Members of Arun Access Group conducted a survey of businesses and shops in Arundel on Monday 9th July 2012. The survey was a mix of interviews with proprietors and staff, and some 'mystery shopper' style surveys. The survey considered the state of access to premises by a lone wheelchair user. Where interview surveys were conducted, questions were asked to establish whether hearing loops, or aids for visually impaired people were available.
Generally, shops on the east side of the river in Queen Street, and a number of the larger shops around the square at the bottom of High Street are accessible to wheelchair users. Some businesses have made the effort to have ramp entrances, for example, Co-operative Supermarket, Martin's Newsagent and Pizza Express. Others like the Post Office, Arundel Butchers and Pallant of Arundel are accessible by design.
Premises either side of High Street going up the hill towards the castle were in the main inaccessible. Many have high or multiple steps, and none were found to have available portable ramps to enable access to wheelchair users. One or two premises were inaccessible due to internal layout, particularly those small antique or souvenir shops.
None of the High Street businesses opposite the post office were accessible due to the very narrow pavement, which lacks dropped curves. The Norfolk Arms Hotel was partly accessible. However, none of the premises surveyed had hearing loops or assistance for customers with visual impairment and not one has disabled toilet facilities.
Tarrant Street was not surveyed in detail at this time although it is clear that the small shops and cafes there are as equally inaccessible as the rest of the town. The ground floor of the Antique Market is accessible after negotiating a small step. The upper floor is inaccessible. Sparks Yard in Tarrant Street is accessible and has a lift inside so there is wheelchair access to the cafe. However once again there is no disabled toilet facility.
The survey results were very disappointing. Only three cafes/restaurants were easily accessible, but none of these have disabled toilet facilities. Many premises could be made accessible with a portable ramp, but it would appear that the business community in general in Arundel has no understanding of the requirements they must follow to avoid illegally discriminating against disabled people contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
Arun Access Group has identified two particular premises which at this stage should and could be made accessible to wheelchair users. We have sent correspondence to these two businesses to enquire what steps will be undertaken to conform to the Equality Act 2010. For legal reasons at this stage these two particular premises will not be identified. Although the website will be updated with progress reports in due course.
We have also sent correspondence to Arundel Chamber of Commerce, Arundel Town Council and Arundel MP, Nick Herbert pointing out our findings, they have all completely ignored us!