A Kennington woman fears she will no longer be able to leave her home after being told by Southwark Council to remove her mobility scooter from outside her flat, writes Becky Morton…
Residents of Conant House near Kennington Park received a letter from the council in July giving them a week to remove all items from communal corridors, walkways and stairways. The letter stated that the London Fire Brigade had advised the Council that such items could delay or prevent residents escaping if there was a fire.
Susan Crimins, 61, relies on her mobility scooter to get around and only has use of one arm following a stroke after she was diagnosed with cancer. A few months ago the Council installed a ramp to her ground floor flat which enabled her to keep her scooter by her front door.
“Before I had the ramp I had to get myself down the stairs and lock up my scooter there. By the time I’d done all that I was so exhausted I didn’t want to go out anyway. Being able to keep my scooter by my door has made it possible for me to get out and about,” she said
The council have suggested Susan could keep her scooter in bike sheds which are being built outside her home but she says they wouldn’t be wide enough and would mean she has to make her way up and down the ramp.
She was also asked if she would consider moving into sheltered housing if nowhere could be found for her scooter, an idea Susan has rejected as she has spent “a fortune” doing up her flat and doesn’t want to lose the support network of her neighbours.
Susan said: “We’re not like Grenfell Tower, we’re an open block. I understand why people might need to move stuff from the balconies but I’m on the ground floor and my scooter and plants aren’t causing an obstruction.
Yvonne Peto, 66, has lived in the building for 33 years and has also been told to remove her makeshift garden from outside her flat.
She said: “I’m heartbroken. It just seems ridiculous because no one walks past my door to get out the building and we’re on the ground floor anyway.”
Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for housing said: “Since the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower Southwark Council, like all local authorities around the country, has reviewed all of our fire safety procedures. In light of this, we now have to ask that any potential obstructions be removed from any communal areas. Across all of our housing sites we are implementing strict fire safety policies fairly and equally.
“We do, however, appreciate that easy access to her mobility scooter is important to Ms Crimins. We have worked hard to find alternative storage solutions such as storing the scooter in a unit that we are remodelling outside the main entrance to her building.
“Resident service officers have also visited Ms Crimins at her home and have offered to work with colleagues in the adaptations team to provide an access ramp to allow Ms Crimins to manoeuvre her scooter into her home. We are now doing all we can to work with Ms Crimins to find alternative accommodation at her request.”