Staff reporter THE Balearic government plans to make access to the local beaches easier for the disabled, and a pilot scheme is to be launched, which will eventually be extended to the natural parks. In announcing details of the plan, minister Rosa Puig, who is in charge of implementing the scheme, said that nearly 5 percent of the population of the Balearic Islands (some 37'000 people) suffers from some kind of handicap, principally of a physical nature. This year, her ministry, which governs social affairs, is aiming to gradually reduce the number of areas which create particular access difficulties for handicapped people. Amongst places with barriers are national parks and beaches. These proposals, entitled “Mediterranean accessibility”, form part of a programme launched by Puig. The scheme will also be developed in Valencia on the Peninsula. The project is building on an initiative set up two years ago by the central government Environment ministry. Improving access to beaches for the handicapped is the first item on the agenda, and it has already been given a date and a budget. Action will be taken at four beaches in the Islands, two of them on Majorca, where a pilot scheme will be monitored. Depending on its success, and available funding, the scheme will be extended to other areas. If all goes according to plan, Puig and her ministry team will create “accessible beaches” at s'Arenal and Cala Major. Fixed boardwalks, mobility aids, changing huts and amphibious crutches and invalid chairs will allow the handicapped to join the able-bodied in enjoying a day by the sea. Amphibious crutches will be stored in “floats” in the sea and on the sand. On each beach, there will be three floats with amphibious crutches and three invalid chairs.

The initial investment per beach will be 32'400 euros. The initial infrastructure was financed by the central government ministry.
Rosa Puig's ministry will be responsible for a budget next year to the tune of 665'393'239 euros.
This department encompasses responsibility for youth issues, sports, the elderly, disabled, minors, the family, and women.
Analysed by sector, the Balearic Institute for Women accounts for more than a million euros of the budget.
The programme for children's nurseries and an Urgent Action Plan for Victims of Domestic Violence are two of the most pressing agenda items for this organisation, set up two years ago by the previous coalition government.