A disabled man has accused a nightclub of discrimination after he was told he could not go on the dance floor because tipsy party animals might fall into his wheelchair.
Robert Boness has been wheelchair-bound since he was paralysed from the neck down when a van ran into his scooter 11 years ago.
The 33-year-old arrived at the club with a group celebrating a friend’s birthday on Bonfire Night, 5 November – but was warned that another wheelchair user had got legless and caused so much trouble that he was banned from the dancefloor.
Robert, from Orpington, London, said: “I felt offended, sectioned off and discriminated against.
“They tarred me with the same brush as an irresponsible drunk.
“When I go to clubs in London I am usually brought to the front of the queue.”
A security guard discouraged Robert from going into the club – and said the bouncers were not insured to carry him down the narrow flight of stairs to the dance floor.
Robert told the bouncer his friends would be happy to help instead.
When they arrived downstairs, Robert’s friends went on to the dance floor but he was stopped from going on by another security guard.
He was made to stay at the edge of the floor while the guard stood behind him.
When his friends protested they were allegedly told Robert had to stay where he was because another wheelchair user had caused trouble at the club in the past.
Robert’s mum, Diane Boness, said: “He is very independent and active – nothing stops him.”
She described the club’s actions as “discrimination” and said her son was made to feel intimidated.
Diane, 66, added that Robert was made to feel as though he could not be left alone when in reality he lives away from home, looks after himself, drives and is “very independent”.
The nightclub’s manager said wheelchairs cause health and safety concerns.
Michael Broadfoot, manager of Biba’s nightclub, in Bromley, London, said: “The issues are that it’s a badly lit dance floor, people are drinking and a wheelchair is lower than other people.
“We’ve had people fall into them not knowing they were there.
“We looked after him better than his friends did.
“We told him he could go down there if his friends stayed down there.
“His friends just left him there.”
Michael said a previous wheelchair user had injured other people when he drank and span around in his chair on the dance floor.
Legally, the nightclub cannot refuse a wheelchair user entry or access to the dance floor.
Michael was not aware of the legalities but said: “We don’t want to discriminate against anyone but some areas just aren’t suitable.”
He added: “There was no discrimination intended.”
Robert said if he ever goes back to Biba’s he will bring other wheelchair users with him.
He added: “If it’s not recognised that they are doing this to people, they could do it to someone else.”