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Melksham Area Board will not reconsider town hall disabled access

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PLANS for improvements to Melksham’s Market Place are set to go ahead despite a town councillor’s call to reconsider including disabled access to the town hall.

Melksham Area Board decided that it would not retract its endorsement of the plans, which don’t include a ramp to the front door, following a request made by town councillors at a policy and resources committee meeting in November.

Councillor Richard Wiltshire called for disabled access to the front of the town hall to be reconsidered for inclusion in the Market Place redevelopment, despite a plan without it already having been approved.

His proposal was carried by a split vote in the committee and the request was passed on to the area board.

Cllr Wiltshire said, “The town council has long considered that a  Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant front entrance to the town hall was desirable and preferable to the existing rear entrance.

“The council is always asking other retailers to provide DDA compliant entrances and with this Market Place scheme we should be achieving it on our own buildings.

“Wiltshire Council has ruled out its initial proposal on the grounds of the £50,000 cost. The solution I am proposing is much simpler and would cost hundreds rather than thousands.”

Cllr Wiltshire suggested that the pavement be ramped up to the entrance of the town hall, rather than a separate raised area built.

Councillors Jon Hubbard and Terri Welch argued at the meeting that the issue had been discussed before and that it was too late to make changes to the plan.

After receiving the town council’s request, area board chairman cllr Jonathon Seed wrote to the  town clerk, “I am aware that this decision has not been endorsed by your full town council. It is also disappointing that those members of your council who were present at the area board last month, and in particular Richard Wiltshire, did not raise their concerns at that meeting when the matter was discussed.

“We will not be revisiting the decision to endorse the Melksham Market Place improvements plan. There are a number of reasons for this decision amongst which are that the town council should look to its own entrance arrangements to its own building and there is already a disabled access ramp to the rear of the town hall.”

Cllr Seed said that the new  plans for the Market Place would not affect the town council’s ability to build a ramp in future if it wished to do so.

Plans to redevelop the Market Place were approved by Melksham Area Board and work is expected to begin in spring 2016.