Saturday, 21 May 2011

Inaccessible Eateries in South Lambeth Road

Little Portugal in Lambeth South London has in the past 15 years opened scores, if not more, of eateries. These range from single unit shop size to establishments seating a couple of hundred customers.

In one road alone, right in the heart of the Little Portugal around every third shop is now a cafe, take-away food joint, or restaurant; most of which have been refurbished within the past 10-years.

Sadly, not one of these recently refurbished eateries is fully accessible. Some can be accessed from the street; but once inside the toilets are invariably down stairs or upstairs. One, which is actually the oldest in the road, a well-known Spanish tapas restaurant frequented by the spooks down the road in MI5, has its toilet on the second floor.

One of the many inaccessible Portuguese eateries in South Lambeth Road

This isn't a small place; no, it seats in excess of 100 people. The front, tapas bar, area seats about 30; and, the back which opens into a large restaurant-style space can accommodate at least another 70+.    

At my local CLP last week, there were a number of Portuguese speaking guests. Seems as though my branch of the Labour Party is finally doing something to connect with the massive Portuguese speaking community in our part of Lambeth.

When I arrived, a well-spoken woman from this group was holding forth on things Lusofonia. Five minutes later, and she was still telling us of the benefits of Portugal and things Portuguese.

Feeling a bit mischievous, and quite bored too, I chipped in with a facetious remark about the area being endowed with a statue of an historical Portuguese rosy loving monarch. Back in February when minds were focused fixedly on the cuts, one of our ‘cutting’ councillors posted a story about the erection of a statue of the tea-loving queen, Catherine of Braganza, in the middle of Little Portugal. I responded on his blog criticising him for running such a soft story when there were a-hundred-and-one cuts issues on the lips of concerned residents of Lambeth.

Anyway, the woman bit on my dig welcoming the statue; and, I was then able to make the point about all the, relatively, new and newly refurbished eateries in South Lambeth Road that were inaccessible to me and other disabled people.

At this point, another of Lusofonia group began remonstrating with me. Apparently, he actually ran such a place in the road I’d pointed out; and, he assured me he had followed every regulation to the letter. Turns out, I knew the gaff to which he was referring. His cafe is two units knocked into one; and I’d say at a guess it could accommodate about 100 people.

The toilets are down a flight of twelve stairs. There is a 10” step up into the cafe. This I know because I used to use the place some years ago.

On the way out of the meeting one of my councillors, the one who doesn’t appear to be looking for office, collared me and suggested I gave her a list of inaccessible eateries in SL Road. Be interesting to see what comes out of injudicious approach to cross community dialogue.

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