Conservative criticises Brighton and Hove council for excluding disabled people from meetings

Posted On 12 Dec 2013 at 12:12 pm

A Conservative councillor has criticised Brighton and Hove City Council for excluding disabled people from a key meeting.

Graham Cox said that it did not send out a good message.

The council is planning to hold two meetings of the full council in the top-floor chamber at Brighton Town Hall this afternoon (Thursday 12 December).

One of the meetings is to confer the freedom of the city on Brighton and Hove Albion president Dick Knight.

But at least one councillor, who walks with the aid of a stick, may not be able to make it to the council chamber.

Councillor Brian Pidgeon said: “If it was at Hove Town Hall I’d have no trouble as you can just walk straight in.

“I will try to make it this afternoon because that’s my duty but I might not be able to.”

Councillor Pidgeon, 78, has walked with a stick for some time. He is one of three people who regularly attend council meetings who have trouble with their mobility.

Councillor Graham Cox

Councillor Graham Cox

Along with his 53 fellow councillors he received an email this morning which said: “Please accept my apologies as the lift at Brighton Town Hall has broken down and despite the best efforts it will not be operational for the afternoon’s meetings.

“By way of back up there will be arrangements in place for any members of public unable to walk up to the council chamber to view the meeting from Committee Room 1 via the live webcast.”

Councillor Cox said: “The council meeting will effectively be inaccessible to anyone who is disabled – one of our councillors can’t get up the stairs.

“Their justification is that you can watch the meeting in a ground floor room.

“It’s not acceptable bearing in mind we have another town hall at hove which is accessible to disabled people.

“I’m not a lawyer but it seems to me to be a breach of the spirit if not the letter of the Disability Discrimination Act.

“Whether it’s legal, it’s undemocratic and it’s certainly discrimination against disabled people whether they be councillors, members of the public who want to come along and watch democracy in action or indeed people who work for the council but now can’t get into the council chamber.

“I’m a bit surprised that preparation wasn’t made for this as I understand the lift’s been playing up for some time.

“I’m surprised a council run by a so-called progressive party is holding a meeting in a chamber which disabled people can’t access.

“It’s not a very good message to send out.”

  1. Valerie Paynter Reply

    I am one of the disabled people people would have been expected to be seen attending today’s full council meeting and a council officer kindly left a message on my phone giving me this news which was incredibly kind of him. But what irregular attenders might get caught out?

    Cllr Bob Carden as well as Cllr Pidgeon has mobility problems. And Cllr Dawn Bsrnett is having knee surgery in January!

    The meeting should be moved to Hove Town Hall. My presence is not a reason to move venues, but it is a disgrace to plough on regardless and use Brighton when it means some councillors will not be able to attend! Budget matters are up for discussion ahead of a period of consultation, after all!

  2. Valerie Paynter Reply

    I am one of the disabled people people would have been expected to be seen attending today’s full council meeting and a council officer kindly left a message on my phone giving me this news which was incredibly kind of him. But what irregular attenders might get caught out?

    Cllr Bob Carden as well as Cllr Pidgeon has mobility problems. And Cllr Dawn Bsrnett is having knee surgery in January!

    The meeting should be moved to Hove Town Hall. My presence is not a reason to move venues, but it is a disgrace to plough on regardless and use Brighton when it means some councillors will not be able to attend! Budget matters are up for discussion ahead of a period of consultation, after all!

  3. J Martin Reply

    Seems strange that Cllr Pidgeon is making such a fuss. He wouldn’t entertain our calls or letters when we raised concerns for other people with disabilities, speaking very rudely and hanging up the phone!! Seems now it’s affecting him, it’s now a problem!!!!!

  4. J Martin Reply

    Seems strange that Cllr Pidgeon is making such a fuss. He wouldn’t entertain our calls or letters when we raised concerns for other people with disabilities, speaking very rudely and hanging up the phone!! Seems now it’s affecting him, it’s now a problem!!!!!

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