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Local councillor fighting for funding to be used for north-east museum accessibility

Councillor Stephen Calder at the Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead.
Councillor Stephen Calder at the Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead.

Money must be invested in making Peterhead’s historic and cultural attractions more accessible to all, a councillor has said.

Stephen Calder believes all too many of the town’s Victorian buildings offer impediments to visitors.

Mr Calder, councillor for Peterhead South and Cruden, believes one of his own favourites, the Arbuthnot Museum, is sadly among them.

He has called for money to be made available to improve accessibility and intends to continue to do so, despite unpromising first talks with council officials.

At present, the museum’s main exhibition space is on the upper floor, with only a “virtual tour” available on ground floor screens available to those who cannot climb its stairs.

And Mr Calder said he had been told by Aberdeenshire Council that it was “not financially feasible” to introduce a lift to help people with mobility issues make the most of the attraction.

He said: “It’s not accessible to everyone and people don’t want to go to the building just for a virtual tour when they know the full exhibition is above them.

“I know from experience about the museum’s issues as before I had my hernias removed I couldn’t get up those stairs.

“Accessibility is a big issue in Peterhead as many of the Victorian buildings are just not fit for everyone to use.”

To tackle the problem, Mr Calder has proposed that money from the Town Centre Fund be used to install a lift.

He added: “I was told it was not financially feasible but with this money it could be possible to put in some kind of lift or disabled access which would improve the historic building and let everyone enjoy Arbuthnot.”

But John Harding, head of Live Life Aberdeenshire, the business unit of Aberdeenshire Council which runs museums and libraries, said: “We have explored a number of options including a stairlift, an internal lift and an external lift so far.

“None have been feasible due to the building design and available space but we are committed to ensuring the best use of the building.

“Working with our customers, we recently installed a 360 degrees virtual tour of the Arbuthnot Museum and we will continue to try and make the building as accessible as possible.”

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