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Two Market House Lifts To Choose From...
5:29pm Monday 9th June 2014 in News
LEDBURY people will be able to comment on two quite distinct designs for a possible lift into the Market House, the town's iconic building.
There will be a comments' book underneath the Market House, during the consultation process; and displays concerning the Ledbury Places scheme.
The Ledbury Places steering group, under the chairmanship of Alex Clive, is set to meet today, Friday June 13, and give a collective nod to a consultation process that will install two rather different mock-up lifts into the listed building.
One mock-up will be a square lift, and the other will be tubular; but they will not be installed at the same time.
If all goes to plan, one will be in place one week, beginning the end of June, and the other will then be installed for a further week, once the first one has been removed.
Originally, Ledbury Places, which hopes to make the Market House a hub for tourism in the town centre, as Ledbury's jewel in the crown, wanted a mock-up lift in place for Ledbury's Community Day, on June 7.
But Mr Clive said that delays were caused by sorting out the insurance, and the group is also seeking the go-ahead for the mock-up from Herefordshire Council's conservation officer.
"The officer has been sent details of how the mock-up lifts will be fixed to what, after all, is a listed building," Mr Clive explained.
The Market House does not have disabled access, and anyone wishing to attend a town council meeting has to tackle a wooden Victorian staircase.
Because of the disabled access issues, wedding ceremonies ceased at the Market House a decade ago.
The building is raised on oak pillars, and the space beneath, where the lift will go, is currently used for the twice-weekly charter market and also community events, such a brass-band performances.
Ledbury Town Council's long-standing policy is to switch venues to the committee room in the town council offices, if disabled access is ever required for a meeting.
Mr Clive does not think that is really acceptable.
He said: "I think it seems to be the wrong attitude. What sort of a community are we, if have a disabled person shouting up from below?"
Without a lift and disabled access, Mr Clive sees the future use of the Market House as a community building as being limited; but not all agree with the idea of a lift.
Former town mayor, Dr Kay Swinburne, now MEP for Wales, wrote recently to town clerk Karen Mitchell and said she was "appalled" that the lift proposal had re-surfaced, a decade since the idea was rejected, after public protest.
Dr Swinburne believes the Market House as an ancient building could be exempt from disabled access laws, but the alteration of its fabric, by installing a lift, could leave the town council open to a legal challenge, because it is listed.
Dendrochronology testing indicates the Market House was erected using "green oak" in 1617.
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