For the community in Portishead to thrive, we must empower our residents. We must enable them to be independent, ensure equality of opportunity, and remove any barriers in our town- including from poor design or implementation of projects and policies- which hinder people’s daily lives.
This does not only encompass providing better access for people with mobility issues. It includes having access to information, the ability to enjoy public spaces freely, efficient communication support, and access to a full education, including through high-quality SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) provision. Nobody should face exclusion or encounter unacceptable barriers to having their needs met.
Unfortunately, for many of us, facing an obstacle can be a daily occurrence. As a Deaf person, I know how frustrating it can be to feel excluded. Not having full communication support means that my dignity, independence, and privacy are taken away every day, because I always need support from others. I shouldn’t have to fight to access services. That is why I can empathise with people who face obstacles in their daily lives, especially disabled and elderly people, in obtaining information and accessing Portishead’s council facilities and services, health services, and public amenities.
Different access needs are not always obvious from people’s appearance. Most disabilities and health conditions are invisible. This makes it harder to determine whether someone has additional support needs, due to autism, learning difficulties, sight impairment, deafness, mental health conditions, or other factors. I strongly believe that the council should work with people to ensure that their needs are being met. This includes making certain that people are able to obtain a blue badge, have a Personal Assistant, or receive sufficient SEND provision according to their needs.
There are further considerations that we must make when ensuring that local services and public amenities across Portishead are fully accessible. This includes recognising the needs of elderly people, children, and mothers with pushchairs. For example, residents must be able to access the Nature Reserve and the Lake Grounds if they have mobility restrictions, and travel to school independently. We must consider a wide range of factors when improving accessibility in Portishead.
As a councillor, I will work with the council, the residents, and the service providers to improve provision for people with health conditions and disabilities in North Somerset. I will ensure that nobody is excluded from the community, and enable residents to have full access to amenities across Portishead.