VOTE: Disability groups concerned about new Worthing pool

TWO disabled groups have raised concerns that facilities at the new Worthing swimming pool will not be up to scratch.

Worthing Scope and Worthing Access and Mobility Group both say they are not happy with the proposed provisions for internal disabled facilities.

They have expressed fear about the new building not having specific changing areas or hoists for severely disabled people, and wheelchair users not being able to get their chairs under the fixed tables in the café area.

Pauline Fox, chief executive for Worthing Scope, said: “This building certainly will not meet the expectations of the disabled people in the town.

“Yes, it will be accessible and compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), but only on a very basic level.

“In the plans there are no provisions for changing facilities for people who are significantly disabled – who have a right and who want to swim.”

Worthing Borough Council’s executive head of technical services, Cliff Harris, said facilities for people with complex disabilities did not make the cut when the budget had to be reduced.

He said: “There is a specific disabled changing facility provided which is in full compliance with the DDA and Building Regulations.

“What there isn’t is an even larger, fully-equipped changing facility for the severely disabled. This is a discretionary rather than mandatory issue and one which bit the dust when we struggled to get the scheme down from £22m to £17.9m.”

The pool also maintains a moveable floor, hoists into the pool and a “beach” end into the leisure pool for easy access.

Councillor Paul High sits on the working board for the swimming pool and said concerns should have been raised sooner.

He said: “The building is fully DDA compliant and to me that satisfies all legislation, how far can you go?

“We are building an £18.7 million pound building and it’s the first new public building to be built in Worthing for 40 years. It’s a bit late in the day to show concerns.

“Planning meetings are open to the public so concerns should have been raised at these meetings.”

Do you think the council should have spent extra money on making the new pool suitable for severely disabled people? Cast your vote in the poll to the right of the screen, and leave your comments below.