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Waitrose apologises to customer told to park elsewhere after he complained about Christmas trees blocking disabled bays

Christmas trees block disabled bays - Consumer News UK
Wayne says he is often alert to accessibility issues due to his son. (Wayne Starkey)

WAITROSE has apologised to a customer who was told to just park elsewhere after he complained about disabled parking spaces being used to display Christmas trees.

Wayne Starkey, whose son is disabled, shared photos showing how access had been blocked at the front of his local branch in Altrincham, Greater Manchester.

The 51-year-old was more stunned however, when he raised the issue with Waitrose online only to be told that diasbled shoppers should use the “plenty of other bays available”.

A furious Wayne shared snaps on social media on Sunday showing how the spots nearest to the store had been cut off by the bushy firs.

He posted the images and said: “Are Christmas Trees really more important than a disabled parking spaces?”

He then received a response from Waitrose’s social media team, which reads: “I’ve spoken with the shop – there are plenty of vacant disabled spaces still (on the other side of the entrance).”

Christmas trees block disabled bays - Consumer News UK
Wayne is alert to the issues due his son’s accessibility needs. (Image: Wayne Starkey)

However, this only angered Wayne more, and he replied: “That is not the correct answer, being disabled is a protected characteristic, blocking the bays is discrimination.

“They are there to be used by blue badge holders, not Christmas trees! Go and put the trees in the able body spaces.”

Speaking yesterdaY, Wayne explained his frustration and said: “I’m not very happy, it’s always the disabled bays that get blocked and the answer is always the same there are more over there, or we won’t be too long.

“Having a disabled son we do use them and so I am very alert to the misuse of these bays as we encounter these problems frequently.”

Social media users were also less than impressed with Waitrose’s reply.

Waitrose response to blocked disabled bays - Consumer News UK
Staff advised that customer should use one of the “plenty of other” spaces available.

Angela Moore wrote: “Oh dear, disappointing response. The number of empty spaces is irrelevant. Maybe a bit of awareness training is needed.”

And Becky Nicholls added: “That is not the answer. I would give anything to park two miles away from the supermarket, but I can’t and this is so important to have disabled spaces right outside the entrance.

“I think this is really disappointing of Waitrose and very disrespectful. Our rights count.”

Following the backlash, Waitrose commented again on the post to apologise to Wayne.

Their comment reads: “We wanted to update you to advise that our Altrincham store has removed all Christmas trees that were blocking their disabled parking bays in their car park.

“They have passed on their apologies for the upset this has caused you as it was never their intention.”

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: “Our disabled parking bays should be available and free of obstruction and we’re very sorry that did not happen in this instance.

“Our Altrincham shop has now removed the trees from this area.

“We’re very sorry to Mr Starkey for the inconvenience and initial response he received, and will be investigating to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

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