Media Release – Bathers Way Denies Access to Disabled and Parents with Prams

Sunday 10 June 2012

“Newcastle City Council has no intention of creating access for people with limited mobility or to parents with prams at the section of Bathers Way that passes through the northern part of Bar Beach” said Therese Doyle Newcastle Greens Candidate for Ward 2 in the September Council elections.

“I really enjoyed my trip to the new lookout at Bar Beach and thought what a great job all the planners had done in building this great new access way. That is, until a friend pointed out that there are no disabled car-parking spaces. Not only that – while there is a grand spanking new set of stairs right beside another old set of stairs, there is NO RAMP for people in wheelchairs or for people with limited mobility or for parents pushing prams or strollers. Who exactly are new facilities built for in this city now?” Ms Doyle asked.

“It’s even more scandalous when you realise that this part of Bar Beach is where families with toddlers come to swim” Ms Doyle pointed out. “Because the water is shallow, sheltered and relatively calm in this spot, it’s also where people of limited mobility can swim IF they can somehow make it down to the beach.”

“Council officers maintain that the gradients of the car park and the entrance to that section of Bar Beach are too steep to allow disabled car-parking spaces or disabled access to the beach or lower platforms” said Ms Doyle.

“Is it not possible to find engineering solutions to this sort of problem? Surely if we as a community decide we want the whole community to enjoy all aspects of this lovely coastline, we can find a way to build ramps for wheelchair and pram access” Ms Doyle suggested.

“Unfortunately. We as a community no longer get to have a say in the planning of this sort of public facility, since the Council abolished its own Access Committee some years ago.

“ This sort of plan would not have gotten past the drawing-board stage if that committee were still operating” maintained Ms Doyle.

“What’s more, the planned section of Bathers Way in King Edward Park where the shared walkway and cycleway will squeeze dangerously close to car traffic below the cliff would not have passed muster either” Ms Doyle said.

“We need to re-establish Community Access Committees as a matter of urgency to advise council on matters of access for all residents of Newcastle” insisted Ms Doyle.

“Why should people with wheelchairs have to manoeuvre their way over a longer distance than others to get to the lookout? This situation breaches the spirit of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (1992) even if it doesn’t strictly contravene the act.” Ms Doyle suggested.

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For more information or comment, contact Therese Doyle (Greens candidate for Newcastle Ward 2) on 0434 257 892

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