A recent report published by Living Streets states that most Local Authorities in Scotland have not made any apparent link between their equality duties and their policies with respect to public spaces.

The report called ‘Accessible Streets for All?’ highlights which Local Authorities include statements in their equality outcomes about making their streets and public spaces more accessible to disabled people and others with mobility difficulties.

SDEF welcomes the report as a positive step in promoting good practice across Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities. Susan Grasekamp, Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We urge Local Authorities to make that commitment towards adopting a more inclusive approach to public spaces.  Scotland is rightly proud of its innovative architecture, commerce and green spaces but consistently fails to make the connections with adequate accessible streets and walk-ways for all to enjoy.  Help is at hand: Local Authorities can link with their local Access Panel for guidance and support in promoting better access in their areas”

Robert Ferguson, SDEF’s Disability Access Officer added:

“This is a great opportunity for local Access Panels and Living Streets to work together. We are looking to set up a pilot scheme with a couple of Access Panels and Living Streets to carry out Community Street Access Audits in their local area. The results of this can then be raised at a higher level, and inform town centre regeneration projects. We would look to take this forward with the Parliamentary Cross Party Group on Town Centre Regeneration and local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), to highlight the economic as well as social advantages of truly accessible town centre.”

Penny at Living Streets added: “Living Streets wants to ensure that pedestrians of all ages and abilities are able to make the most of their streets and public spaces. Accessible and inclusive streets are important for us all, delivering wider economic, social and health benefits for our communities, and we are encouraged that a minority of local authorities in Scotland have included accessible streets within their equality outcome statements. However, as is apparent from our supporters and from the communities we work with, there is some way to go to achieving safe and accessible streets we can all feel confident in using. We look forward to working closely with SDEF and local access panels to support local authorities to take necessary action to deliver accessible street for everyone.”

There are local authorities leading the way with their equality duty, however, many more need to follow.

The report is available from Living Streets Tel: 0131 243 2646 http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/accessible-streets-for-all-living-streets-scotlands-new-report