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Broken-down lift stops disabled people attending Brighton and Hove City Council meeting
Council chiefs have been criticised after disabled people were prevented from attending a key meeting in person.
Brighton and Hove City Council last night apologised after a lift broke in Brighton Town Hall ahead of its monthly meeting of all 54 councillors.
This meant that those with limited mobility – including two councillors – had to think twice before attending as they were left with the prospect of scaling three flights of stairs.
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Conservative councillor Graham Cox said: “It is totally unacceptable for a council meeting to be inaccessible to disabled people.
“They have made the adjustment of providing a viewing room but there is an accessible council chamber at Hove Town Hall.
“It’s hard to justify financially having two council chambers as it is but to use the one which is inaccessible to disabled people is discriminatory and plain wrong. My understanding is that there have been problems with this lift for some time.”
On the agenda at last night’s meeting were some aspects of the council’s budget plans.
The future of public toilets, a review of members’ allowances and the badger cull were also discussed.
Among those unable to attend was Conservative councillor Brian Pigeon, who represents Patcham ward.
Labour councillor Bob Carden managed to attend despite having a knee operation earlier this year.
Speaking yesterday, Valerie Paynter, of conservation group Save Hove, who has limited mobility and regularly attends town hall meetings, said: “It’s an important meeting and for two councillors to be in a pickle is not acceptable.
“When you are going to discuss budget issues which are going to go out to consultation it is not fair for councillors to be unable to attend.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The full council meeting will still take place at Brighton Town Hall as planned. However, as the lift is out of order, we have arranged for the meeting to be webcast and anyone who isn’t able to access the council chamber can view the meeting in committee room one, which is on the ground floor at Brighton Town Hall.”
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