DISABLED EXHIBITORS and visitors who drove to last week’s LKA show held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham were dismayed when they were turned away from their usual parking place close to the Centre and were allegedly told that there were no parking facilities for disabled visitors.
To add insult to injury, they were also told that there would be no special parking arrangements at Crufts next year, whilst a couple of shuttle buses which were provided were clearly inadequate to ferry wheelchair users and were withdrawn, leaving many disabled people stranded in the car parks several hundred yards away from the exhibition halls.
Australian Silky enthusiast Grace Tebbutt and her son, who had travelled to the show from Leeds, were taken aback when they attempted to park in their usual disabled parking bay area close to the exhibition centre to be told by a barrier guard that they could not park there. When they explained that they usually parked in this area, the guard allegedly queried whether they were trade stand holders. When they told him they were not, they were directed to one of the ordinary car parks, which did not have disabled facilities and was some considerable distance from the exhibition centre.
‘When we got to the car park, we found lots of other disabled people in the same predicament,’ Grace told OUR DOGS. ‘Several of them were in wheelchairs and we were some way from the building. We complained to the car park attendants who were quite unsympathetic, but they eventually arranged for a shuttle bus to come to the car park for us all. But when the bus came, it was totally unequipped to take wheelchairs. When I pointed this out, one of the guards snapped: ‘It’s got a ramp, what more do you need?’
It became obvious however that the shuttle bus could not take more than one or two wheelchairs at a time and several people were left stranded in the car park, especially when no further buses were sent.
Grace added: ‘I think it’s disgraceful. We managed to get into the NEC eventually, and one of our friends went to talk to an official, I think it was the Transport Manager, and he was also very unsympathetic and said ‘The car park’s not too far from the halls – these people can walk here easily enough.’ We also asked what was happening about Crufts next year, but were also told that there was to be no disabled parking close to the hall, but no explanation as given as to why.
‘Of course, we can see if there’s a security issue, but we’re hardly likely to present a threat, and besides, the NEC management should have made proper provision for disabled visitors. It seems they just couldn’t care less.’
OUR DOGS invited the NEC to comment but at the time of going to press had received no response.