Disabled users of Limavady’s multi-million pound Arts Centre are being disadvantaged because Roads Service won’t provide accessible parking immediately outside the building.
That’s the view of Limavady SDLP councillor Michael Coyle, who is one of Council’s two disabled rights champions. While there are two accessible parking spaces directly across the street from the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, and two further up the street, Colr. Coyle says it is far from adequate.
“There is no accessible parking immediately outside the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, on Main Street. This does create problems for those with disabilities in so far that they may have to go some distance across a very busy street to get to the Centre,” he said.
While the Council has some accessible parking within the complex of the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, it is to the rear of the building.
“It defeats the purpose of someone who wants to travel a short distance to attend an event,” said Colr. Coyle.
Immediately outside the Arts Centre are three parking spaces. Colr Coyle said Council would like to see at least one of them made available for accessible parking.
“Limavady Council has written twice to Roads Service and had replies that are less than helpful. They’ve said there is no need for accessible car parking in that area, that already there are four accessible parking spaces on Main Street,” he said. “Myself and Colr George Robinson met Roads Service on site and, as a result of that, they decided there was no need for extra parking for people with disabilities. Roads Service have suggested we provide accessible parking in Drumceatt Square, next to the Centre, but that is an area that should be free of traffic. It’s Council’s vision that it be used as a pedestrian zone for different events, for example community groups at Christmas and throughout the year.”
Colr Coyle said there are a number of community groups using the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, “many with members who have disabilities such as the Special Olympics, one which comes to mind, so surely it makes sense that accessible parking should be provided outside the building?”
Parking at the back of the Centre is really for staff, said Colr. Coyle.
“We will try to provide suitable parking and drop-off for people if given sufficient notice, but it’s not ideal for other customers attending a play or concert. It would be ideal to have at least one of the three spaces that are immediately outside the door for accessible parking.”
Colr Coyle said Council will continue to lobby Roads Service at every opportunity and ask them to re-consider their position”.
“I firmly believe they don’t understand the situation, that they are looking at numbers of accessible parking spaces rather than the needs of people with disabilities,” he said, adding there have been complaints on the issue.
One Arts Centre user said in a survey that on one occasion, their friend parked with his blue badge outside a closed abusiness “for wheelchair access only to have to leave and move it, troubling someone else to have to accompany him out and back in as the only available spaces for him were too far away. I use crutches and can’t walk far - my friend is paraplegic. Adequate parking for us and those like us would be nice.”
A DRD Roads Service spokesperson said: “Roads Service has met councillors recently on site to discuss current parking arrangements at Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre. Roads Service considers that there is adequate disabled parking provision in close proximity to the Civic Centre on both sides of Main Street. At this meeting Roads Service pointed out that during the design and construction phase of the Civic Centre Roads advice had been given that disabled parking provision should be provided within the curtilage of the site.”