Fire safety concerns at Cheshire shopping centre means no entry to wheelchair users
The owners of a Cheshire shopping centre have barred the entry of wheelchair users after the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was concerned about possible evacuation problems in the event of a fire.
The owners of the Grosvenor shopping centre, situated in Macclesfield, are no longer allowing people who are reliant upon a wheelchair for their mobility into the premises due to the health and safety concerns. The decision comes after an inspection by the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service found their to be issues with evacuation possibilities.
Simon Gibbins, head of fire protection in Cheshire, commented: “We have serious concerns that if a fire was to break out in the Macclesfield Grosvenor Shopping Centre some people would simply not be able to get out.”
Mr Gibbins further added that wheelchair users have not been banned from entering Grosvenor shopping centre but Cheshire Fire Authority need to see sufficient evidence that proves there is effective means of evacuation for all potential Grosvenor shopping centre visitors, especially those with mobility issues.
The decision to install security guards – who inform wheelchair users they are not allowed in and lead them to individual shop doors – at the shopping centre entrances, has been met with indignation.
The Manchester Evening News reported that one local wheelchair user, named Diane, protested outside the shopping centre. Diane said: “I don’t know what has changed, but I’ve been coming here for years without any problem. The disabled and elderly are being discriminated against. It’s outrageous.”
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Luton Borough Council have taken action to improve levels of fire safety, installing fire doors in 10 multi-storey blocks across the town.
In total, more than 400 doors have been upgraded as part of the councils fire safety drive.
The measures have been put in place to stifle the speed with which fire can spread throughout the building, ensuring staff can more safely evacuate those buildings in the event of fire.
The upgraded doors use fire resistant material and can now withstand the heat of a fire for 30 minutes, a considerable from the door previously in place.
The new installations will aid evacuation attempts in an emergency situation, and will work to provide a safer environment for the tenants who live in the premises
Luton Borough Councillor, Luke Shaw, said: “The safety of all Luton Borough Council tenants is our number one priority which is why we invest in measures such as this.
“Our dedicated team in the Building and Technical Services department has been working with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service carrying out a number of improvements.
“This has included better fire safety signage, overhauling fire doors, updating fire fighting equipment, installing new emergency lighting and strengthening fire resistance in corridors, cupboards and service ducts.”
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