Hospital Parking at Stoke

We have had many complaints about the new barrier system of parking now installed on the big disabled car park at Royal Stoke. When this was first installed disabled people could get a refund from the office on the multi storey car park if they took over an hour from entering the car park. You may remember that STAND fought long and hard when the hospital first started charging disabled people to park. We ended up with a compromise of an extra hour being given to disabled people to make “reasonable adjustments” required under the Equality Act 2010. This has now been taken away on the car parks with barriers, and so has the refunds. Today disabled people have no concessions on the barrier car parks at Royal Stoke. The hospital said that disabled people have an extra half hour but this is not as it seems. Your parking time starts from the moment you enter the car park and goes until you pay for your parking. If you are even one minute over the hour, you are charged for two hours and the machines do not give change. The half hour mentioned is to allow you to get back to your car and get through the barriers. IT IS NOT A CONCESSION. IT IS AN OPERATING MECHANISM AND APPLIES TO EVERYONE PARKING ON THE BARRIER CAR PARKS.

As you can imagine STAND is contesting this as we believe the hospital is discriminating against disabled people by charging them more to park than none disabled because their disability means that they take longer to travel. Equality Act 2010

The hospital is also flouting Government Guidelines that say hospital should make concessions for disabled people parking.

So far STAND has had a meeting with hospital officials to discuss the matter and have a promise to look at this again, however they say that they have had many compliments about the new system. Perhaps disabled people do not complain enough to the right people because STAND has certainly had many complaints

We have also contacted our local MPs and have had superb support from them.

The next action will be to contact The Equality Commission to get their help to stop this blatant discrimination.

Blue Badge Bay Abuse On Private Land

We have had yet another report of abuse of blue badge bays on private land. Members will recall STAND contacting the Minister responsible and he told us that the landowners were responsible for policing the blue badge spaces on the land that they own. This comes under the 2010 Equality Act. It is obvious to us that either landowners are unaware of these responsibilities or are deliberately ignoring them.

Can members please report all instances of this abuse, with photographs if possible and then we can confront the present Minister with our findings.

Museum Parking

The Council are proposing to build over the existing disabled car park at the museum. Stand has met with officials and there were two sites for the new parking spaces. one for 5 spaces outside the museum in Bethesda Street or a small car park between the museum and the library. STAND said that we needed both as it would be dangerous for disabled drivers to transfer from car to wheelchair on the street as they would be in the path of heavy traffic. These spaces are ideal for people who were unable to walk very, or who were passengers. The other car park would have been too far away (It was over 50 mtrs) for people who cannot walk very far but it would have been ideal for drivers in wheelchairs to transfer in safety. The distance is less of a problem in a wheelchair.

There will be far more people with blue badges after March this year as the rules are changing to include more conditions that will be included within the blue badge criteria so we will need more spaces.

Following our concerns the Council have appointed an independent company to look at the safety issues we raised and that company has deemed the transfers in Bethesda Street to be safe so this is their preferred option. We remain concerned and have had these concerns recorded. Our local MPs are also looking at this issue.

 

Red Routes

STAND have met with Council officials to discuss the impact of the red routes on people with disabilities. Our stance is that where there are double yellow lines on the road, at the moment people with blue badges can park for up to three hours providing there are no yellow bands on the pavement, you are not causing an obstruction and you park with the blue badge clearly visible. Red routes take this right away and therefore there must be reasonable adjustments put in place to allow people with disabilities who have a blue badge to access goods and services they need.

We have made our views clear and have enabled several changes to be made to the proposed red routes. If you have any concerns about the proposals please get in touch with STAND via this website.

Claymills Pumping Station

STAND members were asked to advise Claymills Pumping Station on accessibility. We were invited to visit and offer suggestions to make this wonderful place easier for people with disabilities to visit.

http://claymills.org.uk/

We found it very easy to get around and the staff had obviously given a great deal of thought to accessibility. Their access statement was very helpful, giving information that we need to know.

The people we met were very hospitable and we enjoyed a lovely cup of tea and cake before we went around Claymills.

They have applied for a grant to expand the visitor facilities. We sincerely hope that they get this and look forward to visiting again when the work is complete.

 

Middleport Pottery

Ann, one of our members highlighted the problem of disabled access at Middleport Pottery. We contacted Middleport and Teresa Fox Wells said the problem was caused by the cobbles. The contractor had put some substance between the cobbles to try to even them out but this had broken up with the big vehicles passing over them. STAND members discussed the problem and invited Teresa to one of our meetings to discuss possible solutions. We then met Teresa on site at Middleport to see the extent of the problem for ourselves.

We identified these issues which would be a barrier to disabled people visiting the site:

DISABLED CAR PARK had 3 wide disabled bays 2 of which were taken up by people who were not displaying a blue badge. Suggested solutions SIGN to say blue badge holders only and the fine for abusing the bays. NOTICES to be put on the cars of offenders saying that their number had been taken and if they were found to be abusing the space again they would be fined.STAFF to monitor the bays throughout the day.

ENTRANCE had no disabled access until you had passed over the uneven cobbles, which many disabled people would not be able to do. Suggested solutions BELL to press to get someone to help. COBBLES taken up, set in bitumen with bitumen poured down the cracks to level up the cobbles and level out the surface.

ROUTE to the café and to the workshops to be given this treatment.

CAFE has doors opening outward which means that someone in a wheelchair would not be able to open them. Suggested solution BELL on the door to summon staff to open the door.

October 16

Teresa Fox Wells has informed us that the work has been done apart from the cobbles. Apparently the contractor has gone into receivership and they are trying to see what can be done, meanwhile STAND members will be invited to see the work done so far at a visit to be arranged at our next meeting, for the end of November.

March 17

STAND members visited Middleport again to see the improvements.

The contractor who did the cobbles originally and had promised to redo them had gone bankrupt which left the pottery with a huge problem, which they are still trying to resolve.

 

 

 

On arrival we found the disabled car park to be much improved. All disabled bays were available for disabled people. ie NO ABUSE OF THE BAYS. Signs had been put up to make it very clear that these bays were just for blue badge holders. 

The spaces are wide enough for wheelchair transfers and the surface is firm.

 

 

 

 

There is now a sign showing the route for people with disabilities at the front of the building but you need to remember it may not be suitable for people who cannot travel over the cobbles, at the moment.

 There is a sign showing the location of the call button once you are under the archway. This will call staff to lower or raise the lift.


 

 

 

   

The Upper floors are serviced by a good sized lift which is easy to use. There are ramps to other areas and so is easy to get around.

 

Some areas are impossible to make fully accessible. The bottle oven has a ramp so you can see inside it but the heavy metal frame around the door means that a wheelchair cannot get inside. Some of the workshops have a step up to them but Middleport are looking to get some ramps fitted in the future.

Once you have been around the pottery you will want to sample the delights of the Tea Room. Again there are signs to show the route for wheelchairs.

Take care down the slight slope because the Tea Room faces the canal. A lovely spot to take tea when the weather is kind, however there is a call button to get into the Tea Room. It is located outside the big picture windows.

 

 

 

A lovely cup of tea and wonderful helpful staff.

Middleport Pottery is to be commended for taking up the suggestions that STAND made to make the pottery more accessible. It is a delightful place to visit.

Middleport take disabled access very seriously and is constantly trying to improve the experience so everyone can enjoy their visit. There are plans to make another entrance into the shop and that will be on the level and much easier for people with disabilities to use. I will let you know of any future developments.

 

 

Update Aug 2018

I have to congratulate everyone involved with the organisation of the Weeping Window event at Middleport Pottery.  I was absolutely thrilled to see how easy it was to today when I visited with my husband who has a disability.

    Designated parking was great, spaces to spare, good signage, lovely staff on hand to help, travelling over the cobbles was easy, due to the interlocking rubber mats placed over the cobbles. The site was not crammed full of people so there were seats to spare, easy access to refreshments, and space to see the poppies without fear of getting crushed or pushed. This is a free event and is a fantastic example of how people with disabilities can be welcomed on to a historic site given thought, work and consideration.

North Staffs Justice Centre

STAND  wrote to the Justice Centre as members has experienced difficulties in accessing the building and then had more problems once inside the building when they went to PIP appeals.

We received a warm welcome when we visited the Centre and discussed all the problems that members had experienced. We were taken on a tour of the building and suggested ways to make the building more accessible. The staff we met were very receptive to these suggestions and are looking into what can be done inside the building.

The sad fact remains that the building itself is too far away from a car park and even the taxi drop off point is a far walk away from the door. The staff did suggest that in the future they are looking at the possibility of video links so people appealing might not have to leave home.

We will keep you posted as to progress.

STAND Visit To Parliament

Members of STAND visited Parliament to talk to our MPs about access issues. Access to the North Staffs Justice Centre which is being used for PIP appeals has been the topic of many complaints. Gareth Snell MP and Ruth Smeeth MP and Paul Farrelly’s secretary are going to see what can be done to help. The problem of pavement parking was raised as this issue has caused members to be housebound, when people parked over their drive, members had been intimidated and abused when they asked for the offending vehicle to be moved and also vehicles had damaged fences as they had been driven onto the pavement. Members driving disabled buggies had been forced into the road when vehicles had been inconsiderately parked on the pavement. The last issue we raised was the fantastic progress of the Blue Iris project to combat loneliness. Our sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of this project.