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Mecca Bingo, Romford, refuses wheelchair-bound woman access to disabled loo

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 September 2012 | UPDATED: 18:43 12 September 2012

Dale Rutherford was refused access to the disabled toilet in Mecca Bingo

Dale Rutherford was refused access to the disabled toilet in Mecca Bingo

Archant

A wheelchair-bound woman says she was made to feel “like a real piece of dirt” after staff at Mecca Bingo in Romford refused to let her use a disabled toilet.

Dale Rutherford, of Shenfield, Brentwood, was with her partner at the Premiere Cinema in the Mercury shopping mall last Wednesday evening (September 5). The Mercury facilities were shut and the Premiere has no disabled toilet, but cinema staff told her the Mecca next door had one.

But Mecca staff said Ms Rutherford, 28, wasn’t allowed in as she wasn’t a member.

“I understand disallowing general access on grounds of not being a member,” she said, “but refusing a toilet to a disabled person when there are no others available made me feel like a real piece of dirt.”

Ms Rutherford, who was paralysed from the chest down in a diving accident eight years ago, said: “I’m lucky to know when I need to use a toilet. Being paralysed means you don’t have control of your bladder function, so it is very important that you get to a toilet in a timely manner.”

The insurance worker added: “It was horrible. I’m really laid back about a lot of things but in this case I just thought it was just a matter of common sense and human decency.

“As a young woman I like to go around how I would if I was walking – without wearing any continence products.

“Somebody told me it wasn’t discrimination because they would have told people who weren’t disabled to leave, too – but other people have other toilets around.”

Luckily, Ms Rutherford and her partner were able to find a disabled toilet in a nearby supermarket.

A Mecca spokesman said: “Normally our facilities are only for registered members who are over 18, but on this occasion the team should have made an exception.

“We would like to apologise to the lady concerned that on this occasion we didn’t.”

She added the branch’s general manager would ask her employees not to turn away disabled people in future.

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