A COP-OP branch in Powys is facing criticism over changes to its entrance that has made it harder for disabled customers to access the shop.

The entrance to the Co-op in Machynlleth was first closed during the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent overcrowding, with customers using the rear entrance, but has yet to reopen months after restrictions were lifted.

The decision has come under fire for making the shop harder to access for customers with disabilities and mobility issues.

Cassian Lodge, a Machynlleth resident and part-time wheelchair user, has started a petition asking that the shop change its policy which has already acquired more than 400 signatures.

They said: “I live in Machynlleth and I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes joint pain and fatigue.

“When they first closed the front entrance, I was glad, because even though it was harder to get into the Co-op I was happy to know that they were taking steps to keep everyone safe.

“The Co-op also set up a one-way system at the start of the pandemic, and I was expecting that they would open the front door again when all covid restrictions were lifted, but they didn't.

“As a pedestrian, you must walk along the side road that the cars use to access the car park, and although there are lanes for pedestrians to walk along, the lanes are awkwardly sloped for drainage and there is no pavement.

“If I go shopping in my wheelchair, I have to push my body weight, plus the weight of my chair, plus the weight of my shopping, and it is really hard work.”

Cassian was reportedly told by a member of staff that the front entrance had remained closed as a measure to prevent shoplifting.

As their petition states, they feel this decision comes at the expense of pedestrians who are disabled, elderly, or pushing prams.

They added: “Having a mobility disability means that the world becomes like an obstacle course, and companies making choices to maximise profits instead of supporting disabled members of the community is so common that it's really easy to feel as if the world is against you.”