Partially sighted resident blasts council meetings as inaccessible

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RESIDENTS are concerned that obstructions to access at Deanshanger Parish Council may make people less willing to attend council meetings.

Meetings of Deanshanger Parish Council are held at The Old School House, but anyone attempting to attend will have to negotiate an entrance route that is unlit, uneven, narrow and potentially unsafe.

Discussions to hold meetings in The Old School House began in 2003 and the move was made in 2008 but provision has not been made to ensure safe access.

Paul Sumedho, from Deanshanger, is partially sighted and describes how recent additional obstructions to access have included rubbish bags and clutter.

On one occasion a councillor’s car was even parked across the entrance.

Mr Sumedho said: “It is such a beautiful building that I think that the council should be using it for its meetings but they are being very pig-headed about this.

“I only want to encourage them to take steps to improve it so that more members of the community will come.

“They have had more than enough opportunity to make it accessible and the council has a responsibility to do so.

“There is no provision for disabled access and very simple steps are all that is needed.”

South Northamptonshire Council has previously advised that the most reasonable and cost-effective solution would be to hold parish council meetings in a more accessible building such as the new community centre, until access at The Old School House is improved.

Deanshanger Parish Council has said in an email to Mr Sumedho: ‘Until the council has had the opportunity to discuss this fully, no decisions can be made, and the February meeting will, therefore, be held at The Old School House.’

Mr Sumedho makes clear that he wants to encourage the parish council to make the building accessible and welcoming to all residents.

He added: “It is disappointing that the parish council continues to fail in its duty to provide reasonable and safe access to its meetings.”