1st MEETING MINUTES, 2016-17 SEASON
Copthorne Lounge, Chelsea FC
Monday 12th September 2016, 4.00pm
Attendees (Group represented/ role)
Carey, Steven – Ambulant season ticket (“ST”) holder
Collins, Eamon – Disability Liaison and Supporters Club Supervisor, Chelsea FC
Flatau, Bob – Disabled Access Officer, Chelsea FC
Gleeson, Chris – Group Facilities Manager, Chelsea FC
Hayden, Lisa – Non-ambulant ST holder
Hayes, Tim – Non-ambulant match supporter member
Law, Matthew – Honorary committee member
Moody, Rich – Ambulant Rota supporter member
Pastakia, Adil – Project Team
Piggott, Diane – Disabled Liaison Officer and Supporters’ Clubs Manager, Chelsea FC
Regan, Andy – Independent Chair
Rosen, Hugh – Project Team
Smith, Graham – Head of Ticketing and Head of Supporters’ Liaison, Chelsea FC
Powell, Mick – Ambulant match supporter member
(Action points are underlined.)
The Chairman welcomed members to the new season and committee members introduced themselves. The committee agreed that our guests could present stadium developments first.
The development team presented an update on the proposed new stadium. Since 1876 we are now on the sixth masterplan for the stadium, including a 150,000 proposed capacity stadium complex for the 1966 World Cup Finals. We now have the opportunity to start again including at minimum complying with all legal requirements. At present for a stadium of 60,000 spectators we are required to have 250 wheelchair spaces with 250 companion seats and 250 additional ambulant disability seats. These spaces and seats will be available across ticket categories.
general admission spectators, 3,000 visiting supporters must be accommodated
for Premier League
The first aspect is to secure planning permission and then the owner will decide whether to give the green light. The latest consultation phase started on Friday and it is hoped that the decision could be made by the Council by the end of this year. Our last season here, if the plan is finally approved, would be either 2017-18 or 2018-19 which provides the opportunity for all work on site on non-football buildings and in particular the railway decking taking place. We can then be as sure as possible we will only be away for three seasons and will return in 2021 or 2022.
The intention is to accommodate a Changing Places facility, which can potentially be sited in the south east corner as this will be the main disability entrance. Car parking spaces will be on a ring road below the stadium with lifts in different places. At present there are 25 blue badge spaces planned and hopefully there would be more. Our current total of 276 car parking spaces would be reduced due to TFL requirements and the new total would be 190 including the blue badge spaces. As regards drop off, everything else will be identical to match day arrangements now including road closure times but we will have improved access and a better parking system. We are exceeding the 10% capacity requirement for blue badge parking.
As regards the view in the stadium, the main general admission wheelchair positions are at the back of the lower tier which is where you would enter the stadium on three sides except in the East Stand where you enter at first floor level via the Stamford Bridge entrance. The seat row gradient and use of a “super-riser” height over the row in front means that for wheelchair users the lower tier position affords an excellent view.
Wheelchair users can therefore see the nearest touchline over the head of a spectator who’s standing in front of you. This is similar to the Allianz Arena. You’ll also see the top of the tier opposite so there won’t be an overhang spoiling any of your view of the whole stadium. All supporters will certainly be able to see the ball in the air throughout.
Supporters will generally be very near the action, around 7 metres from the front row of the lower tier to the pitch. At present the distance between West Stand front row and the pitch is around 12 metres.
There will also be the first seats of each aisle in many parts of the stadium for ambulant disability places. All regulations including the number of toilets will be met. We will comply with the requirement for at least one wheelchair-accessible toilet per 15 wheelchair spaces within 40 metres.
(The meeting was shown plans of the stadium.)
Overall there are three tiers to each of the stands, which will in appearance look similar to both tiers of the Matthew Harding Stand with the equivalent of the East Stand Upper on top of them. Behind the tiers there will be five floors in total of accommodation, as we have the capacity to give supporters far more space for toilets, food and beverage etc. There will be a generator back up to get everyone out in an emergency and the lifts have refuge areas. It is not a preference to site wheelchairs at the top tier – very inconvenient and not as good a view or experience as the Lower Tier, but the option is there and appropriate evacuation procedures will of course be in place.
There is also Middle Tier provision for wheelchair positions and in addition each executive box on the Middle Tier can be adjusted easily for wheelchair access.
The Club website provided the link recently to the updated planning proposal for Hammersmith and Fulham Council. The latest plan was submitted in July but has only recently been shown to the public.
We would now request that you provide all feedback prior to our meeting with Level Playing Field to be held on 5th October, with whom we’ve been liaising for 18 months. They will issue their consultation comments to the Council. We should stress that the design will keep being adjusted for improvements until the stadium construction is finished.
To summarise wheelchairs in general admission areas will be on the back row of the lower tier at ground floor concourse level and also in two areas in the middle tier. At both ends of the stadium there will be no hospitality seating to ensure there is maximum potential for an uplifting atmosphere pervading the entire arena.
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING/ MATTERS ARISING
There were no changes to the minutes and no matters arising.
One representative commented that Changing Places is a facility with a bench bed, an accessible toilet and ceiling hoist. Only three other clubs appear to have this. The Club confirmed this could be considered for the West Stand in the present configuration.
The Chairman explained that the next issues were sent in by the disabled representative to the main Forum but are more relevant for this committee.
The Club was asked if dietary needs such as ileostomy friendly items e.g. non-fizzy drinks, could be catered for.
The Club responded that it provides lots of choice and looks to cater for special dietary needs, with water allowed to be brought in but without the lid for instance. Staff should be informed of specific dietary needs on match day. Generally products have to be provided with the bulk of the 41,000 attendees in mind.
TOURS AND MUSEUM ENTRY
The Club was asked if discounted tickets could be offered to those with disabilities. The Club responded that carers can attend for free but others are charged. In the rebuilt stadium and the temporary stadium all disabled fans will be charged full match prices but with carers attending for free.
MEET THE PLAYERS
The Club was asked if disabled fans could have a specific trip to meet the players at Cobham. The Club commented that meeting the players is either for competition winners or for charity and there is no plan to extend this.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
It was raised by a representative that some fans ran from the top of the stand to the bottom knocking into disabled fans when we scored. A wheelchair was pushed to the edge of the platform and was in danger of being pushed off. A senior steward apologised after the incident but by then it was too late. The representative in question has made a complaint to Watford. There was a hole in the flooring of the relevant area a year ago that caused problems. There were five disabled spaces this time.
The Club responded it was aware of some problems and advised the representative concerned to send details to the Club if they haven’t done so already. The Club would be happy to make a complaint directly to Watford in the light of the comments made. When the away area configuration was provided by Watford, the potential for a problem was raised with them. Watford had said it was a temporary positional arrangement for away disabled fans so it shouldn’t apply going forwards. There is no point asking for a risk assessment from them at this stage.
The Club commented that one disabled fan hadn’t been able to board the supposedly accessible vehicle yesterday. We know the same vehicle is provided for Spurs fans in their away matches as well so it should have been fine. The Club will investigate further and is awaiting feedback that the vehicle has sufficient spaces. Thomas Cook had provided what we were told was an accessible vehicle.
The meeting finished at 5.00pm. .