Minutes of Watford FC ENABLES, held on 26th April 2018
at 7.30pm, at The Staff Room, Vicarage Road Stadium, Watford FC
Present - Committee
David Butler Chairman
Phil Linnegar Secretary (Minutes)
Iain Lamb Treasurer
Members present were asked to sign in.
Dave Messenger Supporter Liaison & Disability Access Officer
Phil Nightingale, Vice Chairman
Andy Jenkins Safeguarding Manager
Gary Armstrong Social Secretary
David welcomed everyone to the meeting, and thanked Dave Messenger for hosting on behalf of WFC.
2. Minutes of the last meeting.
The minutes had been published and were on the website. These were accepted as accurate and approved.
3. Matters arising
There were no matters arising not covered on the agenda.
4 Chairman's report
David reported that since last meeting WFCE have, in concert with WFC, had a very challenging duel
with the EHRC concerning what is the interpretation of “reasonable adjustments” for disabled supporters.
WFC had met and exceeded all guidelines with the exception of wheelchair numbers which the guidelines dictate at 150 plus assistants. Despite never having had more than 85 wheelchairs, a record set this season, (best last season: 57). WFC should be proud that the additional positions were provided.
EHRC have threatened legal action if the 150 places are not met. Therefore additional positions will be added in the LGT with the loss of 300 seats! David noted that where ever possible these arrangements needed to be flexible to accommodate additional ambulant supporters to avoid empty wheelchair areas. The Ambulant Guidelines required 150 places, the provision is now for 178.
(Dave M explained that 37 new wheelchair spaces are being creatd. However, loose seating whilst being flexible, is not allowed for safety reasons.)
With regard to away supporters, when the current work plan is implemented our stadium will exceed all the Guideline requirements. We have had very good response to the new provisions from visiting clubs. There has not always a good take up, so we need to publicise this new availability.
It is essential that we continue to promote Enables as the more members there are, the stronger
the WFCE voice. Our aim should be to represent all WFC disabled supporters.
At the request of the Premier League David Butler was asked to create and Chair the Premier League Disability Advisory Group and held his first meeting at Old Trafford where 14 Premier League DSA Chairmen attended.
Discussions regarding the Chairman’s report
Dave Messenger explained that WFC was extremely grateful for David's letter as WFCE chairman, to those affected by removal of seats, it helped to go some way to explain the situation. The group discussed the matter, and shared some of their experiences at different grounds.
In response to a question, Dave M advised the Premier League teams and WFC Ticket Office were made aware of the availability of accessible seats at Vicarage Road. The need for mapping lifts, stairs, handrails and turning circles for chairs were also matters currently being discussed.
David is to meet with Joanne Simonds shortly on this topic as it was a project for his PL Disability Advisory Group.
A question was asked could the Club arrange a day in the closed season or non-matchday for Carers and WFCE Members, to visit and consider accessibility,
David supported Dave M in that the most effective way to deal with this issue was as is currently handled by Dave M on a one to one personal basis matching the individuals mobility problems with the most appropriate solution. This has worked very successfully so far.
Action: Dave M
5. Secretary's Report
Philip had nothing to report.
6. Treasurer's Report
WFCE Treasurer, Iain Lamb, reported that the current account balances were £53.40 in one account,
and £604.00 in the other.
7. Membership Report
David was pleased to report that last season's membership of 140 physically and sensory disabled people
had increased to 164 now plus 44 Assistants. WFCE now represented over 200 WFC disabled supporters,
(as many as Arsenal!).
Dave M reported a recent telephone call regarding a family member affected by Alzheimers.
The intervention of this enquiry led to the renewal of a season ticket and an additional Personal Assistant ticket. He noted that WFCE is continuing to identify people from general access areas to provide specific help and support as their circumstances change.
David said that we are continuing to see the effects of the aging population and we must be prepared to meet that challenge.
8. WFC Club Report and discussion on related topics- Dave Messenger
Season ticket renewals
Dave M explained that there had been some on line problems with season ticket renewals had been identified, and a clear link has now been put online which will stay there for next season. Dave M reminded people about the Club's Call Back Service for Disabled Supporters, which stops any long delays on the telephone.
One of the disabled access lifts, (Rookery/LGT Turnstiles into Level 5 LGT), had been unreliable.
Dave M would ask Andy to provide an update.
Subsequent to the meeting David met with Andy Jenkins and the lift is not being replaced but an overall lift maintenance contract is being put in place.
Access to UGT stand facilities
Barry Godman regretted he was unable to attend the meeting but had raised a question about access to toilet facilities at half time. Queues for fish and chips blocked access, and were getting in way. David agreed Andy Jenkins would be asked to give an update.
Disabled Car Parking
Chater School have agreed to the continuing provision of Disabled Car Parking for next season, although pricing had not yet been discussed.
David will inform all members who use Chater parking when the negotiations are finalised.
Lower Hospital Car Parking Spaces.
Dave M hoped that additional parking spaces might be available. Update later..
Action: Dave M
Funds available to utilise Herts Action on Disability accessible transport for first time and potential supporters. This is something that could be advertised widely.
Hearing and Visual Impairment
Dave M reported that Vicarage Road Facilities Management have assigned Ian Pope to plan for the installation of hearing induction loops at kiosks and counters within the stadium.
Access Statement - Vicarage Road Stadium
Dave M reported that Disabled Go specialise in making Access Statements. VR has been surveyed, and have provided detailed stadium report. The Guide To Accessibility is available on the Disabled Go website.
9. Social Events
WFCE Enables Player of the Season
The group discussed the idea of a 'Player of the Season'. As such an award is already in place for all supporters to utilise, he discussion then developed into that of 'WFCE Disabled Supporters Award', for the member of staff, volunteer or other person, who had exceeded expectations'. This will be implemented for next season.
In the meantime the discussion prompted Eddie to draft a letter of thanks to the WFC Trust volunteers, for their help during this season.
Dave M would see if a suitable Stadium space might be available.
10. Any Other Business
A note had been received from GM about able bodied fans after matches coming across disabled pathways. In recent games, stewarding has helped. A discussion followed about how useful maintaining continuity of stewarding helps.
A note had been received from LH about safe standing. Safe Standing has been encouraging a petition to go above 100,000 signatures that would then trigger a Commons debate on the subject.
Dave M explained that since Hillsborough, the law prevents Premier and Championship Clubs from having standing areas. The Club is aware of the petition and are monitoring the situation.
Graham Taylor Statue
A statue to commemorate and remember WFC Chairman and England Manager, Graham Taylor was planned, and would likely be situated outside the Club Shop.
Dave M reported that the Premier League Matchday Survey for disabled fans would be sent to WFCE members. Responses will help advise and inform the continual improvement of accessibility.
The group were delighted to note that two wheelchair mascots will be present at the Newcastle match for the first time, which is the Hornet's last home game of the season.
Date of next meeting
The date of the next meeting will be notified to members in due course.
David thanked everyone for contributing to the meeting, which closed at 21.20 pm.