Cen­tre rapped for park­ing Santa in dis­abled spa­ces

GROTTO SPARKS AN­GRY RE­SPONSE FROM CAM­PAIGN GROUP

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By HE­LEN JOHN­SON he­len.john­[email protected]­plc.com @He­len­j83MEN

THE Traf­ford Cen­tre has been heav­ily crit­i­cised for build­ing a Santa’s grotto over dis­abled park­ing spa­ces.

Fundraiser Kay Ash­ton MBE shared a photo of the large tem­po­rary struc­ture, which cov­ers a num­ber of dis­abled and par­ent and chil­dren spa­ces.

The cen­tre has now said it will con­vert other nearby spa­ces into dis­abled bays while the struc­ture is in place, but has been crit­i­cised by equal­ity cam­paign group Tak­ing the Dis, which has ac­cused the cen­tre of fail­ing to think about dis­abled cus­tomers.

The group was formed to cam­paign for bet­ter ac­ces­si­bil­ity and high­light the is­sues faced by dis­abled peo­ple ev­ery day, be­cause of poor ac­cess.

Ju­lian Sor­fleet from the group said: “Even if it had only been one space, it means one more per­son is go­ing to strug­gle with dis­abled ac­cess.

“It also cov­ers some par­ent and child spa­ces, so it’s not just look­ing at it from a dis­abled view.

“It’s not a ma­jor is­sue for able bod­ied peo­ple that they are cov­ered, but for dis­abled peo­ple and peo­ple with chil­dren it does make a lot of dif­fer­ence”.

Ear­lier this year, Ju­lian, who uses a wheel­chair, had to drag him­self up a set of stairs at Vic­to­ria rail­way sta­tion be­cause there were no work­ing lifts.

Af­ter wait­ing 20 min­utes for a stair walker – a mo­torised trol­ley on tracks that helps wheel­chair users up and down stairs – it would not move.

Since then, Ju­lian and a host of oth­ers, in­clud­ing Coro­na­tion Street’s Ch­erylee Hous­ton, have been cam­paign­ing on the is­sue.

The group takes its name from a hash­tag used by Ch­erylee to high­light some of her own ex­pe­ri­ences with poor ac­cess.

Last month she spoke to the Manch­ester Evening News about book­ing a ho­tel which claimed on­line to be wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble be­fore later be­ing told there were steps lead­ing to a sup­pos­edly ac­ces­si­ble room

Ju­lian added: “It’s just lit­tle things that able bod­ied peo­ple don’t think about, as they don’t need to think about them.

“Even things like kerbs – I’ve had to go into a main road in my wheel­chair be­cause a dropped kerb is miss­ing at a junc­tion. We al­ways have to be look­ing for­ward to plan trips and it is men­tally drain­ing

“Peo­ple re­ally need to feel in­cluded in ev­ery­day life with­out it be­ing an is­sue”.

On Twit­ter, the cen­tre wrote: “We want to re­main ac­ces­si­ble for ev­ery­one, which is why we have more than 290 dis­abled park­ing spa­ces.

“A very small num­ber of those, and a few par­ent and child bays, are cov­ered by the grotto at the mo­ment, but there’s no short­age of dis­abled park­ing at the cen­tre.

“We’ll con­vert other park­ing bays nearby into des­ig­nated dis­abled spa­ces shortly, and we apol­o­gise for any short term in­con­ve­nience.

“Blue Badge hold­ers can find more info on our web­site or speak to a mem­ber of staff about any ac­ces­si­bil­ity re­quire­ments.”

Ju­lian added that the group was pleased the cen­tre had lis­tened to con­cerns, was tak­ing steps to add more park­ing bays.

He added: “We want to work with com­pa­nies where ac­cess is an is­sue for any­one with any dis­abil­ity. We don’t want to fight them, work­ing to­gether is our main aim”

Santa’s grotto in the Traf­ford Cen­tre car park

Coro­na­tion Street ac­tress Ch­erylee Hous­ton

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