Upset over new hall "useless" for wheelchair sports

Salisbury Journal: Joanna Birley at Emmanuel School Joanna Birley at Emmanuel School

A FORMER international wheelchair basketball player is mounting a campaign for a useable court in Verwood after being “extremely upset” by a new sports hall’s lack of facilities.

Joanna Birley, 52, says the new hall at Emmanuel School has turned out to be not only useless to wheelchair users, but the toilets are designed in such a way as to embarrass disabled people who try to use them.

Mother-of-two Mrs Birley advised the architect, the school and VALA on the type of floor needed for her team, which currently practises at Ferndown Leisure Centre.

She says she was “really excited” by plans to renew the facilities in Verwood when the old leisure centre was closed to make way for an extension to Morrison’s, and managed to negotiate a discount on the same type of sprung wooden floor used in the Paralympics, making it cheaper than the modern rubber floors.

A wooden floor would have enabled her to run all types of wheelchair sports, including tennis, table tennis and more.

But when she saw the new hall at Emmanuel she was horrified to find her advice had been ignored and it had a £35,000 rubber floor which would make it tough for wheelchair users to pick up the type of speed needed to play the sport competitively.

She was also “gutted” to see that the disabled toilet did not open into the changing rooms, but opened straight onto the large foyer instead, which would embarrass wheelchair users and make it hard for them to use the loo while playing sports, even if they could use the hall.

She also says the changing room doors were too narrow for wheelchairs.

Mrs Birley helps train eight wheelchair users and another 16 able-bodied sports people who join them in special sports chairs to play every Friday night. Players come from far and wide, and the team is set to apply for the Southern League Division in April.

But now their hopes could be dashed, and Mrs Birley fears the hall in Ferndown, where the disabled toilet is through several doors and up a creaking platform lift, could be refurbished with the same rubber material due to its age.

She said: “What they’ve provided is so squishy it’s like cycling in wet sand.

I can honestly say that it's the squishiest floor I've encountered in the 26 years I've been in a chair.”

Mrs Birley broke her back when her horse reared up in 1986, and fell backwards on her. She spent ten months in hospital, where she got into basketball, playing in the Stoke Mandeville Games where she was spotted by a Team GB coach.

She added: “I did all the research and got them a cheaper quote than a cushioned floor, and the school seemed really enthusiastic about the prospect of having a wheelchair team playing there.

“It would have been a far superior floor – it just doesn’t make sense.

“We have half a mind to make a case under the Disability Discrimination Act. Why should disabled people have to come out into a public thoroughfare to access a toilet? You’d never be able to open one door and stare straight in to able-bodied ladies’ and gents’ toilets.

“But they say that because we can access the toilet and the hall there’s no discrimination - what, even if we can’t use it?

“That aside, we need somewhere, so we’re asking for people to help us make a rolling sports hall that could be used as a blueprint for new sports halls - a centre of excellence’ for disability sport.”

Neil Farmer, strategic director at East Dorset District Council, said: “When the sports hall was designed we ensured that everything in it was compliant for disabled people.

“The floor used in the sports hall is suitable for wheelchairs, although it may not be as fast as a wooden floor. We have not been contacted with regard to any problems with the disabled toilet/changing room.

“The original design for the sports hall had two disabled toilets within the changing rooms but they were small and only had space on one side of the toilet. The design was changed to this larger room in order to give more space on either side of the toilet, which we understand is more suitable for different types of disability.”

Emmanuel School headteacher Jill Watson said: “The aim of the new sports hall was to provide a multi-purpose centre catering for the needs of our school, as well as providing an excellent facility for local people.

“We always consider the needs of all our pupils and any disabilities they may have so it goes without saying that, when designing the hall, we considered the whole community.

“We wanted as many different groups as possible to use the hall and made sure that the floor was suitable for wheelchair use.

"Our hall is used for a wide variety of sports and activities on a daily basis. While we recognise that it is not possible to gain 100 per cent satisfaction from all potential users, we are delighted with the outcome and have had a lot of positive feedback.”

Anyone who can help Mrs Birley achieve a wheelchair-friendly practice court can email her at palomino@dsl.pipex.com .

Comments (14)

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9:31am Fri 24 Jan 14

Joanna_Birley says...

The school says they "made sure that the floor was suitable for wheelchair use"? How did they do that? Did they ask a wheelchair-occupant who had offered her advise since November 2012 or the Salesman of the cushioned floor? The latte I am afraid! I got in touch with the church's architect, Brian Nicholls in late 2012 with my concerns regarding cushioned flooring and I repeatedly asked both him and Jacqui Sainsbury of VALA to please change the spec to wooden under sprung floor otherwise wheelchairs would not be able to access the hall for sport as every other member of the community. How can the school be "delighted with the outcome" and say it's "an excellent facility for local people" and "we considered the whole community" when they has been informed by the first wheelchair person who accessed the floor that it was not accessible for sport, that the designers had got it wrong - they should commenting that they are mortified! I would like to meet with both the architect and Jacqui Sainsbury of VALA and ask them why the superior quality floor that would have made this hall suitable for all, was not installed. The wooden floor installation would have saved the build money. The wooden floor would have allowed children adults and disabled alike to have equal sporting access. A wooden floor carries a 20-year guarantee as opposed to the paltry 5-year guarantee of the cheaper floor they have installed. No contest in my book… I also informed the architect, VALA and the school of this point in enough time for the floor spec to be changed. Answers on a postcard please…
The school says they "made sure that the floor was suitable for wheelchair use"? How did they do that? Did they ask a wheelchair-occupant who had offered her advise since November 2012 or the Salesman of the cushioned floor? The latte I am afraid! I got in touch with the church's architect, Brian Nicholls in late 2012 with my concerns regarding cushioned flooring and I repeatedly asked both him and Jacqui Sainsbury of VALA to please change the spec to wooden under sprung floor otherwise wheelchairs would not be able to access the hall for sport as every other member of the community. How can the school be "delighted with the outcome" and say it's "an excellent facility for local people" and "we considered the whole community" when they has been informed by the first wheelchair person who accessed the floor that it was not accessible for sport, that the designers had got it wrong - they should commenting that they are mortified! I would like to meet with both the architect and Jacqui Sainsbury of VALA and ask them why the superior quality floor that would have made this hall suitable for all, was not installed. The wooden floor installation would have saved the build money. The wooden floor would have allowed children adults and disabled alike to have equal sporting access. A wooden floor carries a 20-year guarantee as opposed to the paltry 5-year guarantee of the cheaper floor they have installed. No contest in my book… I also informed the architect, VALA and the school of this point in enough time for the floor spec to be changed. Answers on a postcard please… Joanna_Birley

12:37pm Fri 24 Jan 14

Joanna_Birley says...

To set the record straight and/or clarify some statements I would like to add.

The toilet/showers opening onto the main reception could potentially embarrass a disabled person if the door lock failed as this door opens directly onto the main foyer. You see this terrible design in older facilities and I thought I could change the trend here which should be altered nationally at a planning level and I would like to start a campaign to do so. The fact that able-bodied toilets and showers do not have doors opening straight onto a public thoroughfare is done to ensure privacy. Why do disabled people not deserve the same right?

It is not a case of the cushioned floor ‘would make it tough for wheelchair users to pick up the type of speed needed to play the sport competitively’ it is a case that the cushion floor they’ve installed is not suitable for even the most basic type of wheelchair sport at a keep-fit level and would result in wear and tear on joints and muscles as the wheelchair-user has to use extra force to push their way ‘through’ the cushioning as opposed to gliding over the top of a hard wooden floor where the shock absorbing ‘spring’ required in this day and age to safeguard runners from wear and tear on joints and muscles is underneath. The Verwood Sports Hall is very discriminatory - it is called a sports hall, therefore should be suitable for sport for disabled as well but it is not.

Joanna currently helps train about 24 people - both disabled and able-bodied who use lightweight sports chairs to play basketball every Friday at 6:30pm at Ferndown Leisure Centre. This team was started last September by Michael Droynk of South Coast Tigers, who raised the funds to purchase the specialist chairs (some funds from EDDC) but both he and Joanna had hoped that a wheelchair-friendly floor and modern changing rooms would make for a perfect venue in Verwood.

Now Verwood’s new hall has proved a dud, and the hall in Ferndown, where the only disabled toilet (no shower) is through several doors and then up a slow platform lift operated only by a member of staff, means that there is still no wheelchair-friendly sporting venue in the area.

“I worked so hard to ensure all the facts and figures were delivered to the build team in time. The school had been so enthusiastic about the prospect of having a wheelchair team playing there. I have repeatedly asked them all, and been given no answer as to why, this fantastic floor was not installed especially as saving them money. I just want answers - it doesn't make sense"

“I have been told I can access the hall so they say there’s no discrimination - what, even if we can’t use it for sport like everybody else?
To set the record straight and/or clarify some statements I would like to add. The toilet/showers opening onto the main reception could potentially embarrass a disabled person if the door lock failed as this door opens directly onto the main foyer. You see this terrible design in older facilities and I thought I could change the trend here which should be altered nationally at a planning level and I would like to start a campaign to do so. The fact that able-bodied toilets and showers do not have doors opening straight onto a public thoroughfare is done to ensure privacy. Why do disabled people not deserve the same right? It is not a case of the cushioned floor ‘would make it tough for wheelchair users to pick up the type of speed needed to play the sport competitively’ it is a case that the cushion floor they’ve installed is not suitable for even the most basic type of wheelchair sport at a keep-fit level and would result in wear and tear on joints and muscles as the wheelchair-user has to use extra force to push their way ‘through’ the cushioning as opposed to gliding over the top of a hard wooden floor where the shock absorbing ‘spring’ required in this day and age to safeguard runners from wear and tear on joints and muscles is underneath. The Verwood Sports Hall is very discriminatory - it is called a sports hall, therefore should be suitable for sport for disabled as well but it is not. Joanna currently helps train about 24 people - both disabled and able-bodied who use lightweight sports chairs to play basketball every Friday at 6:30pm at Ferndown Leisure Centre. This team was started last September by Michael Droynk of South Coast Tigers, who raised the funds to purchase the specialist chairs (some funds from EDDC) but both he and Joanna had hoped that a wheelchair-friendly floor and modern changing rooms would make for a perfect venue in Verwood. Now Verwood’s new hall has proved a dud, and the hall in Ferndown, where the only disabled toilet (no shower) is through several doors and then up a slow platform lift operated only by a member of staff, means that there is still no wheelchair-friendly sporting venue in the area. “I worked so hard to ensure all the facts and figures were delivered to the build team in time. The school had been so enthusiastic about the prospect of having a wheelchair team playing there. I have repeatedly asked them all, and been given no answer as to why, this fantastic floor was not installed especially as saving them money. I just want answers - it doesn't make sense" “I have been told I can access the hall so they say there’s no discrimination - what, even if we can’t use it for sport like everybody else? Joanna_Birley

7:43pm Fri 24 Jan 14

lchappers says...

Joanna_Birley wrote:
To set the record straight and/or clarify some statements I would like to add.

The toilet/showers opening onto the main reception could potentially embarrass a disabled person if the door lock failed as this door opens directly onto the main foyer. You see this terrible design in older facilities and I thought I could change the trend here which should be altered nationally at a planning level and I would like to start a campaign to do so. The fact that able-bodied toilets and showers do not have doors opening straight onto a public thoroughfare is done to ensure privacy. Why do disabled people not deserve the same right?

It is not a case of the cushioned floor ‘would make it tough for wheelchair users to pick up the type of speed needed to play the sport competitively’ it is a case that the cushion floor they’ve installed is not suitable for even the most basic type of wheelchair sport at a keep-fit level and would result in wear and tear on joints and muscles as the wheelchair-user has to use extra force to push their way ‘through’ the cushioning as opposed to gliding over the top of a hard wooden floor where the shock absorbing ‘spring’ required in this day and age to safeguard runners from wear and tear on joints and muscles is underneath. The Verwood Sports Hall is very discriminatory - it is called a sports hall, therefore should be suitable for sport for disabled as well but it is not.

Joanna currently helps train about 24 people - both disabled and able-bodied who use lightweight sports chairs to play basketball every Friday at 6:30pm at Ferndown Leisure Centre. This team was started last September by Michael Droynk of South Coast Tigers, who raised the funds to purchase the specialist chairs (some funds from EDDC) but both he and Joanna had hoped that a wheelchair-friendly floor and modern changing rooms would make for a perfect venue in Verwood.

Now Verwood’s new hall has proved a dud, and the hall in Ferndown, where the only disabled toilet (no shower) is through several doors and then up a slow platform lift operated only by a member of staff, means that there is still no wheelchair-friendly sporting venue in the area.

“I worked so hard to ensure all the facts and figures were delivered to the build team in time. The school had been so enthusiastic about the prospect of having a wheelchair team playing there. I have repeatedly asked them all, and been given no answer as to why, this fantastic floor was not installed especially as saving them money. I just want answers - it doesn't make sense"

“I have been told I can access the hall so they say there’s no discrimination - what, even if we can’t use it for sport like everybody else?
I think it is nothing but disgusting that this has happened...! I am in total agreement that we need a suitable surface for wheelchair users to be able to play sports on. The work and research on the flooring was already done and the fact that it has a longer life guarantee just made it a no brainer. I would like to know if any other disabled people were consulted before any of these decisions were made on both the flooring and the toilets. This is meant to be n age were all people regardless of impairment should feel included and welcome.... with this flooring it is not the case as if wheelchair users were considered then this would never have happened..!
[quote][p][bold]Joanna_Birley[/bold] wrote: To set the record straight and/or clarify some statements I would like to add. The toilet/showers opening onto the main reception could potentially embarrass a disabled person if the door lock failed as this door opens directly onto the main foyer. You see this terrible design in older facilities and I thought I could change the trend here which should be altered nationally at a planning level and I would like to start a campaign to do so. The fact that able-bodied toilets and showers do not have doors opening straight onto a public thoroughfare is done to ensure privacy. Why do disabled people not deserve the same right? It is not a case of the cushioned floor ‘would make it tough for wheelchair users to pick up the type of speed needed to play the sport competitively’ it is a case that the cushion floor they’ve installed is not suitable for even the most basic type of wheelchair sport at a keep-fit level and would result in wear and tear on joints and muscles as the wheelchair-user has to use extra force to push their way ‘through’ the cushioning as opposed to gliding over the top of a hard wooden floor where the shock absorbing ‘spring’ required in this day and age to safeguard runners from wear and tear on joints and muscles is underneath. The Verwood Sports Hall is very discriminatory - it is called a sports hall, therefore should be suitable for sport for disabled as well but it is not. Joanna currently helps train about 24 people - both disabled and able-bodied who use lightweight sports chairs to play basketball every Friday at 6:30pm at Ferndown Leisure Centre. This team was started last September by Michael Droynk of South Coast Tigers, who raised the funds to purchase the specialist chairs (some funds from EDDC) but both he and Joanna had hoped that a wheelchair-friendly floor and modern changing rooms would make for a perfect venue in Verwood. Now Verwood’s new hall has proved a dud, and the hall in Ferndown, where the only disabled toilet (no shower) is through several doors and then up a slow platform lift operated only by a member of staff, means that there is still no wheelchair-friendly sporting venue in the area. “I worked so hard to ensure all the facts and figures were delivered to the build team in time. The school had been so enthusiastic about the prospect of having a wheelchair team playing there. I have repeatedly asked them all, and been given no answer as to why, this fantastic floor was not installed especially as saving them money. I just want answers - it doesn't make sense" “I have been told I can access the hall so they say there’s no discrimination - what, even if we can’t use it for sport like everybody else?[/p][/quote]I think it is nothing but disgusting that this has happened...! I am in total agreement that we need a suitable surface for wheelchair users to be able to play sports on. The work and research on the flooring was already done and the fact that it has a longer life guarantee just made it a no brainer. I would like to know if any other disabled people were consulted before any of these decisions were made on both the flooring and the toilets. This is meant to be n age were all people regardless of impairment should feel included and welcome.... with this flooring it is not the case as if wheelchair users were considered then this would never have happened..! lchappers

1:22pm Mon 27 Jan 14

velocitybob says...

As a local resident I only hear positive things about the sports hall. I would be amazed if the decisions made by the professionals involved in its design resulted in the building not meeting all current legal and statutory requirements associated with both able and non able bodied usage. In your opinion it may not be the fastest floor for wheel chair usage - however it should be noted that having a wooden floor is actually much worse in other circumstances - a rubberised floor being much easier on knee and ankle joints over prolonged use. I understand the sports hall will be used most frequently by 9-13 year old school children who have not reached full height and or size and in that context, the choice of a rubberised floor would seem to be the correct one. Well done to those who made that decision.
As a local resident I only hear positive things about the sports hall. I would be amazed if the decisions made by the professionals involved in its design resulted in the building not meeting all current legal and statutory requirements associated with both able and non able bodied usage. In your opinion it may not be the fastest floor for wheel chair usage - however it should be noted that having a wooden floor is actually much worse in other circumstances - a rubberised floor being much easier on knee and ankle joints over prolonged use. I understand the sports hall will be used most frequently by 9-13 year old school children who have not reached full height and or size and in that context, the choice of a rubberised floor would seem to be the correct one. Well done to those who made that decision. velocitybob

2:47pm Mon 27 Jan 14

Nick Poole says...

Velocity Bob - There are so many floors that are adaptable for both wheelchair users and able bodied, but sadly it seems to be in favour of able bodied people.

Before anyone else says that you don't see many disabled people playing sports though, it's because we cannot use these sorts of floors!!!

"In your opinion it may not be the fastest floor for wheel chair usage - however it should be noted that having a wooden floor is actually much worse in other circumstances"

But would you play football if you had 20 boulders on a pitch that you would just have to go round instead of being able to just go from one end to the other?
Velocity Bob - There are so many floors that are adaptable for both wheelchair users and able bodied, but sadly it seems to be in favour of able bodied people. Before anyone else says that you don't see many disabled people playing sports though, it's because we cannot use these sorts of floors!!! "In your opinion it may not be the fastest floor for wheel chair usage - however it should be noted that having a wooden floor is actually much worse in other circumstances" But would you play football if you had 20 boulders on a pitch that you would just have to go round instead of being able to just go from one end to the other? Nick Poole

5:44pm Mon 27 Jan 14

lottie.g says...

Velocity Bob - I challenge you to put yourself in a disabled person's position! To actually feel first-hand the challenges they face daily.
These people have a basic human right to enjoy playing sport as any able-bodied person has too.
Why should they sustain long-term injuries because of' inappropriate flooring' whilst trying to enjoy life via their hobbies?
A compromise could have easily been reached to ensure all parties were catered for (children, adults & disabled)
Surely, in this modern society, it's EQUALITY we are striving for and this could have been achieved for what appears at a reduced cost!
But equality has not been even remotely achieved, more exclusion as usual!
Velocity Bob - I challenge you to put yourself in a disabled person's position! To actually feel first-hand the challenges they face daily. These people have a basic human right to enjoy playing sport as any able-bodied person has too. Why should they sustain long-term injuries because of' inappropriate flooring' whilst trying to enjoy life via their hobbies? A compromise could have easily been reached to ensure all parties were catered for (children, adults & disabled) Surely, in this modern society, it's EQUALITY we are striving for and this could have been achieved for what appears at a reduced cost! But equality has not been even remotely achieved, more exclusion as usual! lottie.g

7:16pm Mon 27 Jan 14

velocitybob says...

I understand there is nothing stopping disabled people using the sports hall - so I don't think your use of the word exclusion is fair. I am sympathetic, however the primary issue seems to be the 'quickness' of the floor and not its actual usability. In the view Mrs Birley it is not good enough for 'competitive' sport. This maybe true. However, if it is a problem, then what is preventing the continued use of Ferndown? I think this is an unnecessarily negative article. The photo of the wheelchair unable to enter the changing rooms has clearly been taken to encourage a maximum negative response from the audience. Logically I have to ask myself why anyone in a wheelchair should attempt to enter a changing room when the disabled changing / toilet facilities are easily accessible from the entrance foyer, and not through that door at all. You can actually see the door frame in the photo! I also don't understand why any potential decision by Ferndown on future flooring has anything to do with the choices made for Verwood's Sport Hall. Its just additional negativity. This is a good building and no doubt some people put a considerable amount of effort into achieving it - nothing is mentioned of their efforts and the success that it has so far been. In reading this article you can get the impression that it is a failure. It is not. It is something that the local Verwood residents are proud of and I am sure that the decisions made have been for the right reasons.
I understand there is nothing stopping disabled people using the sports hall - so I don't think your use of the word exclusion is fair. I am sympathetic, however the primary issue seems to be the 'quickness' of the floor and not its actual usability. In the view Mrs Birley it is not good enough for 'competitive' sport. This maybe true. However, if it is a problem, then what is preventing the continued use of Ferndown? I think this is an unnecessarily negative article. The photo of the wheelchair unable to enter the changing rooms has clearly been taken to encourage a maximum negative response from the audience. Logically I have to ask myself why anyone in a wheelchair should attempt to enter a changing room when the disabled changing / toilet facilities are easily accessible from the entrance foyer, and not through that door at all. You can actually see the door frame in the photo! I also don't understand why any potential decision by Ferndown on future flooring has anything to do with the choices made for Verwood's Sport Hall. Its just additional negativity. This is a good building and no doubt some people put a considerable amount of effort into achieving it - nothing is mentioned of their efforts and the success that it has so far been. In reading this article you can get the impression that it is a failure. It is not. It is something that the local Verwood residents are proud of and I am sure that the decisions made have been for the right reasons. velocitybob

10:17pm Mon 27 Jan 14

Joanna_Birley says...

VolocityBob: How could a wooden floor be worse - in what conditions?
A wooden floor 'cushioned' underneath would have been equally as kind on joints as a cushion floor but would have enabled wheelchair-users to play sport on it without detriment to their joints as an hour doing moderate exercise had when I used the cushion floor installed in the youth club which is only I estimate 6mm, the one installed in the new sports hall is 12mm!! I do not need to put my hand in a fire to know it is hot, subsequently I would not dream of pushing around in the sports hall knowing what the consequences would be. So no, I cannot use the sports hall, unless you mean whether I could sit and watch everyone else, then yes I could use it in that capacity but it cannot be flagged up as for community use when one specific vein of society is excluded from using it for sport due to it being detrimental in some way.

Why the height and size of 9 to 13 year olds would specify they need a cushioned rubber floor and not an under sprung wooden floor is beyond me!

You are hearing positive things about the sports hall from those lucky enough to be able to use it for sport. A bit of an unfair comparison really! If you suddenly made it inaccessible to them by reason of, after use they had pain in their joints, I'm sure the tune would be sung differently!

There is still no answer on the table as to why the architect recommended the rubber floor when the wooden one saved the build money and came with a longer warranty and allowed disabled people to access it for sport.

I am too old now to play competitive sport but I have the right to keep fit like every other person.

Ferndown has an old hard playing surface but a disabled toilet that can take a wheelchair-occupant between 5 and 10 minutes to get to depending on the availability of a member of staff to operate the lift and no shower facilities - so this is just a stop-gap until a decent sports venue can be found.

If a group of wheelchair-users got together to have a friendly game of basketball in Verwood (if the floor had been suitable) why do you think we should not be able to go into the changing rooms to change and use the lockers, like everyone else. Or do you think we should all queue up outside the disabled toilet like segregated cattle? One of the staff said that I could ask them to put anything into or retrieve my belongings from, the lockers - this is not acceptable. The narrow doorway is contravening planning law as from October 2008.

Is my article angled negatively? I think not - factually as the end-user but then you are, I presume able bodied, so have no cause for complaint regarding the sports hall. I bet you would be complaining if a community sports hall had been built with a low ceiling which is perfect for all those of us playing sport in wheelchairs due to our reduced height and at your complaints, we could respond by saying that a walker could access the sports hall but could they use it comfortably? - no.

You don't seem interested in my perspective and I find your comment "well done" regarding the floor choice, insulting and careless.

I hope that one day you, or someone close to you, never experience being cut down in your prime and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life, thank God there are more people out there that do believe in equal rights for disabled people.
VolocityBob: How could a wooden floor be worse - in what conditions? A wooden floor 'cushioned' underneath would have been equally as kind on joints as a cushion floor but would have enabled wheelchair-users to play sport on it without detriment to their joints as an hour doing moderate exercise had when I used the cushion floor installed in the youth club which is only I estimate 6mm, the one installed in the new sports hall is 12mm!! I do not need to put my hand in a fire to know it is hot, subsequently I would not dream of pushing around in the sports hall knowing what the consequences would be. So no, I cannot use the sports hall, unless you mean whether I could sit and watch everyone else, then yes I could use it in that capacity but it cannot be flagged up as for community use when one specific vein of society is excluded from using it for sport due to it being detrimental in some way. Why the height and size of 9 to 13 year olds would specify they need a cushioned rubber floor and not an under sprung wooden floor is beyond me! You are hearing positive things about the sports hall from those lucky enough to be able to use it for sport. A bit of an unfair comparison really! If you suddenly made it inaccessible to them by reason of, after use they had pain in their joints, I'm sure the tune would be sung differently! There is still no answer on the table as to why the architect recommended the rubber floor when the wooden one saved the build money and came with a longer warranty and allowed disabled people to access it for sport. I am too old now to play competitive sport but I have the right to keep fit like every other person. Ferndown has an old hard playing surface but a disabled toilet that can take a wheelchair-occupant between 5 and 10 minutes to get to depending on the availability of a member of staff to operate the lift and no shower facilities - so this is just a stop-gap until a decent sports venue can be found. If a group of wheelchair-users got together to have a friendly game of basketball in Verwood (if the floor had been suitable) why do you think we should not be able to go into the changing rooms to change and use the lockers, like everyone else. Or do you think we should all queue up outside the disabled toilet like segregated cattle? One of the staff said that I could ask them to put anything into or retrieve my belongings from, the lockers - this is not acceptable. The narrow doorway is contravening planning law as from October 2008. Is my article angled negatively? I think not - factually as the end-user but then you are, I presume able bodied, so have no cause for complaint regarding the sports hall. I bet you would be complaining if a community sports hall had been built with a low ceiling which is perfect for all those of us playing sport in wheelchairs due to our reduced height and at your complaints, we could respond by saying that a walker could access the sports hall but could they use it comfortably? - no. You don't seem interested in my perspective and I find your comment "well done" regarding the floor choice, insulting and careless. I hope that one day you, or someone close to you, never experience being cut down in your prime and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life, thank God there are more people out there that do believe in equal rights for disabled people. Joanna_Birley

7:24am Tue 28 Jan 14

velocitybob says...

None of this is fact - it is your opinion. I simply don't believe you regarding the broken planning law! If it was fact then the newspaper article would no doubt be about your successful claim against the owners of the sports hall through using the Disabiility Discrimination Act. The fact you have chosen to persue this through the media indicates that you know as well as I do that there is nothing wrong with the sports hall except for the fact that those responsible choose a different floor to the one you personally would have preferred.
None of this is fact - it is your opinion. I simply don't believe you regarding the broken planning law! If it was fact then the newspaper article would no doubt be about your successful claim against the owners of the sports hall through using the Disabiility Discrimination Act. The fact you have chosen to persue this through the media indicates that you know as well as I do that there is nothing wrong with the sports hall except for the fact that those responsible choose a different floor to the one you personally would have preferred. velocitybob

10:25am Tue 28 Jan 14

Joanna_Birley says...

Do you honestly think I'm doing this just for my benefit? How very wrong you are. I am of an age where my sporting will wind down gradually but wheelchair basketball is a terrific sport for disabled people and able bodied to play on an equal footing (have you seen the Guinness advert) and when I approached Mr Christopher at the school with my hope to coach children and adults in this sport he was so enthusiastic. I would just like to know what turned the tide? Plus in my book it would have been polite for one of either the architect, VALA or the school to inform me that my preferred choice to make disabled sporting access possible here had been unsuccessful rather than finding out at the opening!

I did not choose to pursue this thro the media, they approached me having seen my comment on the Facebook site 'Verwoodians' and that was more about that I needed to fund a specialist hall.

The reporter put the bit in about the Discrimination Act not me!

I wonder if you had signed in here with your real name whether you would be quite so outspoken??

Feel free to let us all know who you are!
Do you honestly think I'm doing this just for my benefit? How very wrong you are. I am of an age where my sporting will wind down gradually but wheelchair basketball is a terrific sport for disabled people and able bodied to play on an equal footing (have you seen the Guinness advert) and when I approached Mr Christopher at the school with my hope to coach children and adults in this sport he was so enthusiastic. I would just like to know what turned the tide? Plus in my book it would have been polite for one of either the architect, VALA or the school to inform me that my preferred choice to make disabled sporting access possible here had been unsuccessful rather than finding out at the opening! I did not choose to pursue this thro the media, they approached me having seen my comment on the Facebook site 'Verwoodians' and that was more about that I needed to fund a specialist hall. The reporter put the bit in about the Discrimination Act not me! I wonder if you had signed in here with your real name whether you would be quite so outspoken?? Feel free to let us all know who you are! Joanna_Birley

3:02pm Tue 28 Jan 14

velocitybob says...

Sorry, I am not interested in you attempt at intimidation. It's wholly irrelevant who I am. What is relevant is that the article is based on opinion, a fabricated embellishment and not actual fact. The fact that you are still prepared to stand behind it, given you admit it contains a fabrication attributed to something that you said, discredits you and your story. Personally, I would demand that the story be taken down. I appreciate that you are doing this for the betterment of others, however I think besmirching others efforts to highlight your own cause is thoroughly disreputable.
Sorry, I am not interested in you attempt at intimidation. It's wholly irrelevant who I am. What is relevant is that the article is based on opinion, a fabricated embellishment and not actual fact. The fact that you are still prepared to stand behind it, given you admit it contains a fabrication attributed to something that you said, discredits you and your story. Personally, I would demand that the story be taken down. I appreciate that you are doing this for the betterment of others, however I think besmirching others efforts to highlight your own cause is thoroughly disreputable. velocitybob

8:56pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Joanna_Birley says...

How can you interpret the request for you to leave your name as intimidation? Yes it is irrelevant who is fighting the school's corner for them, my request was out of interest not out of necessity.

How do you see me highlighting the need for a wheelchair-friendly sporting venue as besmirching others? Why is it wrong for me to speak out when I found the floor unsuitable? Would you have kept silent if the roles were reversed?

When I mentioned to the school that if they had a weaker pupil in a wheelchair then the sports hall would not be able to be used for basic sport by them, the answer was "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it". Surely a better option would have been to have installed a suitable floor in the beginning?

The school had the perfect opportunity to install a 'floor-for-all' - it was researched for them, a special price achieved which would have saved them thousands of pounds, carried four times the length of warranty and recommended to them by a local who had experienced many types of sports flooring over 26 years wheeling and intended to run two 2-hour sessions of disabled sport for children and adults each week.

What a lot of lost revenue - I pass the hall daily and see a darkened space.

If indeed the school was able to overrule any other user-groups needs (as highlighted at the VALA AGM last night) and install their preferred choice of floor, resulting in the barring of wheelchair-users from sport there then maybe they should keep the hall for school use and repay the public money that has been sunk into the hall to enable a true 'community use' hall to be built.

The new sports hall on the Emmanuel School website is described as 'Verwood Community Sports Hall'. This is surely misleading?

Your comment "I understand the sports hall will be used most frequently by 9-13 year old school children who have not reached full height and or size" is inaccurate as if you consult the 'Partnering Agreement Access Table' described by EDDC, the school is scheduled for approx 31 hours a week whereas the public 61 hours a week. Surely, that in itself should have ensured that the school did not have the only say in the choice of 'suitable' flooring, as long as the floor was not injurious to the children, a floor should have been chosen that did not exclude any member of the community from using the hall for sport.

Still no-one responsible for the build project has answered me as to WHY the wooden under sprung floor was seen as not acceptable for the children……..

You yourself has yet to answer my questioning of your statement "it should be noted that having a wooden floor is actually much worse in other circumstances" - in what way? Maybe this will shed some light onto the mystery…….

I think, as more of the locality knows the facts about that flooring being detrimental to wheelchair-users for sport, I expect a few will not feel they can continue feeling 'proud' of it as you mention they do. Most are blissfully unaware of this technical hitch. Can someone truly enjoy these facilities knowing the less able cannot?

When you say my article is a fabricated embellishment and not fact - how do you know? Have you spoken to a doctor about any detrimental effect pushing through resistance-flooring may have on wheelchair-bound older people, children and those with injuries due to the nature of using your upper body for mobility as it wasn't designed?
How can you interpret the request for you to leave your name as intimidation? Yes it is irrelevant who is fighting the school's corner for them, my request was out of interest not out of necessity. How do you see me highlighting the need for a wheelchair-friendly sporting venue as besmirching others? Why is it wrong for me to speak out when I found the floor unsuitable? Would you have kept silent if the roles were reversed? When I mentioned to the school that if they had a weaker pupil in a wheelchair then the sports hall would not be able to be used for basic sport by them, the answer was "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it". Surely a better option would have been to have installed a suitable floor in the beginning? The school had the perfect opportunity to install a 'floor-for-all' - it was researched for them, a special price achieved which would have saved them thousands of pounds, carried four times the length of warranty and recommended to them by a local who had experienced many types of sports flooring over 26 years wheeling and intended to run two 2-hour sessions of disabled sport for children and adults each week. What a lot of lost revenue - I pass the hall daily and see a darkened space. If indeed the school was able to overrule any other user-groups needs (as highlighted at the VALA AGM last night) and install their preferred choice of floor, resulting in the barring of wheelchair-users from sport there then maybe they should keep the hall for school use and repay the public money that has been sunk into the hall to enable a true 'community use' hall to be built. The new sports hall on the Emmanuel School website is described as 'Verwood Community Sports Hall'. This is surely misleading? Your comment "I understand the sports hall will be used most frequently by 9-13 year old school children who have not reached full height and or size" is inaccurate as if you consult the 'Partnering Agreement Access Table' described by EDDC, the school is scheduled for approx 31 hours a week whereas the public 61 hours a week. Surely, that in itself should have ensured that the school did not have the only say in the choice of 'suitable' flooring, as long as the floor was not injurious to the children, a floor should have been chosen that did not exclude any member of the community from using the hall for sport. Still no-one responsible for the build project has answered me as to WHY the wooden under sprung floor was seen as not acceptable for the children…….. You yourself has yet to answer my questioning of your statement "it should be noted that having a wooden floor is actually much worse in other circumstances" - in what way? Maybe this will shed some light onto the mystery……. I think, as more of the locality knows the facts about that flooring being detrimental to wheelchair-users for sport, I expect a few will not feel they can continue feeling 'proud' of it as you mention they do. Most are blissfully unaware of this technical hitch. Can someone truly enjoy these facilities knowing the less able cannot? When you say my article is a fabricated embellishment and not fact - how do you know? Have you spoken to a doctor about any detrimental effect pushing through resistance-flooring may have on wheelchair-bound older people, children and those with injuries due to the nature of using your upper body for mobility as it wasn't designed? Joanna_Birley

10:22am Wed 29 Jan 14

velocitybob says...

The journalist added the part about the Disability Discrimination Act - which you confirmed - that's what I mean by fabrication. She's basically lied on your behalf. I an not saying you are a lair, but I think she has discredited your story and it's now difficult to have any confidence in what's been written.

Having said that, which ever way I look at your article, it is based almost entirely upon untruths (suggested broken planning laws) or your own opinion. The only actual fact that I can extract is that the floor was not the best choice for wheelchairs. I acknowledge this. However, the people who choose the floor laid elected a different approach. It may be wrong in your opinion, but in their opinion it was right choice and they will have their own valid opinion.

The truth is that the Sports Hall is usable for wheelchairs, its not preferable, but then your efforts are for a specialist sports venue, which this is not.

This article is an attempt to besmirch the efforts of those who designed and built Verwood's Sport Hall and their decision regarding the floor - there is no other way in which you can interpret what has been written. The simple fact is that nothing is going to change the floor now, its been laid - it is finished. To think otherwise is naive. It is a shame as I do have sympathy for your story - however your decision to criticise others in the public domain is a poor one.

If you wanted to highlight our own fund-raising efforts for a specialist wheelchair based sports facility you should have exercised more control over the journalist who wrote your article.
The journalist added the part about the Disability Discrimination Act - which you confirmed - that's what I mean by fabrication. She's basically lied on your behalf. I an not saying you are a lair, but I think she has discredited your story and it's now difficult to have any confidence in what's been written. Having said that, which ever way I look at your article, it is based almost entirely upon untruths (suggested broken planning laws) or your own opinion. The only actual fact that I can extract is that the floor was not the best choice for wheelchairs. I acknowledge this. However, the people who choose the floor laid elected a different approach. It may be wrong in your opinion, but in their opinion it was right choice and they will have their own valid opinion. The truth is that the Sports Hall is usable for wheelchairs, its not preferable, but then your efforts are for a specialist sports venue, which this is not. This article is an attempt to besmirch the efforts of those who designed and built Verwood's Sport Hall and their decision regarding the floor - there is no other way in which you can interpret what has been written. The simple fact is that nothing is going to change the floor now, its been laid - it is finished. To think otherwise is naive. It is a shame as I do have sympathy for your story - however your decision to criticise others in the public domain is a poor one. If you wanted to highlight our own fund-raising efforts for a specialist wheelchair based sports facility you should have exercised more control over the journalist who wrote your article. velocitybob

10:27am Wed 29 Jan 14

velocitybob says...

I will not be commenting further as we seem to be going round in circles. I do sincerely wish you luck in your efforts and hope you achieve a specialist venue.
I will not be commenting further as we seem to be going round in circles. I do sincerely wish you luck in your efforts and hope you achieve a specialist venue. velocitybob

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