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Wirral MP calls for disabled to be given better access to beaches
WIRRAL West MP Esther McVey invited a crew from BBC's Newsround to her constituency this week as part of her campaign for disabled people to have better access to beaches and open spaces.
The Minister for Disabled People is writing to local couincils asking them to ensure tourist hotspots including beaches and the countryside are accessible to all of the population.
Councils are encouraged to 'improve inclusivity and accessibility' by working with local organisations through the 'Disability Action Alliance'.
The Alliance was set up by Government and brings together over 180 organisations from the public, private and third sector who want to work in partnership to improve the lives of disabled people.
Ms McVey said: "Here in Wirral, while more needs to be done great strides have been made in providing disabled access via slipways to the beaches and adaptations to parks and open spaces, supported by disabled parking bays, disabled toilets etc.
"As well as the importance of equal access, it makes good business sense to ensure - as the tourist season reaches its peak - local areas of beauty and interest around the country can attract as many people as possible.
"The ‘purple pound’ as it’s known by disability groups is worth £80bn a year, councils can benefit by tapping into this when considering how to make their local environment more inclusive by opening up our beaches and other tourist hotspots for everyone to enjoy.
"Often a small change can make a big difference to disability access and so we’d encourage councils to continue working in partnership with disabled people and their organisations, as they know what works best in their local areas on the ground."
There are already successful schemes in place. Disability Action Alliance member Living Options Devon, operate the Countryside Mobility scheme which aims to improve access to the countryside for people with limited mobility who are living in or visiting the South West region.
They provide all-terrain mobility scooters and wheelchair accessible ‘Wheelyboats’.
The scooters can go up and down slopes, over bumps and tree roots, through shallow puddles, mud and soft ground. Wheelyboats allow up to 5 wheelchair users at a time to get out on the water for fishing or pleasure boating.
The scheme operates across more than 30 countryside locations throughout Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset - with more to follow.
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