Budgewoi Ward omitted from Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan

Letters to the editorLetters to the editor

[Forum] It is becoming blatantly obvious that the new Central Coast Council has not changed its ways since the amalgamation. Once again, the Budgewoi Ward does not get a mention, leaving it with no hope of being part of Council’s Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan.

The facts, figures and statistics can be manipulated to show the need for Pedestrian Access in three of the four wards, yet again the Plan totally ignores the north. Gosford (our new capital), Woy Woy, Wyong/Tuggerah and The Entrance dominate the Plan over the next 10 years. The Central Coast Regional Plan 2036 identifies an increase of population in the north of Wyong at 101,250, yet public transport is similar to third world countries. Lee Shearer, the new Coordinator General given the job to implement this massive increase, cannot, or will not, identify where the 40,500 (10,500 more than Badgerys Creek City) extra homes will be built.

I feel that unless we know where the population growths are, looking forward, we cannot possibly understand the needs of pedestrian access and mobility plans. The Plan goes out of its way to define that a pedestrian is any person walking, including any person driving a motorised wheelchair that cannot travel at over 10 kilometres per hour on level ground, a person in a non-motorised wheelchair, a person pushing a motorised or non-motorised wheelchair, and a person in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy, yet does not include walking frames or scooters, the most commonly used.

The Executive Summary plainly states that one of the community priorities was “accessibility of paths, particularly for older people and people with reduced mobility”. It is obvious that either the engagement process, community representatives, or Council staff, did not understand the legal obligation of total Inclusion under Council’s Disability Inclusion Plan nor State Government’s Disability Inclusion Act 2014, by not including the disabled, as reduced mobility is something totally different. One of the overarching engagement approaches in the Plan was to email and contact high needs pedestrian accessible groups, and state and private school networks, by Council staff. The Northern Lakes Disability Tourism Precinct Committee Inc. has been heavily engaged with accessible issues on the Central Coast for close to a decade.

We have instigated many accessible projects and carried out Access Audits in the region for the two former Councils. We had a representative on the Council’s Disability Inclusion Reference Group and attend many Council workshops, yet at no stage were we directly contacted or invited for comment. This seems to be another Council ploy, as with Accessible or Inclusive Parks being scattered with semi-accessible equipment that is not always disability friendly, yet not having appropriate surfaces, wide enough paths or clean disability toilets in close proximity. Council commented to our members on several occasions that these parks cater for other disabilities, but not always for the wheelchair bound community.

The plan states that a flattering total of 2,304 people were engaged in some manner, and considering the Central Coast’s current population is 342,548 people, this figure equates to less than 0.7% of the population engaged in the Plan. Having a total of some 69,000 residents in the Budgewoi Ward, who again have either been left out or forgotten in the Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan, I think it is now time for us to secede from the Central Coast, considering we don’t come on the Central Coast Council’s radar. Council has forgotten that the North has the only existing Disability Tourism Precinct, encompassing Camp Breakaway, Lakes Beach Access ramp and disability toilets, and new ramps into local banks.

The Precinct Committee has identified the need and is working with the Department of Primary Industries for a Disability Fishing Program at Gwandalan, yet, we still don’t raise a blip on Council’s radar. The Northern Lakes Disability Tourism Precinct Committee Inc condemns this Plan, as it stands. The figures speak for themselves, and once again Council has shown its bias for so called iconic destinations, instead of looking outside the square and treating the residents of the north as equals.

Email, Sep 16 Gary Blaschke, Lake Munmorah President of the Northern Lakes Disability Tourism Precinct Committee Inc.

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