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TX: 16.07.04 - ACCESS TO SHOPS - PART 3

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

And finally wheelchair user Mik Scarlet, back to him, our disability reporter Carolyn Atkinson as well and access consultant Vin Goodwin are on a test drive down London's Camden High Street, the aim - to find out how ready shops and businesses are for October 1st - that's when all premises need to be accessible for people with disabilities. They've already been into a bank with a lift which many would never find and to a café with a death-trap entrance leading straight to a steep flight of stairs. Not surprisingly perhaps the three are now ready to go to the pub.

SCARLET

We're outside a bar here - a Wetherspoons bar - and they're very good - must give them a name check because they are excellent. Camden, like a lot of city centres, is a great place to go out at night and I find that there are always going to be pubs that you go to that are very - that are oldy, worldy pub feel and they don't tend to have disabled toilets but as long as you stagger your pub crawl so that you find one of these every three or four places you're alright. And this place is perfect. It does have a stepped entrance at the front, then you come round to a side entrance with a ramp - so you don't go through the same door as everyone else but that can be good sometimes, it avoids the kind of drunks falling over you. And it's got a huge disabled toilet, the staff here are really helpful.

ATKINSON

Are we going in? 

SCARLET

Let's go in - hey we get to go and drink on the radio excellent.

So we're now going down a sort of steep bit, let me get the huge kind of wooden door, but actually it's obviously got an assisted hinge on it because it actually is really easy to open and then we go into a very quiet daytime bar.

I've been here at night and it does get a little bit more crowded but then everyone's really friendly and they always move if you ask them. I don't know if they've got a dropped bar, I've not noticed that, but one of the problems is I do have quite a high wheelchair, I have my wheelchair specially made to counteract the fact that we live in a world where all the bars are kind of at your standing up height, so I'm actually five foot in my chair so it's alright.

GOODWIN

Wetherspoons have a policy on access, so they will look for the premises that they can make accessible - that's not an accident, I don't think they just suddenly get premises and then suddenly think - Ooh no what do we now to make it accessible? - it's all part of the decision making process.

ATKINSON

And they've got this right haven't they.

GOODWIN

They have yeah, I mean it would be great if there was level access through the main entrance, as you said.

SCARLET

I don't want the world to think that disabled people are all going to be marching about demanding a world full of concrete and bright colours. Eventually yeah, we would like to live in a world where it was like that but I think that places like this give you hope because they mean that it is now becoming part of the infrastructure of the world. And typically when I'm probably too old to care the world will be wonderful, so all you lucky young disabled people you're going to inherit the wealth that we made for you.

WHITE

Mik Scarlet with a message of hope. And if you'd like him to check out the high street near you let us know by the usual means, we promised you the contact numbers - 0800 044 044 and you can contact us via our website at bbc.co.uk/radio4/youandyours.

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