Lift incident highlights access issue at town hall

Wheelchair user Jonathan Knowles, who was trapped in the disabled lift at Todmorden Town Hall for more than two hours
Wheelchair user Jonathan Knowles, who was trapped in the disabled lift at Todmorden Town Hall for more than two hours

A wheelchair user has called on Calderdale Council to improve disabled access at Todmorden Town Hall after he was trapped in a lift for more than two hours.

Jonathan Knowles went to the Grade I listed building to attend Todmorden Orchestra’s autumn concert earlier this month.

He got into the wheelchair lift to take him up to the ballroom where the concert was taking place.

But the lift malfunctioned and Jonathan was stuck in the confined space for more than two hours until engineers and fire crews could rescue him.

“The lift doesn’t look fit for purpose,” Jonathan said.

“There have been far too many incidents with that lift.

“Something needs to be done about it as soon as possible.

“I don’t feel the town hall is accessible enough.

“But it’s a Grade I listed building so there’s not much they can do about it.

“If they can do something, I would champion it straight away.”

Mayor of Todmorden Coun Jayne Booth, who also attended the event, waited with Jonathan until he was rescued.

“He was stuck in the lift for over two hours, which must have seemed like an eternity in such a small space,” she said.

“As Mayor and a councillor I think its about time we made the lift a priority and get it fit for purpose or replaced sometime very soon.

“Without this commitment to the lift, Todmorden Town Hall will not be fully accessible and therefore will never achieve its objective of becoming the bespoke venue we want it to be.”

Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for economy and environment, said the incident was unacceptable and the council has apologised for any distress that was caused.

He said the Todmorden Development Board has decided to install a new lift and has identified relevant funding.

“In the meantime, we’re working with the company responsible for maintaining the current lift to make sure it works safely and reliably, so that booked events can hopefully go ahead in a building that is accessible to everyone,” he said.