Op shop told woman in motorised wheelchair to leave

By Zaryd Wilson -
SPCA op shop. Photo/file
SPCA op shop. Photo/file

A woman who was told she couldn't be inside Whanganui's SPCA op shop because she was on a motorised wheelchair has accepted an apology from management.

The Opting For Animals store on Victoria Ave banned mobility scooters this month, but Katrina Beamsley was told she couldn't be in the store when she went in on a motorised wheelchair on Tuesday with her carer.

"We couldn't go down and look through the shop," she said. "I've been in a wheelchair 45 years and it's the first time it's happened to me."

Mrs Beamsley is unable to walk after having spinal meningitis.

SPCA marketing and fundraising manager Marty O'Fee said the incident arose out of confusion and discretion had not been applied.

"It may not have come across as intended," he said.

Mrs Beamsley should have been allowed in the store in her motorised wheelchair, he said.

The "no mobility scooters" policy was put in place after a volunteer was seriously injured after an accident in the store this month, Mr O'Fee said.

The volunteer was put in hospital after a person lost control of their mobility scooter, crashing into shop stands.

"It wasn't just a small accident, it was quite serious," Mr O'Fee said.

"For public safety, we need to keep them outside.

"We're not banning the individual, we're just saying we prefer you to keep your scooter outside.

"It's just the scooters - no one's banned."

Signs have been put up in the shop window advising customers of the mobility scooter ban.

Mr O'Fee said shop volunteers were happy to assist people by getting items for them, and the policy was about eliminating risk and "covering ourselves in the event of someone taking us to court".

The ban applied to the Whanganui, Feilding and Palmerston North stores but was not national policy, he said.

"Obviously, we've had an incident in the shop where someone was injured and we've made a policy.

"I wouldn't want our policy to be seen in a bad light," Mr O'Fee said.

Meanwhile, Mrs Beamsley said she had accepted the apology from the SPCA. "The manager was very apologetic and I have accepted the apology."

Whanganui Disability Resources Centre manager Les Gilsenan said he had no problem with shops not allowing mobility scooters in-store - the centre itself had banned mobility scooters inside.

But he said electric wheelchairs should be allowed, especially where people had no mobility.

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