Centre rapped for parking Santa in disabled spaces
GROTTO SPARKS ANGRY RESPONSE FROM CAMPAIGN GROUP
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