Post Office entrance "impossible" to negotiate for disabled (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Waltham Abbey Post Office criticised over entrance
A Post office has been criticised its lack of a disabled friendly entrance.
Elderly and disabled users of the site in Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, as well as parents with buggies have found the entrance difficult to negotiate.
The entrance leads to a restricted foyer with a spring-closed door immediately on the right which needs to be pulled to access the main foyer.
Vernon Gurtner, 64, of Mason Way, Waltham Abbey, has been using an electric wheelchair since the start of the year.
He said: “I have experienced a degree of frustration in failing to negotiate a two-inch step into the Post Office due to the entrance-way demands an immediate right-angle turn.
“The dimensions of the foyer are such that this manoeuvre is impossible with an electric wheelchair.
“I have previously had to ask people to help but disabled people should not always be forced to ask people to help make their life easier.
“Many disabled people are very independent and don’t like asking for help.”
Mary Reeve, 68, from Southfield Drive uses the Post Office about three times a week.
She said: “When I have my shopping trolley with me it’s difficult to open one door and then the other.
“You can’t always expect people to hold the door open for you.
“I would like to see the door made automatic.”
Michelle Wood, 47, has been working as a carer for people with disabilities in the area for 17 years.
She said: “It’s horrendous for disabled people and mothers with children because the door opens towards you which is impossible.
“I know some people who haven’t been able to get in to the post office so they have just stopped using it.
“They need a straight ramp that goes all the way into the waiting area.”
A Post Office spokesman said: “We are working closely with branches to make sure they understand their responsibilities.
“Our aim is to encourage branches, wherever possible, to make the necessary modifications to their premises to remove any barriers that may prevent a disabled customer from accessing Post Office services at their branch.
“We also provide information on our grant scheme which offers financial support to help them make such adjustments.”
According to government website nidirect.gov.uk businesses have to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that people with disabilities can use them.
The site also says a 'reasonable adjustment' for a large organisation may be different to that for a small local shop.
It is unlawful for businesses to treat people with disabilities less favourably than others because of their disability but they are not required to make changes which are impractical or beyond their means.
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