Linda Garbutt Chairwoman
Barry Gower Secretary
Ruth Chittenden Ushaw College
1 Apologies. Brian Pickering, Councillor Liz Brown, Councillor Alan Shield , Michael Stoker.
2 Linda welcomed Ruth to the meeting, and members present introduced themselves.
3 The minutes of the meeting on 20 July 2022 were accepted as a correct record.
4 Matter arising. There were no matters arising not referred to later in the agenda.
5 Ushaw College:
Ruth outlined the facilities provided by Ushaw College, including the buildings, grounds and the garden. Some provision for people with disabilities has been provided, especially wheelchair users. There is an accessible entrance to the buildings, though it has to be kept locked for security reasons and so can sometimes be difficult to use. The ground floor is step-free, including St Cuthbert’s chapel. But the first floor is not currently accessible. For those with sensory impairments, provision is less satisfactory, though there are hearing loops in some places. Refreshment facilities are accessible. The garden is also accessible and some pathways have recently been improved. For those using public transport, there is a bus stop adjacent to the entrance to Ushaw College, bringing visitors to within a couple of hundred yards of the College buildings.
Members of the Group suggested that Ruth and her colleagues at Ushaw College should make use of the Group, for it is willing to help in any it can when consideration is given to improving aspects of accessibility. In particular, it was suggested that although the Group cannot provide a professional access audit service, it could provide advice on improvements for incorporation into plans for the development of the College and its facilities to meet the needs of visitors. The Group also suggested that the College might wish to consider using the new WecomeMe app which has recently been introduced by the Indoor Market in the City. This enables people with access needs to be met by a member of staff, who will be able to explain the facilities available.
6 Chairwoman’s business:
Linda reported that a recent visit to the Cathedral with guests proved unpleasant and embarrassing, because of demands on visitors to donate money. In the view of the Group it would be more honest and acceptable for the Cathedral to charge an admission fee.
7 Public Liability Insurance:
Enquiries by Brian and David had made it clear that in order to obtain public liability insurance, it would be necessary for the Group to have acceptable policies regarding such
matters as equal opportunities and safeguarding. David had looked at the ways other comparable organisations have formulated these policies. It may also be the case that in order to secure funding for the work of the Group, we may need to show that we have adopted such policies.
However, the Group was conscious that a considerable amount of work would be involved in drawing up the necessary policies, and in keeping them up to date. It was suggested that we might be able to meet the needs by incorporating brief references to the necessary requirements in our constitution. It was also pointed out that public liability insurance is only required when the Group undertakes activities such as presence in the Market Place to display our banners — though we are covered by the Market’s own public liability insurance on such occasions. It was agreed that Brian’s advice is needed before taking decisions about this matter.
It was agreed at the last meeting that there should be further discussion of this matter. Barry initiated discussion by pointing out that repeated attempts to recruit new members had met with little success. This is largely because, since the founding of the Group in the late 1980s, legislation has been introduced to address the concerns about the accessibility of buildings and services that were the reason for the existence of the Group. Almost all members of the Group are now elderly, and It is apparent that younger people now have different ways of involving themselves in a community’s concerns. It may therefore be appropriate at this time for the Group to consider whether its work has come to an end. The general feeling of those present was supportive of these views. But it was acknowledged that no decision should be taken at this time. It was agreed that that the views of absent members of the Group must be taken into account, especially those of Brian, and of the two Councillors who are members of our Group.
9 The next meeting of the Group will be on Wednesday 9 November 2022.