Update: Campaign Group representativeness have met with MCC (Manchester City Council) and artist Jeremy Deller to discuss options for ‘full access’ to the Peterloo Memorial. The meeting was a result of the ongoing and vocal campaign led by local disabled people and our allies regarding the lack of access to the memorial due to its stepped design.
Despite, initial resistance from MCC, on the 5th of July they issued a statement expressing “regret” and said “we have asked the artist and architect to look at how the monument in its current form can be modified to make it fully accessible.”
As a result of this, a meeting took place on Friday 19 July 2019 with representatives from the disabled people’s campaign (including GMCDP), MCC, Jeremy Deller, the architects firm working on the memorial and The Peterloo Memorial Campaign.
What follows is a summary by campaign representative Mark Todd of the various options put forward by MCC for consideration, which people can comment on via the Facebook page: “The Peterloo Memorial: A Monument to Discrimination”
Meeting & Options Summary:
MCC repeated its regret on the current position and its commitment to finding a fully accessible solution. MCC presented a number of options for consideration. Our campaign representatives had already decided that no commitments on any single option would be given at the meeting, and instead the options would be taken away for wider discussions, including within the public Facebook page. Let us know your thoughts on the suggestions made at the meeting, plus one we have added on the general idea of a bridge.
Meeting on Friday 2nd August at Central Library
Facebook page info - https://www.facebook.com/groups/382131302394700/
Strange one this. This option was not actually presented to us by MCC, and that is the idea of a bridge going from the top of an existing ramp for access to the front of Manchester Central. After breaking through an existing wall, a new bridge would link across to the top of the Memorial. A number of you have suggested this, as it makes use of an existing ramp (which is a little steep) to get to approximately the height of the top of the Memorial.
MCC did not pursue this as a viable option because in their opinion, the bridge in this location would be positioned around 1.6m above the floor and there would not be enough room to pass underneath. Dennis Queen made the very funny point that although passing underneath would be a problem for the 6ft tall (1.83m) architect, many of us would find that just fine.
The meeting was to discuss the options presented and so we did not challenge them on this immediately. However, afterwards we in the campaign agreed to go back and ask MCC to reintroduce this as an option and produce accurate drawings for us to consider.
Some kind of lift to the top. The cheap and nasty platform lift they showed us was a frame bolted on to the steps with a platform that went up the steps to the top.… lifts break, can be vandalised and are sometimes difficult to work out how to operate. We thought an ordinary platform lift was a bad idea – but we were more impressed by a newer type of lift “within the steps” suggested previously by members of this group.
Some kind of ramp to the top. They showed us 2 possible ramps, both of them with a gradient of 1:21 (which is pretty much the gold standard in terms of ramps).
The 1st was completely straight, over 28.3m long and stretched from the top of the Memorial “all the way into Salford” to quote the hilarious Dennis.
Obviously, it does the job and makes the top of the Memorial “fully accessible”. We are fairly confident that Manchester Central (previously known to many as GMEx) will not agree to this because it takes up a great big chunk of the forecourt which they use quite regularly. If it is our preferred option, we could fight for it. Mark and Joan thought that this was not a particularly good or elegant solution. Let us know your thoughts.
The second variation was the same ramp as above but concertina together to form a Z shaped ramp. Obviously, it had two level landings to negotiate a turn. It was designed to the same gold standard but of course took up less room, keeping the ramp closer to the monument itself.
Obviously, a ramp (like the bridge in option 1) is permanent; does not break down; is easy-to-use; and requires little or no maintenance. The less room this option occupies the more chance it will be deliverable and acceptable to the other parties (especially Manchester Central). We thought this second ramp was a potential good solution especially if it was squashed even more into the space reducing its impact on the space in front of Manchester Central.
Mark is of the opinion (feel free to disagree) that if we reduced the gradient from 1:21 to 1:17 most people would not notice the difference. The benefits of doing this would be to reduce the required length of ramp by 20% to 23m long and considerably less than its footprint and impact.
This was the nuclear option. This would entail completely demolishing the currently under construction memorial. It appeared possible to have a spiral ramp to the top. It would definitely need railings or balustrade and the main inscriptions (names of those who died, places from where they marched) would need a completely new design. In fairness to MCC, they presented this as an option although you can imagine the artist and all those involved in not really want to go down this route in my opinion.
This was basically Councillor Rahman’s idea of stopping everybody climbing the Memorial with the provision of a chain rail around the bottom and making it look more like a Cenotaph. They know we don’t like this option, so there was the added sweetener of a promise to build a temporary 28m long ramp on the anniversary of Peterloo for the annual commemorations.
In Mark’s opinion, feel free to disagree, this is the least attractive option and does not deliver a “fully accessible” memorial. Rather than seek to make the memorial accessible 365 days a year for all, it will ensure the memorial is inaccessible for everyone 364 days a year. We would also have to trust that MCC would stick true to their word in perpetuity.
Original Post: Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People has added its voice to the local grassroots campaign demanding that Manchester City Council make suitable access improvements to the Peterloo Memorial.
GMCDP fully support the decision to create a fitting memorial to the men, women and children who marched for democracy in 1819 and were met by sabres, muskets and a cavalry charge that left the dead and injured scattered across St Peters Field in Manchester.
However, Manchester City Council is failing to deliver a fitting memorial. Their chosen stepped design purposefully excludes disabled people and this has been communicated to the Council during the consultation process and in letters to and face to face meetings with Council Leader Richard Leese.
Individuals and organisations of disabled people, locally, nationally and internationally have condemned Manchester City Council’s decision to proceed with an inaccessible design. The fact that the Council did not insist upon accessibility from the outset is just one example of a much wider problem. Manchester City Council is failing to engage with or listen to disabled people on a wide range of projects currently under way in Manchester.
Manchester has a reputation of pulling together and lining up shoulder to shoulder in defiance of injustice, ignorance and segregation. That is why we are calling on our friends and allies to show solidarity with this important campaign by making our collective voices heard.
Facebook Group “Peterloo Memorial A Monument To Discrimination”:
Campaign Protest Thursday 6th June:
Disability rights activists slam council over plans for 'inaccessible' Peterloo Massacre memorial
Inaccessible Peterloo massacre memorial causes protest storm
Row erupts over disabled access at Peterloo memorial
Disabled Aparthied - a poem by Sue Napolitano