Thursday, 6 July 2006

3 Year Campaign = 2 Days of Work

I cannot believe how the Universe works, don't the gods who organise these things know I get tired tired tired !

Regular blessed readers and commentors to my blog will know that I am currnetly campaigning on two fronts; one - wheelchair access adaptations to my home; 2 - wheelchair access adaptations to the great outdoors, no not my garden - to countryside and coast, village paths and town routes, under the Countryside and Righs of Way Act 2000 and Local Transport Plans.

Yesterday I had the biggest most significant meeting with Social Care and Health that decided, after three years, that yes IT will happen, soon, without delay, with funding, with my needs taken into account. SC&H will appoint project managers who will prepare plans, obtain planning permission, invite tenders, appoint contractors, get the work done. SC&H will find me somewhere to live for the three months it will take (I will believe that when it happens). All this has finally unequivocally been agreed. With no more faffing about by the Dorset County Council Major Adaptations Panel, in fact after a total climb down by the Dinosaurs who have not read the legislation and government guidelines. My Member of Parliament has been immensely helpful and his quiet polite interventions have no doubt had an effect on the Dinosaurs. I have yet to decided whether to let the Local Government Ombudsman take a look at my experience and the three years delay to achieving wheelchair access in my home, and decide whether to make their own recommendations to Dorset County Council on the workings of SC&H and the Panel.

Today, fulfilling the role Dorset County Council appointed me to three years ago, I have the most significant meeting of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan sub group of the Dorset Local Access Forum, where after three years of meetings and discussions, finally we meet to decide what we will be recommending for funding. Where I alone will be fighting for wheelchair access to paths, routes and access land that in their natural state are wheelchair accessible at dry seasons but are currently blocked by man made obstacles such as stiles and locked gates. Where I alone will be fighting for an allocation of the budget for wheelchair access, against the historical and numerical lobbying might of the other calls for funding allocation; from the Ramblers Association, Cyclists and Equestrians. Where I alone will be asking for an allocation from the budget for the Dorset County Rights of Way team to recruit a volunteer group of independent wheelchair users, so that there are trained volunteer wheelchair users who can be consulted in a way similar to those long established volunteer organisations, the Ramblers Association, the British Horse Society and Cycling clubs, who have all had years of volunteers lobbying for their causes - just look at the huge number of footpaths signs, and sign-posted bridle paths for horses and sign-posted cycle routes. Compare those with the number of sign-posts in towns, villages, countryside, coasts, with the wheelchair symbol on them. I am not alone in the greater picture; there are many other individuals and organisations (the Disabled Ramblers) campaigning for disabled access to the countryside and coast and accessible urban routes, its just that in Dorset to date a volunteer group of independent wheelchair users has not yet happened effectively. It will.

Why can't these important and tiring events be spread out a bit more - why do the most critical but exhausting meetings happen together, why oh why oh why.

Why am I blogging about it, rather than getting on with meeting preparation ? This is my meeting preparation, to get it straight in my head first.

Isn't blogging wonderful !

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Blogger BloggingMone said...

Great achievements, congratulations, Sally! God knows why things like this usually take ages. How anyone can be expected to be living in a non accessable house for years is a bit beyond me. As far as I know we do not even have a "Right of Way Act", but maybe it is because we do not have cattle grids and gates. We are not supposed to walk were the cattle is and the cattle is not supoosed to be walking were we do. That simplyfies matters a bit.

Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 16:40:00 BST  
Blogger The Goldfish said...

Congratulations, Sally, this is great news! :-)

And best of luck with your meeting. You shan't be alone in spirit, at least.

Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 18:04:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Thank you - I feel a different woman today, and am starting to feel excited and energised by no more blocks to progress on wheelchair access to my home.

I am aware that my attitude and confidence in disabled rights has been strengthened these last few months I have been a Blogger. You are there with me in spirit. I know I am not alone. It may be virtual but its real to me.

At yesterdays meeting, my Occupational Therapist and her Boss said (off the record) they too were frustrated and had not had these delaying problems before with projects for other service users, before the Panel system was introduced. I replied that is why I have pursued this with my MP - not just to get my own needs met, but to prompt change to the system for other service users, and to get a better system for staff to work with for getting their clients' needs met.

This afternoon, I thought I was going to fail pretty miserably on the second front; my PA booked for driving and meeting support, had a last minute mini family crisis so was not available, so I didn't get to the meeting ! However, this may have been a blessing in disguise, because I was too tired to be an effective presence in a meeting today. So instead of being there, I emailed my strong recommendations for the meeting to consider, which I hope has a lasting effect, as in these circumstances I feel that my document has a more lasting presence than spoken requests.

Bloggingmone - in England ALL land is owned by someone or other, and anyone going over others' land is TRESPASSING - in days of yore peasants were shipped to Van Deemen's Land for such illegal acts. Nowadays, the only way of going over other's land (on foot, in wheelchair, on horse, on cycle)is by using rights of way (and rights of access)identified on the Definitive Maps. This has been the case since the Enclosures Act, (someone tell me the date)when most common land (in common use by all) was enclosed (stolen) by landowners.

I am tired and perhaps rambling, but tomorrow more stuff will arrive to be dealt with, so its now or not at all, to respond and comment.

Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 22:46:00 BST  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Best wishes for the continued progress with your adaptions. Remember, however, the old adage: when a builder gives you a timescale, double it.

I have mixed feelings about the countryside access thing. I am all for taking advantage of existing access and upgrading it - replacing stiles and kissing gates, using old railway tracks, for example - but I cannot go along with the movement to create yet more new access for disabled and abled alike, I am afraid.

Our wildlife has little enough peace as it is. Frankly, if I had my way, I would close a lot of existing access, ban all off-road vehicles including mountain bikes, and leave nature in peace. Look at the New Forest now, in summer. It has been well described as "a seething mass of leisure-stricken humanity."

Right, I'll get back in me barrel now.

Friday, 7 July 2006 at 12:17:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Thanks Charles

Builders ... in my life I have already done two building projects, the first a small extension that took, like, forever, like.

The second was this house which I project managed 15 years ago, completely rewired, replumbed, doors stripped and waxed, walls knocked through, floors, outside coal hole into utility and that was therapy, completed on time but not on budget.

This time, there will be Project Managers, (Anchor) and I won't have to do a thing, they will be contracted to bring it in on time on budget.
It will feel like a holiday (I tell myself) after the three year campaign.

No need to get back in your barrel, this campaigner on countryside access has always campaigned not for more acces, but "access where the land IN ITS NATURAL STATE would be accessible to C123Vs at dry seasons, but is currently blocked by man made additions" so yes, just upgrading some of it. 4x4s - there are new regulations on the way that will block ... which is way the 4x4 clubs are currently applying in their hundreds for rights fo access before the block starts (not right words, brain tired).

The Disabled Ramblers do an easy day's trundle through the New Forest once a year using Tramper all terrain mobility vehicles - so they get away from the busiest areas, and each year I think ... this year I will. Not managed it yet.

Saturday, 8 July 2006 at 20:12:00 BST  
Blogger Margaret said...

Hi Sally - just dropping by, since you said hello. Keep on keeping on girl.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006 at 01:28:00 BST  

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