Leisure complex under fire for ‘broken lifts and access ramp’

Out Of OrderPhoto by Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images

A disability group has criticised a leisure complex in Darlington after a disabled man reportedly could not gain access due to broken lifts and an out-of-use ramp.

Feethams leisure complex, owned by Urban & Civic, came under fire from Darlington Association on Disability (DAD) because it allegedly failed to put up signs about disabled access after lifts at the complex broke down.

According to the carer of the wheelchair-bound man, the lift was out-of-order and when they went around the venue to use the disabled access ramp they found it was cordoned off for repairs.

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The gentleman told The Northern Echo: “It strikes me as totally unprofessional to cordon off disabled access without making sure the lift was working or providing alternative access for the duration of repairs.

“Yet again this gentleman feels let down and discriminated against and I really feel so angry and disappointed on his behalf. He is having a few personal problems at the moment and I thought a trip to the cinema would help take his mind off things for a while.

According to DAD, there was another lift nearby but it is apparently tucked away near the service road and not signposted.

Gordon Pybus, from the group, told the newspaper: “When this development was going through the planning process I had to push hard to get the zigzag ramp and even harder to get this extra lift.

“The developers (Terrace Hill at the time) proposed to have the lift in the cinema as the only wheelchair access to the upper part of the complex and where the zigzag ramp is it would have been just steps. I also wanted another ramp at the Town Hall side of the complex but they insisted it was not possible.

“They agreed to install this extra lift even though they insisted they didn’t have to install anything. The reason I wanted another ramp instead of a lift is because as you know lifts break down.”

Urban & Civic was approached for comment by the newspaper.

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