Group Wants All To Enjoy Scenic Tower
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 7, 2006
PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND--The views from the top of Spinnaker Tower might be "outstanding", as the new landmark's website declares, but they are not sights that wheelchair users can enjoy.
In fact, the experience at the top of the 170-meter (558-foot) structure might soon be off-limits to everyone if the tower's operators don't get its external glass elevator working.
Safety rules require two ways to escape in emergencies. Right now the tower has a staircase and an internal elevator that works. But the exterior elevator broke down just minutes before the £40 million ($74 million US) tower opened last October. Since then, wheelchair users have not been allowed up to the viewing decks because they cannot use the stairs to escape if the inside elevator stops working.
Advocates with the local disability rights group "Speak Out" threatened this week to go to Britain's Disability Rights Commission to sue the Portsmouth City Council, and Heritage Projects Ltd., which runs the tower, for discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Speak Out's spokesperson, Clive Garnett, told Portsmouth's The News: "As a wheelchair user I have been unable to go up and the same is true for many others. The people involved with the tower have had long enough to sort this out, but they haven't."
"Closure threat to Spinnaker Tower" (The News)
"Disabled tower access criticised" (BBC News)