A senior national figure in the disability field has refused to accept the Kapiti District Council’s explanation for the delay in installing a ramp at the new Kapiti Aquatic Centre. (Original plans included a ramp to be installed at the pool for the opening in August)
Paul Curry, president of the Wellington Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Trust Board, says REACT ( Ramp Equal Action Coalition Team ) wants action immediately at the Coastlands Aquatic Centre in Paraparaumu.
He says that unless the Kapiti Council acts now, disabled children — and others– will suffer during the coming holiday period.
Mr Curry’s views carry extra weight because he was formerly head executive of the Families commission.
He says that REACT — and groups it represents — are ‘really disappointed that, having received a full apology from the Kapiti Council CEO after the Human Rights Commission hearing, it now sees delays which will hit people who need a ramp to use the pool.’
Mr Curry says: “This is during the Summer months when people with disabilities cannot go for a swim in surf or in a river during the hottest months of the year.
“The Council promised that they could have the ramp installed by September or October. Based on that promise (earlier in the year) REACT put itself into abeyance in good faith.”
‘We have reconvened’
“We have now reconvened because we see the same issues that we won being rehashed and re-presented as excuses for the delays.
“For example, originally when the pool was designed it had a ramp included.
“For the Council officials to now say that they are going out of their way to help us gain what was rightfully there originally seems disingenuous!”
Mr Curry points out, secondly, that the Ramp will not only be used by disabled people.
He says if it’s anything like the Keith Spry Pool at Johnsonville, the Ramp will be used by the general public as well.
He adds: “We have also received advice through other sources that the Pool Manager believed that the ramp could have been installed (by now), but subsequently decided to move the time-frame out because it was perceived to be the busiest time of the year.”
“The thing that really got us was the Council and Pool Manager saying one thing and doing another!” he says.
Resolution of the problem
When asked what can be done to solve the problem, Mr Curry says REACT wants people with disabilities to be able to use the ramp at the pool as soon as possible, as agreed by all parties at the Human Rights Commission hearing.
He says: “Our preference is that this will be during the holiday break so that the disabled — and especially children with disabilities — can go swimming with friends.
“In other words, the Pool should be inclusive of everyone as originally planned.”
The guarantees question
And when asked about the Council’s argument re guarantees not being able to be honoured during the holidays, Mr Curry replied:
“Frankly, we don’t buy that!
“Surely they must have penalty clauses to cover this — otherwise Council needs to look very closely at its tendering process.”