Ms Leighton posted correspondence with the traders association that started over a month before she began making formal complaints to traders themselves. It read:
Date: Thursday, 7 July 2016
Subject: Wheelchair access on Mill Road
Dear [coordinator named on website],
My partner and I are really big fans of the mill road area, and have spent some wonderful time in the vicinity. In particular we have enjoyed lazy coffees at Hot Numbers and long afternoons with a pint and some friends at the Cambridge blue, both of whom I understand to be members of your association. Unfortunately we have really struggled to gain access to the premises of many of the other shops, coffee houses and restaurants that populate Mill Road because they are not accessible to wheelchair users.
The two venues that I already mentioned have procured ramps which made them places we were able to visit and enjoy. We are really keen to expand the number of places we are able to get in to, especially since we are in the area frequently. Most of the premises have only a single step which means an inexpensive folding ramp would allow my partner and other wheelchair users access. While ramps are not the only access issue facing disabled people in Mill Road, they would make life much easier for my partner and I as we would be able to enjoy a wider range of venues.
I understand that the equality act requires businesses to make reasonable adjustments. I realise that there is a big difference between what might be reasonable for a large chain purpose building a new premises and a small independent business in a listed building. That said providing wheelchair users with a small ramp that can be purchased for under £50 and folded away would seem more than reasonable.
I understand that your association does not have any legal relationship with us as customers, and that you are not responsible for the practices or access policies of your members. Nonetheless we thought perhaps by approaching you we would avoid needing to serve pre action letters for non-compliance with the Equality Act 2010 on a range of shops and café’s on Mill Road. We also hoped that you might be able to coordinate purchase of several ramps for the shops on the road which might reduce the price further. We have plans to visit a number of shops on Mill Road in the hope that we will be able to access them in August. If we are unable to get in we will be serving pre-action letters on the businesses we are unable to access. I hope that between now and then you are able to support your members with improving access for wheelchair users.
I look forward to hearing from you.
[Partner of Ms Leighton]
She also posted the following automated response:
Subject: Out of Office Reply Re: Wheelchair access on Mill Road
All the best,
Mill Road Co-ordinator
Cambridge City Council
While a number of commenters on the original Cambridge News piece suggested this email address wasn’t associated with the traders association, it appears that they were mistaken. A message to that email address gets the following automated response:
Many thanks for your message.
I aim to respond within 24hrs, although at times this may not always be possible.
Mill Road Coordinator
Cambridge City Council
Tel: [phone number]
It appears the Mill Road Traders Association assertion in the article published by the Mirror and Cambridge News that they have not received any contact from Ms Leighton is false.