Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council held their Amenities, Leisure & Community Services Committee meeting yesterday (17 January).
Although there was a good turn out by the public there were no questions from the floor during the opening question time.
Verbal updates were provided on the installation of defibrillators in a number of locations, a trim trail design and plans on playground enhancements.
This was followed by a presentation by Gracechurch Centre Manager, Angela Henderson, on the proposal for a Changing Places toilet in the town centre.
Changing Places toilets provide accessible facilities for people with, often profound and multiple, learning disabilities, as well as people with physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis. They are larger than standard accessible toilets with extra features and more space to meet these needs and are generally designed for dependent use, for example with a carer.
The facility will be available near to the Gracechurch Centre customer service office where staff will be available to help with any issues. This location is also close to the disabled parking bays.
Angela Henderson confirmed that the Gracechurch Centre will maintain the toilets for the first year, adding:
“We were approached over a year ago about installing a Changing Places room and at the time we did not have any adequate space.
“We have since investigated possibilities and we propose to alter our Customer Services Office to accommodate the Changing Places facility which is sited on level one of our car park next to our Shopmobility scheme and parking for the disabled. It is an ideal space for anyone needing these facilities and will be easy to access on this level.”
Councillor Louise Passey commented:
“I have been working exceptionally hard on this project during the past year for Sutton Coldfield to have a Changing Places toilet. I’m very excited that residents and visitors to the town will now be able to benefit from this very important facility.
“I have spoken to many families recently for whom this will make a significant difference. This is yet another fine example that our Town Council is committed to being inclusive and accessible to all regardless of need or disability.”
The committee voted in favour of recommending to Full Council that M & G Real Estate is commissioned to provide a Changing Places Toilet Facility at the Gracechurch Shopping Centre. And that a one-off grant of £40,000 is made to M & G Real Estate towards the cost of installing the facility.
A recommendation to Full Council that Financial Regulations 11.1 (d) relating to contracts
be waived as it was not possible to identify any alternative partners who could provide an appropriate space within the Town Centre for the installation and ongoing maintenance of this key facility was also passed.
The next item on the agenda was the examination of the possible expansion of Sutton Park Town Gate play area.
Bob Churn of Birmingham City Council Landscape Practice Group (LPG) gave a presentation to the Committee on a proposed ‘destination play area’ at Town Gate.
The location for the expanded play area was confirmed as falling outside of the defined Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI).
Mr Churn suggested a three phase approach with phase one estimated to cost in the region of £150,000 to £180,000. This phase would include the development of eye-catching, adventurous equipment such as tall towers, slides climbing ropes, ‘communal swings’ and a possible aerial zip wire. These additions would be made within the boundaries of the current site.
A second phase would see modifications to the brook that runs adjacent to the play area. This would include removing some of the bank, adding large boulders and slowing the flow in parts to create small pools of water. A trim trail would also be added. These changes are estimated to cost approximately £50,000 to £60,000.
A third phase, which remains at this time less detailed in content, would include a re-engineering of the landscape to produce a ‘splash area’ – there is no costing estimate for this without further details but a similar project in Norwich’s Waterloo Park came in at £215,000. It was confirmed that Birmingham City Council are looking at possible commercial opportunities related to phase three.
Cllr Maria Hewett raised the point of the cafe facilities at Town Gate and questioned how they could be improved but Bob Churn stated that, while he recognises that there are other issues his remit was the play area.
Cllr Keith Ward had a similar point and wants the City Council to improve the facilities at Town Gate including modernising the toilets. Cllr Ward also commented on the poor flow of the brook further upstream and that this may need dredging to help in the development of phase two.
The idea of a commercial enterprise being included in the development was identified as a possible concern if local residents were going to be ask to pay for the use of any facilities within the new play area.
The committee voted in favour of Birmingham City Council carrying out a feasibility study and that funds of £7,000 should be reserved by the Finance and General Purposes Committee for this purpose.
Item 47 was a Sutton Coldfield in Bloom update (further news on this to come).
Item 48 Birmingham Pride 2018 was a request for the committee to consider the allocation of £1,000 from the Social Inclusion budget towards the cost of a Sutton Coldfield float at Birmingham Pride 2018. This was passed unanimously.
In a change to the usual committee procedure, community grant applications were considered in public. This allowed for the temporary suspension of orders to allow members of the committee to direct questions to those applicants present. This provided an improved and more transparent process.
The next Amenities, Leisure & Community Services Committee meeting will be held on 13th March 2018