Never underestimate the strength of your tweets

SDN having listened to you our Members took action earlier this year as a result of people telling us about disability access issues at the Premier Inn Shrewsbury. On your behalf we visited and have to say we were very impressed with the friendliness of the staff and the way the company meets the needs of those with a disability (ie accessible showers/baths, hearing loop systems, alarms, wide corridors enabling people who use any kind of mobility aid to get around easily.) There are many other facilities provided by Premier Inn to ensure visitors have an enjoyable stay. So what is the problem? Getting in the building! Yes ACCESS!

Have you tried it? It is via the back entrance, by way of a lift that would not accommodate the larger mobility scooter! We ask how does this fit in with the Equality Act? How did it get through planning? Where does the Disability Act fit in to a new building like this? We are fortunate at SDN to have a Specialist Advisor on our Management Committee who could guide us with her expertise and knowledge. So what can we do? What have we done and what is SDN doing about it now?

Firstly it must be said-Our representatives on the Safe Places Shropshire Committee had already refused to go to a launch of Safe Places Shropshire if it was held at Premier Inn Shrewsbury! Needless to say that Launch was held elsewhere. This is the strength of SDN’s feeling that people with a disability should not be treated differently. Please note we are aware that this access issue does not rest with disability, what about parents with prams/pushchairs-how do they cope when the entrance that had to be 7 foot above ground level because of flooding issues?

Having made enquiries from the Manager at Shrewsbury we were advised to email the Cluster Manager for Shropshire. Some emails were exchanged and our comments were passed on to higher authority. Then we started tweeting not realising the power of Social Media. Just how far would our tweets reach? Eventually Richard Prescott Head of Communications offered to come up from Bedfordshire and meet with us at Premier Inn Shrewsbury. We grasped this opportunity and met with not only Richard but also other officials from Bedfordshire eg Premier Inn-Head of Business Development, the Chief Operating Officer, and the New Opening General Manager. 

Two weeks ago your Deputy Chairperson and our Specialist Advisor for Projects had a very good meeting to discuss the issues. Each question was answered and we had a really worthwhile meeting. We were very pleased that Richard asked Christopher the Architect/Designer to bring along the plans that were produced for Premier Inn at Shrewsbury.. We are very pleased that Premier Inn officials are acknowledging that the access at Shrewsbury needs to be substantially improved. They want to work with us, have taken our suggestions and will be meeting with us again to look at the proposals they are now drawing up to address these issues. There are areas that they have asked that SDN support them in and we are aware that there will be a costs involved and this will have to be taken to the appropriate department of Premier Inns. They also asked us, if there are any other areas regarding disability that needs to be looked at and since our meeting we have gone back to them with one or two queries and suggestions. 

We are grateful to Richard, John, Jacqui, Rachel and Christopher for meeting with us. As we continue to work together on this project, we will bring you updates on what is happening with the ultimate aim of holding an SDN meeting there is the latter quarter of 2014. 

So, it is as  with the same words I started this article & said at our meeting by the Chief Operating Officer at Premier Inn “You” had underestimated the strength of your tweets re Premier Inn Shrewsbury which played a huge part in seeing that “we” needed to act!”

2 thoughts on “Never underestimate the strength of your tweets

  1. Dr Neil Stirling MB ChB

    Well done on your efforts. With a historic town like Shrewsbury having a great deal of older buildings, accessibility changes can sometimes be overlooked, but new builds should always integrate methods of access suitable for all. It looks like Premier were open to learning a lesson here and will amend minimum widths to prevent this happening on any of their future new builds.

    1. Ruby

      Thank you Dr Stirling. Your comments are appreciated, indeed there are lessons to learn here. Shropshire Disability Network are always open to have a dialogue with companies, organisations regarding access issues or any disability issues. Email and it will be passed to the appropriate people. So please do engage with us if you are planning a new build and we will support if we can. We have an update on this article and are very pleased to announce a planning application is going in to Shropshire Council for a ramped access at the front of the building-making it accessible to all. Thanking everyone who has worked with us on this -those using Social Media, the local press for press releases and BBC Radio Shropshire for interviews etc. We will continue to let people know how this progresses including when the goal is scored and the ramp is all in place. Many thanks.

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