Wheelchair user wins City Hall access battle

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A DISABLED woman who threatened to sue Sheffield City Hall for breaching the Equality Act has agreed to drop the action after bosses improved access for wheelchair users.

Michelle Turner, aged 46, from Sharrow, who uses a wheelchair due to her multiple sclerosis, complained after her night out at a gig was spoilt because of access problems.

She struggled to get in to the Eddi Reader concert because stage crew vehicles were blocking dropped kerbs and access to outer doors.

She also had problems accessing the disabled toilet because it had been blocked off by a stack of speakers and the door was locked.

She had to find a member of staff who had to track down the key. Then she had to wait for the speakers to be moved and for another act to finish using the disabled toilet as a spare dressing room.

Michelle sought advice from Sheffield Law Centre because she thought the City Hall had breached the Equality Act 2010.

Staff also helped her put her case to the venue’s management.

The City Hall said it had improved access for disabled customers at the tills, reviewed its operating procedures, checked signs and improved disabled toilet access.

Michelle said: “I’m pleased the City Hall has responded so positively.

“I’m also really glad I could get legal aid to find out the legal position.

“The way Sheffield Law Centre put my case meant City Hall management understood my problem and addressed it.

She added: “I am glad I don’t have to start legal proceedings.”

City Hall general manager Richard Hunter said: “We strive to provide access to all to the best of our abilities, across all parts of our venue.

“When areas are pointed out that we could do better in, we look at it and make the changes if at all possible.

“I’d like to think we have improved the customer experience for all with access issues to the City Hall,” he said.

Douglas Johnson, of Sheffield Law Centre, said: “We helped Michelle achieve a result that will also benefit many other visitors to the City Hall, whether disabled or not, and enabled the City Hall management to improve their service at minimal cost.”