From the leader, Cllr Doug Oliver – July 30, 2021

Summer has well and truly arrived! We’ve had some wonderful weather and the district is looking as beautiful as ever.

It’s great to see people cautiously beginning to get out and about and enjoy all that Rother has to offer.  The reopening will give our economy, and particularly our tourism industry, a much-needed boost after an extremely challenging year and an almost non-existent summer season in 2020.

Our focus over the past few months has been supporting businesses, helping them survive the lockdowns and restrictions and get onto the road to recovery, but now we turn our attention to how we can help and encourage people to enjoy our venues, parks and open spaces safely.

For many, planning a day out is pretty straightforward and they wouldn’t give a second thought to heading to the coast on a warm day.  But for residents and visitors with mobility issues, this task can be a lot trickier and they can often find themselves limited by accessibility.

It was great to see new access matting in use at Camber Sands for the first time earlier this month.  Camber is a beautiful place to visit but can be all but impossible to enjoy for wheelchair users, those with mobility issues and even those with babies and very young children in prams and pushchairs.

The matting sits above the sand, can be configured in a number of ways and will help people access and enjoy the beautiful beach with ease.  The equipment is already getting a lot of use and the feedback staff have received so far has been extremely positive.

For our other beaches, the answer isn’t always so simple and my colleagues and officers at the council are working closely with access groups to explore options for expanding disabled access to beaches in Bexhill and wider Rother. 

Dealing with accessibility issues can be difficult, particularly when it comes to funding significant changes to buildings.  I was, therefore, delighted that councillors agreed Cabinet proposals to invest £200,000 in a new grant scheme to help fund projects that improve disabled facilities for community-based buildings and provide greater access to public buildings, venues, parks and open spaces across the district.

The money can be put towards projects to fit ramps or stairlifts, install suitable toilet facilities or make community spaces more accessible, and will help open up more of the district to those with mobility issues.

We hope the grant scheme will go some way to addressing the problems many face and helping more people make the most of our beautiful home, but we are committed to continuing to work with access groups and local business groups to make sure Rother is open to everyone and that our district can recover and thrive.

Published: 2nd August 2021