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'I was completely stuck': Wheelchair user urges change after getting trapped at major restaurant chain

Nick Bishop was trapped for an hour and a half before the fire brigade lifted him out of this stairlift.

A wheelchair user has called for change in the way disabled people are treated after being trapped for more than an hour on a stairlift at a major chain restaurant.

Nick Bishop, who has cerebral palsy, was enjoying a Christmas meal with colleagues at a branch of Las Iguanas when he became stuck due to a mechanical fault.

He criticised the restaurant in London's Southbank for not having a "plan B", saying he hopes no one has to go through that sort of "stressful" situation anywhere else.

Las Iguanas has apologised, and Mr Bishop said the staff were "courteous and responsive" during the ordeal.

The incident occurred just days before a survey from a disability charity suggested eight in ten people with disabilities face challenges accessing pubs and bars.

Leonard Cheshire, which helps people to live as independently as they choose, found 45% of those surveyed had experienced negative attitudes from staff, while 35% had experienced negative attitudes from other customers because of their disability.

Mr Bishop, who works for Leonard Cheshire, said of the incident which happened on 11 December: "Staff were courteous but the problem is there's no plan B in these situations.

"Stairlifts need a manual override. It avoids any of these problems. There are simple solutions but that hadn't been thought about."

He added: "There was no plan B, so I was completely stuck."

He said he was trapped for an hour and a half at the busy restaurant, in what he called "a very stressful situation".

Eventually the 31-year-old was lifted out by the fire brigade.

"I think places have quite a bit of work to do before they become fully accessible," he said.

A branch of the Las Iguanas chain. Credit: Jayp9426/Wikimedia Commons

A spokesperson from Las Iguanas said: “We’ve apologised to Nick Bishop for this really unfortunate and very rare incident, and his experience.

"The exact scenario that unfolded during Nick’s visit is unique to this location, which is under the arches at Waterloo, and we are now taking the necessary steps to ensure it does not happen again.

"We absolutely agree with, and support, Nick’s message on this, and for us, it’s incredibly important that our guests with access requirements can, like everyone else, enjoy the special Las Iguanas experience.”

The company has also made a donation to the Leonard Cheshire charity.

Mr Bishop said he hoped other businesses would learn from his ordeal.

"It was an enjoyable Christmas party, but in the middle of it was a very fraught time. It highlights how with better equipment, some simple adjustments, it would make things easier for people."

"I'm sure Las Iguanas aren't the only ones in this situation. I hope it is used as a learning point to check if they have things like a manual override," he said.