Disability group questions the accessibility of new Clonakilty streetscape

6 March 2016
By Tom Collins

The Clonakilty Access Group is calling a public meeting at 8pm this Monday evening 7th March at The Quality Hotel, to discuss current issues of access for people with mobility challenges around Clonakilty’s new town centre streetscapes.

For most of the last year, works have been ongoing putting a new drainage and flood prevention system in place. In the last few months, these works have seen the new street surfaces being put in place and these are due to be completed over the next few weeks.

The Access Group, which has existed for almost 20 years, emphasises that access is not just an issue for people with disabilities themselves, but carers, family members, parents with buggies/prams, etc.
The public meeting is organised as a result of a number of concerns that have been raised surrounding the ongoing town centre street and footpath works.

Elizabeth Walsh, Chairperson of the Clonakilty Access Group stated:-

“We want – and demand, the best, safest and most welcoming town centre for people with disabilities, mobility challenges, people with prams, buggies, etc. when these works are completed – and also while they are ongoing.

In September 2014, before the roadworks started, we made a four-page submission at the public consultation stage to the County Council, (attached), in which we outlined several issues which we felt would be necessary to achieve a truly accessible Clonakilty for all.

We also sought, and were assured at the time, that we could have a meeting with the Senior Council Officials who would be designing and overseeing these works.

Unfortunately, we were never afforded the opportunity of this meeting and it seems that most of the matters we wrote in our submission have been ignored.

The works commenced and are now nearing completion.

As a result of numerous complaints made to us over the last couple of weeks, as well as some of our members being personally affected, we again contacted the council expressing our frustration (and other emotions!), with some of the ongoing works being carried out.
We hope to be meeting with the senior council officials shortly so we can put issues of concern again to them, before the works are completed.

Before that, we are calling this PUBLIC MEETING this Monday evening 7th March 2016 at 8.00pm at the Quality Hotel.

We have chosen this location specifically because of there being plenty of parking and disabled persons parking near the entrance, and the meeting room is on the ground floor and is totally accessible.
We encourage ALL who have disabilities, their carers, people who have encountered problems to date, parents of young children, concerned people, and other stakeholders, etc. to make a special effort to attend this once-off meeting.

The purpose is to give people an opportunity to express their opinions in advance of our meeting with the council officials so we can take these to that meeting.

We are fortunate to have in Clonakilty, organisations like COPE and CoAction who do great work with people who have intellectual and in some cases also physical disabilities. We have people in our community who are blind, have had strokes, use crutches and wheelchairs and other mobility aids, etc. We want the “new” Clonakilty town centre streets to be a place where they feel welcomed, independent and safe and we believe that this is the ultimate objective of the council too. But they must listen directly to those groups and individuals and ensure that their concerns are addressed in the finished streetscape.

It is absolutely essential that people do not stay silent, but come out on Monday evening for ONE HOUR and let your voice be heard, so that YOUR views can be taken to the council”.

The public meeting takes place at 8pm at the Quality Hotel, Clonakilty on Monday 7th March.

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