A MUM from Droitwich claims staff at a garden centre told her they wouldn’t allocate a time for her family to visit so her disabled son wouldn’t have to wait in a queue, which she says would greatly unsettle him.

Frances Taylor said she attended Webbs Garden Centre in Wychbold on Tuesday morning (November 17) with her partner Scott as a test run to see if she would be able to take her seven-year-old son Freddie, who is severely autistic, this weekend.

After having to wait in a queue for half an hour when she went with her partner, Ms Taylor said she rang the Wychbold store to ask if her family could have a designated time to come to the garden centre at the weekend.

Ms Taylor said that queuing would mean Freddie would have to wait in a buggy, which is ok for a very short amount of time, but if he’s not moving and stuck in a queue he would begin to scream, thrash and kick.

She said: “I called the customer service line yesterday and explained that I have a young son who really enjoys coming to Webbs with his family, however, he won’t cope with the current queues because he’s autistic – he just wouldn’t be able to do it, so it would mean we wouldn’t be able to visit the store at all.

“I asked them if they could offer an allotted time which would suit them at the weekend so we could come in without having to stand in the queue.

“In response, they just said they couldn’t offer any bypassing of the queue, which made me feel like I was trying to be a queue jumper, although I’d already stood in it for half an hour.

“They said to come when it’s quieter between 6pm and 8pm on weeknights, and to be honest I was in shock because normally when I call other businesses they are really accommodating.

“I didn’t even fight it on the phone, I just said ok and then hung up and thought 'this is ridiculous'.”

Ms Taylor said the reason they wanted to go at the weekend is because her kids are at school in the day, so she wouldn’t want to take Freddie in the evening because it would be pitch black and cold which would unsettle him.

Ms Taylor said:“I just think when such ignorance is shown it’s so disappointing, especially considering Webbs is such a huge part of the local area.”

Ed Webb, owner and chairman of Webbs Garden Centres, said: “We are very sorry to hear that Ms Taylor had a bad experience at our Wychbold store and apologise for the way this was handled.

“As a garden centre we are extremely busy at this time of year and we are currently operating under strict guidelines in managing the number of customers we can have in-store at any one time to ensure social distancing, and our staff are under a lot of pressure to keep people safe.

“Our peak times are weekends and weekdays between 11am and 3pm. For that reason we have extended our weekday opening hours to 8pm from Monday November 2 which we felt would allow sufficient time for our more vulnerable customers to visit in a quieter environment with less queues.

“Following Ms Taylor raising this particular issue with us, we will ensure our teams have greater discretion to ensure a higher level of flexibility can be accommodated for all of our visitors to our store at all times and as an apology for not getting it right on this occasion, we will make a generous donation to the National Autistic Society.”

“We would also like to extend our apologies to customers for extra queuing times at the moment.

“We have tried to provide a safe and secure queuing system including investing in open sided marquee to protect customers.

“We ask that our customers continue to bear with us whilst we try to keep them all safe.”