There is no confusion about using an accessible venue

Photograph of Israeli minister Karine Elharrar, left, pictured at the Israeli president's residence in April 2021 in her wheelchair. She is the minister who could not get entry into the Cop26 conference in Glasgow.

Last week the British Prime Minister apologised – very half-heartedly, in our opinion – to the Israeli minister excluded from COP26.  

He said there had been “some confusion with the arrangement”, adding that he was, “very, very sorry about that.” 

That is simply not good enough.

The government has extra responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, over and above what the rest of us are legally required to do, to make sure all that it does, and the buildings it uses, are accessible to Disabled people.  This is called the Public Sector Equality Duty.  

So, the question is not, ‘were alternative arrangements made’ for the minister.  It is, ‘Why did the UK government not bother to book a fully accessible venue in the first place?’

Why does the COP 26 host think that what applies to local councillors, service providers etc does not apply to them?

Mr Johnson’s inadequate apology coincided with Purple Tuesday – an awareness day set up to make organisations improve the accessibility of their goods or services to Disabled customers.

The government even tried to blame the Israeli delegation, with the UK’s Environment Secretary, George Eustice saying, 

“”What would normally happen in this situation is that Israel would have communicated that they had that particular need for their minister.”, 

when interviewed by on Radio 4.

However, a spokesman from the Israeli Embassy in London said the country’s delegation to the summit had 

“communicated over the past several weeks all the details about the minister’s requirements”.

The COP26 organisers went on to say that the main venue was fully wheelchair accessible, while temporary structures built around it had all undergone accessibility checks and were fully compliant.  

But, if this is the case, how come Minister Elharrar could not get into the venue?  Any decent access auditor knows you look at whether the person can get to the accessible entrance, not just the entrance and inside the building itself.

The excuses given do nothing to justify the situation that arose.  Disabled people should have been able to safely and comfortably travel from the city centre/nearby train station[s] into any of the buildings, using the main entrance.  Anything less it not equality and definitely is not respectful of Disabled people, whether ministers or citizens.

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