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Brighton assessment centre for disabled people ‘is ‘not fit for purpose’
An assessment centre for disabled people has been slammed as “not fit for purpose” because of its poor accessibility.
Disability campaigners have criticised the lack of disabled parking at the Atos assessment centre in Brighton, which means visitors are forced to walk hundreds of metres up a steep incline.
The issue was raised in parliament and Lewes MP Norman Baker has written to minister Mark Hoban requesting an explanation.
Aspokesman for French firmAtos, which runs the testing service for people’s eligibility for disability benefit on behalf of the Government, said the centre met accessibility standards and that all visitors to the centre were given detailed instructions before arriving at the site.
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The building on the corner of Upper North Street and Dyke Road in Brighton is one of two assessment centres in the county, along with Queen’s Road in Hastings, and neither has disabled parking on site.
Instead visitors in Brighton arriving by car are advised to park at Churchill Square car park and walk more than half a mile up a steep incline. Visitors coming by train also have hundreds of metres to walk.
And once at the office problems continue, with the main entrance to the centre down three stairs. An alternative step-free entrance is currently partially obstructed by scaffolding.
Disability campaigner Chris Kift said the lack of disabled parking showed Atos were totally unsuitable to run the service and showed a complete lack of understanding of disabled people’s needs.
He said: “It is totally not fit for purpose.
If you cannot park safely directly outside then it is not suitable at all.”
He said accessibility issues were just a small part of a host of issues raised by disabled people in the city struggling with the French firm.
An Atos Healthcare spokeswoman said: “We take great care in giving people detailed information about the sites before they arrive. This includes personalised directions about how to get there, details about public transport links as well as nearest car parks and other available parking.
“We also pick up the cost of travel expenses, including public transport, fuel costs or, where agreed, taxi fare.”
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