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Mother's anger over Stafford disabled access row

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

FRUSTRATED ... Rowena Nuna outside the Stafford M&S store

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TWO mothers say disabled access laws count for nothing after suffering problems in Stafford businesses.

Rowena Nunan went to the town’s Marks and Spencer store in Gaolgate Street to buy a bra but having gone up the ramp to the upper level, couldn’t get her mobility scooter near the lingerie section because of display units in the aisles.

The mother-of-three asked a member of staff if she could get round and was told she couldn’t.

“She said she would get it for me,” said Mrs Nunan, 49, of Highfield Drive, Little Haywood, who has multiple sclerosis.

She wrote to the store manager and sent a copy to the company’s head office but never received a reply. Three weeks later she visited the store again but nothing had changed so she phoned and emailed head office.

“The reply was exactly the same as what the store staff said. They said in 18 months they would be getting a new store and until then staff would help me.

So I have to ask someone to go and get my lingerie. I don’t see why I should have to have someone get my lingerie.”

Claire Nealon wanted to go and see a film at Stafford Apollo Cinema with three of her four children. She emailed the cinema to find out if it was accessible for a wheelchair and was stunned to learn it wasn’t.

In an email to Mrs Nealon, Bernard Cunnane, general manager of the Apollo, said: “I’m afraid we don’t have wheelchair access to any of the screens; screen one is the only downstairs screen and it has three steps leading up to it.”

The 42-year-old, who has a split pelvis and disc problem, said: “I was quite astounded.

"With all the laws you would think by now they might have a ramp in their downstairs room.”

Mrs Nealon, who works from her Highfields home as an insurance co-ordinator, rang Stafford Borough Council to see who enforces disability legislation but they said she should try the county council who said it was dealt with by the government.

“There’s a law just for disability access but no-one is enforcing it,” she said.

“Lately because I’m basically just in a wheelchair I’m finding it really hard to get about.

“Most of the time you just ignore it but this time it’s really annoyed me. I did phone and ask about a ramp after receiving their email. I’m wondering whose responsibility it is and why nobody is enforcing it.

“I don’t fight for everything but I do when I feel strongly that something is not right.”

A spokesman for Marks and Spencer said they would be looking at Mrs Nunan’s comments. "We are sorry that a customer has had a disappointing experience at our Stafford store.

“Access for all our customers is extremely important to us and we're reviewing her comments.

"All Marks and Spencer stores, including Stafford, are compliant with DDA regulations and our employees will always do everything they can to assist shoppers."

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  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 17 2012, 4:26PM

    firstly, the equality act replaced the DDA and if you look at M&S in Stafford it does have low level counters and the food court has black floors (a nightmere for visually impaired. it is up to individuals to take cases to court not authorities. Also, try approaching stafford and district ccess group they are crying out for now people to join them

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 16 2012, 3:18PM

    It always comes down to individuals. I requested a radar toilet key for disabled toilets some time ago at The Information Centre and was asked for written proof of disability. I was on a scooter and wearing an oxygen tube! And all we want is to keep our independence.