A man's parents were left in shock when they were nearly denied access onto a train before a trip to see the Olympics because their son is in a wheelchair.
Erica Marks and her husband, David, of Beech Drive, Borehamwood, were told their son Benjamin’s wheelchair posed “health and safety issues” and they could not board the 8.15am First Capital Connect
service toward central London from Elstree & Borehamwood.
Benjamin, 20, who cannot walk or talk and requires 24 hour care, was looking forward to a day out with his parents and carer to the Olympic stadium to see the athletics.
Mrs Marks, who runs an online gift shop, said: “I asked an attendant if we could borrow a ramp to help get Benjamin onto the train easier.
“But then he said he couldn’t allow Benjamin and his wheelchair onto the train at all. I was feeling disgusted. It is crazy - you wouldn’t say that to a mother with a pram.
“The man was unhelpful and could give no reason to back up these health and safety reasons.”
Mr and Mrs Marks, whose other children are Sasha, 18, Eliana, 13, and Amber, 11, had done the exact same trip the day before with Benjamin and had no problems.
The station manager offered to send the family in a complimentary taxi to Kings Cross St Pancras, but the mum-of-four refused.
She said: “We wanted to give Benjamin a normal day out, but taking him by taxi takes him away from society and keeps him in his own bubble.
“He has the right to experience how grotty the rail network is just like everybody else going to the Olympics.
“We tried to shelter Benjamin from what happened, but I am sure he realised what happened. It put us under a lot of pressure.”
Mr Marks, who runs a printing business, told the attendant and his manager they would still be getting on the train and were prepared to accept the repercussions.
Mrs Marks added: “What ridiculous bureaucracy. It was like being punched in the face. Luckily, Benjamin had an unbelievable time at the Olympics but it was a horrible start to the day.
“I want more than an apology and for staff to be sent on disability awareness training.”
Keith Jipps, customer service director at FCC, said: “I am very saddened to hear about this.
“I am acting on their concerns as a matter of urgency and will ensure staff are re-briefed on disability awareness, and that a wheelchair ramp is installed on the London platform, platform one.
“Elstree and Borehamwood is only accessible for wheelchair users from platform one, which is why we offer customers with wheelchairs a taxi service to their nearest station.
“On behalf of FCC, I offer an unreserved apology to Benjamin and his family for causing unnecessary stress on their day out.”