Chadwell Heath pensioners’ champion secures hand rail installation at Redbridge Town Hall
A 94-year-old war veteran has fought another successful battle by improving access from Redbridge Town Hall after struggling to exit the listed building.
Chris Wilson MBE, 94, of Chadwell Heath, regularly attended council meetings meaning he would negotiate eight steps at the Oakfield Road exit.
After 18 months Mr Wilson managed to get Redbridge Council to install a hand rail.
He said: “There was trouble because it was a listed building but I continued with the argument it was for health and safety.
“I regularly attend meetings at the Town Hall but I found that I could no longer trust myself to get down the last two steps.”
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The war veteran suffered a bullet wound to his buttock when serving in Italy in the Second World War.
Mr Wilson, who earned an MBE for helping pensioners in the borough, joked “people have been unable to get down those steps for 100 years.”
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He added: “It has taken a long time but it has been done. It feels terrific not just for me but for all disabled people.”
The current chairman of the Pensioners’ Forum, John Coombes, 74, of Oaks Lane, added the issue was part of wider accessibility issue in the borough of public buildings.
Mr Coombes said: “It is a legal requirement for buildings to make sure that it has access for the elderly – any alterations you must go down the necessary planning process.
“This is where the issue lies with step free access at stations not just for elderly people but mothers with children.”
The council confirmed Mr Wilson’s efforts had meant the brass handrail was introduced to assist those entering the building.
A council spokesperson added: “We would stress that the building’s main entrance on the High Road has large ramps for easy access to the building. We have always been happy to open the main entrance.”