Councillor Howard asked the Tourism and Community Life Portfolio Holder (Councillor S S Mayzes):-
“The 2011/12 budget included capital programme funding of £698,870 to redevelop the Dovercourt Swimming pool.
To date, none of this budget has been spent and the redevelopment work remains outstanding.
More significantly no budgetary provision has been made to fund this redevelopment in the next 5 years of the capital programme as published in the agenda for the December 2011 Cabinet meeting.
Does this mean that the Council have no plans to carry out the much needed redevelopment work at the Dovercourt Swimming Pool?
If so then, what is the Council planning to do to address the failure of Dovercourt Swimming Pool to be DDA compliant?"
“Thank you Councillor Howard for your question. The simple answer to that is that the budget is still there. The budget which is of £698,870 currently is included in the 2011/12 budget and therefore still remains there as it was a one-off amount so there is no need to obviously put into this budget as part of the capital programme because obviously when the outturn review at the end of the financial year comes forward then obviously it will be carried forward into next year so the money still sits there and remains there, for example, its like the five-year rolling maintenance fleet for the vehicles will be there every year in the capital programme because it makes provision for that, obviously it is a one-off so there is no provision for any future spending in future years as part of the capital programme, however it does sit there still and will be there as part of the outturn at the end of the year to be carried forward. I hope that answered your question.”
Councillor Howard then asked the following supplementary question of the Tourism and Community Life Portfolio Holder:-
“Thank you Councillor Mayzes for the clarification there but that doesn’t really address the issue about the outstanding DDA compliance, for example because obviously to date if the budget has been sitting there but you haven’t done any of the work now there is concern about not doing any of the work but there is particular concern about not dealing with the DDA compliance, for example the lift etc. to go to the gym on the first floor is one issue, there are others. Now the whole thing as to whether you need to do it is whether it is reasonable and clearly the fact that it has been funded and it has been sitting there and there has been a plan which includes the lift shows that it is reasonable so seven years after the 2005 DDA Act came out you still haven’t complied. Last year or the year before now in 2010 we had the Equality Act that also would have the same requirements so these issues haven’t been addressed in seven years and I think it is about time they are, so when are you planning to address these issues of DDA compliance?”
“Thank you for question there. I didn’t originally answer it because obviously it was part of a separate question and if the answer was a fact that the money is not there any more then that would be taken into account. However, it is an issue of DDA at that Centre and indeed some of our other Centres because they were built before the Act was in place. However, we have reviewed where reasonable adjustments needed to be made. They have been made and I think as you say, the Equality Act now supersedes the DDA Act of 2005. Looking forward I think, you know, if we were to put a lift onto Dovercourt for example there would be no room on the first floor for a gym so it wouldn’t provide equality for everybody, so I think the Equality Act now accommodates that actually if there is a reasonable adjustment does it make sure it includes everybody using that facility. I think if there was no gym there, there is no point in having a lift because it would access nothing at all. But I think looking forward reviewing as part of the fundamental service review is what we are doing ongoing, certainly if there is areas that we are going to redevelop we would have to consider actually providing full disabled access as part of the Equalities Act moving forward so there will be obviously further discussions on this. But at the moment I feel that we are in a position where we have made reasonable adjustments to our facilities and they are usable to most residents in the District and there are certainly areas where they are not but the Act obviously doesn’t make us have to make those adjustments because they are considered reasonable and we have done everything we can to ensure that. Thank you.”