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Sweetener / 7 November 2008

The UK government’s plan to start work on building five new eco-towns has emerged from the second round of the government’s public consultation on eco-towns which started at the beginning of this month. Sounds like it could be a very good thing. Exciting huh?! ecotowns cartoon

There’s mention of good quality, low priced, environmentally friendly homes and the need to get the housing market moving again during this economic downturn – great, all commendable - , but … nope, just checked again; not a mention of accessibility!

We must assume of course that all these new homes will be built to lifetime homes standards. Here’s an opportunity to start from scratch and create state-of-the-art accessibility in the eco-towns … but … Perhaps it’s just me being my cynical old self (Surely not?! – Ed) and they are including Disabled people in this consultation process, and it’s just an oversight that they haven’t used the term ‘accessible’ once in their recent statements?!

But what if it isn’t and we’re not being included again in yet another decision by this government regarding an issue that ultimately affects us all? I would suggest that Disabled people, above others in any other walks of life (no pun intended) should be involved at all levels of consultation when it comes to housing and having somewhere accessible to live. Please someone reassure me that someone, somewhere in government has had the bright idea that these new towns should be fully inclusive and accessible to all citizens at all points in our lives.

OK. Who wants to start the response … When Disabled people are provided with independent accessible accommodation, linked to an accessible education, an accessible transport system and accessible places of work, the economy can only benefit (as it’s done in the U.S.A). Can we start afresh with these eco-towns maybe?

Remove the barriers that disable us and we can start to play a more fundamental role in society. We can become bigger consumers, paying more taxes and health benefit contributions and adding our skills to that of the general populace. It’s a win-win situation, and as soon as this government and society in general get their heads from out of their collective arses and realise this, the better we’ll all be.

Roll on the revolution, that’s what I say!

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