Council will revise memorial design after accessibility issues raised
Manchester Council have said they will revise the design of the Peterloo Memorial following an outcry from campaigners it was not accessible for disabled people. The memorial is being constructed at the junction of Lower Mosley Street and Windmill Street, in the city centre , with it set to be unveiled on August 16 to mark the 200-year anniversary of Peterloo. It has been designed by artist Jeremy Deller and features concentric circles placed like steps for visitors to climb to top as if it is a ‘platform for oratory’. However, activists have criticised the design for failing to acknowledge disabled people who could not make it up the steps to the top of the structure.
A campaign group was launched, with members hosting protests, vigils and appearing on television to raise awareness of the issue. The campaign has had backing from a number of people including Manchester’s People’s History Museum and comedian Francesca Martinez. Campaigners described the memorial as a ‘visual metaphor’ with disabled people stuck at the bottom of the structure and everyone else looking down from the top.
Manchester Council said they have been involved in talks with the campaigners and are now revising the memorial to make it fully accessible. Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, said: “Manchester City Council has a long and proud record around access issues, something which disabled access campaigners have acknowledged.
“However, we recognise that the interpretation of the brief for the Peterloo Memorial, with an imaginative design involving a more interactive element than originally envisaged for a public artwork, did not give enough consideration to access issues and we regret this.
“We recently met with representatives of disabled people’s groups to further discuss this issue and we have asked the artist and architect to look at how the monument in its current form can be modified to make it fully accessible.
“We will share more details about where we are up to and the proposed way forward as soon as we are in a position to do so. We are listening and doing all we can to resolve this satisfactorily.”
Mark Todd, of Stretford, an accessibility advisor who previously worked on the London 2012 Olympics, created a Facebook group eight weeks ago to raise awareness of the issue. “I’m really pleased that there seems to have been a change of approach from Manchester City Council. They have clearly recognised that disabled people and all our fellow Mancunians would not accept a Peterloo Memorial designed in this way. “I welcome their expression of ‘regret’ and their commitment to ‘look at how the monument in its current form can be modified to make it fully accessible’.
“I am cautiously optimistic that if they work with us, we can create a fitting and accessible Peterloo Memorial. This is a great first step, but until it becomes a reality, the campaign and the weekly vigil continue. We are not ready to put away our placards away just yet. “In eight short weeks our campaign has pulled together an amazing coalition that includes disabled people, Peterloo artists, some very famous and not so very famous people and most importantly the citizens of Manchester who all want a Peterloo Memorial that is accessible to everyone.
This article originally appeared on Manchester Evening News
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