Flamingo Land cleared of disabled discrimination

Flamingo Land has been cleared of any wrongdoing against a disabled family who claimed discrimination two years ago.

The Edwards family were asked to remain within a restaurant’s designated seating areas to consume their food and not take it into a nearby picnic area, as this was not permitted.

13-year-old Melissa Edwards has Down’s syndrome and autism and her family, including her blind father, had requested that an exception be made.

Mother Belinda said: “When sat at a table with family on either side of her she is happy and if we have to move her everything falls apart.

“When she cries or laughs she does not know when to stop and it is difficult for everybody.

“We have to interpret what might happen. The manager I spoke to obviously did not understand this but we were not given the opportunity to explain. I do not wish to stand at a bar and justify our family.

“We like to go out but have to do it in a way that is safe to us and to her and the public.”

During the July 2010 incident, staff said they could not serve food outside the Coach House restaurant’s seating areas on the grounds of “health and safety” considerations.

An initial case ruled in the Edwards’ favour and Melissa was awarded £4,000 in damages – but the family appealed this decision.

Today in the High Court, three judges ruled that no discrimination had actually taken place as the restaurant does not serve – or allow the consumption of – its food to any customer outside of the restaurant’s boundaries.