BY CALUM FRASER
An independent social care ombudsman has deemed that a pensioner suffered an “injustice” as town hall chiefs withdrew his Blue Badge after he was able to walk from his car to a meeting with them.
Terry Jones, 85, received a letter in July 2017 from Greenwich council saying that he would need to renew his Blue Badge, which allows people to park in disabled parking spots.
The Eltham resident was not able to complete the online form so he was called in to a face-to-face assessment.
After the assessment he received a letter saying his application for renewal had been refused because he was seen to have walked more than 30 yards from his car to the centre in Eltham.
He said: “It’s a load of nonsense. I had my wife on one side and a walking stick on the other.
“It was soul-destroying. I don’t know why Greenwich council are treating disabled people in this way.”
He said he had a double bypass, which had complications which meant he had a long period on the blood thinning drug warfarin.
He cannot walk without losing his breath.
He also has a back injury and he has been diagnosed with diabetes.
“The assessor’s attitude was that it was all in my imagination,” Mr Jones said.
“They told me that they did not have my medical records.
“After it took weeks to get my appointment, it then took them a matter of hours to come to the decision that I was not eligible for a Blue Badge.
“It’s ridiculous. It made me feel as though they had already decided long before my application went in.”
The council’s decision was later overturned as Mr Jones appealed, but he was left without the badge for 47 days.
Mr Jones, who lives in Rochester Way, said: “The fact that the application can only be done online puts the elderly at a disadvantage.
“So many of them won’t touch a computer, they’re terrified of them.”
Mr Jones is the primary carer for his wife who has dementia.
A Blue Badge is valid for three years and must be renewed when it expires if the holder wishes to keep using it.
An independent ombudsman investigated Mr Jones’s case.
In the report it said: “There was fault by the council in the way it handled the renewal application. This caused an injustice to Mr Jones as he was ultimately left without his Blue Badge for 47 days until it was granted on appeal.”
The ombudsman recommended that the council pay Mr Jones financial compensation and conduct a review of their services.
The council has agreed to conduct a review and pay Mr Jones £100.
Councillor Spencer Drury helped lobby the council for Mr Jones.
Cllr Drury said: “My lobbying led the council to apologise and make some changes to its Blue Badge procedures but this ruling means the ombudsman thought the council hadn’t gone far enough.”
A spokesman for Greenwich council said: “The council regrets the frustration that Mr Jones has experienced with the processing of his Blue Badge application and subsequent complaint. Mr Jones’s complaint in October 2017 to the council led to a review of his case and a subsequent awarding of a Blue Badge in November 2017.
“On the recommendations of the Ombudsman the council will be carrying out a review and will be making its appeals process clearer. The council’s mobility team can assist those who are unable to make an online application for a Blue Badge via the Department for Transport website.”
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