AN ACTIVIST is demanding better disabled provision at one of Wigan’s biggest superstores.
Amputee Arthur Fairhurst hit out after being told that he faced a “one and half hour” wait for an electric buggy to travel on to be able ride while doing his shopping at the Morrisons store in Ince.
The Makerfield Way store says that he could have avoided any disappointment if he had done what other regular disabled shoppers do and phoned ahead to book use of the vehicle.
But Scholes man Mr Fairhurst says that is a form of discrimination against disabled people who should also be allowed to make spontaneous decisions to go shopping if they want to and find adequate facilities for them available to do so.
He points out that the Asda in Soho Street, Wigan, have six disabled buggies – and don’t require a pre-book system to use them.
However, Mr Fairhurst did hail the Christmas spirit of a young member of staff at Morrisons who later appeared with a wheelchair and volunteered to push him around the store to do his shopping instead.
Non-driver Mr Fairhurst, who lost his leg because of his advanced diabetes, had arrived at the Makerfield Way store in a woman friend’s car.
And didn’t realise that the store operated a booking system for use of the motorised karts.
He said: “When we got there I phoned the store staff from the car and told them I was waiting for one of these electric karts so that I could do the shopping.
“But the manager said that they only had the one motorised kart and it was in use. I said, ‘well that is no good, is it?’
“Ten minutes later another member of staff came to me in the car and said that it was booked out for at least an hour and a half, so what good was that to me or any other disabled person who arrived in good faith to do their shopping?
“I protested and I must give credit where it is due because they then came up with an ordinary wheelchair and this lad from Morrisons, who was called Steven, came out with it.
“He was an absolute gentleman and then pushed me around the store and where ever I wanted to go.
“But the point is that many disabled people I know like to be independent and wouldn’t feel comfortable burdening people with having to push them around a store like this, and why, in this day and age, should they?
“A multi, multi million pound business like Morrisons shouldn’t have to rely on the goodwill of staff and should have enough electric trolleys for the need out there, because there are a lot of disabled people in Wigan who may want to be their customers.
“Hindley ring and ride take people there so I would like to know how they get around if the one disabled kart is already being used?”
A spokesman for Morrisons in Ince said: “Mr Fairhurst wanted to use our motorised shopping kart, but unfortunately it had already been booked and taken out by another customer on what was the busiest shopping week of the year.”
But he said Morrisons staff sprang into action to ensure that Mr Fairhurst could navigate around the store and pushed him in his wheelchair from his car.
Store Manager of Morrisons Ince Mike Drane said: “When we realised that Mr Fairhurst would have to wait for his electric shopping kart we felt that in the interests of customer service it was right to offer him the chance to be pushed around in his wheelchair with somebody to help him find his shopping and his family.
“We realise that at this time of year the store is very busy – a lot more than normal – so we were glad to help him around the store and we’ll do what we can to help any customer this week.”