BRITAIN might be leaving the European Union next month, but council chiefs are preparing to work with groups on the continent in an innovative project.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s cabinet has unanimously given the go-ahead for the local authority to take part in a €3 million project that will use technology to help people with disabilities or impairments.

Cllr Stuart Parker, shadow cabinet member for communities and wellbeing in CWAC’s Conservative group, urged the cabinet to go ahead with the bid.

He said: “As able-bodied people, we very often forget that there are residents who are less fortunate than ourselves.

Winsford Guardian:

“We therefore need to create opportunities and facilities which make heritage accessible to them also.”

CWAC will work with the City of Cologne, the Royal Museum in Brussels, the University of Hertfordshire, the University of Bedfordshire and the Institute of Computer Science in Thessaloniki.

The joint funding bid will be made to the European Comission’s Horizon 2020 programme, and CWAC will receive £750,000 from the bid as the lead partner if it is successful.

If the bid is successful, the programme will work to improve accessibility for people with visual impairments to allow them to enjoy visual arts, while virtual visits to attractions such as museums will also be developed for people who are unable to visit them – such as those who are housebound.

Cllr Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “It seems rather ironic with everything that is going on around Brexit that the EU still provides us with opportunities.

Winsford Guardian:

“I think it is really exciting. I actually experienced some virtual reality at Wrexham University around heritage assets, and I think the potential here would be great for people who can’t access them.”

The deadline for sending off the bid is March 14, and CWAC will know the result within five months, with the project starting later this year if successful.

Cllr Samantha Dixon, CWAC leader, added: “I hope the bid is successful, it will build on our accessibility strengths that we have across the borough, so fingers crossed it will be successful.”