High-powered mobility scooters have been banned from a neighbourhood centre in a health and safety crackdown.
Action was taken after a number of incidents involving staff and visitors leading to Class 3 mobility scooters ( which can be driven on roads and reach speeds of up to 8mph ) are no longer allowed inside Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre in Staffordshire. Riders of Class 2 mobility scooters ( which can only be driven on pavements ) have been ordered to ‘drive very slowly’ through the building.
Mobility scooter rider Dennis Webster has labelled the ban a ‘big inconvenience’. The 84-year-old, from Timble Close, Bentilee, commented: “Now you have to park outside the centre and tell the staff where you want to go. Then they push you in a wheelchair.It bothers me because you have independence on a mobility scooter and having to have someone push you around isn’t the same. It is the way things are going with health and safety. A lot of people are complaining.”
Another mobility scooter rider Brian Meredith, aged 68, of Bentilee, said: “People on mobility scooters need to be careful – there’s some weight behind one of those. But there doesn’t need to be a blanket ban.”
Patrick Harvey, aged 67, from Longton, said: “This decision is a bit odd and very inconvenient. This centre provides a service to the sort of people who will use mobility scooters. It’s annoying from an access point of view. Some facilities may be off limits for people because of this.”
Karen Tunnicliff, aged 57, from Hanford, added: “There should be access everywhere for the elderly. When I had young children, I wouldn’t go in a place unless it was child friendly – and it’s a similar situation with this. You can’t always get someone to push you. There needs to be a safe and secure place where people can park their mobility scooters. I know there is an aspect of health and safety, but then they should alter the building, not the people, so it does not cause a problem.”
The neighbourhood centre is run by Pinnacle PSG and is the base for services provided by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the NHS. A council spokesman said: “Large roadworthy (Class 3) mobility vehicles are no longer allowed inside Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre. This decision has been made by all tenants at the centre. The neighbourhood centre was not designed to accommodate Class 3 mobility vehicles and, following a number of recent safety incidents involving staff and visitors – including one in which an elderly woman was knocked over – a decision was made based on guidelines in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.”
The spokesman continued: “We appreciate the difficulties this may pose for some people but the health and safety of all visitors has to be our top priority. Staff are more than happy to aid anyone visiting Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre, and wheelchairs can be borrowed for use on site if we are given prior notice. People with a Class 3 mobility vehicle who will now need mobility assistance inside the centre are asked to contact staff to arrange further assistance.”