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Wheelchair Safety Row

January 26, 2009 10:56 AM
By Pat Jones in Yellow Advertiser
Cllr Barry Aspinell with the Tuckers in their home

Cllr Barry Aspinell with the Tuckers in their home

FIREFIGHTERS rescuing a wheelchair-bound couple from their council home have complained about inadequate access.

Terry and Madge Tucker were saved from their flat in Maizey Court, Pilgrims Hatch, after a minor blaze. But firefighters had to lift the couple from their chairs because the doors were too small to get them out.

Mr Tucker said: "The incident was fairly minor this time, but I hate to think what would happen if we had a proper fire - especially if I was stuck in bed again."

The couple have both been wheelchair-bound for 30 years.

Terry has MS, cannot walk at all and needs a hoist to get into bed, while Madge suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and has difficulty walking.

The fire crew were so concerned about safety, officers e-mailed Brentwood Council's housing officer on December 29, highlighting the struggle they had to get the wheelchairs out of the door.

Local councillor Barry Aspinell, who has taken up their case, was shocked to discover the risk.

He said: "I was horrified when I saw such basic faults - so easy to correct - allowed to continue and cause so much discomfort and concern to the couple."

Brentwood officials were unavailable for comment, but Essex County Council said it 'always worked closely' with families and other partners to resolve any difficulties.

There is a difference of opinion between Brentwood Council and Essex Social Services over which is responsible for work to the flat.