Tuesday, August 26, 2008

British teen's protest against inaccessible movie theater may lead to its relocation to accessible building

From the Hereford Times in the UK:

Hereford's Odeon cinema has said it is in talks with developers about re-locating to another city site.

Speaking outside the Commercial Road building, Odeon’s regional manager Jo Rigby said further details were not available but would be issued “in due course”.

Her comments came as a group demonstrated outside the venue after wheelchair-bound Hereford schoolgirl Amy Clements had to crawl up the cinema’s stairs to watch a film because there was no disabled access.

Fifteen-year-old Amy, a pupil at the Bishop of Hereford’s Bluecoat School, was surrounded by more than 30 friends and family as they gathered signatures in support of their campaign to make Odeon wheelchair-friendly.

“I didn’t think this many people would turn up,” said Amy, from Saxon Gate, off Ross Road. “The cinema should definitely have wheelchair access and I hope today will help them change their minds.”

Odeon says it has not been feasible to provide wheelchair access, prompting the search for a change of venue. But despite the news that new sites are being looked at, the protest group is not raising its hopes.

Nicola Hill, whose daughter Lauren was one of the demonstration organisers, said a new cinema could be some time away, and questioned what people in Amy’s situation were to do in the meantime.

“It’s not the fact that Odeon can’t fit anything, they won’t,” she said.

“We all hope this protest will make them think twice about installing disabled facilities as soon as possible, but to be honest I don’t hold out much hope.”

Amy’s misfortune at the Odeon has prompted The Courtyard to offer her a family ticket to a film of her choice during its autumn season.

The theatre’s chief executive, Martyn Green, said his venue offered facilities for all sections of the community.