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Group that fought for better access for disabled people forced to close

PUBLISHED: 10:01 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:01 13 June 2019

The Dereham and District Access Group has been forced to close. This picture shows the group celebrating its 25th anniversary. Picture: Supplied by Kate Wyatt

The Dereham and District Access Group has been forced to close. This picture shows the group celebrating its 25th anniversary. Picture: Supplied by Kate Wyatt

Archant

A group that fought for better access for disabled people in a mid Norfolk town has been forced to close.

The Dereham and District Access Group has been running for 30 years.

But the chairman, Julian King, vice-chairman Linda West and secretary Kate Wyatt are all standing down, and an open meeting to find replacements last month, was unsuccessful.

Mrs West said: "We very much regret that the group has been forced to close.

"Members will be continuing with other organisations in the town and will be pleased to raise access issues with them.

"Although our group is folding, this does not prevent a new group from starting up and our umbrella group, Equal Lives, Norfolk's Coalition of Disabled People, can offer advice on how to set it up.

"And our exiting members will be very willing to offer advice to anyone wishing to carry on with our cause."

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The group started in 1989 with the aim to raise awareness of issues affecting those with disabilities of all kinds.

Nrs West added: "This aim was certainly achieved in those early days and in advance of the Disability Acts which strengthened the cause but did not overcome all the problems.

"Many of the automatic doors, dropped kerbs and ramps first became available because of the group's early efforts.

"We have been able to offer advice to and for various concerns and projects. These include the Memorial Hall, Dereham's windmill, disability groups and schools, the Mid Norfolk Railway, and supermarkets.

"Our advice for toilet facilities was especially welcome and we also helped in a court case which resulted in a successful conclusion."

Over the years the group received financial help and encouragement from Dereham Town Council, Breckland Council, Flagship Housing Group and Norfolk County Council's Police and Highways Departments.

Equal Lives is holding an event in Dereham to let people know about its work, between 11am and 1pm on Thursday, June 20, at the Memorial Hall in Norwich Street. Anyone wishing to attend should call 01508 491210 or email membership@equallives.org.uk to give an idea of numbers. Access Group members can be contacted on 01362 696241 or 01362 700275.

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