Linda Garbutt, Chairwoman.
Barry Gower, Secretary.
Brian Pickering, Treasurer.
David Wilkinson.
Len Shield.
Alice Severs.
Michael Stoker.
Steve Hudson.

The Group’s guest, Steve Hudson, who is an access advisor and a member of the Access Association — North East Region, was welcomed to the meeting. His presentation outlined the current position concerning access, by wheelchair users and other people with physical disabilities, to publicly available charging equipment for electrically powered vehicles. Most of the equipment currently in use is either inaccessible, or accessible with great difficulties, to people using wheelchairs, whether powered or manual, and to people with certain physical disabilities (such as those of short stature). This is because there is usually insufficient space around the vehicle and the charging equipment, and/or the equipment is beyond a kerb, or its controls are too high to reach. Clearly, if the government’s policy of requiring motorists to favour electrically powered vehicles is to be effective, all motorists whether or not they have physical disabilities should have access to publicly provided charging facilities.
The background to the presentation is the recent setting up of a ‘Scaling On Street Charging Infrastructure’ (SOSCI) project which will install 200 charging points across the north of England over the next eighteen months, with a budget of over four million pounds. DCC is a major partner and it is expected that over half this number of charging points will be in the Durham area.
Members of the Access Group agreed that as many as possible of the charging points being provided in the City should be accessible to all, including persons with impaired mobility. It was agreed that Barry should write to Clerk of Durham City Parish Council, expressing the hope that the Council will be able to use its good offices to ensure that this matter is given the attention it deserves.
To meet the needs of the majority of persons with impaired mobility, the minimum space requirements around a vehicle using EV charging facilities are: 1600mm wide side and front access aisles for turning and manoeuvring when connecting and disconnecting cable between vehicle and charging equipment; 1200mm wide access aisle at rear of vehicle to enable safe unloading of wheelchair; Charging equipment, including sockets, switches, display screens, instructions and card sensors to be within 200mm of a wheelchair, and to be within the range of 750mm — 850mm above the ground.

  1. Apologies: George Barber, Councillor Alan Shield.
  2. The minutes of the meeting on 12 May 2021 were accepted as a correct record.
  3. Matter arising:
    Item 3: Barry had been informed that Councillor Alan Shield will replace Katie Corrigan as the Durham County Council nominee on the Access Group. Councillor Shield was not able to attend this meeting, but has expressed interest in the work of the Group. The Group looks forward to welcoming him when he is able to attend.
  4. Cathedral Access Panel:
    Linda reported that negotiations are taking place to set up an Access Panel with clear terms of reference setting out the powers and responsibilities of such a Panel. In the meantime, the Cathedral has suggested that there should be a guided tour of the re-named Cathedral Museum for interested members of the Group so that potential issues for discussion could be identified. Linda asked that those members wishing to help with this should contact her.
  5. Treasurer’s report:
    Brian explained that although there has been little recent expenditure and the Group’s financial position is satisfactory, it will be necessary to make an application for additional funds so that the Group’s website can be maintained.
  6. Future meetings of the Group:
    Whilst it was agreed that the Group should meet physically as soon as it is safe to do so, it may be necessary for the September meeting to take place via the ‘zoom’ facility. Virtual meetings do present difficulties for some members of the Group. Brian is making enquiries about the availability of the Carrville Methodist Church and the Broomside Lane Community Centre, when meetings in person can take place.
  7. The next meeting of the Group will be on Wednesday 8 September 2021 at 2.00pm.