RUGBY probably has the best facilities for disabled people in the UK, Rugby Disability Forum has said.
David Foster, chair of the group, believes Rugby Borough Council’s approach to disabled issues was unique, and that the town had a glowing reputation among disabled people in the Midlands as one of the best towns for shopping and leisure in the region.
Mr Foster says Rugby could be the only authority in Europe that has a council officer as a permanent member of the forum.
“After years of support from the council we just wanted to put the word out there how much support and help we get from them,” he said.
“The town is definitely benefiting financially from its parking policies and from having things like its disabled toilet facilities open 24 hours a day.
“Our relationship with the council is also saving time and money when it comes to consultations because there is no need for issues regarding disabled people to go backwards and forwards whenever there is a consultation.
Mr Foster said: “Rugby’s set up is unique in that I don’t think there’s another authority in the UK or Europe that involves the disabled community as much. I think it’s definitely drawing in shoppers from other towns into its town centre.”
A recent example of the partnership in action is the town’s new leisure centre - which goes above and beyond what is legally required.
Mr Foster added: “The council made amendments to the architects’ original plans to accommodate better disabled facilities.
“So now, thanks to them, the 20 per cent of people who are disabled can also turn up and use the facility.”
Doug Jones, head of business transformation at Rugby Borough Council, said: “We are pleased to enjoy a good working relationship with the Rugby Disability Forum.
“Not only does this mean we save money by getting things right first time for disabled people, we all know that it is simply the right thing to do.
“Making things easy for disabled people, such as level access to buildings and easy-to-use toilet facilities, also helps other members of the community, including parents with children.”