Monday, 31 August 2009

Fears over poor access for disabled at Eagles Meadow car park

Article from the Evening Leader, 31/8/09.

EAGLES Meadow bosses have vowed to act after councillors highlighted concerns about disabled access to the car park of the popular shopping development.

The car park at the centre has a height restriction of two metres which is not high enough for some mini-buses carrying disabled people, according to Cllr Arfon Jones and Cllr Keith Gregory.

Cllr Gregory, who represents the Smithfield ward, said: “I was approached by a carer who complained that mini-buses couldn’t get into the Eagles Meadow car park because of the height restrictions.

The bus stop on Smithfield Road isn’t suitable because there is no waiting and it takes time to use the hoist and tail lift to help wheelchair users out of the vehicle.

“I have spoken to the town centre team, the manager of Eagles Meadow and the car park and they all acknowledge there is a problem but no one seems to be sure how to resolve the problem.

“But while we are waiting we are losing people from Wrexham to Chester because there are better facilities for the disabled in Chester.”

Cllr Arfon Jones, the council’s lead member for children and young people, which includes children with disabilities, said: “I have spoken to (the disability charity) Dynamic who confirm that access to Eagles Meadow is problematic and they have to have more staff when they go there because of problems with parking the bus.”

Cllr Jones added: “This is not only a disability issue but also a safety issue. For example, how do the fire service and ambulance service enter the car park in the event of an emergency?”

A spokesman for Eagles Meadow said: “We take our responsibilities very seriously and we are grateful that this matter has been brought to our attention.

“As a result, we have arranged to meet everybody concerned to see what we can do to assist to address the situation as a matter of urgency.

“In the meantime, we have already come up with a solution to the problems encountered by the Chariots community transport scheme and we are in the process of ensuring they will be able to access the car park without any difficulties.

“The car park has 61 disabled spaces and spacious lifts to the main shopping centre.

"In addition, Eagles Meadow also has its own Shopmobility centre which has a fleet of electrically powered wheelchairs and scooters for people with disabilities.

“The facilities for the disabled at Eagles Meadow are second to none and the centre has state of the art toilet facilities with a hoist. When they were built, they were one of only three such toilets in the whole of Wales.

“I would like to stress there is no absolutely no problem in relation to providing access to the emergency services.”


My comments:
1.There was no need for anyone to bring it to the attention of the Eagles Meadow management team...they knew about it already, they just didn't have a solution.
2. Was it a design 'cock up' why didn't Building Control pick up this omission when they signed the job off?
3. Believe it not Shopmobility in Eagles Meadow doesn't open at all on a Saturday!!
4. Can't believe they say there is no problem with access to the Emergency Services, this covers a massive floor space, what happens whe a car is on fire some distance from the Entrances/Exits, likewise someone being taken ill in the underground car parks.
5. The Eagles Meadow response leaves more questions unanswered than answered.

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