WALTHAMSTOW: Council ‘failed’ to do a disability test
A STUDY aimed at improving equality between disabled and able bodied people was not carried out by the council, contrary to law.
All local authorities have to carry out a disability impact assessment under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) before making major decisions.
But Waltham Forest Council admitted none was undertaken before St James St Library, Walthamstow, was closed, despite it having one of the few disabled toilets in Walthamstow.
Reader Pearl Small, 80, of Glenthorne Road, cannot walk without sticks or her specially adapted shopping trolley.
She said: "The closure affected me in many other ways too. It was round the corner from where I lived and I could put the big large print books I need into my trolley."
She said she did not want to bring the trolley to Walthamstow Central because she was scared criminals would see her as vulnerable, and attack her.
Deputy director of charity Waltham Forest Disability Action, Alan Carlton, said concern had been expressed by its users about the closure.
But the cabinet member for libraries, Cllr Geraldine Reardon, said the borough was "absolutely dedicated" to providing modern accessible facilities. The St James Street Library was the most poorly used of the authority's libraries. It was not compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act and indications were that to make it DDA compliant would cost a disproportionate amount of money.
A spokeswoman from the Government's Equalities and Human Right Commission said it would write to the council to clarify the situation.