Have Grays Thurrock Restaurants Been Breaking The Disability Laws?

Mick Hall tackles discrimination against disabled people in his home patch.

I was recently told by a friend who was organising a celebratory meal for herself and her workmates, when she contacted a number of restaurants in Grays to make a booking she was told by more than one it was not possible for her to book because one of her party was blind and had a guide dog and the restaurant doesn't allow that.

The woman in question lives an independent life, and travels into the borough to work daily by train. The dog sits by her desk during the working day.

It was an outrage that this woman due to her disability was being excluded from restaurants as there is absolutely no reason why the dog would not have done the same in the restaurants from which it was excluded.

Access for disabled people has improved in recent years, but the fact this young woman was refused access to a restaurant just highlights how much more needs to be done.

Thankfully her and her friends night out was not spoiled as the New Delhi in Orsett road Grays was more than happy to let the guide dog onto their premises and a good time was had by all.

The New Delhi restaurant which saved the day by having Wheelchair Access And Disable Facilities. 

However there are wider issues here it's against the law for service providers to treat people with disabilities less favourably because of their disability, or because they have a guide or assistance dog with them.

According to Assistance Dogs UK:

Making “reasonable adjustments” might mean giving extra help, such as guiding someone to a restaurant table, or making some changes to the way you provide your services to make it easier for blind and partially-sighted people to use them. It certainly includes allowing guide dogs and assistance dogs into all public places with their owners. Guide dog and assistance dog owners have important rights under the Equality Act 2010. The EA provides for disabled people to have the same right to services supplied by shops, banks, hotels, libraries, pubs, taxis and restaurants as everyone else.

This act is clearly not being implemented in some of Thurrock's restaurants and this Christmas when people come to book a meal members of the disabled section of our community must not be stopped from joining the celebrations.

A United Nations panel recently criticises the UK government's failure to uphold disabled people's rights

Patrick Butler wrote in the Guardian:

The UN committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities examined the government’s progress in fulfilling its commitments to the UN convention on disabled people’s rights, to which the UK has been a signatory since 2007.
Its report concludes that the UK has not done enough to ensure the convention – which enshrines the rights of disabled people to live independently, to work and to enjoy social protection without discrimination – is reflected in UK law and policy.
At national local level the authorities are clearly failing disabled people, what happened when a group of women tried to book a meal in Grays simply highlights there failure. That an independent woman was unable to enter a restaurant for a meal with friends is an outrage, it reeks of ignorance but it's more than that, it's a criminal offence and high time the local authorities started taken this seriously.

Whether officers of Thurrock Council regularly check local restaurants are abiding by the Equality Act I am unable to find out, but if not they should immediately do a tour of Thurrock's restaurants to point out they must abide with the Equality Act of 2010 as not to do so is breaking the law.

Mick Hall blogs @ Organized Rage.

Follow Mick Hall on Twitter @organizedrage

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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