Venue: Bracknell Library, Town Square, Bracknell, RG12 1BH
Contact: Katharine Simpson 01344 352308
Tour of Bracknell LIbrary
An opportunity to tour Bracknell Library to view the work that has taken place to improve its accessibility and facilities.
Fiona Atkinson, Community Services Manager, gave a guided tour of Bracknell Library to highlight the access improvements that had been made to the facility.
To receive and note the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 22 April 2015
The minutes of the Bracknell Forest Access Group meeting held on 22 April were agreed as a correct record.
Bracknell Town Centre Regeneration Update
To receive an update from Simon Russian, Legal and General, on the work to regenerate Bracknell Town Centre.
Simon Russian, Legal and General, gave a presentation on the regeneration of Bracknell town centre and the work taking place to make the regenerated town centre as accessible as possible.
The Group was informed that most of the steelwork for the two main buildings was now complete and work had started on the new cinema and multi-storey car park. Work on the development of the new public realm was expected to start in December.
The new multi-story car park would be entered from Millennium Way and have 68 disabled parking spaces distributed across its six floors. All the disabled spaces would be located around the central core of the building in close proximity to the lifts. Each floor of the car park would have direct level access to the Marks and Spencer and Fenwicks stores. The car park would be height restricted although four by four vehicles without roof boxes would be able to access the multi-story car park. To ensure that taller vehicles were able to access the town centre a new 35 space surface car park with 8 disabled spaces would be created next to the multi-story car park.
The Group expressed concern that many people found it either difficult or impossible to take tickets from car park barriers. It was agreed that these concerns would be raised with the developers so that appropriate entry and payment systems could be considered.
The Council would be responsible for deciding the parking charges levied. It was not clear whether disabled parking would be free and Councillor Finnie agreed to follow this up with the Council.
To minimise the significant gradient across the town centre the developers were working on a number of solutions including installing lifts to negate the four metre gradient between Waitrose and the rest of the development and breaking up sloping walkways with flat walkways. Where stairs and steps were necessary then these would have visibility strips installed in them and the handrails would be made of wood.
The Shopmobility service was operating successfully from its current location in Princess Square and would remain there after the redevelopment was completed. To improve access to Shopmobility a new layby would be created near to the lifts and the bridges across The Ring into Princess Square would be refurbished.
There would be new toilet facilities in the core area of the multi-story car park and these would include disabled toilets that had been designed according to Changing Places specifications. There would also be two family changing rooms. It was questioned whether the disabled toilets would be locked to all those without a RADAR key and it was agreed that this would be followed up with the developers.
Work on the Way Finding Strategy for the new public realm would be completed in the new year. It was envisaged that a variety of way-finding tools, including powered computer terminals, would be used throughout the town centre
Rough granite block paving would be used throughout the redeveloped town centre. Extensive testing ... view the full minutes text for item 44.
To receive an update from Darren Burgess, Building Surveyor, on work to progress the Council’s Access Improvement Programme.
Darren Burgess, Principal Building Surveyor, presented a report providing an update on the progress being made to improve accessibility of the Council’s public buildings.
During 2014/15, the Council had completed a wide range of improvements to Bracknell Leisure Centre. An offer from the RNIB to assist with this work had been taken up and a number of the RNIB’s suggestions had been incorporated into this work and it was hoped that this would improve the experience of visually impaired visitors to the Leisure Centre. Improvements had also been made at a number of the Council’s operational buildings including the Bracknell Family Centre at Wick Hill and the Children’s Respite Centre at Larchwood.
Work planned for 2015/16 included improving access at North Ascot Library, the youth service accommodation at Portman Close, Bracknell Open Learning Centre, Sandhurst Youth Centre and The Willows Children’s Centre in Priestwood.
Work to improve the accessibility of the Charles Square and High Street Car Parks would be completed in tandem with the wider town centre regeneration works. It was questioned whether it would be possible to replace the barrier systems with a ticketless system and it was agreed that this possibility would be explored.
Although a number of the Council’s public buildings were still not fully accessible, the work required to make them fully accessible could only realistically be done as part of wider refurbishment work to the buildings. Consequently it was envisaged that 2015/16 would be the last year with a dedicated Access Improvement Programme.
It was clarified that the accessibility of any commercial property leased from the Council was the responsibility of the leaseholder.
The Group thanked Darren Burgess for his update.
Bracknell Forest Council Website Redevelopment
To receive an update from Bobby Mulheir, Chief Officer: Customer Services, on the work to redevelop the Borough council’s website.
Bobby Mulheir, Chief Officer: Customer Services, gave a presentation in respect of the work taking place to redevelop the Council’s website.
The Council’s website was in the process of being completely redeveloped to make it simpler, clearer, faster and more secure. Works was also underway to make the site recognise what sort of device that it was being viewed on and then automatically adapting its format to suit the platform.
The Council’s current website was considered to be fully accessible with the highest AA rating possible under the Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and it was intended that this rating would be maintained with the new website. The Council commissioned the Shaw Trust to assess the accessibility of its website on an annual basis and any issues that arose as a result of this testing were addressed.
A key task in improving the accessibility of the new website would be the development of alternative content formats for example easy read, text to speech and British Sign Language. It was noted that a programme that converted text to an avatar using British Sign Language was available and it was agreed that this would be followed up.
Work was also underway to expand the self-service offer available so that residents were able to do as much as possible for themselves for example booking services, reporting problems and paying bills. Residents would also have the opportunity to create a personal account that would automatically pre-populate forms saving them time, enable them to easily submit photographs to report problems and track progress online.
A beta version of the new website was under development and this would be tested by members of the public before it went live. Volunteers to help with this process would be welcome.
It was agreed that the presentation would be circulated.
The Group thanked Bobby Mulheir for her update.
Disabled Go Access Guide
To receive a verbal update from Abby Thomas, Head of Community Engagement and Equalities, on the Disabled Go Access Guide.
It was reported that funding had been secured to fund the Disabled Go programme for a further three years with Bracknell Regeneration Partnership agreeing to contribute 50% of the funding. Updates would be given at future meetings.
Items for Future Meetings
To consider any additional items for discussion at future meetings.
The next meeting of the Bracknell Forest Access Group will be held on 2nd December 2015 at 7.30pm in Easthampstead Baptist Church.
It was agreed that the meeting scheduled for 2 December 2015 would be cancelled as it was unnecessary. The Group’s next scheduled meeting would take place on Wednesday 20 April 2016 at 7.30pm.