PLANS to make one of Worcester’s most historic buildings more accessible for disabled people will be made a ‘top priority’ by the city council next year.
Calls have been made since the summer of 2012 to make improvements to the Guildhall after the access ramp to the council chamber was removed.
The decision to get rid of it was all part of a refurbishment project to the building which has led the council to hold many of its meetings in the assembly room next door due to a lack of disabled access.
But speaking at a full council meeting last Tuesday (November 18), Coun Lynn Denham said she was disappointed no progress had been made as she revealed funding had been put aside to come up with a solution to the problem.
In response, Coun Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for Customer Services and Communications, insisted the council was still committed to going ahead with a project.
“I would be so pleased for the council to be able to hold these meetings in the council chamber,” she said. “Only a couple of weeks ago I sat at one of the tables in the chamber and realised how long it had been since we hadn’t been able to hold these council meetings in the correct room.
“The key issue remains disabled access to the council chamber and since the summer of 2012 work has been progressing by officers to consider the options of access and progress a recommended scheme to install a chair lift.”
Coun Hodgson said such a project ‘takes time’ as the Guildhall is a grade two listed building, while she admitted efforts to sell Orchard House and relocate its headquarters to the Worcester Museum and Art Gallery had taken precedence.
But the Conservative councillor said a scheme to improve access would begin once most of the move had been completed in February next year.
“I have been reassured by officers that this will be a priority project and I will ensure that the council chamber’s disabled access is put to the top of that list as this is a serious issue that needs resolving once and for all,” she added.
“I am sure everyone in this room would be delighted when we can move these council meetings back into a council chamber which is accessible for all.”