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No skate party for for disabled James
AN award-winning wheelchair dancer was stopped from taking part in his sister’s birthday celebrations at a roller rink due to health and safety concerns.
James Ireland, 20, of Broomfield Avenue, Leigh, visited Rollacity last Saturday with his family and friends to celebrate Chantelle’s tenth birthday.
He is paralysed from the waist down after being born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, but has gone on to win a host of international wheelchair dance competitions, and even featured on Blue Peter.
Health and safety regulations state that wheelchair users are only allowed on skating rinks during closed sessions However, the Ireland family claim they were originally refused entry by a cashier who claimed the wheelchair would mark the floor. James said: “I’m just confused about the whole situation. What really is their problem?
“The floor is the same as we use for dancing so I’m used to it – and if my wheelchair would damage it, then so would the skates!
“I have never experienced anything like this before so I don’t understand how it is a safety issue.”
Mum Mary, 44, did her best to not let the incident ruin Chantelle’s birthday and the group had fun while James watched from the sidelines.
She said: “I have always taken going out for granted.
I thought in this day and age everyone was equal.
“They said if he wanted to join in, they could let him have a go on his own – but it would have to be on a school night.
“It was her birthday on Saturday so what use would that be?
“I am just absolutely fuming about the whole situation. What’s the point in having a disabled toilet?
“I just feel like James has been really discriminated against.”
Clive Meech, owner of Rollacity on Purdeys Industrial Estate, Rochford, has been in touch with disability groups around Essex to arrange sessions dedicated to wheelchair users.
He said: “It’s not discrimination, it is health and safety.
“If you have 100 people skating round our rink, we can’t then put a wheelchair-user on there in case someone falls over and bangs their head on the wheelchair. “It could become dangerous for everyone involved.”