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Surrey Disabled People's Partnership
(Formally North West Surrey Association of Disabled People)
SDPP offer advocacy services plus information on support, benefits, equipment, transport, leisure and lots more!
Fair Access To Council Buildings And Services
Access To Buildings
The Camberley Theatre
The major refurbishment at The Camberley Theatre during 1996/97 made a number of improvements. Since then lift access has been installed at stage end allowing access between basement, ground and stage level for wheelchair users. It is a fully accessible building to wheelchair users, both front of house and backstage. Access is via ramped entrance and semi-automatic door at the front of the building and there are lifts to all levels once inside the building. There are designated parking bays nearby.
The Building Control Division enforces the Building Regulations, which includes Part M 'Access and Facilities for Disabled People'. The requirements apply to all new and extended buildings to which the public has access and more recently, to all new dwellings.
Part M of the Building Regulations is the standard to which physical characteristics of a building will be judged for conformity with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Guidance is laid down in the Approved Document to Part M and includes areas such as:
Building Control also has a representative that attends regular meetings of DASH 'Disabled Access Surrey Heath' who continually listens to the concerns of disabled people and advises accordingly. Plans of larger proposals are also taken to this group for their constructive comments.
Frimley Lodge Park
(i) Registered disabled are permitted vehicle access up to the Pavilion, to allow for the current design constraints.
(ii) The need for improved disabled toilets within the Pavilion has been identified and will be considered as part of a wider review of public conveniences in parks with regard to access issues
Ian Goodchild Centre
The Centre was designed with disabled users in mind. Improvements have been made since 1994 items (i - iii) and 2006 (iv) to:
(i) upgrade the automatic doors;
(ii) providing better disabled parking with 6 bays in front;
(iii) making the nosing to the internal stairs more distinguishable through contrasting brightness;
(iv) providing a reception which confirms to Disability Discripination Act (DDA) Standards.
Lightwater Country Park
The existing centre has been repaired, the main doors are now two leaf doors with a small ramp over the threshold. There is satisfactory wheelchair use.
Windle Valley Centre
The Council has refurbished the Windle Valley Centre to accord to modern standards and in particular improve access internally.
Surrey Heath House
Major improvements have been completed to the main entrances of the building during 2006. These include tactile paving, levelling of the paved areas leading to the entrance, automatic doors, improved lighting and improved traffic control in the access road under the undercroft.
The Arena Sports Centre
Access is provided to both the Main Complex and the Health Suite, although the route from the lift at first floor could be improved. Access from the Disabled car parking to the main entrance is now via a ramp of 1:12 although no hand rail is provided.
Disabled toilets are provided in all parts of the building where able-bodied facilities are provided.
Fair Service Provision
(i) The Surrey Heath Local Plan Deposit draft 1998 was made available in large size text to cater for those with visual impairment. Copies of the large text version of the document are available at the Council Offices and local libraries.
(ii) Text was also prepared for the Surrey Heath Talking Newspaper for the Blind.
(iii) Leaflets explaining all about the Local Plan are also produced in large text.
(iv) Letters of notification about the Local Plan are also sent out in large text where the Division has been notified about poor eyesight of the recipient.
(v) All groups on the Council's list of Community Organisations were consulted about the plan.
(vi) The Division is actively involved in promoting the needs of disadvantaged groups through a number of policies in the Adopted and emerging Local Plan.
(vii) Planning officers in the Division are aware of the Royal Town Planning Institute's own guidance to its members in applying equal opportunities to all aspects of work.
(viii) Development open to the public to include adequate facilities and access arrangements for persons with disabilities.
The Royal Town Planning Institute's (RTPI) code of professional conduct stresses the importance of achieving the highest professional standards in applying equal opportunities to all areas of work. The RTPI practice notes include "Planning for Choice and Opportunity", "Planning for Women" and "Access for Disabled People". Members are expected to demonstrate that they undertake continuing professional development, this includes courses covering equal opportunities. The weekly list of planning applications is sent to Disabled Access for Surrey Heath (DASH) which regularly makes representations on applications. Planning Services has produced a leaflet entitled "Planning for People with Disabilities". Whilst this includes guidance for access to buildings, it also considers wider issues such as use of legible signs on and within buildings, movement and safety.
Staff have attended disability awareness courses. This training is also included in NVQ Awards in Care courses. Publicity material, such as the service brochures, is in large and bold print. The Surrey Heath Talking Newspaper for the Blind has been asked to include information on the Council's Community Services when producing their information and news cassettes. Prior to service provision, information from a person is required on their degree of mobility, assistance required with personal care, special dietary needs etc. The information and direction signs at the Ian Goodchild Centre and Windle Valley Centre have bold lettering and colour contrast which is ideally suited to the needs of visually handicapped people. There is regular liaison with the Borough's Community Care forums such as the Elderly, Mental Health and Physical and Sensory Disabilities forums.
Staff receive disability awareness training. Brief's for development and for events feature disabled access as a standard consideration.
Special tours of exhibitions for groups with impaired mobility or nervous disabilities are arranged by appointment. This service is regularly used by a number of groups. Reminiscence sessions for adult groups with disabilities on or off site. Assisted entry into the buildings though obviously notice of arrival is required. Regular sessions for schools/children with learning difficulties. An activity table with replica material for handling featured in one of the exhibitions this year, and it is intended to continue this or other forms of handling access whenever possible. A travelling display of A3 sized photographs of old Camberley, with 24 point captions has been launched.
In 1997/98, the Surrey Museums Consultative Committee commissioned an Access Survey for Museums across the County. The Assistant Curator was appointed to the steering group and has attended a number of meetings in this regard. She has also taken on the role of Access Advisor for the Leisure Services Department. The completed report, which was received in May, is very comprehensive and helpful, dealing with access for both the visiting public and any future staff who might need to be considered. As some of its recommendations therefore refer to the building in general, rather than just the Museum, copies have been forwarded to the Offices Manager and Chief Building Control Officer. The relevant action points, which are listed in order of priority, will form the basis of an access plan to be developed for the Museum Service over the coming year.
Children with special needs are accommodated in the scheme in a module integrated as far as possible into each local centre.
Parks and Open Spaces
Walks and talks are organised for the sensory impaired.
Sports and Leisure Centres
Disabled participation is encouraged, with purpose built changing and special equipment for safe pool access at the Arena. There are special sessions for severely disabled swimmers, and wheelchair disabled athletes are able to use the weight training area in the fitness suite.
Technical Projects/Highway Engineering
There is a bi-monthly meeting with DASH to take up their concerns over highway matters. Surrey County Council provided £12,500 funding for improvements to footways etc to assist the disabled in 1997/98. Tactile paving to assist partially sighted is included in all new highway schemes where appropriate.
During the design phase for CCTV surveillance of Camberley Town Centre, DASH was consulted at all stages and modifications to the original proposals have resulted.
Public toilets are being upgraded to provided disabled access as part of a five year upgrade programme. Disabled persons can buy 'radar keys' from the office.
All disabled residents can request a regular free collection of waste for recycling. A reduced rate collection service is provided for the bulky items from the homes of disabled persons providing there are no able-bodies persons in the household.
Composters are provided at a discount price for disabled persons and are delivered to their homes. Help is given where necessary with assembly.
Reduced rate pest control services are provided for disabled persons. Where a disabled person is on low income their homes can be adapted free of charge to provide accessible facilities. These works do not only include access to basic facilities but include work such as access to calling facilities, electrical plugs, making the property suitable for their employment needs, etc.
An agency service is provided to undertake adaptations, improvements and repairs of the homes of elderly and disabled people who have problems with forms, organising and supervising the works. Where applications for grant are unable to complete the forms, home visits are made to complete the forms on their behalf. A leaflet display of the service available to people is kept and replenished at Frimley Park Out-Patients Department and Casualty Department, as well as at all the large supermarkets.
Regular meetings are held with the occupational therapists to discuss the housing needs of the Borough's disabled residents. The Council organised the forums to consider the needs of the Borough's disabled residents in relation to the Health Authority's purchasing policy.
Documents in relation to the laws relating to food safety and houses in multiple occupation are available in certain foreign languages.
Disabled persons are not subject to the same dog controls as other owners and stray dogs owned by them are returned free of charge.
Disabled persons' parking bays are provided in Frimley and Camberley High Street and Southwell Park Road. In addition blue badge holders can park on single and double yellow lies, free for up to 3 hours except where loading restrictions apply. Blue badge holders can park in wider bays in the two Pay on Foot car parks but will be subject to the standard charges.
Disabled initiatives are promoted on the parking leaflets.
Inclusion of column for absent voters on 'A' form, which has a box for disabled to tick for the appropriate form. Fifty-five polling screens have been purchased for the disabled together with ramps for polling stations.
Those who have a special housing need, eg require wheelchair accessible accommodation, will usually be referred through the Surrey Heath Special Needs Housing Panel. The Panel is made up of a number of groups and allows the Council to work closely with Social Services, the Health Authority, housing associations and others providing community services in order to identify and prioritise those in greatest need. The Panel also works to build a wider picture of the need for special housing, which feeds into the Council's Housing Strategy.
Identification of this need has recently led to the completion of 2 fully wheelchair assessable one bedroom flats, with 2 two bedroom properties now being built.
The Council has statutory duties to homeless persons who have a 'priority need', which will usually include those who are deemed 'vulnerable' due to physical disability or mental illness. The Council's duty will depend on each individual's circumstances. Additionally, general housing advice is available free to all.
The Camberley Theatre
A deaf loop system is in operation in the auditorium and in the conference room. Disabled performers are encouraged to make full use of the facilities available, and there are wheelchair spaces in the auditorium for audience members.
Revenues and Strategy
The Division has good contact with access groups. One of the Enquiry Officers regularly visits the Disability Initiative Centre to discuss customers' Council Tax and benefit problems. Revenues and Benefits officers visit disabled, elderly and infirm customers in their homes to discuss all aspects of benefits and Council Tax. Council Tax payments from the disabled and house bound can be collected in the home in exceptional circumstances.
A "Guide to your Council Tax Bill" has been produced exclusively for elderly customers resident in sheltered accommodation. The guide explains the bills sent to them in plain, simplified English.
The reception desk in Revenues and Benefits has a dropped section designed to give greater ease of access to wheelchair users.
Customers who have their homes adapted to meet the needs of a disabled resident are entitled to a reduction in their Council Tax. Last year the Revenues and Benefits Division researched whether knowledge of the availability of the reduction was widespread throughout the Borough. They found that it wasn't and so launched a major media and poster campaign to publicise the disability reduction. The campaign was extremely successful.
Surrey Heath website has a no frames option that allows people with impaired sight to view the website if they have the appropriate equipment.