Manx government’s attitude to disabled described as ‘terrible’

Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan

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A disabled man from Braddan has hit out at the government over what he feels is a lack of disabled facilities and laws in the island.

The Manx government is yet to implement disability discrimination legislation despite the Disability Discrimination Act receiving Royal Assent in 2006.

Paul Sullivan, who is 50, broke his back in a motorcycle accident in 1999 and can no longer walk.

Mr Sullivan said : ‘The attitude of our government to disabled issues is terrible, they’ve been saying the same things for the past 20 years.

‘They say, “if we find a problem we’ll fix it”, but every issue I’ve raised has been ignored. It’s disgusting.’

The Manx government has been looking at new legislation, the Equality Bill, covering disability access and employment issues to take the Act’s place.

A public consultation on this ended in November 2014 but the legislation is not due in place until mid-2016.

Speaking to iomtoday, Mr Sullivan, who was a plumber before his accident, highlighted problems such as parking, kerbs, building access, bus shelters, post boxes and toilets.

On disabled parking, he said: ‘If you go to Chester Street, where the [CIRCA, disabled] scooter hire office is, and look around almost all of the spaces are reserved for government. In the Marks and Spencer car park they painted over half the disabled spaces.

‘I have a trike, I get blocked in if I use a normal space. Tickets in the car parks are not sticky either so how do you display one on my vehicle?

‘This government just doesn’t care, it’s a classic case of I’m alright, Jack, I’ve got a free park.

‘They said they’d be putting more drop kerbs in a couple of years ago, it never happens, there are no drop kerbs outside bus shelters and some post boxes.

‘There’s a lack of accessible toilets. In Duke Street all the shops have steps, I can’t get into any of them.’

‘I’ve complained to the government many times and was told all new buildings have disabled access, it’s complete rubbish. Access is non-existent.

‘At the hospital there is no pavement to other units outside the main building, you have to go on the road.

‘I have a blue badge for my trike but it gets stolen regularly. I’ve been to see my MHK, Howard Quayle about it.

‘I asked if there was something more permanent like a metal one I could bolt on but Mr Quayle just told me “how you look after it after that is your problem”.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture said: ‘The Isle of Man’s Building Regulations have regulated provisions for persons living with disabilities since May 1993 for all new buildings and where the principal entrance of a building is altered.

‘All new buildings on the island built since 1993 are in compliance with Building Regulations; however there are many buildings which remain unchanged in conservation areas or if they are registered buildings.

‘All proposed new buildings, or material change of use, as part of any application submitted for approval for both Planning and Building Regulations must comply with legislations including the number of car parking spaces designated specifically for disabled persons.

‘There are also requirements for access to a building from a place where a person may park their car and suitable access within a building.

‘Local Authorities and government departments are aware of these requirements and make necessary changes as and when possible or when they are renovating footpath, roads and car parks etc. Much of this work can be seen around many of the island’s towns.

‘It should be noted that no charges are made for submitting applications for facilities for disabled persons, in particular for access to and into a building.

‘It will take many years to make all of the changes necessary to provide all inclusive infrastructure and buildings because of the working capacity of island’s construction industry and availability of funds to pay for these changes.

‘The two car parks mentioned in Mr Sullivan’s comments have been fitted with lifts for ease of access for disabled persons.’

With regards to Mr Sullivan’s ‘Blue Badges’ comment, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘The theft of a disabled badge is disappointing; however badge holders are responsible for the safekeeping of these items.’

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