Anger as council strips Kathleen, 92, of blue badge

NOT HAPPY Kathleen Hall has been denied a Blue Badge
NOT HAPPY Kathleen Hall has been denied a Blue Badge
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SHE’S 92 years old, struggles to walk with a stick and has suffered a stroke.

But Portsmouth City Council has taken away grandmother Kathleen Hall’s disabled parking badge – after she was ruled too fit to have one.

Grandmother Mrs Hall held a blue badge, which allows users to park for free close to shop and facility entrances, for five years. She was given it because her GP declared her ‘severely disabled’.

But under new government rules, people now have to be assessed by therapists before they are allowed to keep the badge.

Kathleen is one of 19 people who have been turned down for a badge or had it rescinded since the new system came in.

Mrs Hall’s son, Eric Downer, said: ‘It’s totally unreasonable. My mother walks with a stick and a trolley for balance, and can’t walk any distance. Without the pass, she’s housebound. And they’ve taken it for no reason.’

In September, the government took responsibility for deciding whether people qualify for a badge from GPs and handed it to ‘outside observers’.

Since then, Portsmouth City Council has carried out 119 assessments.

Mr Downer, who accompanied his mother to her assessment at Cosham’s Vanguard Centre, said she was not properly tested.

He said: ‘She’s fiercely proud of her independence. She was asked how far she could walk and said she could get to Tesco, about 100m from her house.

‘She goes, but has to stop several times. They didn’t test her walking.

‘They said they timed us walking the 47m to their office from the building’s reception, but I was helping her along. She loves to visit Gunwharf Quays, where she sits and watch the water. Now, she can’t. She’s in tears.’

Mr Downer tried to appeal, but was told the therapists’ report could not be overruled without a new report from the same therapists. That could take six months.

The council’s parking manager Michael Robinson said: ‘We’re sympathetic, but have to follow government guidelines. It says applicants who can walk more than 80m and don’t demonstrate very considerable difficulty in walking wouldn’t be eligible.’

Muriel Deacon, of Pompey Pensioners group, said: ‘It’s outrageous. It’s hard enough getting older without people saying you’re fine and making you housebound.

‘They must think again. The government changed the rule because people were fooling their doctor into letting them have a badge, but your GP’s more likely to make the right decision than someone you’ve never met.’