Campaign to insure all are free to pee

DISABILITY campaigners today sent a warning to pubs, clubs and restaurants in Suffolk that people with disabilities have as much right to spend a penny in their venues as they do to spend a pound.

DISABILITY campaigners today sent a warning to pubs, clubs and restaurants in Suffolk that people with disabilities have as much right to spend a penny in their venues as they do to spend a pound.

National disability organisation Scope is striving to make businesses aware of their responsibilities in ensuring disabled people have access to toilets and other facilities during a night on the town.

Through its Free2Pee campaign, the charity is encouraging people to take part in its 'Big Night Out' on October 1 to help launch the campaign and to conduct an unofficial survey of access at venues.

The charity is pledging to name and shame those without suitable access to toilets and to award the best with its own 'Free2Pee Bog Standard' award.

From October 1 under the Disability Discrimination Act venues such as pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas will by law have to make reasonable physical adjustments to ensure disabled people are no longer excluded.

Ipswich wheelchair-user Lol Hare, of Old Norwich Road, backed the campaign, saying many venues have a long way to go before ensuring equal access for people with disabilities.

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Mr Hare, 34, an ex-speedway star who was paralysed in an accident in 2002, said one of the biggest problems faced on a night out was access to toilets.

"You've got steps on the way there, then you can get the door open but only get half-in so you can't close the door behind you," he said.

"I've been half way through a meal and had to say 'sorry, I've got to leave'."

The access problems, which often start from just getting in the front door, are so bad Mr Hare said many wheelchair users were choosing to stay at home.

"I've got to the stage where sometimes I can't be bothered going out," he said.

Tony Adams, an 82-year-old sufferer of motor sensory neuropathy condition Chacot Marie Tooth disease, has had better experiences when it comes to accessing facilities with his wheelchair but he said going out involves a careful choice of venues.

The Penzance Road resident said: "You have to make your own decisions and do your own planning.

"We often do not go to places because they're not wheelchair friendly.

"My wife goes ahead of me and looks and says whether we can get in there or not."

But in those businesses which were wheelchair friendly, Mr Adams said facilities were generally of a high standard.

"Very often I've found them to be superb. Usually I find the toilets are more than first class," he said.

"I'm happy with the access in this area."

Weblink: www.free2pee.org.uk

Have you had trouble accessing facilities on a night out? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

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