The latest Disability Today article – 20 year town survey: let’s all get involved

Eastbourne’s up for renewal! Have you seen the plans for our town over the next 20 years? From now until Friday 10th January 2020 Eastbourne council is inviting every resident to have their say by means of a consultation either in writing by post or on line. All consultation responses should be received by 5pm on Friday 10th January 2020 so don’t delay, have your say about how you want your town to prepare for the future.

The title of the survey, ‘Eastbourne’s Direction of Travel: Issues and Options for the Eastbourne Local Plan’ is enough to put anyone off but the importance of the consultation cannot be underestimated. Our town is precious and we must prepare its survival in an ever increasingly crowded, polluted and competitive part of the United Kingdom in the best way we can – by public opinion. That’s you, me and all of us letting the council know what we want, where we want it and ideally when.

The plan is far reaching and embraces diverse subjects from environmental quality, housing development, the local economy and the infrastructure needed but says little about creating a friendly environment for disabled people. Only one page of 137 addresses issues of disability and that barely touches the surface.

This consultation provides the opportunity for people with disabilities to make their case for improvements by designing out social and environmental barriers. A chance to say no to shared spaces where cars, buses and pedestrians merge. Your chance to ensure any new housing or commercial developments are fully accessible for all disabled people, physical or sensory. Accessible transport for all, accessible bus stops, good access for taxis and Blue Badge parking in town centre for the less mobile, more accessible beach and play areas with sensitively designed play equipment. Wider and easier doors, no steps, clearer signage, hearing loops – the list is endless but let us never forget disabled or not, a little thoughtfulness to help others now could be helping you or your kin in the future.

Surveys and their associated consultations have generally had poor response but when changes begin to happen, comments flood in. It is too easy to say “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “My opinion won’t be heard” but collectively, if enough of us get up and give our views then we could make a difference and the town be shaped a way that suits everyone.

All this begins by viewing the plans at the Council Offices, 1 Grove Road, Eastbourne and completing a survey response form. It is also possible to download this survey and response form from https://www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/planning-policy/new-eastbourne-local-plan-2018-2038

By responding to this survey and completing the questionnaire you will be helping to shape the town’s future. Don’t be put off by the numerous documents attached to the survey, (you don’t have to read them all’) but be sure to submit your response by completing the survey on-line and sending it to the consultation portal or completing a paper copy and posting to Planning Policy, 1 Grove Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4TW by 5.00pm on 10th January 2020.

Not the most fun thing to do over the Christmas holiday period but a very important one nevertheless. Whatever your age, gender, ability or anything else for that matter your town needs your opinion. Let’s all get involved and keep our town ‘special’.

                                                                                        Written by Ian Westgate

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