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Disabled access to Silsden Town Hall criticised as ‘discriminatory’
11:00am Saturday 26th October 2013 in News
A Silsden councillor, whose wife uses an electric wheelchair, has blasted disability improvements to the town hall.
Michael O'Dwyer claims the ground floor disabled toilet will not be big enough because it is a former broom cupboard.
And he fears there could be only two dedicated places for disabled people when the upstairs hall hosts live entertainment.
Coun O'Dwyer claimed Bradford Council and the project's steering group were ignoring the safety of the public.
Disability improvements are a key part of Bradford's ongoing £300,000 refurbishment of the town hall.
The work includes a fully-accessible toilet on the first floor, along with a fire escape, a stage and roof repairs.
Silsden Town Council has repeatedly criticised aspects of the project, particularly the width of an exterior wheelchair ramp.
Coun O'Dwyer joined the town council recently, after existing councillors asked him for his views on the planned improvements due to his background as an engineer.
His wife Muriel uses a wheelchair and Coun O’Dwyer was initially concerned she would not be able to get inside the building.
Coun O’Dwyer, speaking on behalf of Silsden Town Council, voiced new concerns after reading the minutes of the steering group overseeing the improvements.
He said: “The proposed new ground floor unisex/disabled toilet will be too small for a disabled person plus carer.
“It will not meet the full recommended standards as the width is only approximately 1350mm, and the minimum recommended width should be 1500mm.”
Coun O'Dwyer has been told the upstairs hall will seat between 100 and 120 people for performances, with two dedicated disabled places.
He said: “Tickets for disabled persons would need to be pre-booked to make sure there is adequate provision to cope.
“Stating that only two disabled people will be allowed to attend functions on the first floor is discriminating against the disabled persons.
“The main reason to spend in excess of £300,000 is to make the building disabled-compliant, so to then discriminate against disabled people shows this has been a total waste of taxpayers’ money.”
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