Last week my Mum and me met-up with the Mayor of Margate and visited the owner of the Paw Prince Pet Shop to discuss wheelchair access. Prior to this the Mayor had gone to the shop to advise the owner that we would be calling in at 3pm. The Mayor said that the owner was in a better mood this time and so was hopeful that we could resolve our issues. However, when we arrived at the pet shop there was a man behind the counter who became very angry and began shouting and using aggressive language during our discussions and we were unable to reason with him or the owner. The owner just kept repeating that I should "park" myself in the corner of the shop as her other disabled, and pushchair customers do, and I would be served from there.
The shop layout had been changed a little but I still couldn't get to the counter as there there were three, 12"x10" plastic bags of parrot seeds laid end to end along the floor in front of the access to the counter and when we suggested that if the bags were moved to the empty shelf above, there would be access for my wheelchair, the man shouted that if he moved the parrot food, his parrot customers wouldn't know where to find it, my Mum pointed out that the parrot seed should be "parked in the corner", then there would be room for wheelchairs to access the counter, but this suggestion made him even more irate.
My Mum believes the parrot seeds were laid on the floor as a deliberate wheelchair obstruction, so that they can continue to say "there is no room in their shop for wheelchairs"!
My Mum said they were breaking the law by not allowing wheelchair access, the man then accused her of moving "fixtures and fittings", she replied she could not have done this without tools, he shouted her down. The Mayor tried to calm him and told him that we had to find a compromise, he became enraged. The Mayor told him to stop shouting in front of me as it was not a good thing because I'd had a Stroke, but he continued shouting so much that he frightened and embarrassed me, so I sat outside the shop in my wheelchair. The Mayor and my Mum also had to leave the shop too because of his hostility to any further suggestions. My Mum said that she found it was a frightening experience and we were both glad that the Mayor was with us, or who knows what might have happened
Since this happened, my Mum has written again to our MP Laura Sandys, saying that we haven't heard from the Chief Exec of Thanet District Council that she appointed to assist us back in October. My Mum also said in her letter; "We need someone who can help us as we do not know how or to proceed further with this, and she asked "Why can people treat disabled people and their carers in this way and get away with it? We are told the law is on our side, but my daughter is not able to take this shop on in court." And my Mum added, "Please, is there anyway that you can help my daughter to find an accredited representative to champion her human rights". ........We are waiting for a reply.