Bognor woman with cancer 'hounded' to move or insure mobility scooter

A ‘fuming’ Bognor woman has spoken of the ongoing battle her mum, who has cancer, is facing against the council about where she can keep her mobility scooter.

Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 6:28 pm
Carol Hitchen, right, said her mum Hazel, left, was hounded with letters by the council. Photo: Kate Shemilt

Carol Hitchen said her 88-year-old mother, Hazel, had been living in a flat at Prince William Court in Bognor Regis for a number of years, before being moved to a sheltered housing scheme in King George Court, after she was told she would no longer be able to park her mobility scooter outside.

As part of the move, Hazel was promised a shed, which would be built alongside the flat to store her mobility scooter. Two weeks on, with the shed yet to be built, Hazel is allegedly being ‘hounded’ with numerous letters to move the buggy.

The district council has since responded, saying it operated in line with its health and safety obligations.

Carol Hitchen, right, said her mum Hazel, left, was hounded with letters by the council. Photo: Kate Shemilt

Carol, 60, said: “Moving was traumatic enough for her as she had been there for a number of years but she was pleased that it seemed like the situation would be resolved. She thought it was marvellous.

"We put the scooter outside, tucked in the corner and out of the way of any fire exits, but she got a letter from the council saying it couldn’t be left there and she had to move it as it was blocking a public pathway.

“We were also then told it can’t be left inside because of a fire risk, unless we had insurance. That doesn’t make any sense. They threatened also to remove it themselves if we didn’t. I asked for a temporary amnesty and offered to take the batteries out but they refused.

“My mum is very upset. She is distraught and worried that she will lose the buggy, which cost £4,000. Where do they expect us to put it? I am fuming. It is actually inhuman.”

Arun District Council confirmed that Hazel, left, would be able to keep the scooter in the flat, if she obtained satisfactory insurance. Photo: Kate Shemilt

Carol said her mum has a number of ‘serious health issues’ and the ordeal could ‘tip her over the edge’.

She added: “She has got diabetes, epilepsy and cancer. She can’t go anywhere unaided. It’s lucky as I live round the corner and can drive as she wouldn’t be able to get anywhere.

“We just want a compromise. She has never been in trouble and always follows the rules but now she is being threatened with letters. They are hounding an old lady sick with worry.

“We don’t know what to do or if we are even going to get the shed. They haven’t confirmed it.”

Arun District Council confirmed that Hazel would be able to keep the scooter in the flat, if she obtained ‘satisfactory insurance’.

A spokesperson said: “In light of the Grenfell disaster we have reviewed our health and safety obligations towards our residents. We take their health and safety very seriously. As part of this review a ‘Clear Communal Area’ policy was introduced in 2018 and all residents have been informed of this on a number of occasions.

“The resident in this case has been advised that she can keep her scooter in the flat subject to her obtaining satisfactory insurance.

“There are existing mobility sheds at the schemes and further sheds will be erected later on this financial year. These will be allocated in accordance with the waiting list.

“Keeping the scooter inside the individual flat removes the risk of obstructing communal areas.”