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Measures to improve disabled access at Windsor Guildhall will not be installed

Measures to improve disabled access to Windsor Guildhall will not be installed, a meeting was told this week.

The Grade-I listed public building in Windsor High Street is used regularly for Royal Borough council meetings, as well as private functions like weddings.

But, at an access advisory panel meeting on Monday, council officers said that changes to the internal structure to improve  access for disabled people would not be possible due to rules on altering listed buildings.

Many meetings take place in the council chamber on the first floor.

Ben Smith, deputy head of planning at the Royal Borough, told the panel: “The Equality Act doesn’t override historic building regulations, it’s just a fact.

“It’s not that we don’t take it seriously or that it’s not important for us; just smashing a hole through it for a lift is not an
option.”

Windsor Guildhall does have a stairlift but the lack of a proper lift means it is inaccessible to wheelchair users.

Tim Clare, a member of the panel, said that he had missed ‘three or four’ weddings at the venue because of this.

Russell O’Keefe, the Royal Borough’s interim managing director, said that council meetings will still be held at the venue and advised that those with accessibility issues wishing to attend should contact the council ahead of time.

A decision to move the meeting would then be made on a ‘case by case basis’.

He added that when work on York House, in Sheet Street, is completed in March, council meetings will also be held there.

Angela Clark, chairman of the advisory panel, said that the officer’s responses ‘fell short significantly’.

She added that an accessibility audit report into the building found there were 47 different improvements that could be made.

When quizzed on this, Mr O’Keefe said it was ‘not clear’ if any at all would be implemented.

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