Disability rights protestors take on big name firms in Wellingborough town centre

Aran Whiting has set up Access for All Wellingborough after having enough of not being able to enter some shops in the town centre.
Aran Whiting has set up Access for All Wellingborough after having enough of not being able to enter some shops in the town centre.

A campaign has been launched to make all shops in Wellingborough town centre accessible to people with disabilities.

After years of not being able to access a number of shops in Wellingborough town centre wheelchair user Aran Whiting has now decided to set up Access for All Wellingborough, a disability campaign group.

It is estimated that half of shops in Wellingborough do not comply with equality rights laws.

It is estimated that half of shops in Wellingborough do not comply with equality rights laws.

His first course of action will be a protest outside the KFC store in Cambridge Street, this Friday at 7pm, where he and other members of the group will present a letter asking the multi-national chain to change its doorway so people in wheelchairs or with mobility difficulties can go in.

The letter presents the food chain with a suggested course of action and says if the company does not respond with a works timetable within 14 days then legal action will be taken.

Aran, 28, who has been carrying out a survey, estimates that about half of the shops and food eateries in the town are not complying with the law.

Under the Equality Act 2010 businesses must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that people with disabilities can access the same services as someone who is not disabled.

Aran said: “It is the 21st century and these shops need to do more to help us. Some places are better than others and I do often say things if the access is not good. But we should not have to do that.

“We are hoping that KFC will make a change following our protest.”

Aran has complained to KFC before and staff have suggested that they could come outside to serve him, but he said that is not a good enough solution.

A number of big name stores in Wellingborough are flouting the law. Aran and his fellow campaigners want to see ramps made available.

Access for All Wellingborough’s campaign is being backed by the Northamptonshire Race and Equality Council.

Board member Paul Crofts has been working with the group on a photographic survey to gather evidence of shops that are not complying with the law.

He said: “We are keen to support Access for All. It is 20 years on from the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act and people are still facing the same barriers. It is not rocket science to make premises accessible and there is always a solution.

“We are considering approaching the borough council to see if they can provide some funds to help small independent shops to make any necessary adaptations.”

The group, which has about 35 members, was launched via social media recently.

Aran said: “Alot of people are saying they are having the same problems. I also have had a few issues with taxi firms, who are not keen to take you once they know you have a wheelchair. It is often the only way to get about especially when on a night out in town.”

The mission of Access for All Wellingborough is to raise awareness of the discrimination issues that people with disabilities often face. The group would like to see training days for taxi drivers brought in and more wheelchair accessible taxis in the town.