I can't get into my local pharmacy. You'd think that of all the places that'd be wheelchair accessible it'd be a chemist shop, but no, my local one has a step about 6 inches high at the door and no ramp. It doesn't even have a door bell. Helpfully (or not), it has one of those large push-buttons with the wheelchair symbol on so that the door opens automatically and a wheelchair user doesn't then have to negotiate holding the door open as they try to go through, but that's not an awful lot of use when you can't actually get up the step to go through the door. It's a bit rubbish really, especially as I'm there quite frequently to get the huge prescriptions of meds that keep me alive. When I go there I use that push-button on the outside of the shop, keeping my elbow on it so that the door doesn't then close on my face after a few seconds, and knock the letterbox until someone at the till on the other side of the shop notices me. Either that or I ask some passing person if they can tell a member of staff that I'm there. I will eventually be seen to, but have to wait outside while my script is being prepared, and this can take some time. It's not so bad if the weather's good, but it's no fun at all if it's freezing cold, pouring with rain, or blowing a gale, and it also makes me feel very much like a second-class citizen.
Two and a half years ago I asked them if they had any plans to get a ramp. They didn't, but after my enquiry they applied for planning permission. Excellent! Not so excellent has been the council's response. When there was a 'trend' for ram-raiders the pharmacy put up concrete bollards in front of the large, glass frontage, and these have since caused a problem with getting planning permission for a ramp. Goodness knows why. Anyway, I got a bit fed up with waiting so checked the progress of the ramp planning permission on the council's website, and came up with nothing. I couldn't see any mention anywhere of an application having been made. Hmmm. I contacted my local councillor to see if he could help, after all he was so helpful with getting the snow cleared for me so I could get to the doctors at the height of that awful weather in December. He made enquiries. He contacted the regional manager of this national pharmacy chain. They sent an email back to him saying that they had no plans to install a ramp at this store and hadn't set aside any money to do so. My friendly councillor pointed out that they were in breech of the Disability Discrimination Act, and low and behold they agreed to have a meeting with Mr Friendly Councillor ... only then there was a change of regional manager and the new one had to get up to speed with her new role before she could meet with Mr Friendly Councillor.
I was at the pharmacy again yesterday, sitting outside in the 60-70mph winds, when the store manager came out. I've been hassling her intermittently about getting a ramp in the hope that she'd hassle her boss and the hassle would continue up the chain, and something somewhere seems to have worked, because yesterday she told me that they've been granted planning permission for a temporary ramp. This is fantastic, though I do wonder what a temporary ramp is, and how temporary is temporary, and does it mean that they're just going to have a ramp for a short while and then take it away again, or are they actually going to replace the temporary ramp with a permanent one. Whatever, it's great that I'll be able to get into the shop at last, even if it is only for a short time. Mind you, there's no saying how long it'll take to get this temporary ramp installed.
On the window of the same store is this sign (apologies for the reflections):
It tickles me. I know the two pieces of information on the sign aren't supposed to be linked, but the fact that they appear on the same sign, and there's a complete lack of punctuation, does make it look as though they will charge for any help they give to the disabled, elderly, or those with children ... and it does kind of fit with the attitude the regional manager has appeared to have regarding ramp access to this store. It really does tickle me, though :o)