#O2AcademyBrixton #Accessibility #SIA

Email thread regarding wheelchair access policy which mandates that wheelchair users be segregated away from the general public on small raised platforms at gigs.

From: Tom Nabarro

To: Nigel Downs

Subject: Re: Super You + Me Disabled Access Booking


Hello Nigel,

I appreciate your reply.

The information you provided about club nights is reassuring although this definitely wasn’t made clear in previous conversations with your colleagues.

I don’t quite agree with your assessment of the health and safety issues with respect to the dangers wheelchair users pose to other customers. I attend many festivals and gigs and enjoy being in the thick of it and have never caused any more harm to others than the next able-bodied person. Whilst I appreciate that my personal experience cannot be grounds for a general health and safety policy I would be interested to hear an explanation of why you have differing policies on club nights and gigs.

With regard to crowd lateral movement, this is obviously an issue with regard to wheelchairs not being able to move sideways and in the case that there is significant crowd movement I would not expect to be at the front middle of the crowd.

Having considered your concerns regarding the above issues I would like to explain why I think it is a mistake to force wheelchair users into segregated platforms away from the general crowd.

Whilst you say that friends are allowed onto the platform, “numbers permitting”, in my experience the platforms are fairly small and it’s unusual to be able to get more than one friend or assistant on the platform. Nonetheless the fact that you have to rely on chance to be able to spend time with your friends at a gig is unacceptable.

Disabled people in general have a hard time overcoming social isolation, it takes a concerted effort to battle against general prejudice and for some the effort is just not worth it. For people who do make the effort to get out and socialise and challenge preconceptions for their own as well as other disabled people’s benefits, it’s a real “kick in the teeth” to be told that they can not be with the general public and enjoy the ambience and that they can only socialise with their “carer” who is usually paid to look after the personal needs of the “client”.

I go to a gig to be with friends, not to hang out with someone I am forced to rely upon 24-7 due to my complex needs.

I would be quite happy not being right at the centre of the dancefloor but being forced onto a raised platform away from the general public is a human rights infringement.

I feel like your policy over health and safety has not been weighed accurately against the well-being of your disabled customers.

This policy is not one that I have encountered other than at the O2 Academy Brixton & Arena and the forum in Camden.

I hope you can consider my arguments and look forward to hearing your reply. In the meantime I will continue to be vocal about these issues on Twitter, other social media and charity channels.


— Tom —

From: Nigel Downs

Subject: RE: Super You + Me Disabled Access Booking


Dear Tom,

Apologies for the delay in reply.

We believe at the O2 Academy Brixton that we provide an excellent service to our disabled customers. We work closely with Attitude is Everything and believe the way we operate is in line with other large venues.

In relation to allowing wheelchair users on to the main auditorium floor, we also have to take into account the health and safety of all customers. If an incident happened within the crowd and lateral movement occurred, then not only is the wheelchair user at risk, but so would other members of the audience.

We provide a raised platform like the O2 Arena, Wembley Arena or football grounds, but we allow all wheelchair users friends to join them for the best view in the house, numbers permitting. Our disabled policy is no different to any other venue. Wheelchair users at the O2 arena cannot go onto the standing area. In relation to the information we provide to wheelchair customers at the time of booking, we’ll review this to ensure that it is clear.

In relation to club nights, we do allow more flexibility. We allow wheelchairs on to the flat floor but ask that wheelchair users stay to the side for everyone’s safety. I understand that the duty manager on the night did speak to you at her earliest convenience, and ensured you could get on to the auditorium floor.

As a major venue, we do try to ensure as much freedom for our wheelchair users as feasibly possible but these have to be set against the Health and Safety of all customers.

Best Regards,

Nigel Downs | General Manager | O2 Academy Brixton

Subject: Re: Super You + Me Disabled Access Booking

Absolutely please

sorry to hear it was cancelled, do you know why

also I would like to ask how best to register a concern about the disabled access policy at the O2 Academy Brixton

I am a frequent customer of O2 Academy venues and a wheelchair user and have been really disappointed on a number of occasions at Brixton due to being forced to sit in the wheelchair enclosure segregated away from my friends. I don’t tend to go clubbing or to gigs on my own with a single assistant, therefore it’s quite a shock being told I can’t sit with my friends/other people. I haven’t had this experience at any other venue and wonder why it is so strict. Due to these experiences electric Brixton is now my venue of choice and I don’t plan on going to O2 Academy Brixton in the future. I enjoy going to the O2 Arena, O2 Academy Oxford and Bristol and have had very good experiences there.

I have heard that my friend Lucy (copied) has also had negative experiences in relation to being a wheelchair user at the O2\ Academy in Brixton.

I hope these feelings can be related to someone in a position to be able to address them.

Thank you very much for your email


— Tom —