Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Wheelchair user threatens legal action over disabled access to Orchard Theatre restaurant
Wheelchair-bound Wayne Evans was looking forward to dining at The Circle Restaurant at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford before seeing the Rocky Horror Show last Thursday, but was left disappointed after discovering there was no access for disabled people.
Instead the 58-year-old says he and his wife were told they could eat downstairs in the theatre’s foyer bar area and restaurant staff would come down to serve them.
But Mr Evans, who was left paralysed from the chest down following a motorcycle accident five years ago, was not impressed and did not take up the theatre’s offer.
The father-of-four said: “I rang them up and said I was in a wheelchair, and I was told that’s all very well but there’s no access.
“The Disability Act was supposed to eliminate this kind of discrimination.
“I don’t want to be Billy no mates sitting on my own.
“We got there and they had set up a table for two in the corner, which is ridiculous as there must have been at least 100 people in that bar milling around, leaning against the table.
“The rest of the people sat there were just having coffees, that’s what it’s designed for, not for somebody to have a three course meal. I’m glad I didn’t take up their offer.
“It’s embarrassing, unsuitable and totally unsatisfactory, I was quite cross about it all.
“I am peeved to say the least.”
Mr Evans, who lives in Joydens Wood, says there were no lifts and the restaurant could only be accessed by walking up stairs.
He said: “They have a lovely theatre with six disabled seats which are fabulous and six parking spaces in the theatre confine.
“They cater very well for the likes of me, but they have built a new restaurant I can’t even access.
“It’s a clear breach of the Disability Act.”
The former marine claims executive added: “It ruined everything, we were really looking forward to having a meal.
“One of the things I’ve never been able to do is to go to a theatre which has a restaurant as well - all the London theatres don’t.”
Mr Evans has since sent a letter of complaint to the theatre and has also contacted the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
According to public services website direct.gov.uk, The Disability Discrimination Act gives disabled people rights in the areas of access to goods, facilities and services, including larger private clubs and land-based transport services.
The Orchard Theatre is a 1,000-seater venue in Home Gardens which opened its restaurant in October last year.
A spokeswoman for the theatre said she was unable to comment as the theatre director Andy Hill was in a series of meetings.
She also said the theatre would need to first respond to Mr Evans prior to making any further comment.
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