A community centre in Hull, caring for a hundred elderly people, have been requested to ban mobility scooters for health and safety reasons. Volunteers at the Alf Marshall Centre in Bransholme have been requested to prevent people on mobility scooters using the centre or face closure in the new year.
Inspectors from Humberside Fire and Rescue have advised staff that mobility scooters constitute a fire hazard. However, staff say a ban would leave elderly people, many on mobility scooters who see the centre as a lifeline, stuck at home alone. Kathy Clark, treasurer of the centre, explains: “We were most definitely told not to let in mobility scooter users because it will be a fire hazard. Every indication was given that we could be closed if we continued to let them in”.
She continues: “ I couldn’t believe it because 99 per cent of our members are elderly, with a lot using mobility scooters. There would be a knock-on effect in that even the elderly without mobility scooters may not come if their friends with mobility scooters are unable to. Suddenly, they would have nowhere to go and that would be terrible”.
The Alf Marshall Centre stages activities targeted at the older generation during the week, including luncheons, carpet bowls, bingo and arts and crafts. Mobility scooter user Mary Swain, 73, comments: “It’s disgusting. It is discriminating against people who need mobility scooters. I am so sad. I don’t know what will happen but we are still using our mobility scooters to get in and out of the centre. The whole place is designed for people like us”.
Meanwhile pensioner James Ward, 90, adds: “I come here most days a week because it gives me something interesting to do. I come in on my mobility scooter, do my thing, and leave on my mobility scooter. It is health and safety gone mad”.
Humberside Fire and Rescue have responded that mobility scooters are dangerous in the event of a fire, but said they had made a recommendation to the centre rather than an order. Rob Grayson, technical fire safety manager at Humberside Fire and Rescue, explains: “My understanding is the inspector was recommending rather than ordering. The fact is there have been mobility scooter fires in centres. It was more a comment to raise awareness about the dangers of mobility scooters.
He continues: “Mobility scooters can release large amounts of highly toxic smoke and gases. Therefore, all premises are risk-assessed on individual merits. After I visited the premises, there was no problem with using wheelchairs and mobility scooters to access the premises”.
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