August 6, 2003
A woman in a wheelchair was refused entry to a Devon pub's beer garden because she was "a fire risk."
Disabled Annette Boucher, 51, of Park Street, Crediton, wanted to have lunch in the garden behind the town's General Sir Redvers Buller pub with her student-nurse daughter Charlotte and her daughter's friend.
But after the two women had pushed multiple sclerosis sufferer Mrs Boucher along a rough and overgrown path leading to the garden, they were told that they couldn't go in.
Staff insisted that Mrs Boucher would be a fire risk because she would block the path in the event of an emergency.
Pub chain J D Wetherspoon, which owns the pub, has since apologised and has offered mum and daughter a free meal which they have accepted.
But it is still refusing to allow Mrs Boucher into the garden.
It said the pub is only allowed to use the privately-owned path in an emergency.
And while there was a lift to the pub for wheelchairs, it was unable to put in disabled access to the garden when it took over the listed building.
Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for J D Wetherspoon, said: "It's absolutely nothing personal and we would rather this had not happened."
Mrs Boucher said the beer garden was reached from a path leading from St Saviour's Way, which joins the A377.
And she was upset after her daughter and her friend had pushed her along St Saviour's Way and the overgrown path to the gated entrance to the garden area.
She said that she had been inside the garden before without any problems.
Charlotte Boucher , 23, said: "I do not understand why they can't just
do the garden out and provide access by tarmacing the path so that we can
get into the back. Then it wouldn't be a fire risk."
Copyright © 2003, Northcliffe Electronic Publishing Ltd.