West Dunbartonshire council’s ‘£40,000’ solution to disability access complaint leaves neighbours and Lally family dumbstruck
Reposted from The Guardian, Thursday 13 February 2014 15.06 EST
Dunbarton council wheelchair ramp
A ramp with 10 levels installed by West Dunbartonshire council at the home in Duntocher, Clydebank so wheelchair user Katie Lally, seven, can access her home. Photograph: Hemedia/Mark SutherlandHEMEDIA
The mother of a disabled girl has attacked a local council after it responded to her two-year campaign for improved wheelchair access to her house by building a 10-level winding wheelchair ramp covering most of her garden.
Clare Lally, 33, spent two years campaigning for improved access for her daughter Katie, seven, who uses a wheelchair, after the council gave them a home at the top of three flights of stairs.
But she was shocked at the solution, a £40,000 60-metre steel ramp which winds from the front door to the pavement.
Lally said that it was easier to transport her daughter but the scale of the construction was an eyesore. “There must have been a better solution. The council could have gone about the whole project in a more sensible way,” she said.
“The council said this was the only option to fit something into the garden because of building regulations. It is a lot easier but I don’t believe that the council weren’t able to do something else. We weren’t fighting for a massive steel ramp – we just wanted to improve Katie’s quality of life.”
The family’s problems have been further compounded by youths now using it as a skateboard run. Council officials have refused to install a gate, citing health and safety concerns.
Katie suffers from bulbar palsy – caused by complications after she and her twin Holly were born prematurely – and is confined to a wheelchair.
West Dunbartonshire council have not yet calculated the cost of the ramp at the home in Clydebank, near Glasgow, but local builders estimate the cost at £40,000.
West Dunbartonshire council said the family had said they could manage the steps at the property. “This proved not to be the case. As they were existing tenants, it was the council’s duty to make the necessary adaptations.. This led to the installation of the wheelchair ramp as requested by the family.”
The ramp is so big that Lally cannot see the bottom of it from her front window. “What they have built is something which I would never have expected a local council to do. We have to open our blinds and look at it every day,” she said.
Clare, who shares the home with partner Derek Steel, added: “We have waited so long for access and now we have got it. But we need to have a gate at the bottom. A lot of youths have started using it because they think it is fun to play on it.
“The council have said they can’t give us a gate because it would block the public footpath. Is that the case for everybody else with a gate which swings outward? I don’t care how the gate opens. I just want one put up.”