Swimming Pool Row

Speakers’ Corner: Brickbats fly at KCDC

By K Gurunathan (Guru)

The relaunched Kapiti Speakers’ Corner has seen its first protest group — and the target has been the KCDC next door.

The protest has been centred on the new Aquatic Centre  (left), which lacks a ramp despite the Kapiti District Council’s promises to disability groups.

The ‘Bring Back the Ramp Group’ is campaigning against the Council decision to abandon a proposed ramp for disabled access at the new $21m aquatic centre. (This decision was made in October last year despite a council promise, over several years, that a ramp would be provided)


KCDC ‘not completely honest’

Group spokesperson Erica Cooney told a gathering of more 30 people at the weekend that council had not been completely honest and had issued misinformation on when the decision was made and who had supported the move.

She says Kapiti had twice the national average of older people with many frail and with disabilities. Without a ramp the pool would not adequately cater for them.

She also says the Human Rights Act and the Building Act stipulate that swimming pools must have reasonable and adequate access and facilities to enable those with disabilities to carry out “normal activities”.

Ms Cooney also questions the lack of grab rails and the rationale for a moveable floor.

‘Expensive solutions’

Ms Cooney says ratepayers look likely to face expensive solutions because their council has not listened, from the beginning, to their architects and accessibility auditors.

Wellington Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Trust president Paul Curry has also warned that a complaint had been filed with the Human Rights Commission and his organisation is looking at a legal challenge of council’s compliance with the Building Act.

He has also cited a host of regional and national organisations concerned by KCDC’s lack of commitment to best practice access for the disabled.

He says that it is shameful that people with disabilities have to fight council for their rights. And he warns of political consequences for elected members if the matter is not resolved.