclusion is that it is a far wider, far more complex issue than we often think about, it’s much bigger than things such as ramps and dropped curbs.
“Whilst I would say that we have done a lot of good things, the lived experience of people in the town with disabilities and life long conditions suggests to me there are other things that we can be doing better.”
Cllr Thomas praised existing resources such as the Centre for Independent Living, work around accessibility for local venues, Project 65 looking at digital inclusion, and the inclusion of disabled play in future play facility developments.
The motion, which was signed by all members of the Labour Party on the council, was seconded by Cllr Amy Prince.
She said: “We do have some phenomenal provision in the town.
“No matter how well we do we can always strive to be better. We can always try and learn and educate ourselves in how we can make things better for everybody to enjoy our town, not just the majority.”
Cllr Prince also praised Seaton representatives Cllr Sue Little and Cllr Leisa Smith for their work in helping to get disability-friendly picnic benches and play equipment in Seaton Carew.
The motion had called for the wide-reaching issue to be the subject of the audit and governance committee work programme for 2021/22.
However Cllr Ged Hall, current chair of the committee, warned such a decision should not be made ahead of the new municipal year, with elections scheduled to take place in May.
He therefore raised an amendment to the motion, that the issue will be recognised after the elections and full discussions over action will take place then, which was passed by councillors.
Cllr Hall said: “It would be very foolish to nominate a topic well before the elections in May.
“It would be reckless to tie the hands of the future chairs, vice chairs, members and hard working officers in the audit and governance committee.”
Cllr Hall noted in recent years the committee has looked at issues such as bringing services back to the University Hospital of Hartlepool, notably maternity services, the council’s finances, mental health and antisocial behaviour.