Funding project to bring beach wheelchairs to Exmouth officially launches

PUBLISHED: 16:00 17 November 2019

Big wheel wheelchairs to be provided in Exmouth. Picture: MigGroningen – Wikimedia Commons/Simon Horn

Big wheel wheelchairs to be provided in Exmouth. Picture: MigGroningen – Wikimedia Commons/Simon Horn

Picture: MigGroningen – Wikimedia Commons/Simon Horn

Disabled people in Exmouth could enjoy a dip in the sea after a funding project to buy three beach wheelchairs officially launched.

Exmouth town councillor Pauline Stott said an area opposite the RNLI lifeboat station has been identified to site a seafront storage unit for the wheelchairs - with approval being sought.

The project was launched off the back of a unanimously backed motion put forward to Exmouth Town Council's September meeting, which asked the authority to allow Cllr Stott to investigate funding and storage options for multi-terrain wheelchairs.

Cllr Stott said she hopes to have the specialist wheelchairs in place on the seafront in time for the 2020 summer season.

Speaking at Exmouth Town Council on November 6, Cllr Stott said £25,000 would fund the project, which would help with the construction of the purpose-built store and the purchase of three beach wheelchairs.

She said money could be channelled in from district and county council funding pots.

An online crowdfunder for the project will be launched in upcoming weeks to help raise a portion of the £25,000.

Cllr Stott said: "I hope all councillors will contribute, no matter how small.

"We hope to purchase a storage hut that is purpose-built and three disabled wheelchairs to start us off.

"I am sure that when it starts, it will prove very successful."

Cllr Frank Cullis said the project was a 'fantastic idea', and questioned if the council had a duty to provide someone to help the users enter the water.

Cllr Stott said disabled people do not usually go on the beach by themselves, and are often assisted by carers, families or friends.

She said: "They can wheel themselves onto the beach, but they have to make sure that people that have the floating wheelchairs have a carer with them or a family member with them when they go in the water."

Cllr Stott, who previously said Exmouth should have the wheelchairs due to the size of the town, added: "These are used in America all the time.

"Every beach in America has them - you go to any beach in Cornwall and they have them."

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