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Row escalating between council and campaigners after disabled man stranded in park had to shout for help

PUBLISHED: 16:26 15 August 2019

Ann Baxter, from Attleborough, has been fighting for a new gate at Gaymer's Meadow for almost two years. Photo: Bethany Wales

Ann Baxter, from Attleborough, has been fighting for a new gate at Gaymer's Meadow for almost two years. Photo: Bethany Wales

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A 66-year-old woman's repeated emails calling for better disabled access at her local park have been branded "vexatious" by a council, following a two year battle to improve the site.

The current gate at Gaymers Meadow, deemed accessible by a ROSPA report last july. Photo: Bethany WalesThe current gate at Gaymers Meadow, deemed accessible by a ROSPA report last july. Photo: Bethany Wales

The ongoing row between Attleborough Town Council and Ann Baxter, 66, who lives on Norwich Road, has been boiling since February 2018, when she raised concerns that disabled people were struggling to access Gaymers Meadow.

The issues centred on a gate at the meadow, which the women said has left disabled visitors stranded, unable to open it from inside the park due to its weight and tight hinges.

Since then, the problem has been discussed multiple times at town council meetings.

In July 2018, an access audit was conducted at the park by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, which stated that reasonable adjustments had been made to allow disabled visitors to use it.

Mayor of Attleborough, Tony Crouch, said a master plan of the town would address the access issues at Gaymers Meadow. Photo: Sonya DuncanMayor of Attleborough, Tony Crouch, said a master plan of the town would address the access issues at Gaymers Meadow. Photo: Sonya Duncan

But Ms Baxter, who believes the report is referring to a different gate, said the problem was far from fixed.

In June 2019, mobility scooter user Rodney Sherman, 69, was forced to shout for help after he struggled for 30 minutes to exit the park via the gate.

Concerned by the incident, a family friend Ms Baxter made a short video showing the difficulty Mr Sherman was having, and forwarded it to the town council clerk, Gina Lopez, requesting it be forwarded to councillors and discussed at the upcoming public meeting.

However the council said the video would not open on any PC in the office and it was not added to the agenda.

When Ms Baxter requested to show the video during the public participation section of the meeting, the council said it was an inappropriate use of time and would not allow her to play it via her phone.

A spokesman for the town council said the issue had been discussed a number of times at previous meetings and that Ms Baxter's emails had been deemed "vexatious" because she had repeatedly requested the same information.

They added it would be in breach of GDPR to show the video in public without permission of Mr Sherman.

Mayor Tony Crouch added: "We have made several reasonable adjustments for the one disabled resident who had contacted us regarding access issues. However, we have recently commissioned a master plan for Gaymers Meadow, which will include the assessment of all entrances and gates, to be fully inclusive as an approved site for the wellbeing of all residents. This was already decided within the neighbourhood planning process"

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