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Mayor opens Coventry's new ShopMobility Centre

Published: Friday 17 May 2024

Cllr George Duggins; Richard Parker, Mayor of the West Midlands; manager of ShopMobility Jo Sanders; Cllr Jim O'Boyle; Andy Fancy, managing director of The Hill Group; and Cllr Patricia Hetherton with Barbara Gibbs, a regular user of ShopMobility, at the official opening of the new centre as part of the WMCA-funded City Centre South regeneration.

Cllr George Duggins; Richard Parker, Mayor of the West Midlands; manager of ShopMobility Jo Sanders; Cllr Jim O'Boyle; Andy Fancy, managing director of The Hill Group; and Cllr Patricia Hetherton with Barbara Gibbs, a regular user of ShopMobility, at the official opening of the new centre as part of the WMCA-funded City Centre South regeneration.

The official handover of the new ShopMobility centre in Coventry, took place on Friday 17th May, marking a significant milestone for the Coventry City Centre South major regeneration.

Originally opened just over 30 years ago by the Lord Mayor, Alex Boyd, the new improved facility, which has been relocated from the Barracks car park to Salt Lane car park, represents a significant improvement for its users and the community. 

The new ShopMobility has been constructed by award-winning housebuilder The Hill Group with funding from the WMCA, and supported from Coventry City Council.

Richard Parker, Mayor of the West Midlands, joined Jo Sanders, manager of Coventry ShopMobility, Cllr Jim O’Boyle and Cllr Patricia Hetherton at Coventry City Council, Andy Fancy, managing director at The Hill Group, and other project team members, to mark the official handover with a ceremonial ribbon cutting symbolising the start of a new chapter in accessibility for the city centre.  

The Mayor, who chairs the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), said: “Vibrant high streets and town centres are critical to our regional economy and to people’s quality of life.

"The funding the WMCA has provided to build a new home for Coventry ShopMobility means the city centre, and all it has to offer, remains accessible to as many people as possible. It also delivers on our commitment to give our town and city centres the support they need to thrive in the years ahead.

It was Barbara Gibbs, a regular user of ShopMobility, who had the honour of cutting the ribbon. She said: “A big thanks goes to everyone involved in this project. This centre and new shop will continue to provide an excellent and essential service to people like me, and it is a pleasure to be here today as part of the celebrations.”

As part of a nationwide network of centres, the ShopMobility service hires mobility equipment to the public, including manual wheelchairs, powerchairs, and mobility scooters, so that people with restricted mobility can enjoy independence outdoors.

These hire services are low cost or sometimes free for people of all ages looking to access city centre shops and leisure facilities.

Notably, the inclusion of a Changing Places facility highlights a commitment to fostering inclusivity and dignity for all members of the community.

Coventry City Council has secured funding for the second time to install modular Changing Places toilets by March 2024, joining 63 other local authorities nationwide.

Through this funding, this is the second Changing Places toilet to open in the city centre in 2024, it is a testament to Coventry’s dedication to accessibility.

Changing Places are toilet facilities for people with profound and multiple disabilities. They are fitted with specialist equipment such as a hoist and changing bench. They provide sufficient space for up to two carers to support the person with a disability to use the Changing Place.

These toilet facilities will ensure that people with severe disabilities and their families or carers will not have to worry about whether there are suitable facilities when they go out shopping, plan a day out or travel.

Jo Sanders, manager at Coventry ShopMobility, said: “I would like to thank The Hill Group, the Council, and WMCA for creating this fabulous new space for us in Coventry city centre. We opened our doors to the general public on May 7th and have already welcomed many new and returning clients to make use of these essential services.

"This facility allows people of all ages to borrow equipment so they can enjoy Coventry city centre, offering opportunities for independence. I am extremely impressed with the consideration and detail invested, reflecting a shared commitment to making Coventry more accessible for all and I know that our state-of-the-art Changing Places toilet will have a great impact on many lives.”

Andy Fancy, managing director at The Hill Group, said: “I am delighted to be marking the handover of the ShopMobility facility and wish them every success. The new facility signifies the beginning of a broader regeneration project here in Coventry. With a focus on pedestrian-friendly design and enhanced retail offerings, City Centre South is poised to redefine Coventry’s urban landscape, enriching the lives of residents and visitors alike.”

“Over time, we will be creating hundreds of new homes for the local community, along with 8,000 square metres of new commercial space and 17,000 square metres of public open space, which will be transformative for Coventry.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs, regeneration, and climate change, said: “It is excellent to see ShopMobility open and thriving at its new base in Salt Lane car park. The move really signifies the start of work at City Centre South and it won’t be long before Hill is able to demolish the Barracks car park and start work on its first phase.

“With investment in the railway station and the transformation of Upper Precinct already completed the private sector investment in our city centre is really important.”

Cllr Patricia Hetherton said: “Shopmobility is a really important service, and I know it’s highly valued by local people and visitors. The new set up at Salt Lane is really impressive, with a new Changing Places toilet and extra space to allow drop-offs, both of which will make it even more accessible.”    

Conveniently located within a five-minute walk of Coventry train station, City Centre South forms a major element of the wider masterplan for the regeneration of Coventry, which has already delivered a major upgrade to the railway station.

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