Accessibites – Exclusion from public meeting

Published Date
Reason Digital

An important public meeting being held by Bewdley Town Council yesterday, was completely inaccessible to wheelchair users as it was located at the Guildhall, a building that can only be accessed using stairs.

Chairman of The Disability Action Wyre Forest group, Mark Lawley, said:

“It is a public meeting and it should be held so all the public can go to it. I am very angry. The councillors are elected to serve the whole population of Bewdley but are ignoring disabled people in the town. It’s disgusting.”

The scheduled meeting was to discuss plans to build 46 affordable residential units at a former school on Shaw Hedge Road, Bewdley.

Independent Community and Health Concern town councillor, Liz Davies, agrees with Mr Lawley and said:

“Unfortunately, we have been unable to persuade Wyre Forest District Council to fund disability access for the Guildhall.

A council spokesman said “The council has a strategy to make its public facilities accessible to disabled visitors where it is reasonable to do so within the Disability Discrimination Act.”

For a Council to disregard the disabled members of its public in this way is inexcusable, and lays bare its ignorance.

It should be ensured that any public meeting, especially something as important as the planning of housing is made accessible to disabled people. It is a public meeting, and disabled people are a part of that public.

It is evident to me in this case that Bewdley Town Council have maybe fallen short of their own strategy guidelines, and this of course may lead to future issues with the housing itself.

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By Jagdeep Kaur Sehmbi

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