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Whitstable's Crab and Winkle restaurant refuses to let Crohn's sufferer Lucy Barber use toilet despite NHS card

A Crohn’s disease sufferer has spoken of her dismay after she was refused access to a Whitstable restaurant’s toilet.

Mother-of-two Lucy Barber, who was visiting the town on Friday to celebrate her husband’s birthday, asked to urgently use the toilet in the Crab and Winkle Restaurant at Whitstable Harbour.

But the teacher was refused access and she was directed to the nearest public toilets, about 100 metres away.

Lucy Barber, showing her NHS card. Picture: Martin Apps
Lucy Barber, showing her NHS card. Picture: Martin Apps

Mrs Barber returned to the restaurant later in the day to show an NHS-authorised card allowing her to use the toilet, supplied by the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity.

The owner of the restaurant, Peter Bennett, said no one – even if they have one leg – is allowed to use the facility as it is for paying customers only.

Mrs Barber, 36, said: “I needed to use the loo quite urgently and went up to the Crab and Winkle restaurant as it was closest to use their toilet, but the woman in there was so rude to me.

“The restaurant toilets are for paying customers, not for people who walk in off the street," says Crab and Winkle owner Mr Bennett. Picture: Chris Davey
“The restaurant toilets are for paying customers, not for people who walk in off the street," says Crab and Winkle owner Mr Bennett. Picture: Chris Davey

“I explained to her that I have got a condition called Crohn’s, and she just didn’t care basically.

“She directed me to the nearest public toilets, but I was almost having an accident getting there and got there in pain.”

After spending the day in the town, Mrs Barber returned to the restaurant later in the day to show her NHS card, which she did not present on her first visit and allows her access to a toilet if needed.

“If she has one leg, they don’t come up the stairs and use the restaurant toilet when all our customers are there paying for that facility" - Mr Bennett, the owner of the Crab and Winkle restaurant

Mrs Barber, who lives in Hildenborough, said: “I have an NHS medical card which allows you to use toilets anywhere, so I went back in there at the end of the day.

“I wanted to show her it and hoped she would reconsider, but she wouldn’t even read it.

“She said ‘we have people coming in here all the time using the toilets’ but I said surely there are certain cases, like this, where you allow it.

“I was so taken aback by it and was ushered out of the restaurant and basically told not to come back.

“It was upsetting to be treated like that. I could not believe the response.

“She still wouldn’t have let me use it even after showing the card.”

Mr Bennett, the owner of the Crab and Winkle restaurant, said: “I recall my wife saying that she spoke to a lady who has Crohn’s disease.

Crohn's disease sufferer Lucy Barber, was not allowed to use a toilet in a Whitstable restaurant despite showing an NHS card. Martin Apps
Crohn's disease sufferer Lucy Barber, was not allowed to use a toilet in a Whitstable restaurant despite showing an NHS card. Martin Apps

“The restaurant toilets are for paying customers, not for people who walk in off the street. Customers are paying for the facility and I don’t recall my wife mentioning to me that she showed an NHS card. My wife said the lady was very persistent.

“If she has one leg, they don’t come up the stairs and use the restaurant toilet when all our customers are there paying for that facility, and public toilets are just 100 yards away down the road.

“I’m afraid the lady doesn’t really have an argument.”


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