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Clubber turned away from Tokyo Lincoln because of wheelchair

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: September 10, 2011

  • NO ENTRY: Wheelchair basketball player Richard Sargent, inset, was refused entry to Tokyo Lincoln nightclub in Silver Street, Lincoln, on the grounds that there is no disabled accessibility. Pictures: Rich Linley

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RICHARD Sargent had hoped for a happy night out in Lincoln with friends as he bade them farewell before they departed back to university.

But his evening was marred when door staff refused him access to the city's hottest new nightclub, citing a lack of provision for his wheelchair.

Former North Kesteven School pupil Mr Sargent, who last year helped Great Britain win silver at the under-23 European Championships and acts as an ambassador for Lincolnshire Sports Partnership, said: "It really upsets me that Lincoln does so much to promote disabled sports in the city but when facilities aren't accessible it undoes all that good work.

"It sends a really negative message to disabled people in Lincoln and feels like we take five steps forward and ten steps back.

"We do so well in terms of encouraging disabled sports and disabled people to be part of the community and yet things like this still happen. It's such a shame."

Mr Sargent took up wheelchair basketball four months after a car crash in 2001 which, at age 9, saw him spend eight months in hospital with spinal injuries that left him paralysed.

He went on to represent Lincoln at county level and Great Britain at an international level and now hopes to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

A regular clubber, Mr Sargent feels "let down" by his experience at Tokyo Lincoln.

He said: "Clubs in Lincoln usually always go out of their way to help me, but at Tokyo Lincoln I wasn't offered any assistance.

"I had heard the club was so good too as it had been so hyped. I feel very let down."

But Tokyo Lincoln, which is housed in the former Constitutional Club in Lincoln's Silver Street, says it has a duty to abide by building regulations governing the red-brick Victorian building.

When the first stones of the grade two listed building, which was built in 1895 and first used as a ballroom and debate room, were laid it was considered a public building – a definition which remains today.

Therefore, although equality law requires service providers to make "reasonable adjustments" to accommodate disabled people, there are exemptions in situations where organisers cannot make such adjustments, whether that be because of cost, resources or size.

Tokyo Industries, which owns Tokyo Lincoln and has 20 high-end night clubs and venues across the country, says it worked with a private building control contractor to convert the Constitutional Club and is bound by building regulations not to make substantial changes to the building.

A Tokyo Lincoln spokesman said proposed future planned developments would allow disabled guests direct access to the basement and ground floor of the club, but that first level access is difficult due to large spiral staircases which still exist from the original 1890s design.

The spokesman said the club's policy does allow access for guests who need assistance and that door staff dealing with Mr Sargent appeared to have "misinformed" him on this occasion.

She offered an "unreserved" apology to Mr Sargent and said the club would be contacting him directly to apologise.

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  • bigyellabelly  |  September 16 2011, 3:43PM

    He looks intelligent. why would he want to go into such a dive? Nightclubs are for the very immature - over priced entry, expensive booze, dork music and always tacky, but they do let you stay up late. Sorry, it's a pathetic world.

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  • daryl_lincoln  |  September 12 2011, 6:36PM

    I have a form of Epilepsy can i get them to stop the lights flashing so i can go and enjoy the atmosphere then. Some people cannot do some things. Learn to live with it I do.

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  • DLNGLB  |  September 12 2011, 6:24PM

    @athomejune.....none of that makes sense! And you seem to be suggesting the doorstaff carry him around the club? Whats more degrading in your view, being turned away becuase the place isnt wheelchair accessible, or being carried around a club by bouncers for the evening?

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  • athomejune  |  September 12 2011, 5:05PM

    Its ok for the club to rope off part of the path yet if your in a wheelchair you can not go in the club. why did the doorstaff not help him in I have been pass the club.The doorstaff look like each one of them is carrying a load of books under each arm So must be big and stong to help the poor lad SHAME ON YOU

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  • Lincoln_Fan  |  September 11 2011, 10:11PM

    @Aveladze I respect what you say about 9/11, very much so in fact but life is not just for remembering the victims of atrocities. Part of life is sumounting local injustice. This is a clear example of little, if any, thought being given in the design stage, to equality of access.

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  • Aveladze  |  September 11 2011, 8:50PM

    is this really front page news ? is he looking for compensation ? or just a moaner, think of those who died in 9/11 - get a grip world.

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  • ImFromReddit  |  September 11 2011, 8:12PM

    Anyone else appreciating the unintentional humour of his statement of '5 steps forward, 10 steps back'? Also, it's not the club owners fault, they are bound by nationally set regulations and they shouldn't need to apologise. Take your business elsewhere mate.

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  • DavidSLincoln  |  September 11 2011, 1:00AM

    If i was the complainant I would have rung ahead to ensure I could be accommodated. There are certain things we do in life that we have to plan for disabled or not. I actually think some of the laws are sledgehammers to crack nuts, but I guess we all have to sympathise.

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  • Fandal  |  September 10 2011, 11:13PM

    Mum2four, I'm struggling to see the relevance of your student comment there. I'm sure some of the clubs in Lincoln have adjusted to target the student population, but sure that is not the case with the venue that decided to have it's opening over the August bank holiday, when all the students have gone home?

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  • Chessie90  |  September 10 2011, 6:41PM

    What a pity, he couldn't get in. Yes, everywhere hasn't got disabled access but i certainly feel for him as it must have been more embarrassing for him as it happened on a night out. I hope they manage to make the club more suitable soon.

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