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Pub refuses to serve disabled customer

The Wolf Inn
The Wolf Inn Image credit:

A pub has been accused of refusing to serve a disabled customer because they were in a mobility scooter.

Nicola O’Brian from Frinton-on-Sea was told by a staff at The Wolf Inn she would not be allowed to order a drink unless she left her scooter outside.

The pub claims Nicola was able to walk after footage shows her standing up to climb over steps outside the venue.

O’Brian, 50, has been using a wheelchair since her twenties after being diagnosed with lymphedema 

Because the Wolf Inn in Oulton Broad, Suffolk is not accessible for wheelchairs the mum-of-three was forced to stand up and climb the steps aided by her husband Mark on September 4.

Nicola told ‘I sat back down and went on my scooter to the bar and this chap stood there and said “you’re going to have to take that outside”.

‘I looked around and said, “What outside?” He went “Your scooter, you can’t have that in here”. And I’m like, “really? Okay, why not?” He said “It’s health and safety, this is too small a bar to have them in”.’

Nicola told the barman there was ‘more than enough space’ inside the pub for her scooter, but he replied: ‘You need to go outside and wait until somebody comes out and serves you.’

O’Brian said: ‘I’m quite a strong person and I just wanted the floor to open up underneath me because it was embarrassing.’

 ‘Some days, I could park it outside, but other days I can’t. Saturday was a day that I couldn’t.’

‘I was in a lot of pain. You can’t discriminate by judging what type of mobility devices (sic) somebody has.’

Nicola O’Brian

She added: ‘People like myself, we face this kind of discrimination all the time so it just gets to a point where you have to stand up and be counted. 

‘Today, I’m prepared to stand up and say “you were wrong. You should apologise. You shouldn’t make excuses, and I deserve better and so does anybody else in the same situation”.’

Defending the accusations the pub issued a statement on their Facebook page saying: ‘We have a low threshold to allow wheelchair user easy access to our public area. This low threshold doesn’t allow access of outdoor use mobility scooters.

‘The customer got off the mobility scooter and physically lifted the scooter into The Wolf Inn, and then walked through the bar and got on.

‘Our staff member acknowledged the fact that the customer could walk unaided and politely asked her if she would leave the scooter outside.

‘He advised ‘”we will make you comfortable and give you table service for your duration whilst in the premises”.

‘The customer then said “you’re throwing a disabled person out” for which our staff member politely replied stating “no, you can stay, but the scooter needs to be parked outside due to our Health and Safety procedures, due to being a small split level pub”.’

Speaking to Metro, they added: ‘The barman asked the lady to leave the scooter outside on the basis of seeing her physically lift the mobility scooter in the building and walk through the bar. Evidence of this is on our Facebook page.

‘The customer was never asked to leave and was offered table service as per our disability access statement. 

‘We are also still continuing with some COVID secure measures which were introduced by the Government to ensure the safety of our customers and staff.

‘Our disability access statement is available on our premises to read and on our website for customers to read prior to coming into the establishment.’

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: ‘Police received a report of an incident where it was claimed a licensed bar refuse to serve a disabled female and who was using a mobility buggy.

‘Police made enquires and are treating it as a hate incident. This means no formal action will be taken in relation to the matter but it has been recorded by the police and the relevant licensing authority has been informed. 

‘We have also engaged with the licence holder and provided them with suitable advice. The complainant has been informed.’

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said local police are handling the complaint.