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Brighton Sea Life centre apologies to wheelchair user
The Brighton Sea Life centre has apologised after a disabled woman complained she was unable to view “inaccessible” aquarium tanks.
The aquarium said it would change the information on its website after wheelchair-bound Ollie Barber complained about the step in front of the tanks in the Victorian Arcade.
The 19th century Grade II listed building has a 60cm step in front of some displays which cannot be removed.
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The centre's general manager said the complaint is the first of its kind after thousands of visits by disabled people each year.
After visiting with her husband and two children Ollie Barber wrote: “I use a wheelchair, and read your website very thoroughly - and checked fully what access would be like and was aware the auditorium wouldn't be accessible.
“However, I really can't understand why you didn't think to note the whole of the main hall has massive steps in front of every tank - and that many, many attractions are up steps.”
She said she was refunded her fee - but not for the rest of her family.
The aquarium is the oldest in the world and there are restrictions on altering the listed building.
General manager Max Leviston has offered the whole family a VIP visit.
He said: “It has never been our intention to mislead wheelchair customers, but now it has been bought to my attention I agree that we should have been clearer about the step in front of some of the displays.
“Whilst I don't want to diminish the importance of Ollie Barber's comments I would also like to make clear that this is the first time this specific complaint has been made, and now we are aware of the distress that it has caused we have immediately put plans in place to ensure that other wheelchair users are made aware of the 60cm to 70cm step in front of all of the displays in the Victorian Arcade.”
The website advises visitors disabled access is available, with access entrance located through the tunnel off the beach and via the ramp down to the beach next to the Brighton Wheel.
The tunnel leads out into the courtyard and avoids the steps down to the centre.
There is also a disabled toilet.