Access and Disabilities Group to Make Voice Heard on Accessible Play

ACCESSIBLE playgrounds will be the topical subject of a workshop hosted by Reading’s Access and Disabilities Working Group on Thursday (June 27th).

The workshop will aim to suggest how children with disabilities, families of children with disabilities and disability interest groups can be better consulted and involved, what provision of accessible equipment and come up with some clear actions. The Council is aiming to invest £2.7 million in refreshing parks and playgrounds in Reading, including enhancements to make playgrounds more accessible. This Thursday’s meeting is part of finding out how to ensure that the investment benefits all children, especially those with access needs. Thursday’s meeting will be hosted by Councillor Rachel Eden, Chair of Access and Disabilities Working Group, which meets regularly to discuss issues affecting people with disabilities in Reading. The working group will welcome staff from the Council’s Parks Department, Councillor Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation and members of the public, for an open discussion on how the Council can best provide accessible equipment in Reading’s playground for children of all abilities. The meeting takes place in the Civic Offices from 2pm.

Councillor Rachel Eden, Chair of Access and Disabilities Working Group, said:

“Ensuring our playgrounds in Reading cater for the needs of all of our children is incredibly important to our community here in Reading. Thursday’s workshop is an opportunity for anyone who holds an interest in the subject to take part in an open and constructive discussion on how the Council can best meet the challenge of supporting all our children in Reading. If you can't make it to the meeting, you can still share your views with me - I'd particularly like to hear from young people and parents and carers. “Refreshing our play equipment across Reading is an opportunity to make our town more inclusive and to make sure we get the design of playgrounds right at an early stage. I know the Council is already engaged in conversations with communities and is taking feedback on board, so Thursday’s workshop offers people a chance to discuss this in a wider setting and to influence designs and decisions going forward.” Last week the Council announced the results of the winning design for a new playground at Ivydene in west Reading. A consultation put the choice of five playground designs to the public vote. The winning design, from Kompan, will provide a range of equipment for children with different access needs. The Council is delighted that, as a result of consultation comments received, it has been able to provide within the budget an additional item of fully wheelchair accessible equipment to the original Kompan design.

Councillor Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, added:

“I thank members of Reading’s Access and Disabilities Working Group for providing another platform for families of children with disabilities. As a Council we are investing £2.7 million in parks and play improvements across Reading. Just over £1.6 million of that total will contribute to the expansion, replacement or upgrading of playground equipment in parks and play areas. “We know how important accessible playgrounds and suitable play equipment is. Thursday's meeting is an important part of the conversation. The actual users of the equipment can provide us some of the most valuable feedback on what really suits best in terms of our play equipment provision. I am personally committed to ensuring this helps our ongoing ambition to improving our playground offer for as wide a range of abilities as we can.”