Yet again I feel as though big businesses are completely disregarding their duties under the Equality Act 2010. It seems as though instead of justifying why they don’t have to make reasonable adjustments required by this legislation they are now just ignoring its entire existance. I have to give it to them, they are very crafty!
This time it’s Cineworld (again) who have got me mad! If you’re a regular follower of my blog or my facebook page then you’ll know we have a Cineworld being built in Burgess Hill which is around 40 minutes from my house.
Myself and a friend, who lives in Burgess Hill, have been asking Cineworld to ensure that this new facility has a hoist assisted toilet of some kind. Whether that is a full changing places toilet or a space to change facility, we really don’t mind as long as there is something there, but we have constantly been fobbed off and told that they won’t provide one as they aren’t required to under current building regulations.
So last week an email was sent to Cineworld on behalf of West Sussex Hoist Assisted Toilet Action Group (WSHATAG) making another request and pointing out their responsibilities under the Equality Act. But this went one step further and plans were included which showed 3 possible locations for a CP or STC to be included without too much change to the existing plans (remember this cinema has yet to be built)
You can read the emails
You can see from the plans below that it really is a very reasonable request to include such a facility. There are 2 options which would see one of the planned disabled toilets converted into a CP or STC and one option which would mean none of the planned facilities are lost at all.
The following image was also sent to Cineworld as it shows clearly how much space Cineworld are dedicating to the standard toilets as compared to the disabled toilet facilities. The yellow parts are the disabled facilities!
Disabled people really don’t get much space at all do they!
We even sent them the comments from this petition as we thought perhaps Cineworld were unaware of the huge amount of local people who are asking for this facility!
All members of WSHATAG, myself and Maria included, hoped that this email (which fully outlines their responsibilites and showed how easy it would be to ensure this cinema catered for everyones needs) would change Cineworld’s minds and open their eyes to the fact that, actually, it really would be so easy to ensure that this would not be the 4th Cineworld in our area which we cannot take our children to.
How wrong were we!
Cineworld sent a standard cut and paste reply to this detailed request for adjustments, you can read it . It basically explained that as the current building regulations don’t require Changing Places in cinema’s they won’t be providing one.
No mention of the Equality Act 2010 and no acknowledgement of their responsibilities under that legislation. They didn’t even bother to try and justify why they don’t consider it to be a reasonable adjustment.
Cineworld have clearly never read the building regulations guide which states that compliance with building regulations does not equate to compliance with the duties and obligations of the Equality Act 2010. But that’s ok because we posted this on social media and tagged them in it so hopefully they will have at least read it now (note my sarcasm!)
I am outraged that a multi-million pound organisation is able to completely ignore their responsibilities under equality legislation simply because they feel like it and because they know (or think they know) that they will not be challenged legally.
Reading between the lines, I think that Cineworld do understand the Equality Act 2010 because
Ed Thompsons email stated that “
Whilst we do not have Changing Places or other hoist assisted facilities installed in our cinemas, earlier this year Cineworld conducted an audit of the Changing Places facilities available near each of our cinemas so that they could make this information available to any customer who requested it.” I wonder whether they consider this to be a reasonable adjustment to allow customers to find another local toilet? But personally, I think that is a bit like them having steps outside and sending wheelchair users to another building which has a ramp, because they think they just want to use a ramp! We don’t just want to use a toilet, we want to use a toilet whilst visiting the cinema, like other people do!
Based on the assumption that Cineworld may be considering this ‘audit’ to be a reasonable adjustment, we decided to test them on this and over the past week or so several phone calls have been made to different branches of Cineworld requesting this information and we also took to social media to ask the question!
Cineworld twitter account gave us a link to the Changing Places map (not something they have had any part of creating) but never replied to Natalie when she asked how far the Gatwick airport Changing Places facility was. Perhaps that’s because they realised that as it is in airside arrivals Natalie wouldn’t be able to access it unless she had just got off a plane?
They ignored two other requests for information:
Cineworld failed to answer the phone when I called their Brighton and Chichester cinemas, I tried both sites 3 times throughout the course of Saturday & Sunday.
They have also so far not responded to questions asked on Facebook.
Back in June 2016 Cineworld told me they would be putting all this information on their website to allow customers to see where the closest usable toilet was… they still have not done that.
So even if Cineworld have conducted an audit (which we doubt), the information is only useful if it is being made available to customers, which it’s not.
But even if it was, the information Cineworld would be able to provide us would be of no use because although there are 3 cinemas in our area this is how far you’d have to walk should you need to use one when visiting any of them:
Chichester – 0.8miles, 18 mins walk
Brighton – 1.7 miles, 35 mins walk
Crawley – 3.3miles and is only accessible if you are on an inbound flight as it is at Gatwick airport.
If Cineworld go ahead and neglect to make the reasonable adjustments required then that will be 4 of their cinemas in this area without the facilities required to allow a large number of customers to visit their cinema and spend their money.
And that, is NOT OK.
We noticed this comment on the My Changing Place facebook page and had to add it to this post as it is just beyond wrong and is an all new low for Cineworld…
As always, PLEASE leave me your comments and thoughts below and feel free to share this!