Speakers’ Corner Protest

Call for KCDC to put the pool ramp back

By Alan Tristram

A group of concerned citizens are staging the first major protest at Kapiti’s new Speakers’ Corner in Paraparaumu next Saturday.

They’re appealing to the Kapiti Coast Council to put a ramp back into the new Coastlands Aquatic Centre, due to open soon.

They say Kapiti has about double the national average of elderly and disabled people – but the Council has reneged on a promise to install proper facilities at the $21 million pool.

The Kapiti Speakers’ Corner, between the KCDC building and the Paraparaumu Library, was relaunched by Mayor Jenny Rowan at a special ceremony earlier this month.

Few rules at Speakers’ Corner

Anyone can speak on any topic, 24/7 — and rules have been kept to a minimum.

A member of the group, Erica Cooney, says the Council’s decision to drop the ramp access for the main pool has severely disadvantaged Kapiti’s older people and those with disabilities – ‘our most vulnerable residents.’

Wheelchair group overseas

She says: “Kapiti has about double the national average of older persons, with this set to increase – and we have a corresponding higher disability/frailty statistic.”  And she points out that many other places provide proper facilities for disabled citizens.

Right from the Aquatic Centre’s inception, she says, the Kapiti Coast Grey Power Association requested an access ramp into the main pool, and were repeatedly assured by Council that there would be one, up until several months ago.

She adds: Ramp access needs to be provided – it was promised by Council and it is most consistent with Council’s obligations to its key stake-holders.  This is supported by the Kapiti Coast Grey Power Association, the Stroke Foundation Central Region, and members of Arthritis Foundation NZ.

The group is also supported by the, Multiple Sclerosis Wellington,the Wellington Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Trust Board, ParaFed Wellington, NZ Care and Be. Accessible NZ, Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand.

Less provision for the elderly and disabled

“However, it appears that provision of public recreation and health facilities in Kapiti for older people and those with disability is disproportionately less than that for other groups.

“But older people and those with disability also tend to have a lower income – making it relatively more difficult for them to travel or to take up private alternatives to meet their needs.”

Ms Cooney says the numerous benefits of swimming and water therapy for health and wellbeing are undisputed.

Water also is a medium which enables people with disability to have mobility that they would not otherwise have.