New Scottish law is step on road to better access to pubs


A new law which could improve access to pubs and clubs in Scotland has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The law will force bars to provide details of their access when applying for new licences or major changes to their licensing conditions.

Local councils will publish the statements on their websites, so disabled people can check out access at a pub or club before they visit.

The new law was included as an amendment to the criminal justice and licensing (Scotland) bill, which was passed by the Scottish parliament this week.

The amendment was lodged by MSP George Foulkes, who took up the issue after being approached by wheelchair-user Mark Cooper, from Edinburgh.

Cooper launched a successful Facebook campaign for better access – Barred! – after being told by an Edinburgh pub that it had no accessible toilet, even though it had level access.

Cooper’s campaign was taken up and expanded by the disability charity Capability Scotland, which now employs him as a parliamentary and policy officer.

Cooper said he was “delighted” that campaigners’ hard work had paid off, and said the new law would ensure that “disabled people can make informed choices about where they go to socialise”.

He added: “I think it will make a tremendous difference because it will allow disabled people to plan and enjoy a night out and not have to figure out the barriers that could occur.”

Jim Elder-Woodward, convenor of Independent Living in Scotland, a disabled people’s organisation set up to develop the independent living movement in Scotland, praised the Barred! campaign but said the new law was “only a start” towards making it easier for disabled and non-disabled people to meet and relate to one another.

He said pubs and bars had been “central to the British way of socialising for generations” but “for many disabled people, they have been no-man’s land”.

He said: “The inaccessibility of most bars and pubs has cut off vital resources in disabled people’s attempts to integrate and participate in their local communities.

“Irrespective of the amount of time spent in sharing work or educational experiences, it is only by sharing social time with non-disabled people, that the real barriers between them and disabled people can come tumbling down.”

1 July 2010


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