WHSmith accused of restricting access for wheelchair users


WHSmith has come under fire after being accused of restricting access for wheelchair users in its stores by filling its aisles with extra baskets.

Speaking to the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat president Baroness Sal Brinton said: “You can get into most WHSmith shops if you’re in a wheelchair, but unfortunately they have a new policy of cramming extra bits in the aisles – you know, the sort of hanging baskets that you can pick your crisps from.

“And that now means that in many WHSmiths, especially in tight places like stations, if you’re in a wheelchair you cannot get round the store.

“So it may be accessible to get in and the ramp may resolve the problem, but it actually doesn’t make you want to visit it any more at all.”

Then comments were made during a debate of Lord Blencathra’s Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) (Disabled Access) Bill at second reading.

The bill was intended to implement a policy whereby any building with a step of six to twelve inches needed to have a ramp for wheelchair users.

Lord Blencathra said: “This time we are not just going to go away and shop elsewhere: passing my bill or something like it will not undermine the principle of reasonable adjustments in the 2010 act, but would grant 800,000 wheelchair users access to about 60,000 of those 71,000 shops currently inaccessible.”

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