An 80-year-old disabled woman says she has been left housebound after a cost-cutting council was forced to cancel its mobility scooter rental scheme.
Gravesham council used to offer scooters at tourism hub Towncentric in St George’s Square, Gravesend. It was moved as part of a council economy drive last year, along with the rental service, to Gravesend Borough Market.
But with her mobility scooter having recently broken and the council unable to spend the cash needed to fix it, users like Rosemary White are now unable to get into town. She explained: “I used to get the taxi into town, which was £10 each way and get transferred onto the mobility scooter, but I didn’t mind paying because I wanted to get out of my house. Now I am stuck on my own indoors. My family is in Australia, my husband died eight years ago, so there’s no one to help me. I can’t have a scooter here at home because the garage is right at the end of the road, there’s no dropped kerb, and it’s too heavy for me to lift.”
If a solution is not found, Mrs White says she will be not be able to leave her home in Lorton Close, Gravesend. Wayne Busbridge, vice chairman of Gravesham Access Group that works to promote access for all, described the end of the scheme as “disgusting”. He commented: “It’s poor for the town because it’s going to lose revenue from people that would go shopping in the town but needed a bit of help. We have already got problems with accessibility into shops and other places. This is badly cutting on the few that can’t fight back. The work going on with this transport quarter round by the station means we have already lost disabled parking bays.”
Mr Busbridge said he would be raising the group’s concerns with the council, which has been implementing a number of spending cuts in recent months. A spokesman for Gravesham council said it “was not viable” to continue the scooter scheme because not enough people were using it before the last one broke. He commented: “The number of users of the scooter scheme has reduced significantly in recent years, and since January this year it has only been used by two people. The mobility scooter has recently developed a fault and is currently out of use. We recognise that this service was valued by those that used it, but at present it is not viable to get it fixed and put resources in place for it to be reinstated. However, we are currently in discussion with local partners to see whether others are better placed to develop a scheme.”
According to Luton Today, a new website has been launched by the National Federation of Shopmobility to help recover stolen or abandoned mobility scooters and reunite them with their owners.
The National Mobility Registration Scheme was originally piloted in Littlehampton but it soon became clear that there was a national need for such a campaign. Spokesman Steve Perry explained: “We were amazed by 2015 police statistics which showed that out of 517 mobility scooters stolen, with an estimated value of £615,000, only 22% were recovered. He continued: “We understand the devastation and loss of independence this can cause.”
Luton Shopmobility manager Jayne Harris commented: “We’re pleased to support the scheme by helping clients register at the shop from 9am to midday, Monday to Friday. If you register online, please use our code LU01 which in turn will help to support us.”
It costs £12 annually and proceeds will be donated to National Federation of Shopmobility members.
A pensioner who spent the remainder of her savings on a mobility scooter in order to “keep her independence” has been prevented from using it by a train company.
Gillian Cockburn, who lives in Redcar, says travelling by train is the only way she can visit her sick husband, who is currently in the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. The 70-year-old usually travels from Redcar East station to Middlesbrough Central, but last Saturday morning, a Northern Rail staff member said she could not take the mobility scooter on board the train.
The rail company confirmed it doesn’t allow any type of mobility scooter on their services due to their “restricted manoeuvrability and stability – unless they can be folded up and carried on board as a piece of luggage. Mrs Cockburn, who describes herself as “severely disabled” says that while she might manage to fold up her mobility scooter, with some difficulty, she is physically unable to lift it on and off the train. She says the ruling means she is unable to visit her husband, who suffers from vascular dementia, on his birthday.
Gillian Cockburn explained: “I have travelled to the Midlands to visit my daughter using this mobility scooter and I have never had any problems. I am severely disabled and I have to rely on public transport to travel around – I don’t understand why this train company is any different. The alternative they have suggested is using a manual wheelchair, but that would take up more space and be harder to get on the train. If the mobility scooter was just lifted on, they wouldn’t have to use the ramps, and it would be so much easier and save so much time.”
A spokesperson for Northern Rail said: “As we operate several different types of trains and our services call at more than 500 stations with a variety of platform heights, this can cause safety issues when driving a mobility scooter on or off a train with a low platform. Unfortunately, the trains we operate were built before the introduction of mobility scooters and were therefore not designed with them in mind.”
The spokesman added: “However, we will continue to listen to customers to help inform future developments in our train fleet. We are always open to listening to our customers’ needs and requirements and are working towards improving accessibility for all.”
A pensioner ‘stinking of booze’ driving a mobility scooter when he drove down the middle of the road and unleashed a tirade of abuse at a driver who tried to pass him.
The exasperated motorist says he encountered the elderly man trundling down a road in Southport, and claims he smelt ‘like he had been drinking for days.’ Video footage shows the old man slow down in the road, which the driver believes was deliberately to ‘annoy’ him, before repeatedly sticking up his middle finger.
The driver, who did not wish to be identified, claims that the mobility scooter rider also subjected him to a barrage of expletives and appeared to be drunk. The anonymous driver explained: “I was driving along and he just started slowing right down. You can see his brake light come on in the video. I couldn’t tell what he was doing. When he saw me in his mirror he started to slow down.”
He continued: “I was in a bit of a rush – I had my wife and two-year-old son on board – and when he put the brakes on that was when I wound my window down and asked him to move. That was when the smell of alcohol hit me. He smelled like he’d been drinking for days.”
The stunned driver says he had to repress his anger as the mobility scooter rider continued to block his path and swear at him. He claims that he had to resort to manoeuvring around the mobility scooter to progress with his journey, as the pensioner refused to move.
The Southport-based motorist added: “I was shocked. I see a lot of things on the road. But I’ve never seen anybody on a mobility scooter driving on the road like that. I felt angry. In my opinion it’s still drink driving as well. It’s not right. Even if it’s a mobility scooter, surely that’s against the law too?”
The driver also claimed that mobility scooters can pose a big threat on the roads, with both drivers and the mobility scooter user themselves at risk. He commented further: ‘These mobility scooters aren’t safe. Some of these scooters can go really fast as well. I don’t think they should be allowed on the roads. It’s dangerous for them as well, they aren’t protected at all. If they are on the roads and aren’t insured too and there’s an accident, then it falls on the other driver’s insurance.”
As a result of intelligence from the community, Derbyshire PC Mark Atterbury from the Chaddesden Safer Neighbourhood Team has been to visit the 83 year-old local man seen riding his mobility scooter on a dual carriageway in Derby city centre ( reported in n earlier blog article ).
PC Atterbury explained: “The man had a stroke a couple of years ago and uses the mobility scooter to remain active and to get out and about. Unfortunately he had been given some incorrect information about where and when he could use it that caused him to be on a road that was very unsafe for a vehicle of that type.”
He continued: “Thankfully with the information we received I have been able to pay him a visit and give him the correct advice that means he will now be able to use his scooter in a safer fashion.”
PC Atterbury added: “He wanted me to apologise to any of the other road users who had been concerned about his actions but is now pleased to have had the correct information.”
Derbyshire Constabulary outlined this advice to any mobility scooter users:
- You don’t need a licence to drive a mobility scooter
- Mobility scooters come in two categories – Class 2 and Class 3 invalid carriages
- Class 2 – Have a maximum speed of 4 mph and can’t be used on a road unless there is no pavement.
- Class 3 – Have a maximum speed of 8 mph, need to be registered, you need to be over 14 to drive one and has a set of required features including indicators, horn and rear view mirror
- Only a Class 3 can be driven on the road and we really wouldn’t recommend their use on very busy roads. Even these mustn’t be used in bus lanes, ‘cycle only’ lanes or motorways. Again we would not recommend the use on dual carriageways but if a Class 3 is driven on a dual carriageway you must use an amber flashing light.
- And of course if you do use a mobility scooter on a road you must follow the Highway Code.
The mobility vehicle has been parked on the road outside homes on Osborne Road, close to Blackpool’s South Shore. Infuriated neighbours have called in Blackpool council to force the owner to move his mobility scooter off the street. One resident said: “Whenever they have visitors he puts it out on the street, which he shouldn’t really do. You can see him wheeling it out there to save the space before going off in his electric wheelchair. We have enough traffic problems as it is.”
Coun Derek Robertson said: “It cannot be right because it is not road taxed and does not have a number plate.”
One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s been happening on and off since January.“Whenever they have visitors he puts it out on the street, which he shouldn’t really do. Most mornings it’s out there. I get up at around 7am and you can see him wheeling it out there to save the space before going off in his electric wheelchair. Last week they were getting more and more people outside the house and he kept coming out and moving it until it was right outside someone else’s house.”
Coun Derek Robertson said he had received complaints from a number of residents about the mobility scooter. He explained: “The residents have complained to me so I have asked the parking services if they would look into it. You expect to find a car park space outside your house and this is taking up a parking space. It cannot be right because it is not road taxed and does not have a number plate. It’s an obstruction.
Government rules state that all normal parking restrictions apply to mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs. Mobility scooters come in two categories, ‘Class 2 invalid carriages’ and ‘Class 3 invalid carriages’. Class 2 mobility scooters can’t be used on the road (except where there isn’t a pavement), but Class 3 mobility scooters can.
Thousands of disabled people have had their adapted cars and mobility scooters taken away from them after being put through cruel benefit assessments, charity Motability has recently revealed.
MPs and campaigners are demanding action after 51,000 people had their Motability vehicles withdrawn following a personal independence payment (PIP) assessment. This figure represents almost half of all cases reassessed under PIP since it launched in 2013.
One mother with multiple sclerosis (MS) was left without her Motability car for nearly a year based on nothing more than a PIP assessor tickling her hand with a feather. Sam Adams, 41, was denied the higher rate of PIP when she was reassessed last year despite having collapsed in the past after losing all the strength in her legs. She recalled how her assessor decided that she could walk the required distance despite not having seen her move.
Ms Adams explained: “How she came to that conclusion when she’s not seen me walk, she’s not seen me walk up and down stairs — all she did was tickle my hand with a feather. “hat conclusions she was coming to from tickling my hand with a feather I’ll never know.” Ms Adams was forced to fight her case through a tribunal to overturn the decision and won.She hopes to have her Motability car back by the end of April.
Ms Adams is one of more than 3,000 people, out of the 51,000 affected, who have successfully overturned their PIP assessment, forcing the government to put them back on the Motability scheme. Labour’s former work and pensions minister Angela Eagle warned that in the worst cases people are having the ability to live their life taken away, leaving some housebound. Conservative backbencher Peter Bone said: “You need it for mobility purposes and maybe you use it for work, but because you lose your PIP award you lose the car at the same time. You appeal against the PIP award and ultimately the tribunal awards you back the PIP, but you’ve already lost the car and maybe your job because of it.”
Muscular Dystrophy UK said that 900 cars are being taken away every week as more disabled people have their PIP rejected. The charity’s campaigns director Nic Bungay said: “Each of the 51,000 vehicles being taken away is a story about a disabled person’s independence being compromised. This is having a devastating effect on quality of life.”
The charity is demanding the government reverse a change in the rules that means to qualify for the higher rate of PIP a person must be unable to walk unaided for 20 metres. Under the disability living allowance (DLA), which PIP replaced, the distance was 50m.
Disabled People Against Cuts founder Linda Burnip said the “ridiculous” situation is costing the government more as it’s forcing disabled workers onto the more expensive access to work schemes. She warned that the lack of medical skills of the assessors is seeing those with qualifications in childcare making decisions about vital funding for disabled people.
The Motability scheme entitles disabled people to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair using part of their benefit. They are specially adapted for the claimant’s individual needs. The Department for Work and Pensions said it constantly reviews its processes to ensure they are working in the best possible way.
A pensioner had to be rescued by a group of burly blokes after her mobility scooter got stuck on a zigzagged ramp by the beach.
Mary Maudlin, 74, had driven down Sea Thistle Way, in Jaywick, before reaching the access ramp to get to the beach. As she drove on to the winding path, her mobility scooter became completely wedged on the second corner. Mrs Maudlin said her mobility scooter was just inches too wide to squeeze around the hairpin bend and she could not shift it from the corner herself.
She explained: “I managed to drive up the first part of the ramp okay, but when I turned left up the second part of the ramp, I got wedged around the sharp corner and just couldn’t move the mobility scooter at all It felt like the ramp got narrower the further up I went and once I was stuck, I was able to climb out, but could not move it myself. Luckily for me three or four young men soon came over and helped shunt the mobility scooter to get me to the top of the ramp and on to the sea wall.”
Mary continued: “The first man who helped me was cutting his grass, then the others came over from nearby shops to assist. It is such a heavy mobility scooter and I don’t know what I would have done without their help. I really cannot thank them all enough.”
Mrs Maudlin said luckily she was able to enjoy the beach views from the top of the ramp, but she then had to drive about 300 yards out of her way to use another slope, which was wide enough to drive down. She said: “I want people to be aware of this issue and aware of the dangers it can cause to mobility scooter users who might not be as lucky as I was.”
Mrs Maudlin is now trying to get in contact with the authorities responsible for the ramp to make them aware of the problem – and prevent other mobility scooters becoming stranded.
A row has broken out between a council and an over-50s group over the lack of allocated spaces for large mobility scooters at a new bus station.
Brian Todd, chairman of Blackburn with Darwen Older Person’s Forum, has accused borough management of being ‘offensive’ over their refusal to make official provision for parking the larger version of the mobility scooter at the £5million public transport hub.
Councillor Phil Riley, the council’s regeneration boss, said the mobility scooters could obstruct other passengers and the borough could not accept responsibility for their protection from damage and theft.
Mr Todd responded: “There is no problem with the smaller mobility scooters which can be taken on buses. The larger version is too big. We have been asking the council to allocate spaces for them by the white wall at the Church Street / Salford end of the bus station. There is plenty room there and these mobility scooters are vital to many disabled and elderly passengers.”
He continued: “It is no good leaving them in the market which closes at 5pm if people are going out for the day. The council’s attitude is offensive and may well breach the human rights of users who should insure their own mobility scooters.”
Cllr Riley commented: “We have offered secure accommodation in the market a few yards away. The council cannot take responsibility for the security of mobility scooters left on the bus station and they are large vehicles which could obstruct other passengers. We are looking at other solutions.”
Chris Smith, bus station manager for Lancashire County Council, said: “Our bus stations don’t have formal facilities for storage of mobility scooters.”
Japanese railways to overturn rule preventing foreign travellers from taking mobility scooters on trains
If you are a mobility scooter user and you have been a tourist or traveller in Japan in the past or are planning to visit the country, this will be of interest to you.
The Japanese transport ministry has urged railways to abolish an industry rule that virtually bans foreign travellers with disabilities from using mobility scooters on trains. The law currently is convoluted and bizarre to say the least. People with disabilities can only take their mobility scooter on a train if the vehicle has been purchased or leased using Japanese government subsidies or through the nursing care insurance system. Such users are required to present certificates or stickers issued by railway companies whenever boarding trains, including on the subway.
Such users are required to present certificates or stickers issued by railway companies whenever boarding trains, including on the subway. However, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced recently that under a draft new rule developed in conjunction with railway operators, train users would not be required to obtain the certificates or stickers provided their mobility scooters meet the standards.
The ministry has been talking with operators since November about revising some rules that are only specific to Japan and that have often been criticised by people with disabilities and their supporters for being discriminatory. The changes, if adopted, would allow foreign travellers to use a mobility scooter on trains while in Japan. The new law, if and when introduced, will affect travel on all of Japan’s major railways, including East Japan Railway Co., West Japan Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co. and Tokyo Metro Co.