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Faversham's Guildhall will have a lift installed to allow disability access

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Disability access at the Guildhall is fast becoming a reality as councillors move on with their plans for a lift.

The councillors were met with fury earlier this year when the Faversham News revealed the town is the only council in the area to hold public meetings in a venue with no access for disabled people.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, it is unlawful for a provider of services to discriminate against a disabled person, especially when the design or construction of the building makes it impossible for them to gain access.

The Guildhall
The Guildhall

But we can now exclusively reveal that draft plans for a lift have been drawn up and both English Heritage and Swale Borough Council are content it can go ahead.

The listed building should have a lift installed by the end of next year after a planning application is supported and funds are raised.

Town clerk Jackie Westlake said: “The time has come for the town council to bite the bullet on this.

“The council’s planning consultant has gone away and looked at the potential for a lift at the Guildhall.

“Now we just need to submit a planning application and possibly apply for a grant as it will be an expensive job.”

The stairs disabled people currently have to climb
The stairs disabled people currently have to climb

The plans were discussed during meetings of the Guildhall Working Party Group, chaired by Cllr Trevor Abram (Con).

He believes an application will need to be made to the Lottery Heritage fund and the lift could be similar to the one at the Fleur Hall in Preston Street.

He said: “It is an exciting time for the town and we hope the lift could be installed by the end of next year.

“We don’t currently have the funds for it but will be applying for grants and if anyone from the town would like to contribute, that would be great.

“The plans mean that the men’s toilet will be knocked down and a unisex toilet will be used.

“We can only hope that it doesn’t take as long as the railway station lifts!”

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