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Row erupts over disabled access at Peterloo memorial

A MEMORIAL to the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester is at the centre of a row over access for disabled people.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the massacre, on August 16, Manchester City Council has commissioned a monument by Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller.

Construction is under way on a site close to the massacre site at St Peter’s Fields that saw 60,000 people attend a public meeting to hear speakers calling for democracy.

Sabre-wielding troops attacked and 18 people are believed to have died, with 700 injured.

The new monument comprises circular steps rising to a central dais, but the steps prevent wheelchair users from reaching the dais at the centre, prompting a storm of protest.

Linda Burnip of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) told the Morning Star: “Disabled and non-disabled people in Manchester have been trying to tell the council for months that this excludes disabled people.

“This is a monument to commemorate activists who were fighting for their rights. It is totally hypocritical.”

Brian Hilton, digital campaigns officer for Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, said: “Manchester City Council is failing to deliver a fitting memorial.”

A council spokesman said: “Significant changes to the original design were made in response to this dialogue throughout the design’s development including the incorporation of a ramp and handrail and the replacement of tiles covering the memorial with stone to reduce slip hazards.”

He said more changes would mean the monument would not be ready for the August 16 commemorations.

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