A series of questions about the future of disabled access at Bognor Regis beach are being put to Arun District Council.
At a meeting of Bognor Regis Town Council on Monday, members agreed to ask Arun whether it had formally considered a project for a ramp yet, if a budget had been agreed and if the intended start date of 2022/3 was still realistic.
These were among the recommendations from an online beach and sea access topic team meeting.
The town council also agreed to support a beach access project.
The idea of a disabled access ramp at the beach goes back several years and in October we reported how it was to be a priority in this year’s Arun budget.
Though members agreed on the concept of disabled access to the beach, there was some controversy as to the exact wording of the motion at Monday’s town council meeting, which specified a ‘built ramp’.
Feeling this was restrictive, council members eventually passed an amendment which replaced the words ‘built ramp’ with ‘disabled access’.
The amendment was suggested by Cllr Matt Stanley, who said: “I’m very supportive of beach access in Bognor Regis. My concern about a ramp is that we should be consulting with potential users to find a solution to access the beach at Bognor.”
He went on to point out that a ramp was just one of several solutions suggested by engineers and the council should not limit itself without further consultation from those who need disabled access.
Cllr Jim Brooks called the amendment ‘disappointing’.
“A ramp is clearly what we’re talking about,” he said, “and (Cllr Stanley’s) amendment seems to take that out of it. I don’t think that should happen.
“It does come down to a ramp, one way or another- as to where it is or what it is, I don’t think we should be limited.”
After the meeting, Arun district councillor and wheelchair user Amanda Worne spoke to the importance of viable wheelchair access on Bognor Regis beach.
“It’s just about having a beach that’s accessible to all,” she said.
She pointed out that, though wheelchair users can potentially use the ramps designed for boats and jet skis on the beach, they are neither safe, nor genuinely accessible.
“You can’t really share those because what happens if you’re down there and a boat needs to come down and the tide’s coming in? Those ramps aren’t really overly accessible.”
Disabled access to the beach, therefore, needs to be achieved and it needs to be achieved quickly, Ms Worne said. She added: “You need specific access that’s safe and built for people, so that it can be accessed by everybody.”