Disability campaigners have launched a fresh bid in the fight to make Manchester’s memorial to the Peterloo Massacre accessible for wheelchair users.
It comes after Manchester City Council insisted last week that there were “no viable solutions” to the issue.
The memorial – which was unveiled in 2019, just before the 200th anniversary – is intended to remember those who died in the Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819, but shortly after opening, the circular-stepped feature came under fire from disability campaigners.
Jeremy Deller, the Turner Prize-winning artist who designed the memorial, intended it to be “a place of meeting and assembly where people could stand and sit together” – but the council said it did not anticipate Mr Deller’s interpretation of his brief, which proposed the monument to be interactive without accommodating wheelchair access.
Manchester City Council said last week that several options involving various ramp or lift designs have been explored in detail to make the memorial accessible, but that none of them “have proved feasible”.
Councillors have now agreed to meet with campaigners to discuss fresh proposals.
Mark Todd, a member of the Peterloo Memorial access campaign, told the council’s communities and equalities committee that the time for working with Mr Deller and architects on finding a solution had passed.
“What we’ve done is we’ve worked together as Mancunians to come up with a solution we think works,” he said.
“We want it to be an access solution that gets us to the top as the promise was made, so we can take part in the same way as any other citizen, but we think it can do more than that.”
Cllr Luthfur Rahman – Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council – admitted that mistakes had been made and that if he could, he would “go back and start right at the beginning again”.
Several committee members also agreed that the proposals by campaigners should be considered.
“I think what we need to do is sit down together and have a look at the proposals,” added Cllr Susan Cooley, the council’s Lead Member for Disabled People.
Councillors also accepted that lessons learned from the Peterloo monument had paved the way for more inclusive future memorials such as the Glade of Light – which will commemorate the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena attack.
The Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter’s Field in Manchester in 1819, when masses arrived to hear radical speaker Henry Hunt campaign for parliamentary reform, but a troop of sabre-wielding cavalrymen charged into the crowds.
At least 11 people were killed and 400 were injured.
Featured Image – Ste Gidzy / The Peterloo Memorial Campaign