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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When do you meet?
A: At 2pm. the second Wednesday of alternate months, starting
Q: Where about do you meet?
A: Methodist Church
Q: Are there any Access problems?
A: The building is friendly with wheelchair access and disabled
Q: Can I just turn up?
A: We are interested in hearing your views, so while it would be
advantageous to have your issue included in the minutes for a meeting,
if you feel you can support our aims, please come and see us.
Annual Report - 2013-2014.
During the last twelve months the Group has met on six occasions.,
though on one occasion only four members were present and it was not
possible to transact any business. Concern about low attendance at
meetings has continued, and further steps have been taken to try to
attract more members to meetings. Nevertheless, there has been much
activity and several useful outcomes benefitting the objectives of the
Members of the Group have continued to distribute copies of the
Access Guide as and when they can. There are still many left to
distribute, and we continue to be grateful to Durham Shopmobility for
storing them for us. Though we have inserted the publicity leaflet into
distributed copies of the Access Guide, there is not yet any evidence
that this has achieved the objective of improving attendance at meeting
of the Group. It was disappointing to find that not all the Durham
`Pointers' who help visitors find their way around the city in the summer
months were aware of the Access Guide and able to tell visitors and
others where a copy can be obtained.
The Annual Report for 2012-13 reported that steps were to be taken to
provide dropped kerbs in the Neville's Cross area of the city. They have
been taken, and the local councillor, Nigel Martin, has been thanked for
An important event in the city was the exhibition on Palace of the
Lindisfarne Gospels. The exhibition attracted a large.
number of visitors, but concerns were expressed about the difficulties
experienced by those visitors with disabilities. Not only was it difficult for
some to reach Palace Green given the paucity of suitable car parking
facilities close to the venue, but some visitors were unable to access
parts of the exhibition because of mechanical failure of the lift which
disabled people needed to use. Diana Sanderson wrote a letter to The
Durham Times, as did the Chairman on behalf go the Access Group,
drawing attention to important weaknesses in what was otherwise a
successful venture. The letters were published.
Access, particularly for wheelchair users, to the World Heritage Site,
including Palace Green, the World Heritage Site Centre, the Cathedral,
and the Castle, has been an issue for some time. At a public
presentation by the Manager of the World Heritage Site Centre, Seif el
Rashidi, the matter was again raised, and he was subsequently able to
arrange a meeting with an official from DCC on Palace Green when the
Chairman was able to explain the difficulties and dangers of access via
Owengate. It was suggested that it might be possible to adapt the
recently refurbished Dun Cow Lane so that it could become the official
access route to Palace Green for wheelchair users (at present the
pavement of Dun Cow Lane is too narrow for the safe use of
wheelchairs). When funding becomes available, we hope this matter
can be taken forward. Since parking on Palace Green is now
prohibited, it has become imperative that steps are take to ensure that
Palace Green and the World Heritage Site buildings that it provides
access to are made more accessible to wheelchair users.
Towards the end of the year covered by this report, a meeting attended
by Diana Sanderson, Brendan Hodgson, the Secretary, and the
Chairman, was held with Durham University staff with responsibilities
for parking on Palace Green. We learned that although there is some
flexibility for wheelchair users arriving by car, there is a formal policy
that cars should not be allowed to park on Palace Green. We drew
attention to the discriminatory consequences of this policy. It was
agreed that when events such as the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition are
planned, access to Palace.
Green by disabled visitors should be given more careful consideration
in order to avoid discrimination, and that consultation with the Access
Group would be an important aspect of that consideration.
Members of the Access Group will have been pleased to see that
DisabledGo has much better coverage of Durham City than previously.
There is now detailed information about access in the Cathedral, and
several venues likely to attract visitors which had previously not
appeared are now included.
Durham Wildlife Trust has a reserve at Rainton Meadows, not far from
Durham, and the Chairman was invited to attend the opening of a new
boardwalk facility around Joe's Pond in the reserve. The facility is
excellent and has opened up areas of the reserve not previously
accessible which are well worth visiting. The Trust has another reserve
at Low Barns, also near Durham, and the Chairman was able, on behalf
of the Access Group, to provide a positive report on its accessibility.
With the advice and generous assistance of one of our members, David
Wilkinson, the Access Group now has a website. This important
initiative gives us opportunities to draw attention to the work we do and
to our achievements.
B S Gower, Chairman May 2014.