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As well as being a freelance writer I am also a qualified counsellor and I work for a low cost counselling service in Exeter and for the NHS Gender Clinic also in Exeter.

Simultaneously, I work as a Disability Member of the First Tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber sitting on disability benefit tribunals on an ad hoc basis.

As a writer I specialise in writing about disability and health.

My articles have been published in the Guardian, Times, OUCH! [BBC disability website], Disability Now, Broadcast, Lifestyle [Motability magazine], The Practising Midwife, 'Junior, Pregnancy & Baby', Writers' News, Able, Getting There [Transport for London magazine], Junior, Community Care, DPPi [Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood International]. I have also had articles commissioned by Daily Mail.

For more information about me and for examples of my writing please see below.

If you would like me to write an article for your publication, about any aspect of disability, please do get in touch:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tesco's response to their appalling disability access at their Newton Abbot petrol station...

Here's Tesco's response to my complaint about the appalling lack of access to their petrol station in Newton Abbot sent to me on 10 Dec 2009:

Thank you for waiting for my to your enquiry about the Newton Abbot Petrol Filling station and the adjustments you would like to see in place.

I have contact our Business Support team andthey have advised the below:-

There is currently no additional rule in the DDA for outdoor payment terminals at pumps provided our standard DDA "reasonable adjustments" are met. Our reasonable adjustment is to use the Service Call facility which enables customers to call for assistance from the kiosk. We do not offer the Service Call facility at times when a PFS operates unmanned, and this is deemed as acceptable.

We have to have the PayatPump terminal at certain heights due to explosion zones and restrictions on the pumps - there must be a set vapour barrier distance between nozzles, motors and electronics which cannot be altered. We have designed the current PayatPump terminals to accommodate our varied pump estate and meet the requirements of the petroleum regulations.

As for the step, we can look at getting this removed and having a ramp fitted this has been pass to the correct area of business.

I hope this helps and thank you for you enquiry.

One of the key problems with the DDA [Disability Discrimination Act] is that service providers use 'reasonable adjustment' as a get out clause rather than providing a truely equal service to all its customers.

So in this instance disabled people have to buy petrol in a different way to their peers.

I hadn't realised before but you actually have to pay for a 'Service Call' transmitter - so let me get this right in order to buy petrol at a petrol station that they haven't bothered to make accessible I have to PAY for that privilege?

How would non disabled people feel if they had to pay to use a petrol station in this way? OK it's only £14.95 but it's £14.95 that non disabled people don't have to pay and surely if anything the inaccessible petrol stations should be giving out these transmitters for free it's not my fault the petrol station isn't accessible.

Also as the response points out 'Service Call' doesn't always work and there have been many many complaints from disabled people that people working in petrol stations don't recognise it or ignore it anyway.

As for the response about the 'pay at pump' machines, step in the old 'safety' excuse.... whilst it is possible there are certain rules/regulations about this I am sure there are also ways round it to providing an 'accessible to all' solution. You can't tell me that you can't position the machine at a suitable distance at a suitable height next to the pump for example?

The bottom line is that disabled people in spite of their £80 billion/year income are still regarded as second class customers who don't have the political clout that other minority groups do.

To put it in perspective what would be the reaction if petrol stations said Black people or women had to use petrol stations differently to the rest of the population? Enough said.