Downtown project ponders disability strategy with ministries of equality and business
Downtown Gibraltar recently met with the ministries of equality and business in a bid to discuss how it’s Business Improvement District (BID) can be more welcoming for those with disabilities.
Downtown Gibraltar prioritises its BID to be ‘Clean, Green and Welcoming’.
The BID team has been meeting with different disability organisations to get their feedback.
Project Head Stuart Byrne relayed this feedback to the Ministry of Equality, and other matters related to the running of businesses in the area were in turn relayed to the Ministry for Business.
“Making Gibraltar a more accessible and welcoming place is the responsibility of all its citizens and it is something that our Government has improved since we took office,” the Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, said.
“It is exciting and encouraging to see that the BID project has included accessibility as part of their ethos. The Ministry of Equality will do everything in its power to ensure that this project serves people with disabilities well and they can count on our full support.”
“Different businesses may need to find different solutions when offering accessibility according to their circumstances. HM Government of Gibraltar has already set up a tax incentive that will help businesses become more accessible, but the most important change is to have a more positive attitude towards accessibility.”
Following the meeting, the Gibraltar Government said it was already in the process of extending the UN Convention on Disabilities to Gibraltar, adding that there would be a “forthcoming programme of cooperation with local businesses that would help them understand their future responsibilities under the Disability Act as well as offering information on how businesses can make themselves more accessible to their clients.”
Some of the issues mentioned in the meeting were the extension of the Disabled Access to Property (Deduction) Rules until June 2024, which allows business to claim tax benefits when making their premises more accessible, with accessible toilets and extended opening times, closed-loop facilities in more establishments, entrance steps and ramps, clear signage, making steps clearer, and staff training for disabilities.
The Government added that the Ministry of Equality has already been working on a number of projects in relation to disability education and awareness and will be working with the BID project to expand this in the same way that it has worked with the GFSB and the Chamber of Commerce in the past.
“The BID project is about making our town centre a better place to visit for our whole community and visitors alike,” the Minister for Business, Tourism and The Port, Vijay Daryanani, said.
“Our disabled people are extremely important to the Government and we want to create a better environment for them. Other cities are giving accessibility the great emphasis it deserves and we should certainly follow suit”.
Mr Byrne thanked the Ministry of Equality for their time and useful feedback, adding he hopes to “continue to work together to make things better and more welcoming.”