Seaton beach pilot scheme sees physically impaired enjoy seafront
By Francesca Evans
14th Jul 2022 | Local News
A Seaton resident was able to enjoy the beach for the first time in a decade thanks to a new pilot scheme for the physically impaired.
A special 85-metre platform, made from Tuff Trac which is a combination of plastic and aluminium, has been placed along Seaton Beach and is being used by a variety of residents.
The new path allows wheelchair and mobility scooter users to enjoy parts of the seafront which would normally be hard for them to access.
It comes as part of a joint scheme, by Seaton Town Council (STC) and East Devon District Council (EDDC), which was launched after a request from a group of residents with physical impairments.
The project came to fruition thanks to a combination in funding from EDDC, STC and Councillor Marcus Hartnell's Devon County Council locality budget.
If the pilot is successful EDDC intends to look into additional funding to extend the length of the path in both directions. The track is being closely monitored to ensure it is set up in the most effective way.
The Mayor of Seaton, Cllr Amrik Singh, said: "Seaton Town Council appointed Nicky Dack as its 'Disability Champion' to assist the town council in making small adjustments around the town to make it more accessible for all.
"The beach matting is a great addition to the beach and complements the town's wide accessible promenade and upcoming free Summer Beach School for local children, with one-to-one sessions available to accommodate all needs. Seaton is the town where everyone is welcome."
District and town councillor Dan Ledger added: ""It's great to see this pilot programme come forward. From Nicky's original idea to the reaffirmation of its need from the public consultation and then partnership working from all three levels of local authority to make it happen. It really is a story of success and working together to deliver for tangible changes for the public.
"Hopefully, the scheme is a great success and work can then begin on gaining funding for a further extension."
Fellow district and town councillor Marcus Hartnell, who is also the Seaton deputy mayor, continued: "I'm really pleased to support this project with my locality budget.
"Making our beach more accessible will mean that many more people can enjoy spending time during the summer with friends and family and not feel excluded.
"I'd like to thank our local disability champion Nicky Dack who suggested this idea to councillors last year and I very much look forward to working with her and others to deliver more initiatives like this that will make Seaton more accessible."
Ward councillor Jack Rowland added: "Having been involved in the initial meeting with Nicky Dack and other residents and listening to their concerns I'm really pleased to see this track matting installed.
"This is evidence of all three levels of local government, at town, district and county, working together to research, cost and finance this initiative and all credit to the EDDC beach safety officer Pete Blyth and the team behind him for bringing this to fruition."
EDDC councillor Geoff Jung said: ""What a wonderful idea! I do hope this trial will prove a major success and we can role the idea out to our other beaches along our coast as soon as possible.
"Provision for the disabled to enjoy our full range of facilities are very important and a key consideration whenever we consider improvements and changes to our buildings and public access."