DUNDEE ACCESS GROUP
CONVENOR’S ANNUAL REPORT -JUNE 2017
I wish to begin by reminding us all of the decision we took last year to include in our constitution as our objective the declaration of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities “that persons with disabilities are entitled to live independently in their communities, to make their own choices and to play an active role in society.” That is our raison d’etre, but our primary focus is on access in the built environment in the City of Dundee and surrounding communities.
Last year (2015-2016) was a year in which some success felt tangible and in fact we received an award from SDEF (the Scottish Disability Equality Forum) for our ramps project in the Perth Road. We had high hopes to follow that up this year with a ‘Ramp it Up’ campaign in Fintry with the enthusiastic support of the Fintry Community Council. Unfortunately that campaign is temporarily stalled – elections, both local and national have got in the way, as well as illnesses and other frailties.
It is of the nature of life with disabilities that it can be quite unpredictable. Persons with disabilities are more prone than most to experiencing ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days; for many energy can come and go without warning; there can be unexpected interruptions to life for medical emergencies or hospital visits. Any reading of the effects of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) procedure shows that in many cases where people are assessed as being ‘fit for work’ because they have been based on ‘good’ days without any recognition of the ‘bad’ days. (56% of these decisions are reversed on appeal) By and large, people with disabilities are incredibly strong and brave in the way they grasp life and the WCA process seems far too often to punish them for it.
So though the ‘Ramp it Up’ campaign has stalled for the moment, it will be picked up and pursued in the months ahead.
We had an approach from Scott Mands, the Council’s Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator on behalf of DAAG (Disability and Age Action Group) to see if the Access Group might take on the much wider range of responsibilities undertaken by DAAG. Due to changes in Council structures they are no longer getting the level of support they previously enjoyed. Their’s has been an extensive task undertaken nobly, but we decided we do not have the capacity to undertake more than we are currently engaged upon. In fact, but for the indefatigable support of Dorothy Wilson from Dundee City Council, our current activity would be dramatically reduced.
Our current activities are numerous and the past year has been very busy indeed. We have been in numerous consultations about accessible toilets and about parking issues. We are engaged in regular conversations about access to the new V & A Museum, about access on our trains and in railway stations. We are keeping a close eye on the local effects of the Supreme Court judgement about the priority of wheelchairs over buggies on buses. We are happy to have established a relationship with Avril Smith Hope, the Access Engagement officer for the Health & Social Care Partnership and with Steve Emmonds, head of parking in Dundee about the Blue Badge Scheme. The Chamber of Commerce have received details of The Walkaway Pound campaign and we are involved in the Dundee Funeral Poverty Project. As you will see from our accounts we have been able to make donations to Shopmobility and to the Dundee Blind and Partially Sighted Society who have so generously hosted our meetings in recent years.
All of this would not be possible without the time and the commitment of many members in the Group. However, it would be amiss not to mention, yet again, the tireless, detailed and dedicated work of our secretary Anne Farrow.
A great team!
Rev. Erik Cramb,