Wheelchair-users banned

A FELIXSTOWE shop is today banning wheelchair-bound people – on the day new legislation comes into force to improve access for those with disabilities.

A FELIXSTOWE shop is today banning wheelchair-bound people – on the day new legislation comes into force to improve access for those with disabilities.

Leona and Kirk Bracey, who own the Cobwebs antique shop in Hamilton Road, say wheelchairs and parents with pushchairs are not welcome in their premises in case they knock over cabinets and smash valuable items.

They say if they are forced to provide access for people with disabilities they will shut up shop and move abroad.

Their decision to ban has left the parents of a two-year-old disabled boy who wanted to visit the shop angry and disappointed.

Caroline and Mark Stockton brought their son Oscar to the seaside town for a daytrip from their home in Brightlingsea.

"We saw this antique shop Cobwebs and thought it looked interesting and went to go in when the woman inside shouted that we could not bring the pushchair inside," said Mr Stockton.

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"I said my son was disabled and we could not leave him outside but she said no, pushchairs were not allowed.

"I tried to reason with her but she said no pushchairs or wheelchairs. It was quite upsetting because we had never had a reaction like that before and everyone else in Felixstowe had made us very welcome.

"I thought these new laws were going to make it much easier, not more difficult, and that shopkeepers had to comply with them."

Oscar suffers from a rare condition called ARTX syndrome, which means he cannot walk or talk, and his general growth and development is delayed.

Shopowner Mrs Bracey said she was not against people with disabilities and regularly raised money for Mencap.

"We have a sign outside that says pushchairs and wheelchairs are not allowed in the shop – I am perfectly polite but that is my rule and I am not going to change it," she said.

"When we first opened we had an accident in the shop when a glass cabinet was knocked over by a pushchair causing a lot of damage and I cannot have them in the shop.

"I am sure we will not be the only shop that has to say no to wheelchairs."

Her shop was very small and the only way it could provide adequate access for wheelchairs was to remove stock, which would leave little inside. Some items were worth thousands of pounds and they could not risk them being broken.

"If they force us to do that then we will sell up and move abroad and Felixstowe will have another empty shop in its main street," she said.

Weblink: www.disability.gov.uk/dda/

What do you think of banning children or the disabled from shops? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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