Alice Severs Acting Chairwoman
Barry Gower Secretary
Brian Pickering Treasurer
1 Alice, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Linda, welcomed everyone, and especially Tom Casling. Tom has a long association with the ‘shopmobility’ service in the city.
2 Apologies: there were apologies for absence from Linda Garbutt, Councillor Liz Brown,
and from Len Shield.
3 The minutes of the meeting on 14 September 2022 were accepted as a correct record.
4 Matters arising:
4.1 Item 5: Ushaw College. Alice reported that there will be a new contractor providing the bus service linking the city with Ushaw College. The bus stop is located adjacent to the main entry point for the College.
4.2 Item 8: Recruitment. The discussion initiated at the last meeting continued, with contributions from members who were not able to attend the September meeting, particularly Brian and Michael, and also from Tom. Tom explained that because of deteriorating eyesight, he was encountering many of the issues which have been raised on previous occasions at meetings of the Group. He mentioned the increasing number of pavement obstructions, which present significant problems for visually impaired people, and poor signage in the city. He also drew attention to the difficulties that people who use mobility aids encounter, when they wish to attend the Lumiere event and the Miner’s Gala event. He explained that because of safety concerns, the shopmobility service does not provide mobility aids at either of these events. There was also comment, from Michael and George, on the lack of practical achievements by the Group in recent years. To some extent this is a consequence of legislation, but nevertheless, the last occasion of which the Group was asked for its advice by DCC or the City’s Parish Council was when the Neighbourhood Plan was being developed. DCC, it appears, seeks comment on developments from its Disability Partnership, though the Access Group is the most prominent member of this organisation and has recently commented on plans for the development of the new Bus Station in North Road, and on the DLI museum and gallery. It was agreed (1) that the Group would continue for a further twelve months after which the position would be re-examined, and (2) that the Secretary would write a letter to the City’s Parish Council drawing its attention to the concerns which members have expressed.
5 Secretary’s business:
5.1 Cathedral Access Panel. Barry reported that he, as well as Linda and Alice, had received an email asking for advice on signage being developed. Barry replied indicating that this is a matter for the Cathedral Access Panel. There has been ample time for convening the Panel, but no action has been taken to do so. It would appear that the Cathedral does not intend to set up and convene an advisory panel, so the work that members of the Group have done to facilitate this has been wasted. When the Cathedral needs comment or advice it prefers to ask individual members of the Group to assist. It was agreed that if the Cathedral needs advice on a matter such as this, then it should give some priority to setting up and convening a suitable advisory panel. The Access Group is not set up to provide advice of this nature. Members agreed that Barry should respond in these terms to the email received.
6 Treasurer’s business:
Brian reported that the main expenditures of the Group are on the website and on the ‘zoom’ subscription. Funds are being sought from local Councillors to meet these costs. There is currently a little over £700 in the Group’s bank account.
7 The next meeting of the Group will be on Wednesday 11 January 2023 at 2.00pm.