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|TX: 14.06.04 – FORMER MAYOR CONDEMNS LACK OF WHEELCHAIR ACCESS|
PRESENTER: PETER WHITE
|THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY|
Your year as mayor is supposed to be the icing on the cake, the culmination of a distinguished career as a councillor, time to bask as honoured guest of a range of functions or organisations - going to their AGMs etc. - throughout your borough. But for Councillor Doreen Scott, who's just ended her stint as Mayor of Islington, it was apparently instead a time of hurt and humiliation.
Part of her reason for wanting the honour was to show a disabled person in such a high profile role - Doreen is a wheelchair user. Instead, she says, she spent much of the time parked downstairs, while celebrations were going on upstairs. Arriving at functions from the goods lift and on one occasion being dragged backwards into a royal garden party by courtiers.
Well when I spoke to Councillor Doreen Scott earlier this morning I asked her about her preparations for her mayoral year.
When I became the Mayor of Islington they had to obviously get a specialised vehicle for me to use because I couldn't use the usual mayoral car. And we did have a bit of problem at first because they had to sort out one or two before we got the one that I really did need.
So give me examples of the kind of places where you couldn't get in.
Well I went to the Royal garden party and when we got there, we got in fine - as a matter of fact I got in, sort of one of the first - but because it's all cobbles we had to be dragged backwards and I felt perhaps they could have put some slats down so that we didn't have to go backwards. Also I was going to go to St. John's for a dinner, I couldn't get in to that space. I went to Clarence House, to look over Clarence House and then went we to have a sort of meal after I had to sit on the pavement outside because there was no way I could get into the building to have something to eat.
I think on some occasions you had to go up in goods lifts and that kind of thing.
Oh I went up in goods lifts, I mean I was quite amazed, like the Savoy Hotel I went up in the goods lift there.
And I believe there was a New Year's parade where you had a similar kind of experience.
Yeah what happened was I went down in the morning and all the other mayors went up the stairs and they had breakfast but because there's no lift big enough to take me I had to sit downstairs in the foyer and have my breakfast down there and then wait for all the mayors to come down so that we went in procession to the place where it was going to be held and while I was sitting there they were all under a canopy, I was sort of on the outside and it was pouring with rain and as luck would have it the chauffeurs put sort of umbrellas over me. And I just felt there could have been some way they could have perhaps got the canopy over a bit more or even made a special canopy.
So I mean how does that kind of experience make you feel? You go there as mayor, presumably expecting to be the guest of honour to some extent.
Well I felt angry, I felt really angry because I felt that when we went to Whitehall Place nobody bothered to come down to see whether I was okay and even when it came to presenting the certificate to the person that won the award in the borough, I had to ask my chauffeur to go upstairs and present it because they were doing all the presentations upstairs and I felt that at least they could have come down and done that bit downstairs. I mean even disabled toilets at Whitehall Place were up steps, there was no way I could have gone to the toilet there.
So you feel really that even when - I mean the Disability Discrimination Act says that you have to make reasonable provision but you feel that when a place is inaccessible that a lot of people are not trying to come up with alternative arrangements even, they're not …
I don't think they do. I think - I don't know if people live in a different world but they don't seem to realise that if you can't get somewhere there should be some provision for them to make certain you can get there in some shape or form.
Councillor Doreen Scott, who was Mayor of Islington, talking about a year not to remember.
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