Hotel policy change after access row
By Lisa Rowley

A Shropshire businessman has struck a blow for the disabled after reaching an out-of-court settlement with a world-famous hotel chain in a discrimination dispute over accommodation.

Carl Ford is a disability consultant from Market Drayton, and representatives from the Express by Holiday Inn Hotel worked with the Disability Rights Commission's Conciliation Service to resolve a dispute over a hotel room booking.

He has received hundreds in compensation.

Mr Ford, a wheelchair user, was on a business trip when he tried to book a twin room for himself and his then personal assistant at one of the company's hotels in London, last November.

Express by Holiday Inn hotels, formerly Holiday Inn Express, do not have twin rooms available for wheelchair users and Mr Ford, of Longford Turning, was told he was expected to pay for two adjoining rooms.

The dispute was referred to the Disability Conciliation Service which works to resolve discrimination issues out of court.

Now Six Continents Hotels, which owns the Express by Holiday Inn, has introduced a new policy for the hotels across the UK and others in the group which will enable a disabled person and their accompanying assistant to have access to a second room, at no extra cost, subject to a second room being available.

Mr Ford, who is in a wheelchair after a spinal injury, said: "I am extremely pleased with this and hope that changes will be made across the hotel and leisure industry as a whole."

A spokesman for Six Continents Hotels said: "Six Continents Hotels is grateful for the advice they have received from Mr Ford and the Disability Rights Commission on how hotel facilities and services can be further adapted to meet the needs of disabled guests.