By Ed Phoenix
I made a trip to Highgate village at the weekend. I planned a day out and as part of this, booked lunch at a chain restaurant which stated online that it was accessible. As a wheelchair user I find that this is often not the case, so I rang the branch to check and was assured everything was accessible.
When I arrived at the restaurant there was a step to get in. We spoke to a member of staff briefly and they appeared to be going to get a ramp. I was really disappointed when they came back with several staff and went to try to pick me up in my wheelchair without talking to me. It was embarrassing.
Unable to get into the restaurant we booked, we went around the corner to a pub where we could see there was seating free outside which was accessible. After queuing we were offered a table inside. I asked if the inside was accessible and I was told that it wasn’t and that we wouldn’t be able to be seated after all. I asked if a reasonable adjustment could be made so we could be seated outside, but was refused. In this situation if I had been a non-wheelchair user I would have been seated without issue; instead I was turned away.
Being turned away from successive places of business, seemingly due to my wheelchair use, is really disheartening. We ended up having a slightly disappointing and expensive lunch at a different venue which thankfully had an accessible outdoor area.
I hope the businesses in Highgate and the whole of Camden do much more to make their properties accessible. Putting the moral and legal obligations to improve accessibility for Disabled people to one side for a moment, businesses with poor accessibility are missing out on the spending power of Disabled people, which according to the charity Purple Pound is £275 billion a year in the UK.