Innovative plans to make Hebden Bridge more accessible for disabled people

Bridge Gate, Hebden Bridge.
Bridge Gate, Hebden Bridge.
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A new grants scheme is aiming to make Hebden Bridge’s businesses and buildings more accessible for visitors with disabilities.

The initiative, run jointly by the Community Foundation and Hebden Bridge Partnership, is designed to help the local economy recover from the Boxing Day floods and to promote Hebden Bridge as an exemplary town for access for those with disabilities.

The new venture will be launched at a public meeting in Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Saturday, September 3, at 11am.

Bob Deacon, chair of Hebden Bridge Partnership, said: “It has long been a priority of the partnership to make the town as attractive as possible to visitors and tourists who have particular access needs.

“We want to broaden the range of people who decide to visit the town. We are conscious that one of the side-effects of current local flood resilience work could potentially be that shops and premises become less accessible for those who have disabilities as floors are raised and steps put in, so we are delighted that the Community Foundation is making grant funding available to help our long-suffering independent businesses recover from the floods in this way.”

Steve Duncan, CEO of the Community Foundation for Calderdale, added: “At the Community Foundation we believe in the potential spending power of disabled visitors to the area and we feel strongly that this investment, and potentially further investment to come, will prove to be an important factor in helping Hebden Bridge businesses recover from the dreadful Boxing Day flood.

“We are delighted to be working with the Hebden Bridge Partnership and look forward to seeing a more accessible and vibrant Hebden Bridge emerge from its recent travails.”

Following the public meeting, work will start on an access audit of the town, which will be funded by the Community Foundation.

Chris Cammiss, of social enterprise Visits Unlimited and a wheelchair user, will carry out the audit.

He will focus on public buildings, access to the countryside immediately adjacent to the town, and also independent businesses who want to participate.

Taking part in the access audit is voluntary, but those businesses which choose to participate will be able to seek small grants from the Community Foundation in order to undertake work recommended by Chris in his audit report.

The event on September 3 will also see the launch of a new access forum, which is being convened by Hebden Royd Town Council and local parish councils to help contribute to the neighbourhood plan work.

The forum will be an advisory body and welcomes those who may have disabilities and would like to contribute to ways that the wider Hebden Royd and hilltops area can be made more accessible.