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King’s Lynn couple fight for change in law to help disabled people

Trevor Smith and Susan Smith, who are campaigning for a change in the law relating to facilities for disabled people, 


Contact 01553 762197 ANL-140820-173027009

Trevor Smith and Susan Smith, who are campaigning for a change in the law relating to facilities for disabled people, Contact 01553 762197 ANL-140820-173027009

A Lynn couple are calling for a change in the law to force businesses to improve the toilet facilities that are available on offer to disabled people.

Trevor Smith is a carer for his wife, Susan, who has severe cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user.

Because of her condition, Mrs Smith only has strength in her right arm and needs a handrail to hold onto when she goes to the toilet.

But the couple, of King George V Avenue, say not enough is being done to ensure that suitable facilities are provided for disabled customers.

They have written to company bosses and pub managers to urge them to do more.

And Mr Smith fears the increased coverage given to disabled sport in recent years may have reduced people’s understanding of the everyday issues faced by people with more severe impairments, like his wife.

He said: “People get the impression if they can do a marathon, they can quite easily cope with this toilet. They don’t appreciate that not everybody is the same.”

He added: “People say to me, ‘How do you cope with her?’ It’s not that. It’s coping with other people’s attitudes.”

Current legislation requires service providers to make reasonable alterations to their premises in order to make them more accessible to disabled visitors.

But the law only compels owners of non-domestic properties, such as pubs, to ensure there are reasonable toilet facilities for disabled customers if building works would reduce the venue’s compliance with the regulations.

The couple have praised two town businesses, Uptech in Norfolk Street and the Pine Shop in Tower Street, who they say went the extra mile to set up Mrs Smith’s home computer for her to use comfortably

But Mr Smith said it made them “angry” that there is no obligation for businesses to do more for disabled customers on their own premises.

The couple have contacted North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, who has called for them and others affected by the issue to come forward with specific cases.

Mr Bellingham said he was investigating the issue thoroughly and admitted that the current rules were “not perfect.”

But he added: “I want to be satisfied it is not fit for purpose in the sense the current law can’t achieve what we want it to.”

He also insisted that public bodies should be setting the right example for the private sector to follow.

He went on: “We want businesses not to be shamed into doing this but to do it as a matter of course.”

 

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