TUC has issued the following in relation to lack of accessible conference facilities:
Failure to find 2005 National Disabled Conference Venue
In a shocking admission of national failure to address DDA access issues, TUC Disability Conference delegates were given the news that there is no suitable venue in the UK to host the 2005 two day TUC Disability Conference.
Only two months before DDA Access to goods and services becomes fact, the one day Disability Conference held at TUC Congress House on Friday 23 July was advised that the TUC had contacted and reviewed all major conference venues and ‘it is regretted that none of them can currently provide what is needed for this event – a fully accessible venue, with enough suitable bedrooms within the host resort / town.’
Historically recognised conference centres such as Blackpool, Brighton, Bournemouth and Scarborough cannot fulfil the needs of disabled people at such an event until at least 2007.
Major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham Sheffield and York cannot offer the Disabled conference any financial support package which major conferences normally expect.
Stephen Brookes, Chair, NUJ Disabled Members Council and disability Journalist and researcher was appalled by the news.
‘I live in Blackpool, and to find that my home town which has always been in the forefront for national conferences has no suitable venue is just not acceptable.’
While recognising that the news reflected a national failure, Stephen nevertheless was unhappy at the status of his home town.
‘Last year a similar conference was held in Blackpool, in a new hotel, and it failed to address the accessible needs of disabled people. But nationally the truth is that no one has taken the basic needs of DDA95 into consideration, or recognised that they have had 9 years to come to terms with the fact that disabled people have legal rights. It is just not good enough.’
The TUC is undertaking a campaign to challenge the hotel industry and local authorities to provide greater numbers of accessible rooms and facilities for business use by disabled people and organisations.
‘After all’ said Stephen ‘there are 10 million disabled people, and they all spend money at the conferences, so to ignore that is financial suicide anyway.’
end. DDA and DisConf.
Call Stephen Brookes on 01253 594114 for further details.
This is an issue that I’ve greatly anticipated for many years. When I was involved in campaigning for a Disability Bill, back 1993, and the subsequent watered down Bill by the government in response to all those tabled amendments … we were disheartened to learn that it would take 9 years for some of the Act’s provisions to come into force.
At the time I was thinking, this is way too long a time frame, and its not going to happen. The excuse by the then Conservative government; businesses needed time to financially prepare, then time to implement physical changes.
For the past 9 years, this section of the DDA has received very little press, which has rendered the policy reasoning ineffective. The draft Code of Practice was not published until mid-2001.
During 2004, there has been a spur in the press, especially local and publications aimed at businesses, in relation to physical adjustments. It is also being portrayed as a new thing, and very little use to longer term budget planning, strategic decisions, nevermind anything else. The TUC announcement therefore, comes of little surprise.