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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Bank is refused disabled ramp
Mair Holt at the bank
Mair Holt has to carry out her banking on the pavement
Disabled customers have to do their banking outside in a street in Powys because the NatWest branch has been refused permission for a ramp for wheelchairs.

If they want to use the bank in Machynlleth, staff have to come out to serve them on the pavement or visit them in their homes.

Powys council refused a ramp because it would block the pavement.

The issue has been highlighted on the day tougher access laws came in.

The Disability Discrimination Act says that where a physical barrier makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to use a service then that barrier must be addressed.

This can be done either by removing it, altering it, or providing another way round the barrier.

Mair Holt is a regular customer at the bank in the town but cannot get inside because of the steps.

"It's a big problem really," she said.

"It means I have got to phone to get the girls to come out to the street to see to my bills and business."

The bank put in an application to build a ramp outside, but this was refused by Powys County Council.

According to the council, it had to refuse because of an objection by the Highways Directorate of the National Assembly Government.

Discussions ongoing

In a statement, the Welsh Assembly Government states: "The bank in question applied to place its new access ramp outside on the public footpath rather than within the boundaries of its own property,

"However, this would have had an adverse effect on the general public use of the footpaths as the ramp would have narrowed it considerably.

"As a result, we could not support the request."

Powys County Council says it is in discussions at the moment with the assembly and the bank to try to resolve the issue.


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