Staff Reporter CAN Pere Antoni is the first beach in Palma to make use of special installations which aim to make the Islands' beaches more accessible to the disabled, the elderly, and to those suffering temporary mobility problems.

The Balearic government is setting up the service as part of a pilot scheme which will make five further areas in the Balearics similarly accessible to the disabled, at a cost of 30'000 euros each beach.

Under the slogan “Making Beaches User-Friendly for the Disabled”, this programme intends to make coastal bathing areas accessible to people who have mobility difficulties, thereby providing the disabled with the same enjoyment of summer by the sea as every other citizen.

The new facilities at Can Pere Antoni, which were inaugurated yesterday by Rosa Puig, the regional minister for Sports, and the mayor of Palma, Catalina Cirer, include the installation of a number of booths with showers and specially adapted changing rooms; a sunshade area; and the availability of specially adapted chairs and crutches for use in the sea.

Shortly, as part of the same project, the beaches of Cala Mayor, Ciudad Jardín and Beach Section 15 of the Playa de Palma; as well as the Santa Eularia des Riu beach in Ibiza and the Cala Santandria bathing areas on Minorca will be fitted with the same facilities.

Cirer also drew attention to the fact that each beach will have a monitor, who, from the hours of 10am to 6pm, will give professional attention to the people in need, a service which the City Council of Palma has funded with nearly 40'000 euros.

Although a major part of the material installed on the beaches has been paid for by the Balearic government, Palma City Council is responsible for cleaning and maintenance of the installations through the use of the municipal water and rubbish collection company, “Emaya”.

The mayor of Palma added that, although not every beach of the district was yet privileged with these special facilities, a great many of them will now no longer be a barrier to the disabled enjoying a summer by the sea in the same way as any other person.

Puig gave prominence to the fact that the new services will not simply be for use by the disabled. They will also enable the elderly, and those who are suffering temporary immobility, to access the beach along with other users.

The minister confirmed that the central government Coastal department had collaborated in setting up wheelchair boardwalks to the beaches; she was confident that the remaining beaches outlined in the pilot scheme will be fitted immediately with similar facilities, as all necessary material is ready and waiting for installation. Puig said that other beaches in the Balearics will gradually be enhanced with the same facilities.

The minister mentioned the collaboration given to the scheme by the Social and Sporting Services Institute, which has taken on responsibility for checking that the services are adequate for the specialised needs of the users.

The regional government is to print 5'000 leaflets, giving out information on the location and nature of the new beach installations. The brochures will be handed out to potential user groups already on the Islands and at key tourist information points.