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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Carlisle council agrees to review play facilities for disabled

Disabled-friendly play equipment could be installed in Carlisle thanks to the campaigning efforts of a frustrated mum.

Clulow family photo
Nicola Clulow with sons Cameron and Christian

Nicola Clulow, a mum-of-three from Upperby, contacted the News & Star in frustration at the lack of wheelchair-friendly play facilities across the city.

Her 12-year-old son Cameron Mitchell is quadriplegic, epileptic and has no speech.

“I have been going to Bitts Park for years with my kids, but less so in the last year or two because I felt so sorry for Cameron having to watch kids play, as there isn’t a single piece of equipment that he can access,” Nicola, 48, said.

“I have raised this several times, both with councillors and the disability rights officer at Carlisle City Council, but nothing ever seems to happen.

“Last time I was advised that when the full scale review of children’s play areas was underway this issue would be considered though.”

The situation is now affecting Cameron’s eight-year-old brother Christian, who gets upset on his big brother’s behalf.

Nicola added: “I went to Bitts Park at the weekend and,while completely impressed with the amazing structure being built, I still don’t see a single thing that a child in a wheelchair can access.

“Indeed the other children I was there with were actually quite sad for Cameron because while they were having fun all he could do was watch.

“My other son and his cousin were actually angry. They went round the whole park to see if they could find something for him to use and couldn’t find a thing apart from a ramp up to the top of the slide.

“I’m not sure what we are supposed to do when we get there though – throw him off?”

The determined mum has asked the council to look again at its play parks, and make it so that every child has the same rights.

“If Bitts is now our main play area, then surely children of all abilities should have equipment that is accessible,” she queried.

Following an approach by the News & Star, the council has now pledged to look again at the issue within the city centre.

A spokeswoman said: “We appreciate the concerns and have previously taken advice on this issue from a number of disability action groups. Basket swings are the most popular example of inclusive equipment and are available at Bitts Park, Hammond’s Pond, Moorville Drive and other play areas.

“At Hammond’s Pond and Moorville Drive we also have ground-level roundabouts that allow access for children in wheelchairs.

“However, we will look again at our provision and recent innovations in the equipment available to see what can be achieved in a suitable, central location with ready access.”

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