‘Move wheelchair or you’ll have to leave’
5:30am Thursday 6th March 2014 in By Elizabeth Mackley
ELDERLY pensioner Doris Turner has been told she will have to move out of her flat because she can no longer store her wheelchair in the hall.
The 91-year-old owns her flat in an apartment block managed by housing company Green Square Group, but has to leave her collapsible wheelchair in the hall, as she lives on the first floor.
Last month all the residents in the block of flats in Pound Close, Lyneham, were asked to clear out their belongings from the communal areas, including the halls, after a fire risk assessment under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
If the items were not removed from the communal spaces, they would be disposed of.
Doris’ wheelchair fits neatly into a space under the stairs which nobody uses, but when she spoke to GreenSquare about leaving it in the hall because she was unable to move it into her flat, she was told that she would have to move it or face moving out.
She said: “I phoned them up and I asked her what about my wheelchair and she said I would have to move out of my flat.
“She said that I would have to speak to the council about it, “I was upset when she said that. It’s my flat and I have been here since 1972.
“I didn’t like the way she spoke to me. She wasn’t rude but she was just sharp.
“I know it’s my choice to live on the first floor but I say it’s my exercise, walking up and down the stairs. It keeps me fit and if I didn’t have that I might not be able to walk at all.”
Jan Morse, neighbourhood manager at GreenSquare, said: “We understand the frustrations of the residents at Pound Close and, where there are individual needs, we will work with residents to identify possible solutions outside of the communal areas.
“In this instance, we have offered to work with Mrs Turner to assess her needs and are discussing the possibility of creating additional safe storage areas, which conform to both building and safety regulations.
“GreenSquare takes its fire safety responsibilities seriously and we constantly review our policies to ensure the safety of all residents. In order to comply with fire regulations, we’re required to take steps to ensure that the communal areas in our properties are clear at all times.”
Doris’ neighbour, Penny McCuskey, 66, was furious when she heard the news..
She said: “It’s not a fire risk, it’s not blocking anybody’s route to the main door. If her wheelchair is a fire risk then so is the notice board, so is the fire escape sign which has fallen off the door.
“It’s ridiculous what they have told us is a fire risk. We had to get rid of the pot plants along the window sill because they are a fire risk.”
Another resident, Philip Dunn, was shocked that he was told he would have to get rid of his pet cats because they also posed a fire risk.
The 36-year-old said: “They said I had to get rid of the cats because they are a fire risk. People all over the country own pets and have them in their homes. I don’t know how they could pose a fire risk at all.”
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