‘Don’t make us prisoners in our homes’ plea from Spilsby residents

Janet Briggs of Spilsby has been told she cant leaver her mobility scooter outside her flat's front door because it is a fire hazard. Photo: David Dawson. ANL-151210-154556001
Janet Briggs of Spilsby has been told she cant leaver her mobility scooter outside her flat's front door because it is a fire hazard. Photo: David Dawson. ANL-151210-154556001
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A 73-year-old social housing resident in Spilsby fears becoming a prisoner in her own home because she has been told her mobility scooter has to go.

Janet Briggs, of Old Market Avenue, said she burst into tears on Tuesday when a notice from Waterloo Housing Group was left on what she describes as her ‘lifeline’, warning if it was not removed by Friday it would be taken away – at her expense.

The housing company just needs to think outside the box. What we need is a box with electricity.

The Rev Joan Thornett

The mobility scooter is kept in the communal area outside the door of her ground floor flat and the notice stated: “This is a fire risk and must be removed immediately”.

However, doors into the flats are too narrow for the mobility scooters to be kept inside and there are no suitable storage facilities outside.

Mrs Briggs, who only manages to walk around her flat, said: “When I saw the notice I burst into tears. It’s my lifeline. I use it for shopping and to go to the luncheon club, U3A meetings and church. I couldn’t go anywhere without it”.

Her niece, Sarah Philpot, is a carer and said: “Without her mobility scooter, she just couldn’t manage.”

Other residents were also served with the notice. Felicity Jacklin, 61, has lived there 15 years and relies on a mobility scooter because she suffers arthritis.

She said: “We were first warned about this just before Christmas but there is nothing we can do – the doors to our flats are too narrow. Why hasn’t Waterloo Housing built us something?”

Frances Hawkesford, 67, said: “We need an electricity supply to charge the mobility scooters. It’s no good keeping them outside because if the batteries get damp they won’t go.”

The Spilsby Standard was contacted by the Rev Joan Thornett after ‘getting nowhere’ with initial calls to Waterloo Housing Group. She said: “Residents are very upset about this.

“I can understand something needs to be done if the mobility scooters in the communal area are a fire risk. But there has been plenty of time for the housing company to sort something out.

“Slapping a notice on their mobility scooters is cruel. The housing company just needs to think outside the box. What we want is a box with electricity.”

Mark Taylor, head of communities and neighbourhoods at Waterloo Housing, said: “The overall priority for Waterloo Housing Group is to ensure the safety of residents living in our properties.

“We have received clear advice from the fire authorities that storage of items, including mobility scooters, in communal areas of flats presents a clear risk to residents living on those developments in the event of fire, due to the potential to impede exit and increase the risks of smoke inhalation.

“We have, therefore, written to all affected residents to advise them of the need to remove mobility scooters from communal areas and store them either in their own home or in a dedicated storage area where these exist.

“We will work with the residents concerned to explain the reasons for this decision, and to find a solution that meets both their needs as well as ensure the safety of other residents.”