Owner defends disability access

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The owner of a Deeside Post Office has defended disability access to his premises after a disabled access campaigner said changes needed to be made.

Ballater Post Office owner Graeme Eldred says he has made a number of changes which has made it easier for people with disabilities to visit the Netherly Place shop since he took over nine years ago.

Alex Thorburn, a local campaigns co-ordinator for Actions for Access had previously got in touch with the Piper to say that disabled local residents had had problems accessing the store.

He said: “I recently visited Ballater Post Office on behalf of the Action for Access campaign, after receiving complaints from disabled local residents stating that they could not use the shop.

“On getting there, I discovered that there was a step at the entrance and the bell to alert staff was at the other side of the step.

“As a disabled man who frequently uses a wheelchair, these obstacles would have prevented me from properly using - or even getting into the shop.

I was therefore forced to use my stick – an option not open to everyone.

“Fortunately, the Post Office only needs to make two relatively minor changes to ensure that everyone in Ballater can use this vital service.

Simply put up a sign advertising the existence of a ramp and to move the bell to a more accessible location.”

Mr Thorburn added: “After all these small changes will benefit everyone in Ballater – including older people, parents with buggies and the Post Office too.

“Despite contacting the Post Office and offering them help, the owners have failed to make these changes so far.”

However, Mr Eldred said that Mr Thorburn has not once introduced himself or let him know which charity he was representing despite visiting the shop a number of times.

Mr Eldred said: “Over the last few years this man has been a regular visitor to the Post Office but not once has he shown a form of identification or introduced himself. As far as I am aware, he is the only person that has complained about access problems.

“We have had visits from Post Office Ltd., Aberdeenshire Council and Help the Aged. None of them have had any problems with our access to the shop, and believe me, Post Office Ltd. are very strict on these rules.

“We have a mobile, portable ramp to get into the shop, we had counters that were too high so new ones were brought in to make it easier for those in a wheelchair and we also have hearing loops, special pens and magnifiers. We’ve done everything we possibly can to make things easier for those with disabilities.”

Mr Eldred added: “I do not agree with the statement regarding the sign, as we have one in our window which highlights the ramp.

“I would be happy to move the bell if we really needed to. However, we have a number of disabled residents that use the Post Office and none of them have made me aware that it is a problem.”

Are you aware of any shops that need to improve access for the disabled? Contact us here at: news@deesidepiper.com