Cookstown Disability Forum gears up to advise Mid Ulster District Council

Chairperson of Cookstown Disability Forum Ursula Marshall with members and council representatives at their last  meeting before the super council swings into action
Chairperson of Cookstown Disability Forum Ursula Marshall with members and council representatives at their last meeting before the super council swings into action

Cookstown Disability Forum got together for the last time last week to reflect on the progress they made within the district and discuss how the improvements can be rolled out across Mid Ulster super council.

Led by Cookstown District Council, which has been heralded as one of Northern Ireland’s forerunners for their work on issues that affect the differently-abled, the group has helped with a new disability action plan for the super council.

The year-long strategy covers issues ranging from access to venues, leisure facilities and how to impart council information to providing equality and disability training for staff.

And disability organisations will be given the chance to have their say as part of a proposed Audit of Inequalities between 2015 and 2016.

Speaking at the meeting, Cookstown’s Equality Manager Dominic McCanny, said: “This is a process of two-way engagement with people with disabilities and those with an interest in disability issues.

The purpose of the forum, he added, is to allow the council to engage with and hear about some of those issues, before asking whether they have delivered on them or not.

“This has been an ongoing process for quite a few years now,” Mr McCanny added.

“We have been doing a lot more cross-council work recently as we have been moving towards the new Mid Ulster Council. So it’s very much a question of us as a council being open and saying what we are doing and what we hope to achieve and then measuring that.

“The new Mid Ulster Council has set itself a range of targets for the first year of operation and clearly we will want to go out and do consultation because it’s a much wider remit now.

“The action plan was brought forward to them in December and they have authorised us to proceed on that basis.

“One of the issues that we had, was having our AAA standard on the website - we are one of just two councils in Northern Ireland to have that and that is due to the commitment of our IT staff.”