Disabled woman told to leave Cineworld at Whiteley because she was ‘a fire hazard’

Wheelchair user Cecilia Turk is angry after being told to leave the cinema in Whiteley ''Picture:  Malcolm Wells (160126-6789)

Wheelchair user Cecilia Turk is angry after being told to leave the cinema in Whiteley ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (160126-6789)

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DISABLED athlete Cecilia Turk says she was left embarrassed and humiliated and claims she was thrown out of a cinema for being a ‘fire hazard’.

The 32-year-old boccia star, from Waterloovile, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

She went to see film In the Heart of the Sea at the new nine-screen Cineworld multiplex at Whiteley Shopping Centre, which opened in November.

But Cecilia was outraged to be thrown out 30 minutes into the film for blocking the fire exit.

She said: ‘They asked me to leave because I was a fire hazard. Everyone was looking at me.

‘The incident made me feel intimidated and discriminated against.’

Cecilia, who has a masters degree in accessibility and law, had made sure the film had space for her when she bought her ticket for the 6pm showing on January 9.

She was in a bay at the front, but after 15 minutes her neck began to hurt so she moved back in the aisle, with her personal assistant.

She says 15 minutes after that, an usher pulled her assistant out of the film and asked them both to leave.

Upset, and offended at how the staff had handled the situation, Cecilia asked to speak to the manager, who came to see her and gave her a refund.

But she says the incident has been made worse by what she calls a series of errors with the handling of her complaint.

Now she is calling for an overhaul of Cineworld’s staff training and she’s questioning why a new building was allowed with what, in her view, is poor access.

She said: ‘I’d like to see Cineworld made fully accessible and legal like all of the other cinemas.’

A Cineworld spokeswoman said they had made changes to its nine screens.

She said: ‘We were really sorry to hear that Ms Turk wasn’t happy with her experience at our cinema and we have been in regular contact to apologise and address her concerns.

‘We take matters of equal access very seriously.

‘We have made changes so that all screens are fully accessible.

‘We meet standards and guidelines from the Disability Working Group of the cinema industry body the UKCA.

‘We welcome feedback on how we can improve our accessibility and we’ll continue to make changes wherever possible to improve the experience of our customers with additional needs.’

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