New politician takes the place of a disabled councillor who fell foul of a national six month rule - and he says his first plan is to attend as many meetings as possible
PUBLISHED: 12:07 16 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:07 16 December 2016
A new councillor has been elected to take the place of a disabled politician who fell foul of the national six month rule saying she struggled to get to meetings in Wisbech Town Hall.
Taxi driver Billy Rackley, a Conservative, won a decisive victory over UKIP in the town council by-election caused by the dismissal for non attendance of Brenda Lay.
In the meantime a solicitor’s letter has been sent to Mrs Lay from Fraser Dawbarns acting on behalf of the town council.
The letter says the town council was mindful of its obligations under the Equality Act and made ‘reasonable adjustments whenever required to alleviate any disadvantages to her.’
It also says it has been officially recorded that the Lays were previously satisfied with adjustments made.
Cllr Rackley is a newcomer to politics. During the campaign he pledged that fighting for North Cambs Hospital should be a priority for whoever gets in.
He said: “I don’t profess to work for any party, all I can promise to do is go to as many council meetings as possible and to have a more hands on approach to dealing with people’s problems. Go and see them, then going back and updating them.”
In the run up to the poll – which he won with 416 votes over UKIP’s Paul Clapp (also a county councillor) who polled 236 votes- Cllr Rackley insisted on referring to the Waterless ward he was contesting as North Ward.
It is now likely there will be moves to change the ward’s name.
Mrs Lay continues to protest her removal claiming the council chambers offers “no disability parking area close by, there is no permanent disabled access provided, only a temporary one, and the access slope has to be assembled by two men.
She also says the council chamber has no disabled toilet, or washing facility and no fire or alternative escape routes.
The only toilet is down 27 stairs which she says is virtually impossible to be used by a disabled person in a scooter or wheelchair as there is no side transfer options or space.
In a reply to the Frasers Dawbarn letter Cllr Alan Lay said: “From our sad experience the civic building is unsuitable for entertaining disabled people who have to arrive with wheeled vehicles.
“Brenda owns a somewhat small scooter, there are many larger types, and much wider self-propelled wheel chairs that will not be able to access the Town Hall.
“It is apparent that not one of you concerned with any of these decisions/guesses have any idea of how a severely handicapped person deals with day to day routines.”
“This small town council has decided to use the legal representation to defend a dismissal that we have accepted.”
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