Hayling Island residents with disabilities say 'impossible' beach access is 'discriminatory'

RESIDENTS with disabilities on Hayling Island say they feel ‘discriminated’ against due to the lack of accessible points to enjoy the island’s scenic beaches.

Friday, 6th May 2022, 4:55 am
Rod Hall (80) at the top of the accessibility ramp on Hayling Island beach. Picture: Mike Cooter

A group of people with mobility issues have banded together to demand the council works to make beaches across the island more accessible, saying that the few ramps in place simply lead to wheelchairs and scooters getting stuck on the shingle.

Joanna Hamilton, who has lived on the island for six years, uses a wheelchair after a traumatic brain injury a decade ago, and she is now rallying fellow residents with disabilities to call for action from Havant Borough Council.

Speaking at the ramp leading from the car park in Southwood Road, the 63-year-old said: ‘It’s impossible to access the beach in my wheelchair.

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Rod Hall (80) with Jayne Harrison (74) and Joanna Hamilton (63) in front of the sea defences on Hayling Island beach. Picture: Mike Cooter (300422)

‘I feel very cut off.

‘It does feel very discriminatory. It’s bad enough when you feel like this without having to feel discriminated against.

‘The island’s beaches are all about the same. There’s not much in it really.’

‘It makes me feel so much better. To see the sea for me is quite spiritual – it really lifts my spirits.

Rod Hall (80) at the accessibility ramp on Hayling Island beach, where a sea view is blocked by sea defences. Picture: Mike Cooter (300422)

‘Just put a ramp up so we can see the sea.’

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Beaches on the island used to have better facilities for disabled access until about 10 years ago, according to Rod Hall, a resident of more than 50 years.

The 80-year-old, who has osteoporosis and uses a mobility scooter, said: ‘I used to frequent this beach many years ago – there was a further ramp that led to a boardwalk with a picnic table.

‘Unfortunately we cannot get up the sea defences, which are a necessary part of the island.

‘It does mean people like myself using the pathway cannot see the sea.

‘I would like to see more access every couple of hundred metres.’

Havant Borough Council were approached to comment on the situation, but have yet to reply.

But Joanna isn’t optimistic that the situation will improve.

She said: ‘I would like to think so – but I’m not hugely optimistic.

‘I would like to think it will progress – they will start listening to the problems.’

The Equality Act 2010 outlined that any organisation that provides goods or services must make 'reasonable adjustments' to ensure anyone can access their services.