'˜Disabled not welcome', says B&Q customer in parking dispute

B&Q has apologised to a furious customer who feels '˜disabled people are not welcome' at the Worthing store due to parking issues.

Wednesday, 29th March 2017, 11:54 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:02 pm
Michelle Riddy, 36, feels the B&Q in Downland Business Park ignores disabled people even exist. Picture: Derek Martin

Michelle Riddy from Gainsborough Avenue, Worthing, said the disabled bays at the store in Downland Business Park are regularly filled with trolleys, cages and stock, such as a shed.

The mother of two, who uses crutches and a wheelchair, said: “I don’t see why I should give them my money when they clearly ignore disabled people even exist.”

After what the 36-year-old described as years of parking problems, the final straw came recently when she went shopping for sandpaper to do woodcrafting and the disabled bays were once again filled.

She said the main issue is not just that disabled drivers need to park further away from the store, but also that they need to find a space with enough room either side for them to get out of their car.

“I was so frustrated and annoyed. It’s like they think disabled people can’t do DIY,” she said.

After taking pictures of the bays and complaining to B&Q via Facebook, the company responded by saying half of the spaces would no longer be disabled bays, and would have their signage removed soon. In the statement, the store manager said staff were more than happy to help customers to their cars.

But Michelle said this was not good enough, as staff also needed to help customers into the store and her disabled friends have had to wait almost half an hour for assistance.

She said: “It just shows a blatant lack of understanding of whole issue. There has not been a single apology until now. Disabled not welcome: it sends out that image.”

Michelle was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome when she was 21.

It is a rare genetic condition which affects the body’s connective tissue and leads to chronic pain and easily dislocated joints, and means she has difficulty walking.

After being approached by the Herald, the disabled bays were cleared by B&Q.

A B&Q spokesman apologised for the ‘misuse of disabled spaces’ outside the store, and added: “We can confirm that we have restored the these spaces for use by disabled customers and will ensure the issue does not happen again.”

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