CUSTOMERS arriving at a popular mall were shocked to find that staff had covered a large portion of the disabled parking spaces to set up their ‘Winter Fest’.
Shoppers arriving at the Trago Mills outlet in Merthr Tydfil, South Wales, earlier this week were left outraged that they could not find a place to park.
A series of wooden sheds and metal barriers had been erected over accessible spaces in the store’s parking lot to make way for the seasonal “Winter Fest” event which runs from November 26 to January 8.
The event will include an indoor ice rink, food and drink stalls, a Santa’s Grotto and a funfair.
It says on the store’s website “Trago has always strived to bring something extra to the community” and Winter Fest is the result of “listening to our customers” and “deciding to step up to speed superior”.
While many Christmas shoppers may be looking forward to the festive event, in the meantime the store has faced criticism from shoppers who have been inconvenienced.
Jade Barnett from Caerphilly has accused the business of being anything but inclusive after it blocked the access she needed to take her elderly father Geoffrey shopping.
Speaking to WalesOnline, Jade said: “I drove there with my dad who as far as I can remember is a blue badge holder.
“He had an accident at work a long time ago and it made it difficult for him to walk,” said the 28-year-old training company tutor.
“Then last year he had a stroke which made his mobility significantly worse, so he’s very unsteady on his feet.”
Jade added: “So with an entire disabled parking section out of use – plus the fact that the bays near the front of the store were already full – I had to use a much tighter regular space .
“It made it very difficult to get dad out of the car.
“But when I spoke to a member of staff about it, they told me that a number of people had made the same complaint.
“I can’t understand it because Trago has such a big parking lot, Winter Fest could have been in the quieter part which is further from the store – what they did just doesn’t make sense .”
Persons with disabilities may face a number of challenges when it comes to parking.
A Manchester couple have been fined £170 for parking in a disabled bay, despite having a disabled badge.
A disabled Tesco customer has been fined for spending more than half an hour in the store’s car park – despite displaying her blue badge.
A spokesperson for Trago Mills confirmed that the parking spaces had been closed to “welcome the fireworks and prepare for the winter party”.
They added: “Temporary disabled parking spaces are now available in the coach park and in front of the garden centre.
“In short, we have exactly the same number of disabled parking spaces temporarily available in well-located areas.”