Snowball visited Loughborough stores last week and carried out access visits to hundreds of places in the town centre this included estate agents, restaurants, banks, building societies, coffee shops, takeaways, casinos, charity shops and other stores in the town centre.
When carrying out the research they were looking for things like step free access, automatic doors, disabled toilets, and other disabled services provided by the shops in the area.
Following the mapping of Loughborough town centre with hundreds of stores uploaded to the Snowball app it shows that 48% of disabled customers would not return to many of the Loughborough stores because of access issues, highlighting the need and a call to action by Charnwood Borough Council and the local Councillors.
Simon Sansome founder of Snowball said “It is clear from the information and the data gathered by Snowballthat this is something that is potentially replicated across the country and Loughborough will not be an isolated incident. I honestly believe that as more data comes into Snowball from across the UK will have whole towns and villages completely inaccessible for the disabled community. The Snowball data shows that almost half the town is completely inaccessible to the disabled community meaning they can only access half the shops and stores in the town affecting trade for all businesses”.
In 2020 Charnwood Borough Council approved plans to improve Loughborough Town centre in the tune of £2.6 million, which is almost complete. Simon Sansome added “It seems in this case that the council has spent millions on improving the area but has completely forgotten about attracting customers to their stores and to the town centre by ignoring access for disabled customers”.
Paralympic gold medallist Aaron Phipps who is one of the brand ambassadors for Snowball said, “For me that’s not really come as a surprise. You ‘just get on with it’ or you wouldn’t go anywhere, but this shouldn’t be the case. Snowball has the opportunity to make positive change. I see it more as a tool to support businesses who want to be more inclusive rather than a blame exercise.”
We have contacted Charnwood Borough Council to see if they would like to comment on the story however, they have not replied.
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