Government fails to monitor accessibility at UK sports venues

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Just as the Paralympics 2016 are getting underway in Rio, it would seem that the government has not been monitoring the level of accessibility or equality awareness training for staff at sports venues.  

As a result the government appears to have no idea the extent to which sports venues in the UK are accessible – or not – to individuals with a disability.

The Equality Act 2010 imposes a duty to make reasonable adjustments for people to ensure accessibility. So recently I asked Parliamentary Questions about the government’s progress in its efforts to ensure that staff at sports venues have disability awareness training, and about the government’s assessment of the adequacy of wheelchair accessibility at sports venues.

The junior sports minister Tracey Crouch MP replied that the government’s “Sports Strategy … makes clear that sports venues need to provide an inclusive environment”, and that the government “expects all sports and all clubs to take the necessary action to fulfil their legal obligations."

This reply is stunningly complacent.  It is clear that the government is not in fact undertaking any monitoring of compliance with the laws.  The government just blandly assumes that everyone will comply with the disability laws.  The minister seems to live in a world where everybody complies with the law at all times, without ever being asked to do so.  I live in the real world, and it’s high time the government got proactive.

Muscular Dystrophy UK Trailblazers Manager, Tanvi Vyas, said: “We’d like to thank Rob Marris for his support on these important issues. It is disappointing that four years after the big promises of a Paralympic legacy, so many disabled people are clearly frustrated, limited and let down by their sporting experience. That they feel shut-out from events they love due to venue layout and accessibility is a national disgrace.

“If venues recognised not only the passion of disabled sports fans, but the two hundred billion spending power of disabled households, then everyone would gain from better inclusion. We urge the sports industry to put accessibility at the heart of stadium design and renovation, and to engage with charities like ours so every sports fan, regardless of disability, can follow their passion."

It has now been six years since a Labour government passed the Equality Act 2010 and yet the current government is unable to tell us what has happened since then.  It is impossible for the government to ensure that sports venues are accessible if they are not even keeping track of what is happening.  We are rightly supporting our wonderful Paralympic athletes and encouraging greater participation in sport, but meanwhile we do not even know how many sports venues are accessible to people with disabilities whether to participate or to spectate.

 

 

 

Written Answer to Question 44662 (grouped with 44661)

 

44662

 

Asked by Rob Marris (Wolverhampton South West) on 02 September 2016: 

 

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of wheelchair accessibility at sports venues.”

 

44661

 

Asked by Rob Marris (Wolverhampton South West) on 02 September 2016: 

 

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of wheelchair accessibility at sports venues.”

 

 

 

Answered by Tracey Crouch, on 07 September 2016:

 

“Our Sports Strategy recognises the need for everyone to be able to access live sport and to benefit from the experience. It makes clear that sports venues need to provide an inclusive environment that welcomes all spectators.

 

“We want sport to be at the forefront of equality and want to see all sports venues proactively consider and put into practice ways of engaging with and attracting a wider range of spectators, including disabled fans, ensuring the offer and the environment are inclusive and accessible to all.

 

“We expect all sports and all clubs to take the necessary action to fulfil their legal obligation under the Equality Act of 2010 to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled people are not placed at a substantial disadvantage when accessing sports venues.”

 

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