Pensioners demand meeting over Leigh Park mobility scooter charges row

ANGRY Front from left, James Russell, Patrica Reid and Hazel Forbes, Back from left, Yvonne Challis, Rowland Wise, Randolph Forbes, and Daisy MacLeod.     Picture: Sarah Standing (112415-1758)
ANGRY Front from left, James Russell, Patrica Reid and Hazel Forbes, Back from left, Yvonne Challis, Rowland Wise, Randolph Forbes, and Daisy MacLeod. Picture: Sarah Standing (112415-1758)
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DISABLED pensioners have stepped up their protest over living conditions and charges to keep their mobility scooters.

As previously reported in The News, tenants at Keats House in Leigh Park have been told to remove their scooters by the end of this month if they don’t want to pay an annual fee to keep them on property.

The charges have been imposed under new regulations set by landlords Guinness Hermitage.

Now elderly tenants have sent a letter to Hermitage officials demanding a meeting over the new plans.

They state they were not given sufficient notice nor a chance to agree to the payments.

The firm previously insisted a consultation took place across its housing schemes in the south east last month, and it claimed that residents had said they understood the need for them to be introduced.

But Jim Russell, 65, a resident of six years at the flats in Bedhampton Way, said: ‘The first time I knew about it was when a letter dropped through my door a couple of weeks ago.

‘We’ve got no choice but to pay the money, but we want to make them clear we’re not happy about it.’

Hermitage is demanding £104 a year from tenants to keep scooters on their premises.

The total increases to £200 because the firm, part of Guinness Partnership, has decided its residents must also pay for mobility insurance to cover potential liability and damage to others.

Resident Rowland Wise, 90, said: ‘It’s complete robbery. I’ve got to pay the charges using my disability living allowance.

‘It means I can’t afford to see my friends at Hayling Island.’

The letter written by residents also highlights what they say are safety hazards at the 36-flat property.

They have complained that a newly- installed lift regularly breaks down and double doors leading to a laundry room have to be kept closed due to health and safety.

This, they say, has caused problems for elderly residents who carry laundry on their shopping trolleys.

Mr Russell said: ‘The frail ladies here have to push the doors open with their backs to access the laundry room.

‘We’ve been told management are looking into the problem, but who knows how long it will take them to sort it out? It’s a major concern.’

The complaints are not the first made by residents at Keats House.

In 2007, a circuit problem left pensioners in 12 of the flats without hot water and heating for two weeks.

A spokesman for Hermitage said: ‘We can confirm that a letter has been received from the residents of Keats House which has been passed over to our complaints team.

‘We will reply to in accordance with our complaints procedure.

‘In respect to customer confidentiality we cannot discuss the content of the letter nor what our reply might be,’ he added.