*****UPDATE 28 October 2016****
Great news! Coach House have bought a ramp, apologised and told staff to offer it to wheelchair using customers in future. They offered us a free meal to make up for it. Thanks everyone for signing the Care2 petition and to the Equalities Advisory Support Service, Enhance the UK and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) for advice. This shows that campaigning works and you can make a difference by speaking up!
*****ORIGINAL ARTICLE 5 SEPTEMBER 2016****
I planned to go to Coach House restaurant for my birthday with my family, including my disabled mother.
I saw it was listed in the ‘wheelchair accessible’ category on TripAdvisor. I telephoned in advance to double check this was the case. They confirmed it was fully wheelchair accessible and I told them my mother uses an electric wheelchair. They said, “there is one tiny 2″ step”. If true, this would have been fine. I booked the table in advance.
When I arrived, the step was closer to 5″ or 6″. Totally inaccessible for an electric wheelchair even with a kerb climber. They suggested we lift my mother in her wheelchair over the step, saying “this is what we normally do”. This is not an option for my mother in her wheelchair as a jolt could kill her as she has spinal problems, and this requirement, aside from potentially breaking health and safety regulations, makes the restaurant NOT wheelchair accessible. If assistance is needed, to be lifted up a step, it is not accessible.
I suggested they put a table in the empty downstairs bar area. They refused. I asked why and was told, “we might get some drinkers in later”. So, they chose not to make an effort to solve the problem. I told them they were choosing to discriminate.
There was also ample space for a ramp but there was none provided.
I believe they are breaking accessibility laws – Their “Duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people” as part of the Equality Act 2010. Since their bar is on ground level and the restaurant is upstairs and cannot be reached using readily achievable methods, the restaurant should make the menu items available in the bar.
Accessible tables should also be distributed throughout the establishment.
I explicitly asked for us to have a table for dinner moved into the bar area and they refused.
I plan to report them to the council and possibly police for discrimination and breaking disability rights laws.
After this, I felt like crying and this totally ruined my birthday. We were left out in the cold and rain with my disabled mother, trying to search for a truly accessible place for dinner on a busy Friday night in Brighton. Horrible.