Accessibility Strategy Statement
The West Midlands Metropolitan Authorities aim to embed accessibility considerations within all the decisions we take and to raise awareness of accessibility issues with all other key service providers in the area so that they also consider the impacts on accessibility when developing their policies, strategies and initiatives. In addition, we will work with other providers to identify priority accessibility issues and ensure appropriate solutions are delivered.
This strategy has been largely informed by the DfT document ‘Guidance on Accessibility Planning in Local Transport Plans’, which was published in December 2004. Accessibility planning was conceived by the Social Exclusion Unit report ‘Making the Connections’. The report set out the relationship between transport, accessibility and social exclusion and presented a cross-Government strategy for improving access to jobs and key services.
Accessibility planning focuses on promoting social inclusion by tackling the accessibility problems experienced by those in disadvantaged groups and areas. It concentrates on access to those opportunities that are likely to have the most impact on life chances: employment, education, health care and fresh food shops. The premise of accessibility planning is that policy development and service delivery can better meet the accessibility needs of local communities by being more evidence-based and by being implemented
through coordinated action across a variety of agencies.
The West Midlands Metropolitan Authorities greatly welcome the new guidance on accessibility planning as it gives us both an opportunity and an agreed framework for far greater levels of partnership working, thereby enabling a deeper analysis of problems and ways to address them. The accompanying ‘Accession’ software, despite teething problems, is supporting our discussions by providing greater understanding of the existing limitations of service provision. In addition we fully expect it will prove an excellent tool for use in assessing the impacts of spatial and transport strategies and specific ‘what if’ scenarios.
Accessibility planning is a people-focused activity, but for whom are we seeking to improve accessibility? Basically for all, but especially:
- people who do not have ready access to a car
- people with low incomes who therefore have cost issues of access
- many people who live in areas of high social deprivation
- the less mobile (people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties etc)
- people with issues of personal security (people who live in high crime areas, people who do not make important trips because they perceive travelling to be ‘dangerous’, maybe particularly the elderly)
- lone parents with dependent children who may be unable to afford, or be able to get to, suitable childcare facilities
- job seekers who may have limited employment horizons
- people who live in areas that are relatively poorly served by public transport, for example some peripheral estates that are also comparatively deprived
- people who do not readily have access to public transport information they can understand, for example people for whom English is not their first or preferred language, or people who do not know where to get information from
- people who require specialist services
These can be issues that are difficult to identify and quantify. Providing evidence of a significant problem can therefore be difficult, but needs to be addressed through consultation and technical processes. The over-arching policies that cover all aspects of work undertaken by the seven West Midlands Metropolitan Authorities are contained in their individual Community Strategies or Plans. These documents contain numerous statements about priorities for access to services. Those relating to health care, jobs, learning opportunities and other key amenities are shown in the Appendix to this statement. From these statements it is clear that access to all four of the key services (health, jobs, learning and fresh food), plus access to leisure opportunities, are important issues throughout the Metropolitan Area.
In accordance with the Regional Spatial Strategy for the West Midlands land use planning policies are focused on concentrating new residential development within the existing built-up area, particularly on ‘brownfield’ sites. New retail, office and service provision is being channelled, as per PPG13, into centres for ease and choice of access by means other than the car. Public transport access to all new developments is critically assessed before planning consent is granted. All these actions are helping to increase the general level of accessibility within the Metropolitan Area by more effectively aligning public transport services and centres of activity.
Economic regeneration is one of the prime policy objectives for the Metropolitan Area. The Regional Economic Strategy, produced by the Regional Development Agency (Advantage West Midlands), has defined four Regeneration Zones and four High Technology Corridors within the Metropolitan Area to which new industrial development and job creators are directed. The Regeneration Zones are also the areas of high unemployment and relatively poor standards of living, so by bringing new jobs into these areas access to employment for the more disadvantaged members of society is improved.
High Level Accessibility Objectives
The Community Plans or Strategies for the seven Metropolitan Authorities in the West Midlands all state that access to jobs, learning and health facilities (inc fresh food) are all issues in their areas (see Appendix to this statement). Therefore the LTP2 Accessibility Strategy looks at access to all these key facilities as none can be considered unimportant. This has helped generate the LTP2 target that addresses overall accessibility: ‘improve accessibility to the four key service areas by public transport by X% between 2004/5 and 2010/11’ (X awaiting output from accessibility software runs). This is in line with our LTP2 vision, which, amongst other things, aims to see ‘everyone …. enjoy a better quality of life which is not dependent on the availability of a car’.
The following paragraphs outline the major local problems in terms of access to the four key services, although details are still to be assessed using accessibility planning software. Where appropriate, statements are accompanied by what we currently consider to be locally relevant indicators. The total number of indicators is likely to reduce if analysis shows them to not represent real problems, but one or two new indicators may be added as common priorities emerge across the West Midlands.
High Level Accessibility Objective: improve access to employment
LTP Target: help to generate economic activity by increasing the accessibility of the nine LTP centres as a whole by 4% between 2004/5 and 2010/11
There are areas of high unemployment throughout the West Midlands Metropolitan Area. Only Solihull and Dudley boroughs have unemployment rates below the national average of 4.9%. Unemployment is most prevalent in the inner city areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Walsall, but these areas also have the densest public transport network and are closest to most work opportunities in the major centres. The problem of physical access to jobs is worse in the relatively deprived peripheral areas of East Birmingham / North Solihull, south-west Birmingham, north-east Coventry and north Walsall, where public transport is less frequent and goes to fewer destinations. With the recent collapse of Rover, there is obviously a need to maintain or enhance accessibility to the Longbridge site to help secure future employment opportunities there.
In this manufacturing heart of the country there are many local industrial employers who operate patterns of shift working, plus big organisations like Birmingham International Airport, NEC and hospitals. Shift work is traditionally low-paid, and people so employed often need public transport to get to early morning starts. One problem with the generally comprehensive local public transport network is that early morning and evening services are infrequent compared with those in the day-time.
Local Indicator: % unemployed within 15 and 30 minutes travel time by public transport of shift work employment sites from 1900-0600 on an average weekday compared to the % 16-65 year olds
The West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy (WMRSS) focuses new employment opportunities in the Regeneration Zones and Technology Corridors (see map). These cover eight of the nine LTP centres, the exception being Sutton Coldfield. The target to increase accessibility to the LTP centres will focus attention on both economic regeneration and social inclusion issues. Working towards this target will provide more opportunities for people to reach jobs in the centres, jobs that may currently be beyond reasonable travel time. The linking of the LTP with the WMRSS is practically demonstrated by schemes to improve access to the LTP centres (recent examples include Masshouse Circus redevelopment in Birmingham and West Bromwich Town Centre Strategy) and the Technology Corridors (the Northfield Relief Road in south west Birmingham has recently begun on site).
Local Indicator: public transport accessibility for non-car households to employment sites from 0830-1730 on an average weekday compared to all households accessibility
Other work has been carried out to improve access to jobs. Initial work in the East Birmingham /North Solihull Regeneration Zone (from which the free ‘Busterwerkenbak’ was conceived, linking homes to jobs the length of the zone) has recently been updated by a new pilot project in the area (see section ‘Pilot Projects’).
The WorkWise initiative provides unemployed people at Sparkhill and Chelmsley Wood Job Centres with personalised journey information and free public transport tickets to attend interviews, plus two months of free travel passes if starting work. It has proved very successful so far. Since the launch of the scheme in May 2003 the WorkWise officers have helped 1448 people gain access to interviews and 889 unemployed people to begin employment. Client satisfaction with the service is very high and over 80% of users say
they would not have been able to attend their interview or take up an employment offer without assistance from WorkWise. WorkWise was also launched in Walsall in January 2004 with similar benefits.
Local Indicator: % of long term unemployed (unemployed for more than 6 months) within 15 and 25 minutes travel time of training destinations by public transport from 0830-1730 on an average weekday
High Level Accessibility Objective: improve access to health facilities, including fresh food
It is important to ensure good access to the whole spectrum of health facilities. These range from local GPs or dentists, who may be required at very short notice or on a regular basis, to specialist hospitals, who could serve the whole population of the West Midlands, where appointments are made months in advance. Unfortunately existing health plans and policies talk about ‘access’ in terms of how long people must wait for doctors’ appointments or whether they have a choice of what hospital to attend, not whether the facilities can be reached with reasonable ease.
All the West Midlands Metropolitan Districts have a number of NHS GPs’ surgeries, ranging from 227 in Birmingham, the most populous district, to 23 in Solihull, the least populous district. They are relatively evenly spread throughout the area, although there is a slightly higher concentration in the Birmingham Inner City where there is also the highest concentration of disadvantaged people as defined by the Index of Deprivation 2004.
Around 80% of West Midlands residents live within 15 minutes walk of their nearest GP surgery. This figure increases further if we take 15 minutes by public transport as being an acceptable threshold. Physical distance from a surgery is therefore not currently a major issue, but the individual circumstances of some potential patients (degree of illness, disability, the need to find child care, the position of carers statement etc) may restrict access at particular times. There will also be a growing issue of retiring GPs in coming years, which will have implications for the accessibility of GP services.
However there is a developing trend in the West Midlands for local health facilities to be grouped together in ‘LIFT’ centres. Services can be provided to patients more efficiently in one multi-functional location than in several diverse locations, but patients can find it more difficult to reach these centres in the first place as one centre must serve a wider catchment area than the GP surgery it has replaced. In line with WMRSS policy UR4: Social Infrastructure (“ensure that new social infrastructure is developed in or on the edge of an appropriate level of existing centre and is accessible by all modes by potential users”), local development control is ensuring access to LIFT centres is enhanced wherever possible, or problems minimised. Maintaining patient access in these circumstances is one of the major challenges we face in terms of access to health in the West Midlands.
Local Indicator: % of households within 8 and 15 minutes travel time by public transport or walking of a GP surgery or health clinic from 0800-1800 on an average weekday.
Local Indicator: % households in low income wards that can travel to GPs’ surgeries and health clinics by public transport for less than £0.80 fare per person from 0800-1800 on an average weekday.
The Metropolitan Area is well served with general hospitals. There are eleven in total, with at least one in each district, although not all are located in accessible, town centre environments. Furthermore, with hospitals tending to specialise in certain types of treatment, patients can receive appointments that require cross-boundary public transport trips at inconvenient times. This may result in missed appointments (at an estimated cost of around £100 each to the local health authority), unnecessary expense to the patient and/or additional congestion due to the perceived need to travel by car, not least at the already over-capacity hospital car parks. Unfortunately the local Ring & Ride operations do not provide lifts to hospital appointments because of conflict with patient services transport.
Local Indicator: % of registered disabled and pensioners over 65 within 15 and 25 minutes travel time of NHS hospital out-patient facilities, by low floor public transport services from 0830-1830 on an average weekday
Access to chemists and dentists is also important for good health. Chemists can be found adjacent to associated GPs’ surgeries, in the vast majority of local centres or inside large supermarkets. Only their opening hours, particularly on a Sunday, may be a barrier to access. Dental surgeries are almost as numerous as GPs’ surgeries, but many that offer NHS-supported services have no capacity to take on additional patients. Barriers of cost prevent many people from registering with private dentists.
Local Indicator: % households in low income wards that include children, within 10 and 20 minutes travel time by public transport of an NHS registered dentist from 0830-1730 on an average weekday compared to % all households that include children.
Trips to local centres for fresh food are usually combined with other trip purposes, for example to pharmacies for regular prescriptions, to a Post Office or bank for personal business or for leisure reasons. We are encouraging this sustainable trip pattern by making locational planning decisions in line with WMRSS policy UR3: Enhancing the role of City, Town and District Centres (develop strategies to maintain and enhance the underpinning role of all urban centres to serve their local communities in terms of retail provision, access to services and cultural / leisure activities’). We will monitor accessibility to local and main centres as a measure of access to this wide variety of important amenities.
Local Indicator: % of households within 5 and 10 minutes travel time by public transport or walk of local centres from 0800-2000 on an average weekday and Saturday
Local Indicator: Public transport accessibility for non-car households to main shopping centres from 0900-2000 on an average weekday and Saturday
Local Indicator: % of households in low income wards able to access main shopping centres for less than £0.80 public transport fare from 0900-2000 on an average weekday and Saturday
Local Indicator: Public transport accessibility for registered disabled and elderly to main shopping centres from 0900-2000 on an average weekday and Saturday compared to all households accessibility
High Level Accessibility Objective: improve access to education.
The West Midlands Metropolitan Area is well-served by nearly 800 primary schools, 243 secondary schools and a widespread public transport network, including specific school bus services, that mean it is reasonably easy for 5-16 year-olds to get to school on time on a typical weekday. In local education policy documents access only becomes an issue through the 1944 Education Act, in which LEAs are required to provide free transport for children living more than the ‘statutory walking distance from school’ (for under 8s more than 2 miles from their nearest school, for over 8s more than 3 miles, with some slight local variations). However, due to the number of schools available, this is not a real concern in the metropolitan area.
Local Indicator: % of 4-10 year olds within a 2 mile walk (under 8s) and a 3 mile walk (over 8s) from their nearest primary school.
In reality parental choice and specialisation, particularly in terms of faith, mean that pupils do not always go to their nearest school, especially 11-16 year olds. Alongside parental fear of crime or accidents, this can encourage being driven to school, rather than walking, cycling or catching public transport to their closest alternative. This contributes significantly to road congestion, which is itself a barrier to access. To give some idea of the potential impact, it is estimated that around 100,000 car trips are taking children to school every weekday in the West Midlands out of approximately 250,000 car trips in total between 8-9am.
Local Indicator: Public transport accessibility for 11-15 year olds to secondary schools from 0830-1600 on an average weekday.
However access to post-16 education, especially in terms of getting to specialist ‘A’ level courses, is an issue. Walsall and Sandwell have recently begun projects looking at improving access to sites where such courses are held.
Local Indicator: Public transport accessibility for 16-19 year olds to full time further education course providers between 0830-1600 on an average weekday.
Strategic Accessibility Analysis and Problem Identification
The Accessibility Planning process is progressing in the West Midlands despite a number of
unforeseen challenges having arisen. The lateness of the initial distribution of the Accession software, along with very regular updates and a lengthy checking and ‘plugging gaps’ process with the input data, have not yet allowed an accurate or consistent Strategic Accessibility Analysis to be undertaken using Accession. Meanwhile pilot projects are giving us valuable insight into issues, priorities and partnership working.
The seven local authorities and the PTE have, through consultation internally and with selected partners, developed a set of local accessibility indicators that reflect local concerns, as outlined in the High Level Objectives section of this strategy. The indicators cover access to all four key service areas, in line with the priorities shown in the Community Plans. The complete list of indicators is shown below. They are constrained by data availability and accuracy:
Local Access to Health indicators
% of households within 8 and 15 minutes travel time by public transport or walking of a GP surgery or health clinic from 0800-1800 on an average weekday.
% of registered disabled and pensioners over 65 within 15 and 25 minutes travel time of NHS hospital out-patient facilities, by low floor public transport services from 0830-1830 on an average weekday.
% households in low income wards that can travel to GPs surgeries and health clinics by public transport for less than £0.80 fare per person from 0800-1800 on an average weekday.
% households in low income wards that include children, within 10 and 20 minutes travel time by public transport of an NHS registered dentist from 0830-1730 on an average weekday compared to % all households that include children.
% households in low income wards within 15 minutes travel time of a local authority leisure centre from 0800-2100 on an average weekday.
Local Access to Education indicators
% of 4-10 year olds within a 2 mile walk (under 8s) and a 3 mile walk (over 8s) from their nearest primary school.
Public transport accessibility for 11-15 year olds to secondary schools from 0830-1600 on an average weekday.
Accessibility by public transport and walking to adult education centres, universities and colleges from 1700-2200 on an average weekday.
% of households within 8 and 15 minutes travel time by public transport or walking from a public library from 0830-1800 on an average weekday and Saturday.
Public transport accessibility for 16-19 year olds to full time further education course providers between 0830-1600 on an average weekday.
Local Access to Employment indicators
% unemployed within 15 and 30 minutes travel time by public transport of shift work employment sites from 1900-0600 on an average weekday compared to the % 16-65 year olds.
% unemployed within 10 and 15 minutes travel time by public transport or walk of job centres and job centre plus from 0830-1700 on an average weekday.
% of long term unemployed (unemployed for more than 6 months) within 15 and 25 minutes travel time of training destinations by public transport from 0830-1730 on an average weekday.
Public transport accessibility for non-car households to employment sites from 0830-1730 on an average weekday compared to all households accessibility.
Public transport accessibility for registered disabled to employment sites from 0830-1730 on an average weekday compared to all households accessibility.
% lone parent households within 15 minutes travel time by public transport and less than £0.70 fare per person of childcare facilities from 0700-0900 on an average weekday.
Local Access to Fresh Food indicators
% of households within 5 and 10 minutes travel time by public transport or walk of local centres from 0800-2000 on an average weekday and Saturday.
Public transport accessibility for non-car households to main shopping centres from 0900-2000 on an average weekday and Saturday.
% of households in low income wards able to access main shopping centres for less than £0.80 public transport fare from 0900-2000 on an average weekday and Saturday.
Public transport accessibility for registered disabled and elderly to main shopping centres from 0900-2000 on an average weekday and Saturday compared to all households accessibility.
As a starting point this is quite a comprehensive list, but it will almost certainly be thinned down, and maybe indicators altered slightly to be more useful, when modelling capabilities and data reliability issues are sorted out. It will be useful to compare results from the monitoring of the local indicators with that of the six national core accessibility indicators to be provided by DfT. The local indicators will contribute to the assessment of our progress against the LTP target: improve accessibility to the four key service areas by public transport by X% between 2004/5 and 2010/11
Consultation and Partnership Working
The seven local authorities and the PTE have embarked on direct involvement with Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) to try and raise the profile of Accessibility Planning. For example, in Coventry the LSP Transport Theme Group has been given the task of helping to bring forward and play a full part in the Accessibility Planning process. In Birmingham stakeholder discussions were springboarded by an extended session of the Birmingham Strategic Partnership (BSP) in November 2004 (see the report of this session on their website www.bhamsp.org.uk) and the BSP secretariat have continued to play a supportive role. The authorities have also been working alongside consultants that have been specially commissioned to help improve links between the Accessibility Planning process and the LSPs. The local authorities will work towards strengthening these relationships as they appear to be the most efficient way of maximising engagement with relevant partners. Guidance produced by various Government departments to encourage engagement in Accessibility Planning by the health, education and employment sectors has so far not proved as successful as hoped.
Discussions on accessibility issues are also occurring between Council departments. As an example, Birmingham has set up a cross-council working group to raise awareness and comment on priorities. In addition a transport consultation process is being rolled out in each of the 11 council districts within Birmingham that highlights accessibility issues within each district.
Partnerships have been established with some specialist groups, for example the Valuing People Support Team which represents people with learning disabilities. Discussions are ongoing about practical ways in which the transport system can be more responsive to the needs of this disadvantaged group. Consultation on accessibility issues has also been going on at a less strategic level. The issue of access to healthcare has been investigated in Dudley where services that have been provided over four hospital sites have been centralised into one (Russell’s Hall). Initial discussions with the local Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have proved fruitful in revealing a willingness to provide additional bus services to improve access to facilities following this change.
Local PCTs are also embarking on a project to provide Health Improvement (LIFT) sites across the metropolitan area. Accessibility Planning is providing a policy, and modelling can provide an evidence base, to ensure that the locations of these new facilities are as accessible as possible. The issues initially raised in Dudley have pointed to the desirability of a Black Country-wide audit of accessibility to health services to reflect the reality of catchment areas crossing administrative boundaries. Sandwell MBC has taken this idea on board in a study of access to health facilities and local centres in the borough. The location of LIFT sites is also an issue in Birmingham.
Centro Access Forums on employment and health, and a local Social Exclusion half-day conference, have highlighted accessibility issues. This work will continue via newsletters and networking events.
Poor English language capability is a barrier to using public transport for many people. Language Line, a telephone interpreting service for people who have difficulty communicating in English, is now available at New Street Station to provide assistance with timetables, public transport routes and ticket sales. This service has recently been set up by Centro, allowing access to telephone interpreters in over 150 languages, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
People with learning disabilities have many barriers which can prevent them using mainstream transport. Some issues are similar to those experienced by other disadvantaged and socially excluded groups of people. However, physical access is not the main barrier for most people with learning disabilities. Other important factors are:
- travel information that is hard to understand
- concerns about personal safety and harassment
- lack of understanding from front line staff
- inflexible special transport services provided by social services departments
- cost of transport
- lack of support and training to use transport
The West Midlands Authorities are committed to working with groups representing people with learning difficulties to ensure their access needs are addressed.
The issues of an ageing population can also create accessibility problems. The West Midlands Authorities are committed to working alongside groups such as Help The Aged to ensure the access needs of older people are addressed. The Age Proofing Toolkit provides an invaluable reference document in ensuring these needs are met.
Finally, the West Midlands Regional Observatory has been conducting a large-scale, area-wide lifestyle survey of residents, which includes both indirect and direct questions on accessibility. Analysis of results is currently taking place. These can be used to help determine both priorities and indicators.
Pilot projects in Accessibility Planning are currently underway in Birmingham / Solihull and Walsall.
In Birmingham / Solihull the pilot has looked at accessibility in a large part of the East Birmingham and North Solihull Regeneration Zone, with a view to deriving a comprehensive and consistent methodology for undertaking accessibility planning in the West Midlands based on the five-stage process defined by DfT. Consultants initially used Accession to generate area-wide plots of non-car journey times to hospitals, doctors, schools etc, then co-ordinated initial discussions with local stakeholders to get a ‘reality check’ of the results. This has pointed to the need to focus on three local assessments of:
1. The safety, cost and awareness of public transport in the East Birmingham section of the Regeneration Zone
2. Forward planning for access to GPs throughout Birmingham, taking account of closed lists and imminent retirements
3. Access to employment at Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham Business Park, in particular from North Solihull and areas of Sheldon and Shard End
Subsequent stakeholder discussions within Birmingham are yielding additional issues that are considered sufficiently important to pursue, for example the siting of the new community-based health and social care facilities (under the Government’s LIFT initiative).
This pilot project has proved valuable in highlighting issues and kick-starting stakeholder engagement. Some issues raised include:
Various government policies and initiatives have adverse impacts on accessibility and may have adverse impacts on social inclusion, for example patient choice which tends to advantage people who take more control of their lives and are more mobile (with ready access to cars)
Various stakeholder strategies are having adverse impacts on accessibility, for example the local Learning & Skills Council’s encouragement to colleges to specialise in different courses, and the CSP’s actions in gating off alleyways which can stop people from walking to local amenities
There are some localised accessibility problems that are being addressed within the relevant local administration (Birmingham has 11 Districts with devolved responsibilities) which may lead to changes in bus service provision (either imminently or via a major scheme submission in 2006 which will provide an overhaul of the bus network in the area using the results of this pilot project)
In general, accessibility to GPs, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges is within threshold levels and it is the less easily measurable aspects of accessibility which are the key problems (people don’t feel safe walking / waiting at the bus stop or on bus, people dont know which bus to catch, where and when to get on it or where to get off (accentuated by the area having a high BME community, local college not providing the desired course, no places in local school when family moves house etc.)
It is intended to generate schemes on the ground as a result of the pilot local assessments and continuing stakeholder discussions, so this will be a focus of accessibility planning work for the two local authorities involved (plus the PTE) for the remainder of 2005/6.
In Walsall a study has been commissioned to assess whether post-16 students can get to places of learning. A change in funding for subsidising travel by 16-19 year olds to further education courses has lead to concerns over students’ ability to pay for travel and so reduced accessibility to the 19 FE schools and colleges in Walsall. Working with the Local Education Authority, the study will not only gauge provision for current students but also highlight areas of unmet demand, where participation could be improved through more appropriate transport.
A further study in Walsall has been commissioned to look at access to employment opportunities for the population of the Blakenall New Deal for Communities area, one of the ten most deprived wards in the West Midlands. There is major concern about public transport services giving access to local employment sites that are not on the main north-south radial roads, in particular where a shift system currently prevents public transport users accessing a proposed development site. As in Birmingham and Solihull these pilot projects will form the basis for further work in the short-term.
The Way Forward
The Accessibility Planning agenda is developing at a rapid rate. There are almost as many definitions of accessibility as groups who should be engaged in the process, and bringing all these partners together to agree a consistent and coherent way forward is proving a significant challenge. It is important for the West Midlands authorities to be able to produce evidence of the problems that exist in order to be able to engage potential partners effectively. This has been achieved in the district-led pilot projects, but the lateness and difficulties in using the Accession software has hindered progress on agreeing local accessibility indicators and future work programmes to address the problems raised. It is the priority of the West Midlands authorities to establish the evidence base of ‘accessibility gaps’ with partners before defining the resources and options available and agreeing action plans in line with the five-stage process recommended by DfT.
Work will continue to establish relationships with outside partners with a view to broadening involvement in accessibility planning for the benefit of all, but especially the most disadvantaged groups in society. It is intended that an agreed evidence base of access problems, option appraisals and a resources audit to inform an action plan and outline programme of works will be produced in time for incorporation into the Accessibility Strategy to be produced as part of the final LTP in March 2006.
Appendix — Accessibility Statements in local Community Strategies
Birmingham Community Strategy – access to:
General Services – Aim for a city where people are not disadvantaged by where they live, where everyone receives a high standard of public services; use locality planning to improve access to key services and continuing support for local centres that provide people with access to shops and other services; make getting about in the city easier, with improvements that focus on congestion, making streets safer and more pleasant and improving the quality of public transport; reduce re-offending by improving priority offenders access to drug treatment and to opportunities for education, training and employment
Health – Make it easier to take exercise and promote healthy eating; improve access to co-ordinated services across the city for parents and young children; provide up-to-date care close to home for those who suffer ill-health; improve support in local communities for those with long-term illness
Jobs – Engage with businesses so they can provide investment and jobs in localities; sustain local centres of employment
Learning – Expand the number and quality of childcare places in the city with a focus on improving access to those in greatest need; improve adult skills through the successful community-based learning that has been helping many adults who lack basic skills, and by increasing vocational training and modern apprenticeships for both young people and older adults
Other Services – Provide culture up your street through better access to, and opportunities for, cultural, sport and leisure activities outside the city centre, with a particular focus on involving young people; extend the use of schools to provide the base for other public services and to offer support to parents and pupils beyond school hours; improve peoples access to, and enjoyment of, green and open space
Coventry Community Plan – access to:
Health – Provide better access to services to maintain and improve safe and healthy living; work in partnership to improve access to drug treatment services
Jobs – Improve physical access (transport) and social access (childcare) to jobs
Learning – Develop alternative and additional learning activities in priority neighbourhoods and communities
Dudley Community Plan – access to:
Health – Promote fairness of access to health and social care services across the borough
Jobs – Enable local people to get local jobs, in particular the disadvantaged to access good quality training and employment; improve childcare provision, information and training to encourage take up of employment
Learning – Improve access to learning opportunities for everyone
Other Services – Improve mobility for people who find it difficult to travel in the borough
Sandwell Community Plan – access to:
Health – Introduce a network of Healthy Living Centres for Sandwell
Jobs – Developing a partnership-based ‘Access to Jobs’ Strategy
Learning – Establish a network of learning centres across Sandwell through Sandwell Learning
Other Services – All sections of the community will have access to opportunities and services which are appropriate to their needs
Solihull Community Strategy – access to:
Health – Improve access for patients; continue to move services traditionally based in hospitals into the community, making them more convenient for residents to access and reduce inequalities in health
Jobs – Enable local people to gain local jobs, in particular assisting those people who experience disadvantage or discrimination; improve access for disabled people to an increased range of employment possibilities
Learning – Improve access to learning, creative and cultural opportunities for everyone; set targets to ensure every 3 year old has a nursery place; improve access to computers
Other Services – Develop wider surface and air transport choices to improve accessibility to work, education and key services to minimise congestion and improve accessibility for business, leisure and tourism; provide leisure facilities that are easy to access
Walsall Community Strategy – access to:
Jobs – Increase the quality of access to childcare places; provide projects that combine job creation with activities to support individuals to access jobs; ensure there is a clear link between organisations helping businesses to create jobs and those assisting residents to access those jobs
Learning – Learning opportunities need to be appropriate, affordable, relevant and easily accessible; provide pathways to learning opportunities through the Adult Information Advice and Guidance Service; provide better access to daytime learning for adults and 16-19 year old students using community associations
Wolverhampton Community Plan – access to:
Health – Locate GPs where they are most needed; provide new healthcare facilities, including traditional hospital-based services, closer to peoples homes by 2006
Jobs – Local peoples’ skills will be broadened to access greater job opportunities
Learning – Provide more adults with access to advice, guidance and learning services at local centres
Other Services – Better local access to leisure activities and facilities; increase the number of leisure sessions / activities for people with disabilities