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West Cheshire’s Corporate Disability Access Forum (CDAF) has been judged a winner at the first ever national Accessible Britain Challenge Awards.

The partnership of over 20 organisations, led by Cheshire West and Chester Council, took top place in the ‘Improved Mobility’ category for its work to involve disabled people in the design of major new public building projects including Chester’s new theatre and library project, Northwich’s Barons Quay and the new Chester bus interchange.

The Accessible Britain Challenge Awards are intended to publicly recognise organisations that are making an outstanding contribution towards communities being accessible and inclusive.

Taking place in the House of Commons, the award was presented by the Minister of State for Disabled People, Mark Harper to Chair of the Corporate Disability Access Forum, Councillor Charles Fifield, Chair of Vale Royal Disability Services Christine Pickthall MBE and Senior Access Officer, Graham Garnett.

Councillor Charles Fifield, said: “CDAF aims to make major new development projects within West Cheshire more accessible, not just for disabled people but anyone with mobility issues, which is increasingly important with an ageing population.

“This award builds on our excellent reputation as a council that is working hard to be fully inclusive of all of our residents’ needs when we design and deliver services – indeed during the awards ceremony, CDAF cited as an example of best practice for other councils to follow.

“We will continue to work hard to ensure that major new developments within the borough follow inclusive design principles and go above and beyond minimum standards for the benefit of those with mobility issues by ensuring people with experience of mobility issues are involved in design consultations.”

Established in 2013, CDAF is a partnership of local and regional disability organisations, local access groups and Cheshire West and Chester Council, who work together on a remit which includes working with developers, architects and project managers to encourage greater accessibility at developments in the public realm and promoting the adoption of inclusive design for all.

Members of the Forum also work to ensure that local issues are addressed from an informed and representative consumer viewpoint by a group that is made up of people who are either disabled or represent disabled people.

The Forum was nominated for the Award by DIAL West Cheshire, who received a Highly Commended for their ‘Safe in Town’ initiative which was shortlisted in the ‘Safer Neighbourhoods’ category.

Chief Officer of DIAL West Cheshire, Keith Roper, said: “It’s great that the excellent work being undertaken by Cheshire West and Chester and DIAL is being publicly recognised and appreciated by these national awards.

“In establishing CDAF the Council recognised the various advantages from a health and wellbeing, equality & diversity, and economic perspective, of establishing an effective forum for disabled people and their representative organisations to help shape and influence the design of buildings, facilities and services within the borough.

“CDAF is a worthy winner of this prestigious award and I’m sure all partners within the forum will be motivated to continue our innovative approach to improving access for disabled people.”

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