OAP’s parking badge anger

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A DISABLED pensioner has hit out after a service that hands out parking scheme badges has been moved.

Jill Kitching, 64, who suffers from a number of disabilities including arthritis and osteoporosis, had been able to collect her blue badge from Bryan Hanson House, in Lynn Street, Hartlepool.

But after being informed her badge is up for renewal, she was told she would have to apply for a new one at Hartlepool Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.

Jill, who lives in Elwick Road, Hartlepool, described the Civic Centre as the “least accessible” building in the town and said there is no way she can walk from the main road up the ramp to the entrance.

She wrote to the council and explained this, but said she was furious when she received a reply stating that because she was a housebound customer she would be able to get her badge delivered by post.

Jill, a retired advice worker for Epilepsy Outlook, who lives with her husband, Billy, 65, said: “Just because I can’t get into the Civic Centre does not mean I am housebound.

“My husband and I have been on Google Earth and measured the distance from Victoria Road to the entrance of the Civic Centre and it is 117 yards.

“When I used to be able to pick my badge up from Bryan Hanson House the distance from the road to the entrance was between 10 and 20 yards.

“To walk that distance would be detrimental to my health, but that doesn’t mean I am housebound.”

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council apologised for the wording on the form, but said staff had spoken to Jill before her badge was due to expire and explained the options to her.

A spokesman said: “In cases where visitors with severe mobility issues find access to the Civic Centre difficult, we do have a number of alternative arrangements which we can make.

“When her blue badge was due to expire, Mrs Kitching phoned us and we discussed these alternatives with her, but she opted instead to renew her badge by post.

“We therefore sent her the relevant standard form which includes in its title the wording housebound customers.

“We are sorry if this wording has caused Mrs Kitching offence.

“We accept that although her mobility difficulties severely restrict her walking, this does not mean she is housebound.

“With this in mind we will review the wording on the form.”

Jill said she does not understand why people now have to collect the badges from the Civic Centre and said the system worked very well when she used to pick it up from Bryan Hanson House.

But the council spokesman explained that the majority of the disabled customers go through Hartlepool Connect who are now based in the Civic Centre.

The spokesman said: “The team which administrates the blue badges are no longer based at Bryan Hanson House.”