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Last Updated: Friday, 11 August 2006, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Tower access for all now possible
The Spinnaker Tower
The external glass lift has not been working since the tower opened
Wheelchair users will be allowed access to Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower after months of waiting to be granted entry.

The Hampshire landmark opened last October but one of the two lifts, which both need to be in operation to provide emergency escape, is still not working.

An "evac-chair" will be temporarily used to counter this problem, permitting disabled users to enter the first two decks of the tower.

However, all users who can't walk unaided must be accompanied by a carer.

Portsmouth City council have also stipulated that users must be less than 23 stone (146kg).

'Seems unfair'

A spokesman for the Disabled Rights Commision told BBC News: "For want of repairing the lift, we can reasonably assume disabled people have to achieve an incredibly higher threshold in order to use this facility.

"On the face of it, it does not seem fair at all."

"People must make reasonable adjustments to alter or remove barriers for disabled access - why create additional obstacles?" he added.

Campaign group Speak Out had previously threatened to take legal action against the local authority for not providing full public access to the landmark.

Michael Lawther, the council's solicitor, had said that the council was eager to get the earliest possible resolution to the problems facing the external lift.

"We want the tower to be equally accessible for everyone in the community," he said.

Portsmouth spinnaker tower was due to open in 2000 to mark the millennium, but it was opened 5 years later at a cost of 36m.

The external lift to the facility broke down within days of the public opening.




SEE ALSO
Disabled tower access criticised
05 Jul 06 |  Hampshire
Tower welcomes 250,000th visitor
06 Apr 06 |  Hampshire
Spinnaker opens five years late
18 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Council boss trapped in Spinnaker
18 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Spinnaker Tower to finally open
13 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Tower handover once again delayed
06 Oct 05 |  Hampshire

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