Aberdeen City Council has recently recognised the Bon Accord Access Panel as the Access Panel for the City. It is early days and we are still finding our feet but have a group of active members. We have elected a Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer and a wider group of interested people who feed in comments and can be involved more deeply as the occasion occurs. Our members have a wide experience of disability issues, including physical, sensory, mental health and learning disability. Many have joined us because of personal and family experience as well as voluntary and professional work in the field and have various relevant areas of expertise.
There are major developments in progress within the City, some being well advanced while others are still at the consultation stage, as well as smaller or temporary changes which would impact on those who have disabilities. We are currently concentrating on looking at those issues likely to have a direct impact but some are sufficiently advanced that it will be difficult to influence the outcome but this will not prevent us from trying!
One issue of current importance is the effective closure of parts of the City centre for the festive period. This has necessitated the substitute of several of the parking spaces for Blue Badge holders. Not all the replacement spaces are really suitable and the impact will be to make it less likely that people with disabilities, especially, although not exclusively, mobility problems, will be able to access the festive events or shop in the City centre over this period. Various suggestions have been made and we await the response although aware that time is short for changes to be made.
In time we intend to extend our remit to cover a wider range of access issues but we will make sure of being able to walk before we attempt to run!