Municipality of Midleton (Ireland)
The Municipality of Midleton is located in County Cork which lies in the South of Ireland. Given its significant size, Cork County is divided into three divisions for the purposes of local authority administration. The division headquarters are located at County Hall, in Cork City, whilst the administrative area comprises the electoral areas of Midleton, Macroom and Bandon. Town councils administer the towns of Passage West, Midleton, Youghal, and Cobh.
The population of Midleton Area stood at 12,049 persons in 2011 (CSO) showing a 17% increase from 10,315 persons in 2006, which in turn showed a 32.49% rate of growth during the intercensal period 1996-2006.
The mainstays of the local economy are agriculture, food processing, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and a developing tourism sector. Crafts and services are also becoming increasingly important.
Midleton Food Festival, a highly successful and nationally acclaimed food festival which is 10 years in operation, brings together all the local food providers and producers from the area.
At present Midleton offers a vibrant and a good mix of quality retail outlets and shops both along the attractive Main Street and by way of the larger retailers located at Market Green. There is also an exciting array of restaurants, cafes, speciality foods and bars in the town which add to the social and interactive character of Midleton and its people.
As a location Midleton plays a key role in facilitating the access to various other tourist attractions in the surrounding areas. In addition to these other attractions the town has in excess of 300,000 visitors per annum which are mostly as a result of the Jamesons Distillery tours.
Public Transport provision
Bus Éireann has sixteen primary services that cover the South and East Cork, one of which is the Expressway Tralee-Rosslare service.
Irish Rail established a commuter rail service from Mallow to Midleton, through Cork City in 2009. The main element of the project involved the reopening of the railway line between Glounthaune and Midleton, with new stations at Carrigtwohill and Midleton.
SECAD Rural Transport Services (demand responsive transport and feeder to mainline services) provides an affordable and accessible community based transport system. SECAD rural transport services operate 15 scheduled services that are semi flexible and door to door.
Actual state of accessibility-work
Organisational Structures relevant to Accessibility
Midleton Area Town Council (test site) is responsible for Midleton local roads maintenance and building works.
Cork County Council is responsible for regional roads maintenance and arterial roads network.
Public transport operator Bus Éireann is responsible for public bus service provision in the municipality (city HQ have accessibility officers).
Public transport operator Irish Rail is responsible for public train service provision in the municipality (city HQ have accessibility officers).
South & East Cork Area Development (SECAD) is a local development partnership responsible for the delivery of several national and EU funded programmes aimed at supporting people into employment, developing business, and the provision of rural transport services outside the mainstream service provision,
Sub-groups under the Cork County and City Councils, e.g. Total Journey group, and Green Routes sub-groups work with improving the concept of seamless travel and integrated routes.
Representative bodies of PRM including COPE (national body in Cork); Health Service Executive (regional community officers); Irish Wheelchair Association (local branch in Cork); Muintir na Tíre (representative body of rural community groups with broad ranging needs and interests and a particular focus on older people and combating isolation) work on behalf of PRM in relation to accessibility in public transport and public space.
Actual State of Accessibility
Midleton Town Council plans for improving accessibility along the town’s main street. The initial upgrade works relate to one quadrant of the main street. In respect of further improvements, the entire main street must be upgraded in accordance with the specifications laid down. Part of the upgrade should lead to an improved link in the town centre with the main bus service on the main arterial route N25 running east-west.
Midleton Town Council/Bus Eireann: Improved link in town centre with main bus service on main arterial route N25 running east-west.
Bus Éireann: Bus Éireann operates a high frequency commuter service with 31 services Monday to Friday; 18 services on Saturday and 13 services on Sunday which links Ballinacurra/Midleton/Carrigtwohill/Glounthaune/Cork. Bus Éireann has sixteen primary services that cover South and East Cork.
Midleton Rail Link (Cork commuter rail): Irish Rail established a commuter rail service from Mallow to Midleton, through Cork City in 2009. The main element of the project involved the reopening of the railway line between Glounthaune and Midleton, with new stations at Carrigtwohill and Midleton.
SECAD Rural Transport Services (demand responsive transport and feeder to mainline services): SECAD rural transport services operate 15 scheduled services that are semi flexible and door to door.
Little Island Business Shuttle: A pilot feeder transport project began in a key industrial and manufacturing hub which lies between Midleton and Cork City. This is operated by SECAD’s Rural Transport Programme and links in directly with the main rail corridor between Midleton and Cork, by providing shuttle service between the rail station in Little Island and the key participating companies.
Expectations of Test Site
Further to a consultation process undertaken by Midleton Town Council with various stakeholders, a specific stretch of the main street in the municipal town was surveyed and audited to map out a barrier free journey for PRM, including accessible bus stops, elimination of steps, appropriate surfacing, etc. Barriers were identified with the objective of addressing and eliminating them. Comparable audits and accessibility works were visited and reviewed before commencing this work. It was expected that ISEMOA would provide a practical self assessment tool in reviewing and auditing such a process i.e. what implementers (councils, PT providers, service providers) do correctly and effectively, where issues are identified, and how they are addressed).
ISEMOA Implementation Process Outcomes
SECAD selected Midleton Town Council in the early stage of the project as the ISEMOA test site. The contact person continued to engage in a meaningful way throughout the audit process and contributed in a constructive way to the respective meetings.
There was a total of 15 members present from the ISEMOA team including a broad representation of PRM interests, Town Council staff, public transport operators (rail and bus), and other community interests.
The scheduled meetings allowed for sufficient discussion of the most diverging issues. The discussions were open and frank, and conducted through a cordial atmosphere for the most part.
The local team decided to organise a site visit based on the discussions at the consensus meeting, a lot of which focused on the main street access upgrade. The site visit was a valuable part of the audit process as it provided a tangible element to the discussion, in advance of the strategy meeting. The only caveat highlighted by the auditor during the site visit was that the visit focussed on micro level accessibility issues only.
In relation to the Final ISEMOA Report, the quality and ambition of the action plan was somewhat dependent on the city/county or town council capacity to innovate and strategise, and ultimately deliver on suggestions for improvement. That said, the audit process in itself was a worthwhile exercise for all the team, and facilitated key learning on the part of the full ISEMOA working group in terms of good practice, and what they could aspire to in terms of accessibility. The action plan while not overly ambitious, at least provides a benchmark from which the ISEMOA working group can monitor progress going forward.
Local ISEMOA Team
The local team comprised of representatives from National Council for the Blind, Town Council town clerk, town engineer, the town mayor, town councillors, Bus Eireann (public transport), Irish Rail (PT), Midleton Community Garda, members of active age groups, Age Action, Irish Wheelchair Association, Midleton Community Forum, and ISEMOA auditors.
Quotes of local stakeholders
In ascertaining how important the role of the external auditor is in the ISEMOA QM process:
„It could be performed by an internal auditor but not as objectively, nor perhaps as efficiently as by an external auditor.“ (Town Clerk, Midleton Town Council – contact person)
In ascertaining did participants learn something new about accessibility in your municipality / city / region thanks to ISEMOA:
„It strengthened the belief that dissemination of information and engagement with all stakeholders gives a better understanding of accessibility and emphasised the need for a holistic approach.“ (Town Clerk, Midleton Town Council – contact person)
In ascertaining if participants agree that ISEMOA will improve the accessibility work of their municipality / city / region:
„In the short term, Midleton will be a better place, access wise.“ (Irish Wheelchair Association local member and user)
„Excellent resource!“ (Irish Wheelchair Association organisation rep)
„ISEMOA subjects proposals to rigorous assessment from various perspectives and should ensure most needs are identified and addressed in how accessibility works are done.“ (Town Clerk, Midleton Town Council – contact person)
„Very enlightening, inclusive approach.“ (Representative of Age Action advocacy organisation)
In ascertaining how likely it is that participants would recommend an ISEMOA audit to other municipalities:
"Found it well run and helpful with no personal agenda from the auditors thus enabling them to play the ‘devil’s advocate’ when necessary.“ (Town Councillor)
„Excellent idea and framework.“ (Representative of Age Action advocacy organisation)
In ascertaining suggestions for the improvment of the ISEMOA auditing process:
„The process as presented and implemented by the auditor in this case was excellent.“ (Town Clerk, Midleton Town Council –contact person)