Calls to bring Worcester's Guildhall council chamber back into use

The Guildhall in Worcester

The Guildhall in Worcester

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

QUESTIONS are being asked as to when Worcester's Guildhall council chamber will be back in use - one year after the doors closed.

The historic chamber no longer has disabled access after a large ramp was taken away as part of the 2012 redecoration work to the 18th century building.

Two years ago the venue was spruced up ahead of the Queen's visit to Worcester, including painstaking cleaning to the Guildhall’s ornate ceiling and extensive painting.

At the start of 2013 bosses decided to stop using the main chamber for council meetings, which now take place in the draughty main hall next door, known as the assembly room.

It also means when people take tours of the Guildhall, if they are wheelchair-bound they cannot get inside the council chamber unless they are physically lifted in.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, a former Mayor of Worcester, said: "When the ramp was taken away and we were all moved to the assembly room I didn't realise it would be permanent.

"It just seems such a shame that we've got this council chamber that we can't use.

"It would be nice to be where we are actually meant to be. The assembly room is quite large and at times it can be quite difficult to hear."

The city council say the problems stem from the Guildhall's Grade I listed status, which means it is difficult to secure permission to make changes.

The old ramp was also a temporary one, and English Heritage want the new disabled access to the chamber to be permanent.

One possible solution is to create a stair lift which provides access via a kitchen, but there are issues around that because of the perceived fire risk.

Councillor Lynn Denham, cabinet member for community engagement, said: "The Guildhall is a listed building and anything we want to do must be looked at very carefully from a heritage point of view.

"There are a number of technical difficulties to achieving that, as well as a considerable cost, which could be enormous.

"We are looking at solutions for this very special building."

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