Please click on this link
There had been great concern amongst our members that if the public toilets closed in our town centres then disabled people would find it extremely difficult as most shops did not have toilets that they cold use and those that did tended to be located on upper floors.
At our meeting on 28th Jan 2014 Councillor Terry Crowe said that the Council had decided that NO public toilets would be close unless there was a viable alternative, which includes those with disabled access.
This was raised yet again in the 2015/16 budget and again it has been deferred.
Members were very concerned about the proposed move from the Shopping Centre to John Street car park. John Street car park is a considerable distance from where Shopmobility users wanted to shop and members were concerned about having to travel this distance in all weathers.
At our meeting on 28th Jan 2014 we asked the council to comment on this:
- Steve Buckton
Steve said that Shopmobility would be staying in the Potteries Shopping Centre for the foreseeable future. A situation that might change when the Potteries Centre start their proposed new buildings. Steve said that he would keep us informed. Lez said that the Changing Places Unit would be decommissioned in Feb 14. Discussion about advertising and signage to Shopmobility and the amount time the unit (Changing Places) was used and was it in the best place were aired. Lez said she would contact the groups that were instrumental in getting the unit in the first place to assess how much it was being used and bring this information to the next meeting. She will also invite members of these groups to our next meeting. This unit cost a great deal of money and it is essential that it is sited in the best place where it will be used.. Terry to ask how many people have used this in the last 6 months and bring that information to our next meeting. Steve pointed out that Shopmobility does run at a loss and any suggestion as to how it can be made more cost effective would help.
At our meeting on 1st April 2014 Ian Tamburello informed STAND of a temporary move into the old bus station in Birch Terrace as the location in the Potteries Centre had become unsafe due to the building work. Negotiations will continue to return Shopmobility to the Shopping Centre when work is completed.
The opening of Shopmobility at the old bus station was on 10th April. It was a very successful launch. There will be extra disabled bays put in near to the entrance, but blue badge holders can use ordinary bays free of charge when they display their badge.
Many members have expressed their support of the move into the old bus station. Many people find this much more convenient than the old location. They say that the new venue is closer to where they want to do their shopping.
STAND raised the issue of people tripping up in Tontine Street because there was little visual difference between the road and the kerb after the new paving had been completed.
At the STAND meeting on 28th Jan 2014 the Council have agreed with us and they said that they will put metal studs along the pavement edge to rectify this problem. We will let you know when this has been done. Meanwhile take great care in Tontine Street.
Disabled parking problems have been a long standing issue with UHNS. Back in Sept 2012 the secretary of STAND gave this letter to Julia Bridgewater, the Chief Executive of UHNS.
Dear Julia Bridgewater,
I have asked questions about disabled parking at UHNS AGMs over the last 4 years as I realised that disabled people are missing appointments because they have been unable to find an appropriate parking spot.
Mike Brerton said he would look into this at the first AGM. I heard nothing more. Andrea Green said she would look at it and Mike Dixon arranged a meeting with her where I saw that on the plans it was obvious that there would be a problem. She said she would arrange a meeting for us to meet the planners. That was the last I heard about that. At the AGM last year when I raised the issue again Gavin said he would get back to me. He arranged for Elaine Andrews to come to see me to discuss the matter. I explained the problem and she said there would be a covered walkway with seats and wheelchairs. I said that this would not be a solution as some disabled people would be sitting in the cold for up to an hour before they could even get to the door.(Assuming 2 stops of half an hour every 50 metres) She said she would take up this issue and get back to me. I had to contact her and nothing had changed.
There is still an unresolved problem about disabled parking at the UHNS in that the nearest parking spot is too far away for disabled people to walk. i.e. It is more than 50 metres from the door. As I am sure you are aware, if someone can walk more than 50 metres then in the vast majority of cases they do not qualify for a blue badge, therefore although I acknowledge you have provided more disabled bays at the new hospital, these bays are not fit for purpose in that the majority of disabled people will struggle to use them.
Stoke-on-Trent Area Network for Disability have now taken up this issue as it means that the majority of disabled people will be unable to access the very service that they need for their health and well being and they would like to know how this is going to be resolved?
From then STAND has had conversations and contacts with various representative from UHNS about the inadequate positioning of the Blue Badge bays and then in Nov 2013 the hospital imposed parking charges on disabled people for the first time. We were already concerned that disabled people were disadvantaged by having to travel further than was safe for their health and the pay and display method chosen by the hospital meant that this distance was increased as they then had to travel back and forth to the pay and display machine before starting the journey that was already too far.
Promises that the following will be investigated:
that there will be Blue Badge Bays adjacent to the main entrance when the ambulances have been relocated.
that there will be additional Blue Badge Bays outside West Building when the area is relined.
that the layout of the main disabled car park will be looked at to see if it can be improved.
Said To Be In Place:
Volunteers available to help disabled people on the car parks.
STAND members are reporting that they have not seen any volunteers to help. It is obvious that there are not enough volunteers to staff a reliable service.
The distance disabled people have to travel is much too far and is putting extra strain on their health.
Machines are out of order on occasions.
Machines are too far away for disabled people to walk outside A&E.
An extra machine has now been put in place outside A&E.
Members in wheelchairs cannot get to the machines because of cars parked over the dropped kerb.
No large signs to say it is a pay and display. I am told that this will be sorted by the end of Feb14.
This has now been sorted out.
Signs on the machine far too small to read, especially in dim light.
If disabled people are to be charged for parking then the system used must not put disabled people at a disadvantage by forcing them to travel extra distance to and from the pay machines.
Appeal for help
All members are asked to write or email their MPs to highlight these issues. See MPs page
A member has started legal action for discrimination against UHNS as there does not appear to be any positive action toward obtaining a disability friendly pay system and disabled people are suffering.
In Aug 2014 the Government issued guidance to hospitals asking for free or concessionary parking for disabled people and a pay on exit parking system.Government Guidance on Hospital Parking Charges
Members raised the issue of dropped kerbs not lining up in Stafford Street Hanley, which means that once a wheelchair user has travelled down one of the dropped kerbs they then have to travel some distance along a busy road before they can get to the safety of the pavement on the other side.
At the STAND meeting on 28th Jan 2014 councillor Terry Crowe offered to look into this and bring his findings to our next meeting on April 1st 10am at Stoke Town Hall.
Members brought up the problems caused by selfish people abusing blue badges. Able bodied people were using Blue badges to park when they go to work, when they go shopping etc. The abuse is causing real problems for genuine Blue Badge holders as they are unable to get a parking space.
At our meeting on 28th Jan 2014 it was decided that the Council would be asked to look into this problem with a view to finding ways to prevent this abuse.
Councillor Terry Crowe helped to set up a meeting with the Council representatives responsible for this issue and STAND members to discuss this matter. The meeting is on 25th Feb 14 so any comments on this issue please email [email protected]
Member Phil Mountford asked STAND to look at the problems caused by obstructions on the pavements. Wheelchair users were being forced into the road as the pavements were blocked by vehicles. When he complained to the Council they said it was a police matter and when he complained to the police they said it was a Council matter.
We asked Steve Buckton from the Council to attend our our meeting on 28th Jan 2014. He told us:
Roads subject to a traffic order are subject to council Civil Enforcement Officers and can be issued with a PCN (ticket). If someone has parked where there are no parking restrictions ie. the pavement, the council cannot do anything about this, which means that it should be reported to the police. Members are recommended to take photographs of the offending vehicle with the number plate and report the matter to the police. If the problem persists we will invite the Police and Crime Commissioner to a future meeting to discuss the matter.
Following our meeting on 1st April we have invited Matthew Ellis The Police and Crime Commissioner to our meeting on 5th August. Mike Clark from the Council will also be at this meeting so we should be able to establish who is responsible and what can be done about it.
Rob Flello MP sent someone from his office to attend this meeting and he has also written to Staffordshire Police about this matter.
Apparently there is some progress with this issue (see below) and Matthew Ellis will not be coming to our August meeting.
From: [email protected]
> Subject: STAND
> My apologies for not coming back to you about the meeting on the 5 August,
> I have discussed your email in great detail and your request for Mr Ellis
> to attend one of your meetings, what he has requested is that at present he
> has instigated a review into repatriating Powers to PCSO’s that will
> hopefully address the issues that you raise so that it would be within
> their remit to deal with the problems members of your group are having,
> until such time a decision has been made whilst Mr Ellis can sympathise
> with the problems being experienced he is unable to add anything until the
> review is complete. So with this in mind he has asked for me to send his
> apologies for the 5 August initially whilst the review is taking place,
> once a decision has been made and a more definitive answer can be given to
> you and your group I would hope to contact you and arrange for Mr Ellis to
> meet with you at this time.
> Kind regards
> Veronica Powell
25th April 2014
Rob Flello’s letter from the police inspector Amanda Davies says that they have carried out an operation in Longton and will be contacting STAND to work with them.
Still no word from Amanda Davies or Matthew Ellis.
Kayleigh Dawson PCSO from Longton Police rang to give an update on the problems in Transport Lane.
“Staffordshire Police have been working very closely with Taxi Licensing,
and Parking Enforcement to alleviate this issue. A number of tactics have
been explored to date including: Multi agency meetings, Joint enforcement
days, High visibility patrols, and raising awareness throughout the local
Recently I held a meeting with Highways, Enforcement and Taxi Licensing to
discuss a possible long term approach to combat the parking issues on
Longton Town. At present we are working together on a proposed long term
solution. I am unable to provide further detailed information at this
present time. However, I will update accordingly once a decision has been
18 11 14
At last we have had confirmation that the review is almost complete. See letter sent to Rob Flello MP Matthew Ellis
STAND is organising a surprise visit to UHNS to assess the situation regarding disabled parking and other access issues. If you think there is an access issue at the hospital please email [email protected]
The results of this Mystery shop can be seen here by clicking on the link.
STAND Lottery Grant Report Feb 2014
1. Funding for-Development, printing and distribution of guidance material aimed at educating service providers about disability awareness.
What we did; We used some of the funding to get leaflets printed for businesses and service providers to educate in disability access issues and to make suggestions as to what they can do to make things easier for disabled people. Members then took them out to various locations around the City where they knew they would be helpful. The leaflets were also given out at various meetings we held around the City to promote the work of STAND. The leaflet, Low Cost No Cost is enclosed.
What happened: We had many successes and comments about our leaflets from smaller shops in particular. The awareness raising of disability issues has resulted in ramps being installed, better lighting over a post office counter, renovations to include a handrail by a ramp, improved access in a large store that had previously had narrow aisles preventing wheelchair access and better signage. At the local hospital UHNS we are now consulted about new developments, car parking and other access issues. The camera purchased with the Lottery Grant has enabled us to do photographic reports to support our case for improved access. Enclosed is a photo report to UHNS. The local council consult us on new development such as the new Central Business District, changing blue badge bay locations and bus routes. The Aids and Adaptations Officers concerned with adaptations and grants to disabled peoples’ homes consulted us on their new policy document. We have recently had success working with our local council and they have reversed a decision to relocate Shopmobility and they have given an assurance that no public toilets will close unless a viable alternative can be found that is accessible to disabled people. We have achieved a new disabled car park for Hanley Museum to replace the disabled parking when the bus lane was introduced. These are just a few of the results that members know about. We are sure that there are many more out there. Members felt a real pride in being able to make positive changes which have improved their lives and those of others. We also learnt that having hundreds of leaflets printed can cause problems of distribution and storage, a problem that was resolved when we decided to print our own leaflets using the printer we bought with the lottery money and using the rest of the lottery money to buy extra ink and paper. We now print all our leaflets as and when they are needed.
2. Capacity Building and technical training
What we did; We set up a schedule of training for members who were interested in several areas. We used VAST to cover some of the traning in areas where members felt they needed help eg. Development and realisation of aims for STAND, Committee member responsibilities, Computer literacy, funding bids, website design and maintenance etc. Working with VAST we are in the process of building a website. stand-stoke.org.uk which will help us to reach a wider audience. The Chief Access Officer at Stoke-on-Trent City council did a set of sessions on the more technical side of our work. eg. Legislation regarding equality and disability, Reading building plans, what to look for when assessing accessibility, where to go for help if we are unsure of something.
What happened; The website is going live at the end of February 14 and beside the obvious knowledge imparted in all of these training sessions, members have also been given the confidence to value their own experiences and ability and to use this to inform and challenge authority and make considered suggestions for change. The successes mentioned previously have also encouraged further action. We have also learnt to value each others‘ strengths and support each other where needed.
3. Promotional materials
What we did; At first we had STAND leaflets printed in A5 booklet s,A4 easy read and A4 large print and members distributed them as before. We held meetings to promote STAND and members spoke at many other voluntary group meetings eg Community Health Voice, WCC, PPGs, Age Concern, Disability Solutions etc. to help raise awareness of the work we do and to increase membership. We started to network with other voluntary and charitable groups to help each other and to join forces on common issues eg. Museum parking. We are now training to start our own website to further raise awareness of disability access issues. STAND also has superb links with our local press who cover our meetings and publicise the general work we do and the specific issues presently raising concerns. The Sentinel journalists often ring members for comment on any news items with a disability component. We have involved our three local MPs and they receive agendas and minutes of all our meetings with specific areas where they can help highlighted . We have been able to add our support to Joan Whalley’s campaign to get a disabled friendly footbridge at Kidsgrove station. STAND has recently involved all local councillors in meetings to discuss disability issues because as the spending cutbacks continue to cause concern we are aware that we need to raise their awareness of the problems that disabled people face as a result of their decisions.
What happened; We have increased our membership and certainly raised awareness of the issues around disabled access. We also realise the power of networking with other groups to provide expertise and support.
4. Alternative Formats
What we did; We bought a voice recorder to help a member with hearing difficulties so she could play back the meeting at a volume and time to suit and we bought a voice recorder with voice recognition so that members with severe hearing problems can have the meetings transcribed into print. We had large print leaflets printed for partially sighted people and we bought memory sticks for members to receive recorded meetings for those more severely affected.
What happened; The alternative formats were a great help to several of our members. Our secretary, who has a hearing loss is able to use the voice recorder to record meetings which can then be written up at home.
Conclusion The Lottery Grant has enabled this project to, not only get off the ground but to fly. Members have learnt a great deal. Most important we know that if the first answer is “No” then it can be challenged/ negotiated into a maybe or yes. There is a great satisfaction in knowing that their expertise in their own disability has been used to improve the lives of disabled people, people with complex health needs and carers. Publicity from our work has raised the general publics’ awareness of disability issues. We have received a donation, given out of the respect for the work we do and we are confident that more will follow as we continue to work to improve disabled access and raise awareness of disabled issues.