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Claims Of Disability Discrimination In York


5:45am 6th September 2012
(Updated 8:26am 6th September 2012)

A woman that wanted to volunteer along the Olympic torch route in York feels her disability was used against her.

Miss X doesn't want to be identified but feels the City of York Council made assumptions about her capabilities before meeting her.

She claims that she was not allowed to help along the main route because she's in a wheelchair.

Miss X was given the option of an alternative, so she could still take part, but feels it was unacceptable to assume a disabled person couldn't do certain things.

She's speaking out exclusively to Minster FM.

Response from City of York Council:
Gill Cooper, City of York Council's Head of Arts, Culture and Heritage said:

"Our duty of care to each and every one of our 260 voluntary stewards for the Olympic Torch Relay was not to allow themselves to be put in danger while working to ensure the safety of tens of thousands of spectators.
“Because LOCOG requested minimal use of barriers, our volunteer stewards were central to crowd management. They needed to be able to observe the faces of people on the pavements to identify potential threats to public safety or any in distress, be able to move along the pavements or edge of the public road – some with grassed and cobbled areas and kerbs – and, if necessary, move through the sometimes dense crowds. Anyone in a wheelchair would have been at far greater risk from vehicles, crowd surges and uneven surfaces and would not have been visible to people further back from the edge of the road.
“The council’s emergency planners, equalities manager and events team considered how best to deploy disabled volunteers to steward and also took advice from the police and security experts. Two came forward: one is a wheelchair user who we asked to work at the racecourse at a wheelchair accessible site with a reduced risk of crowd surging – not unknown in friendly crowds. The other has a hand disability so was offered a role which didn’t require manipulating a radio.
“City of York Council’s stewarding and emergency planning arrangements for the event were acknowledged as exemplary by the police, and the council’s handbook and training plan was shared across Yorkshire. All training took place in accessible premises.
“I talked to the racecourse-based steward on the day who told me she had a smashing time. She also stayed on afterwards to help clear up and we are very grateful for her contribution to such a great event for everyone involved.
“Given that there were 55,000 people lining the streets – more than we had anticipated –and 23,500 people at the racecourse event which we had planned for, I believe we made the right decision.”

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