A disabled student in a wheelchair was refused entry to Powerhouse
The club said there was no way of him joining his friends on the main dance-floor
A Northumbria student on a night out in Newcastle was dismayed after being turned away at the door of Powerhouse because of a lack of disabled access to the main dance-floor.
In September, Daniel Reed – a second year Business Studies student at Northumbria – was told at the door that he could not join his friends on the first floor.
He was directed by staff to go to ‘The Pink Room’ instead, which is a ground-level bar next door to Powerhouse run by the same owners and has disabled access. The club’s Facebook page says it “welcomes all”.
Daniel, who has Cerebral Palsy and has been in a wheelchair all his life, is a member of the LGBT community in Newcastle and said that Powerhouse was therefore an important venue for his social life.
Daniel said: “As you can imagine, being told to simply go elsewhere was extremely disheartening and surprising, coming from a club whose entire ethos and selling point is built around inclusivity. I have never been turned away by any club for being gay, and yet I have been turned away from Powerhouse for being in a wheelchair every single time. Powerhouse make a great deal of money based on their claim to welcome ‘all’.”
In correspondence with the club, the manager told Daniel the toilets and entrance are wheelchair accessible but not the dance floor or roof terrace.
The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that public buildings must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in order that disabled people are not discriminated against. The law also states that if a club has been continuously in operation since before the law was passed, it does not have to comply with modern building standards. However, it must still make an effort to provide basic disabled access. But Daniel feels the club could do more.
Newcastle University Disabilities Officers Errol Kerr and Daniel Wood said: “This situation again highlights the challenges disabled people face in their day-to-day lives.
“From Powerhouse to Sinners, so many nightclubs are physically inaccessible, and to be refused entry or denied assistance is a severe issue that needs confronting directly”.
Powerhouse provide a disabled toilet and access to a bar on the ground floor. A spokesperson for Powerhouse said: “To comply with the Equality Act 2010 we offer the use of the ground floor bar and disco to any persons unable to utilise the upper floor.
“The ground floor has easy disabled access with an easy access toilet available. We are deeply sorry for any confusion caused and we aim to ensure all affected parties involved in the matter are treated with the upmost decency.
“Powerhouse has always been a safe space for everybody of all sexes , colour, sexuality, religion and disabilities. If the person in question would like to get in contact with us regarding this issue we would happily discuss the issue at hand and make them feel as comfortable and welcome as possible”.
Powerhouse Manager, Owen McStravick, stated in an email correspondence with Daniel, “at this moment in time there is simply no stair lift for wheelchairs to get up the stairs. I will speak with our head office and raise the concerns over accessibility”.