This feature started out as a review – The Oxton Bar and Terrace had been on SevenStreets’ radar for a while, and we’d scheduled a visit. However, as you’re about to read, we never got so far as ordering an appetiser before we were asked to leave…

The venue in question is your typical suburban style bar, serving – so we’d heard – decent grub. Oxton Village is resurgent these days – a bright enclave of independent stores and leafy terraces.

But when SevenStreets paid a visit recently, things took an altogether nastier turn. And we experienced, first hand, why some residents aren’t exactly thrilled with the arrival of this busy bar, and why, despite the food, The Oxton Bar and Terrace has been known to leave a sour taste in the mouth.

SevenStreets doesn’t like to eat alone, so we arrived with a friend. Our friend is much like you or us – he likes to eat, he knows his way around a menu, and is a thoroughly decent chap. A perfect lunchtime companion, you might say.

Oh, but he’s also just had major reconstructive surgery following a brain tumour operation, and has to wear a reinforced hat for protection.

And this, dear readers, is where the story takes a shocking turn.

Settling ourselves in, we’d began to peruse the menus when a waitress asks our companion – let’s call him John – to remove his hat.

“Why?” SevenStreets asked.

“It’s our dress code,” the waitress explained.

Ah. It’ll be a simple matter, we thought, of explaining how John’s headwear is no jaunty fashion statement, but a medical necessity.

At least, that’s what you’d think, yes?

Apparently not.

We spoke to Licensee, Michael Atkinson, who wasted no time in, again, asking John to remove his hat or be escorted from the premises.

“We don’t care what the excuse is,” Atkinson told SevenStreets. “We have a dress code, and we have every right to refuse entry to anybody who doesn’t obey it. We want to create a certain tone in here, and our decision is final. He can either take the hat off and stay, or I’m going to have to ask you to leave…”

Really? Even if, as SevenStreets pointed out, he was required to wear the hat to protect his skull? And that the Licensing Act required licensees to uphold equal opportunities for all?

“If you don’t like our rules, eat somewhere else,” Atkinson responded.

By this time, of course, we’d clearly made our minds up. Lunch was definitely off. As were any future visits.

Still, Atkinson’s not making this stuff up. The Oxton Bar and Terrace proclaims, on its website, that: Gentlemen Will Remove Their Hats. Even, it seems, if by doing so, they risk serious injury.

Talking of serious injury, one of Oxton Bar and Terrace’s Gentlemen customers risked it just this weekend – when a fight on the Terrace resulted in a (hatless) patron’s head being smashed to the ground, and an emergency dash to Arrowe Park hospital.

A terrible tale, for sure. But there’s a grim irony here, too. And, SevenStreets has discovered, this isn’t the first such incident at The Oxton Bar and Terrace.

Last April, two Gentlemen bumped into each other at the bar. Yet, instead of arranging a duel at dawn (as we believe affronted Gentlemen are wont to do) one customer lunged at the other and stabbed him with a four inch blade. He was later jailed for 21 months.

Neither were wearing hats. Nor, it seems, Harris Tweed body armour. Dress codes, eh? What is it with dress-code bars and random acts of violence? And how many transgressions of its License will The Oxton Bar and Terrace be allowed to get away with before the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral’s Licensing Act Sub-Committee investigates?

SevenStreets spoke to David Fowles-Towler, at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and relayed our tale. Fowles-Towler was in no doubt, Licencee Michael Atkinson would be breaking the law if, within 14 days of receiving notice, he didn’t change his policies, in line with the Disability Discrimination Act.

“It’s against the law for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably than other people for a reason related to their disability,” he told us. “They have to make reasonable adjustments to the way they deliver their services so that disabled people can use them. In this case, there’s just no argument – the dress must should be modified to prevent incidents like this happening again.”

This event happened well over 14 days ago, it was a few months back. The dress code hasn’t been modified.

“I’m not interested,” Atkinson said when SevenStreets challenged him at the time about his stance.

“If a disabled person in a wheelchair came in with tracksuit trousers on, we’d ask him to leave too.”

Nice.

Oh, but what about the review?

It’s a short one: Don’t go to The Oxton Bar and Terrace. We see no gentlemen there.

  • http://benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.com/ BendyGirl

    Unfortunately a large number of businesses on the Wirral seem to have this attitude towards their disabled customers, this all happened at the newly converted (so should have no excuse for not conforming to DDA regs) Leverhulme Hotel
    http://benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.com/2009/10/bog-off-extra-special-youre-not-welcome.html

  • Jonny

    I happened across there last month for a drink, it was littered with bell-ends. Overpriced, weedy shots like ‘chocolate and mint’, £7 or something pants like that. Oh well, it’ll keep Calday sixth form quiet for another year.

  • http://ronsrants.wordpress.com Ron

    The Oxton Bar and Tosspot achieved the seemingly impossible – being worse than The Talbot. Been once – never again.

    Mind you, many, if not most, of the businesses in the village breach the DDA, by being inaccessible to wheelchair users. The Post Office is accessible, but if a queue forms behind you while you’re at the counter, it’s a pain getting out again, because most people are too dumb to realise there isn’t room for your AND them. And if there’s another chair in the queue, neither of you are going anywhere in a hurry.

  • A Charles

    Anyone know a group of jewish gents who feel like going on a windup?

    How would Mr Atkinson deal with that situation?

    Thankyou for the review, no way we will be going anywhere near this idiot’s watering hole now.

  • http://benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.com/ BendyGirl

    Ron, most of West Kirby is like that too, Hoylake is a little, but not much better unfortunately.

  • Mary

    Disabled customers can be seen quite regularly at the Oxton Bar and are treated well, same as all other customers. Lots of places have Dress Codes and the staff work very hard at making a pleasant, welcoming environment for everybody. Don’t believe everything you read – go and try it for yourself.

  • Jonny

    But we HAVE tried it Mary – It’s crap.

  • http://oxtonbar.co.uk Michael Atkinson

    Management response.
    When ‘sevenstreets’ arrived with his guest ‘Jon’ wearing a ‘panama’ hat (over a year ago), he was asked by the waitress to kindly remove his hat (as our dresscode states on our website). ‘sevenstreets’ did not explain the medical necessity of the panama hat to either the waitress or myself at the time; instead, deciding to storm over in complaint re. our policy. Your quotations regarding our conversation are partly fabricated and untrue.
    On leaving oxton bar & terrace of your own accord, you dined next door in what was ‘Bamboo’ – now ‘Halligans’, where ‘Jon’ dined without wearing his panama (apparently risking serious injury)?
    For clarification, any customer who requires to wear a hat for valid medical or religious reasons is of course allowed and welcomed to do so in Oxton Bar & Terrace. All we ask is that you make us aware – on your entry, or when asked. This has always been the case for the 6 years we have had a dresscode.
    Your comments regarding ‘two gentlemen bumping into each other at the bar last April’ are also inaccurate: the unfortunate & isolated incident was in October 08, neither ‘gentlemen’ were customers, the incident started outside the bar, and one was ironically wearing a hat!
    Regarding changing our ‘no sportswear’ dresscode & your false quotes, we will accomodate any customer who requires to wear sportswear for a valid medical reason.
    We have received no notification from any authority as yet requesting we change our dresscode policy. If we do so, we will of course comply.
    ‘sevenstreets’ review is vindictive (potentially slanderous) and inaccurate. We obviously got off on the wrong foot! However, we will continue striving to make Oxton Bar & Terrace a safe, enjoyable atmosphere, along with good food and good service, for people of all abilities and ages.
    I respect your freedom of speech & opinion, therefore i hope you equally respect ours, and submit these comments unedited.
    Thankyou and good luck with your website.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David

    Thanks for getting in touch. We’re happy to print your full response. The incident did not happen ‘over a year ago’ – ‘John’ was in hospital until October last year. The incident happened after this time. And I reported the conversation, which was with myself, accurately at the time – and reprint it here. However, we hope this was an isolated incident – as we said, we’d heard good things about your venue and arrived with good intentions. We hope, in the future, we will be allowed to do so again.

  • Mary

    Jonny , you will be aware if you have been to OBT that they also have a policy of no bad language, so it obviously did not suit you – as you cannot even write without resorting to poor language in either of your comments. So where do you like to drink because I don’t want to go there. Nice to see management response from OBT, good luck to you all at OBT and keep up the good work. x

  • paul horton

    Great place for under cooked burgers and bull shit..

  • Claire

    No bad language – just paramedics to deal with the blokes who use the queens english and beat each other to a critical state. If that’s your priorities Mary, I’ll drink with johnny.

  • Dr S Deer

    Having never visited the bar in question I cannot comment on the specifics of this report. However, I feel I am in a position to add more light than heat to the debate.
    Patients who have a skin flap, following the removal of part of the skull to resect a tumour often wear hats which stand proud above the head. Headwear like this acts as a physical and psychological barrier to a very vulnerable area of the body. In restaurants and bars, this acts as a first line of defence should a stray item of cutlery, etc, fall from a waiter’s tray – in a way that, say, a baseball cap would not. So your description of a Panama hat fits with this. The patient may well have moved on to another venue where he was able to remove his hat – this is irrelevant – should a patient be sitting against a wall, for example, there is no subsequent risk from falling objects.
    In my experience, patients recovering from brain tumour and skin flap operations really don’t have any excess energy to storm out of restaurants for no good reason. Those who are lucky enough to be able to leave the house really just want to sit and enjoy a quiet lunch, so I see no reason why this situation would have arisen without the events happening as explained. Mr Atkinson’s description sounds more like damage limitation after the fact than a plausible account. However, if this story has helped educate him, and others, to the fact that (despite what Mary believes) just because you see wheelchair users in a venue, it doesn’t follow that this venue has an open-door policy to all of us with other health issues. Not all disabilties, I’m afraid, are as easy to spot. We all want to enjoy our free time quietly, and with dignity. And I hope this tale has alerted readers to this relatively unpublicised issue. Should anyone be interested in finding out more, Neurosupport is an excellent local charity for head injury sufferers and their carers.
    Thank you.
    Dr Sarah Deer.

  • Jonny

    Mary, my sincerest apologies – allow me to buy you a drink. If you can’t find me in Dreamers on a Saturday night then I’ll be with me lirrel quegs at Kidz Allowed.

  • Sam

    Such a lovely establishment. You can tell by the people in the picture that it’s full of horror stories. Wouldn’t drink / eat there if you paid me.

  • Mark

    Everyone’s allowed to make mistakes. The question is whether people learn from it. You can’t blame an establishemnt setting out ground rules, but it’s up to them to make sure these arent so strict as to ban the very people they’re trying to attract. It doesn’t make business sense to do that. To be fair, I’d never have known about hats and brain tumours, but it makes sense when it’s explained.

  • Adrian

    First time in the bar over the weekend, absolutely loved it. the atmosphere, staff and service was second to none, as were the cocktails and food. would recommend to anyone and definately be returning the near future!

  • Mel

    You should try OBT again. It’s a lovely place with great food and fantastic staff. They are even great with kids – which you wouldn’t expect from a bar! Yes, there have been fights etc there, but I’d like you to show me a bar that hasn’t! Anywhere offering alcohol is likely to attract the odd idiot now and then! Yes, it is a bit more expensive than the Shrew down the road but isn’t that the point? The wine and cocktails at OBT are a million times nicer so obviously the price will be higher. You get what you pay for! I met my husband in OBT so maybe I’m biased… but I will continue going there for Sunday lunch and night drinks for as long as I possibly can!!! Long live OBT!!

  • IAN

    Sorry, but some of these messages are missing the point. The staff may be lovely, but the management are obviously out of line. The way society deals with the hidden disabled is a constant source of disgust for me. You try helping a partialy sighted person round Sainsburys – there’s so much clutter in the aisles, and sales boards up it’s like an assault course. Too many companies pay lip service to the DDA, and not enough enforcement is done to see that the letter of the law is carried out.

  • Jack and Sue Brierley

    We know this place very well, more’s the pity, so for Mel to say it has fights like every other bar is way off the mark. It is a blight on the village, and my sympathies go out to the reporter of this piece. We have had meetings with the village association, and the representatives of this establishment simply do not understand how to respect their neighbours, so I can not see any surprise that they would be arrogant enough to refuse a someone with a disability. The sooner it’s closed down the better, and that goes for most people’s opinion in the village.

  • Julie

    Does this mean they’re going to get away with it?

  • Jason

    It’s the way our legal system works

  • james

    I find it hard to believe that the general opinion of everyone in the village is that the bar should close….if it was the bar would have closed because no one would drink there……its still open as im sure you’re aware since you have a attended the meetings of the village association.
    And to say that the bar is prejudice against disabled people is perhaps a bit strong. It seems that everyone is taking the writer’s word as given and that he is telling the complete truth and that the owner is completely lying……it maybe worth pointing out that obt is the only bar in oxton with wheel chair access is everyone going to moan at the other bars in the area?

  • http://www.theflaneur.co.uk The Flâneur

    I often go to the Oxton Bar and Terrace and I have never been told to take off my hat, because naturally I take it off when I go to the bar and speak to the staff. It’ll be to stop all those shifty criminal types who wear baseball caps indoors from hiding their faces from the CCTV.

    It’s not the cheapest place to go to, it looks a bit depressingly designer-suspect but the fare is generally good and the service is excellent and courteous. They allow dogs and bicycles in the terrace and they throw their toilets open to the general public on festive village days such as the charitable Oxton Secret Gardens.

    Were it to close down the only other alternatives nearby are places they just don’t like serving customers at all, such as ‘Home’ or ‘The Shrewsbury Arms’.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com Robin

    Have you ever visited the place wearing a metal hat designed to stop your head falling off?

  • Paul

    Never seen so much arrogant twaddle spoken in one place?

    ” a metal hat to stop your head falling off”..(Ohhh Pulllleaase)

    “sooner it closes the better” (It’s a pub, you don’t like having a pub there, why did you buy a house by a pub then?

    And to then person rambling on about talking a partially sited person around Sainsburys, what’s that got to do with The OBT?

    And before anyone makes a judgement I am disabled.

    I think if you read the haughty tone of the article, then the manager’s response you can see where the truth lies? This is the great downside to the internet. People get to spout their bile whenever they don’t get their own way, then it gets passed of as either a serious revue of a bar or a serious comment on the Disability Discrimintaion Act or the Equality Act, when it’s neither.

    It’s just some poor unfortunate whining, who didn’t have the courage to speak to the staff in a reasonable manner at the time. Typical cowardly internet writing.

    I’ve visited The OBT, many, many times, with family, friends, my children and grandchildren. This is probably the best bar on the Wirral, and the claim that there is a lot of trouble there is complete and utter nonsense. Like the rest of the ‘article’.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com Robin

    Ohhhh puhleas yourself. That comment of mine was a deliberately overstated retort to the previous comment, one that (probably deliberately) missed the entire point of the article and misrepresented it.

    If you think the article was a misrepresentation of what actually happened, why on Earth would we allow the response from the manager? Michael Atkinson’s response makes several mistakes as to when he believes the incident actually took place, which suggests he’s not even speaking about the same incident.

    We made no claim that there is ‘a lot of trouble’ a the OBT, rather that the existence of a dress code is no guarantee of a lack of trouble at a bar. We’ll furnish you with the correct link if you’d like.

    As for the rest of it, were you present at the incident mentioned above? Because if not you can’t really pass comment on speaking to the staff in a ‘reasonable manner’.

    Whether you – and I could address this to several replies on this post – like the bar or not is not the point. Nor was it the reason behind this article in the first place.

  • Paul McDermott

    you misspelled ‘Pulllleaase’…