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House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into the Olympic and Paralympic legacy, Final Report

The House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into the London 2012 legacy has today published its final report. The Select Committee explored a number of specific legacy topics for disabled people as both sports participants and spectators and made number of critical recommendations. You can download a copy of the final report here and we’ve highlighted a number of points below that will be of specific interest to our members.

148. Baroness Grey-Thompson agreed that public attitudes to athletes with disabilities had improved and that the Games had done much to “change was that people understood what it took to be a Paralympian, which was great, and there has been a very positive view of Paralympians, which is amazing.” However she felt that there was a downside to the growing awareness of Paralympians, who were “a very different group of people to the rest of the disabled population”, and that it might foster expectations that all disabled people were capable of similar performance. She also cited the most recent disability hate crime statistics, which she described as “the worst they have ever been in 10 years of reporting.”

246. We have also received concerns over the design of the stadium and in particular its potential impact on supporters with disabilities. Level Playing Field asked whether, by lowering the roof and removing the upper tier of seating, the design for the Stadium might adversely affect the quality and quantity of seating provided for spectators with disabilities. In evidence, Ms Brady gave the Committee “absolute assurance” that when the top tier of the Olympic stadium is taken off, there will be no reduction in the number of disabled spectator viewing areas, or in the quality of sight lines, and that disabled fans will not be moved around from one part of the stadium to another.98 

247. Baroness Grey-Thompson told us of the positive experience for disabled spectators at the Games, with better access at the venues including the ability to seat wheelchair users alongside their families. She contrasted this to the position of “most Premiership football stadiums” which were: “pretty shocking if you are a wheelchair user. There is a large number of clubs who do not allow disabled people to buy season tickets; they can be given tickets in one out of every three games, which means you cannot complain about your sightline, your accessible seating, toilets or whether you have to sit with away fans or home and away fans together. There is a big piece of work that could be done.”99 

248. In evidence, Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked the Secretary of State whether she would support changes to the licensing conditions which are attached to football grounds to include minimum levels of disabled access. She replied that “there is an obligation on any provider of a service to consider the needs of disabled individuals, and I am very happy to look more closely at the point… about licensing conditions, but for me, goodness, it just makes common sense, does it not?”100 In supplementary written evidence, she highlighted the potential complexity of altering the licensing regime. 

249. We are reassured by West Ham United’s firm guarantee that the quality and quantity of seating for spectators with disabilities will not be compromised by the re-design of the stadium. We hope that the Olympic Stadium will set a gold standard for accessibility. We are concerned that by contrast the position at many Premier and Football League stadia is unacceptable for spectators with disabilities.  250. We urge the Government to work with the football authorities and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to revise the licensing conditions under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 to ensure appropriate and improved standards of access and facilities for disabled spectators. (Recommendation 13) 

255. The issue of community use is a key one, and an important part of the balance with the hosting of events and the provision of training facilities for high performance athletes. The London Borough of Newham expresses satisfaction with the legacy plans for the OP facilities. However, while welcoming access to major events for its residents concern was expressed by Waltham Forest Council about the arrangements for community use of Olympic Park facilities. Level Playing Field told us of the need to continue to ensure accessibility for disabled groups in Olympic Park and other facilities; and made financial and social cases for doing so.104 

348. TfL explained that the Games had brought lessons in how best to use signage, particularly to help disabled service users. In light of lessons learnt, new signage was now being applied throughout stations.165 Manual boarding ramps had also worked well during the Games; 16 were installed before the Games and provision was now being extended to a further 19 stations. Baroness Grey-Thompson told us that: “[a]round London one of the really great things about the Games was access to public transport and people being slightly more thoughtful about how things could work”.166 

349. The challenge of hosting the Games encouraged operators to think more creatively about how they could work together to manage demand. Greater attention was also paid to the needs of disabled users, and those who were not familiar with the transport network. Post-Games, we believe that it is essential that this focus is not lost. We urge TfL and other providers to continue to place a high emphasis on improving accessibility.