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Thread: Margate Pet Shop owner told me I am not allowed in her shop in my wheelchair

  1. #1
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    Margate Pet Shop owner told me I am not allowed in her shop in my wheelchair

    Every Saturday for the last two years, I have bought treats for my dog from a pet shop in the town centre of Margate in Kent. I cannot walk or use my right arm, so I have to shop in my powered wheelchair, but my Mum always has to move things out of the way of my chair because access inside the shop is restricted by various obstacles such as bags of bird seed etc stacked on the floor and free standing cardboard adverts making it difficult to choose what I want and then get to the counter to pay. However, last month, after paying for my purchases and on leaving the store the shopkeeper said to us "Stop moving things in the shop", my Mum replied that she only moved the cardboard advert enough to allow my wheelchair to pass and that "She should make her shop easier for disabled access by not leaving things around to block floor space and obstructing wheelchair users" to which the shop keeper replied, "I don't want people in wheelchairs coming into my shop".
    We said that we will never shop there again, but that is just what the shopkeeper said that she wants, for us never to go into her shop with a wheelchair!
    We emailed these events to the Equality & Human Rights Commission, hoping that they could contact the pet shop owner and inform her of the law regarding service providers e.g. shops and disabled persons using their premises. However, from their reply to us, it seems that they are only an information service and most of the info they sent us, we had already found out from searching the Internet!
    They advised us that: Under Part 3 of the Equality Act, it is unlawful for anyone providing a service to the public in the U.K. to fail to make a reasonable adjustment without justification to the physical features of their premises if a disabled person finds it impossible or unreasonably difficult to access those premises.
    We have returned to the pet shop and my Mum asked the pet shopkeeper to make the minor adjustments to allow access to the shop for me in my wheelchair. Her reply was "Why should I move them when you are with her to move them out of her way". We reminded her that the previous week, she had told my Mum " Stop moving things in her shop".
    She then said that "She would serve me outside the shop rather than have my wheelcair come in".
    We quoted the Equality Act 2010 in regard to wheelchair accessibility, to which the shopkeeper replied that she "Did not want any disabled persons in wheelchairs riding around her shop as the floor would not take the weight of a wheelchair and would collapse into the cellar below"!! We said, "If this is true, then she should place a weight restriction warning sign outside her shop ", she became angry and told us to leave her shop and refused to discuss the issues with us any more.
    So what can we do now?
    I don't want to start legal proceedings, or ask a local newspaper take up the cause, I don't not want to be thrust into the limelight, or anything else that might come about if this were to spiral out of control and I'm not looking for compensation from the courts. I just want to be treated like any other able bodied shopper and have access to Margate town centre shops, the way I used to before I became disabled.
    As it is unlawful for anyone providing a service to the public in the U.K. to fail to make a reasonable if a disabled person finds it impossible or unreasonably difficult to access their premises, is there a body can uphold the law and can put pressure on a shopkeeper who refuses access to wheelchair users?

  2. #2
    Senior Member andypandy's Avatar
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    Get in touch with EHRC equality for human rights commission and please let us know how you get on. I have to be honest and say I havent read all of your post as its pretty long and it is 3.30am but I get the gist ! Good luck

    http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/a...ts/disability/

    If this link doesn't work go to www.equalityhumanrights.com and find the page about disability discrimination

  3. #3
    Senior Member andypandy's Avatar
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    Sorry I have just scanned your post and see you have already contacted them. I have to say when I had a problem they weren't interested either.

    I wonder if its worth making a complaint against EHRC first of all.

    Now lets think:-

    How about contacting your local CAB or do you have a town council ? I can understand you don't want to make a fuss but you may have to and get in touch with the local press. Is it a privately owned pet shop or a chain ? I guess its a privately owned one from what you say. I am just kinda 3am thinking here, bear with me ha ha

    Do you think you would be entitled to legal aid and go down the route of a solicitor - not to get any money from it really, but just so they have to abide by the DDA

    You may find this interesting

    http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/h...-human-rights/

  4. #4
    Senior Member beau's Avatar
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    Try your local Law Centre who will have a solicitor who deals with disability discrimination and should take up the case.

    It has worked in my area making a shop put in a lift and McDonalds to put in a easy access door, disabled loo and provision for assisted service.

    All done through the law centre.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Stepheninleeds's Avatar
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    I use a walking stick, but you would be surprised at the problems I have, so I can imagine what someone in a wheelchair can have. It is not always possible to make a shop disabled-friendly to meet the needs of anyone, but shops have to make reasonable changes where possible. I would point out one other thing, if there is anything blocking the exit or the aisles this could also be a risk to safety, let alone an obstacle for the disabled.

    You can fight this & if you want to then do so. A solicitor experienced in this area is your best bet. It is actually a criminal offence to treat you the way they have, under the Equality Act 2010. In fact, under the same Act it is a crime to treat your mother the way she was treated as she was acting as your carer at the time. Also under the Act staff have to be trained in how to interact with disabled people, to be aware of their needs & to try to meet them. Basically to treat a disabled person with respect. Mind you, after saying that, we are also told that we should contact the EHRC for advice if we have problems like this, lol. I am not sure if you looked at the government website, but here is a link for you, it has a list of links of people you can contact about such matters: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/Dire...es/DG_10014892
    Last edited by Stepheninleeds; 12-10-11 at 08:27.
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  6. #6
    I wonder whether contacting your local councillor for help and advice might be the easiest first step to try and remedy this unpleasant situation. Good luck Pets need treats! I actually buy my dog's favourites online since I have yet to find them in our local shops. They are officially called Sea Jerky and are incredibly good for her but we do refer to them as 'stinky fish'
    Last edited by phyzzezee; 13-10-11 at 17:43.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Stepheninleeds's Avatar
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    There is also the local TV & radio stations. If someone feels they want to take that route then someone who watches/hears it may come forward to offer help too.

    What makes me laugh about a local pet shop. There is a sign "No pets allowed, except guide dogs!
    Last edited by Stepheninleeds; 14-10-11 at 16:42.
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  8. #8
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    sounds to me like something that trading standards should enforce.

  9. #9
    Senior Member andypandy's Avatar
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    I don't think TS have anything to do with this kind of thing Keithl

  10. #10
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    Thanks to everyone in the Yourable forum who is taking the time to reply with offers of advice and support. I am gradually working through most of these (or rather my Mum is trying), because my Stroke also left me with speech and memory difficulties, so I rely on my Carer (who is my Mum) to help me with this. I still feel that I do not want to take this down a legal route or "be the news" in the local paper and the petshop probable advertises in the local news paper, so the papers are unlikely to want to "bite the hand that feeds them" :-( My Mum has now talked to the CAB and they said that as we have already discussed this with the Paw Prince petshop owner and she has continued to ignored us, then our next step should be to send her a Registered letter explaining the issue and say that I feel I have a complaint on human rights grounds and that I feel she has breached my human rights, then, ask for a response to my complaint. ... The CAB also suggested that, if the shop is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce or is a member of a trade association (I don't know how we find that out) then we might want to send them a copy of my complaint letter. But, if this fails to bring about the required response then we would need to reconsider taking legal action. Which I don't want.....I just want someone who has some sort of authority to go to her and warn her that she is breaking the law by refusing me access into her shop just because I'm in a wheelchair, and can get an appology from her.

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