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TX: 16.07.04 - ACCESS TO SHOPS - PART 1 

PRESENTER: PETER WHITE
THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT.  BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.

WHITE

Now from October 1st disabled people must have full access to high street shops and services, that's when the final part of the Disability Discrimination Act kicks in. And if these premises, including libraries, doctors' surgeries, solicitors, gyms, pubs - if they don't comply by making reasonable adjustments they risk breaking the new law. 

Our disability reporter Carolyn Atkinson challenged wheelchair user Nick Scarlet - Mik Scarlet - to do a test run in his local shopping centre in London and as you'll hear they took access expert Vin Goodwin with them. 

ATKINSON

We're here on Camden High Street in London but this could be any high street in the whole country. It's got a mix of big shops, national chains, small independent shops, the banks, cafes - everything you would get on a high street. We're outside Barclays Bank at the moment, what are we greeted with here? 

SCARLET

We're greeted with two escalators - one going up, one going down. Firstly they are too narrow to actually get anything other than a very small pushchair on but it is actually illegal in this country to put a wheelchair on an escalator because if you fall backwards and injure anyone it's, kind of, bad news. But there's no lift, there's no other access that I can see... 

ASSISTANT BRANCH MANAGER

There is a lift ... 

ATKINSON

Are you the manager? 

ASSISTANT BRANCH MANAGER

I'm one of the assistant branch managers. Go straight through there's a lift there, press the button, go up to the first floor and then just the doors there, just open it and go straight round. 

SCARLET

You push that bell ... 


ASSISTANT BRANCH MANAGER

... on this one here, somebody will come down to you. 

ATKINSON

Do you think it would be better to put a sign saying - lift round the corner? 

ASSISTANT BRANCH MANAGER

Well yeah but then you could look anywhere couldn't you - that's why we've put the buttons there so that you can press the button and we'll let you through. 

SCARLET

I've only been coming to Camden since I was 19 and - that's 20 years - and I've only just found that lift. [LAUGHTER] 

ASSISTANT BRANCH MANAGER

There are - I can let them know that and put the sign up and see what we can do - it's not a problem. 

ATKINSON

And you're obviously aware then of October 2004 when all the rules change? 

ASSISTANT BRANCH MANAGER

Yes yeah, and once you go into the branch you can see that we've already started - we've lowered one of the tills down for disabled access already, so yeah that is something we are looking into. 

ATKINSON

Well result. 

SCARLET

This is a little tiny thing and it's just to do with signage. 

GOODWIN

This is the exact issue - it's great the lift is there but there's a breakdown here where your customers didn't know where the lift was and that can be solved quite simply. 

SCARLET

How many other people - I mean like he said oh we only get about five disabled people in but of course you do because there's only five disabled people in the whole of Camden that know the lift. Yeah it's part of being - there's probably loads of us wheeling up going oh I ain't going to bank there and wheeling down the road looking for something they can get in. And I think that's it - so many people don't know that they're losing out on business, they go - Oh well there's not enough disabled people to do the change - and it's like of course there isn't because they've never been able to get in your place in the first place. 

WHITE

Mik Scarlet at Barclays Bank there with a lovely lift but too little indication of its availability. That's not surprisingly after that Mik and Carolyn and Vin needed a drink so they're off to try to find an accessible cafe

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