No disabled access at fire station consultation
22 July 2019, 18:11 | Updated: 22 July 2019, 18:17
A disabled councillor was left all alone on the street during the latest fire station consultation meeting in Ashburton.
The town’s station is one of seven in Devon that have appeared on a list for possible closure as Devon and Somerset fire authority looks to save money and to keep the maximum number of fire engines crewed and in service.
Monday morning’s meeting was to be held at St Lawrence Chapel between 10am and 2pm.
Hundreds turned up in a pre-planned social media event to show there concerns at midday.
As hundreds entered the building chanting and waving placards it soon became apparent that a wheelchair user was to be left in the street.
Disabled Councillor Tony Pugh could not get up steep steps that others with mobility issues did manage to climb with the help of others.
Once he heard that there was a problem with access Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell came out of the angry environment to see Tony waiting patiently on the pavement outside.
It was explained that the normal disabled access could not be used as it runs through a preschool at the rear of the building and that due to safeguarding issues was closed off during the day.
Tony pleaded with the Chief fire officer to rearrange the consultation to another day and a better venue.
It was explained to him that this would be very difficult and that today’s consultation was exactly that a chance for people to have there say.
It was not a meeting and that people should not have turned up on mass and swamped the building.
In response the accessibility issues Devon and Somerset fire authority gave us this statement.
“We have made every effort to make all of our public consultation events accessible to everyone.
“There was disabled access at the Ashburton venue but we appreciate that people were still struggling to access the event.
“Our staff met with those affected outside the venue to answer their questions.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
More consultation meetings are planned for later this month.
Full list here: