HOUSING bosses have sent letters to pensioners threatening to seize their mobility scooters – claiming the vehicles are a health and safety hazard.
Several residents at flats on Little Norton Avenue in Norton, Sheffield, park their scooters beneath stairs in the flats.
The OAPs say the scooters are out of the way of people coming and going – and there is nowhere else to put them.
But in a crackdown on items which could impede escape in a fire, Sheffield Homes has written to residents listing scooters among ‘identified hazards’.
The letter, from housing officer Steve Willis, warned residents: “If the items are not removed by one month they will become the property of Sheffield Council and will be disposed of. You may be charged for the cost of disposal.”
The letter was sent despite a draft policy on mobility scooters not yet being approved by Sheffield Homes, under which tenants might not be able to take scooters to housing schemes unless there is storage available.
Sheffield Council’s Labour administration has asked for the policy to be reviewed with the fire service before deciding whether to implement it.
Martin Hill, whose 94-year-old mother Jean Hill was among residents sent the letters, said: “It’s out of order to send this to a vulnerable 94-year-old. I took it as a threat.
“My mum is a widow and great-grandmother. She relies on her scooter totally. Without it she would be a prisoner in her flat. Her scooter is parked out of the way and is not causing a problem to anyone.
“The only alternative they have suggested is that my mum and the other residents pay to have a storage facility built away from the building – a non-starter because of the cost and the distance to reach their scooters.”
Lib Dem councillor Bob McCann, a former cabinet member for housing, is urging Sheffield Homes to reconsider.
He said: “I recognise there is an issue about keeping communal areas clear. But Sheffield Homes should think again and look at the issue with common sense.”
Sheffield Council’s opposition leader, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, added: “I’m horrified Sheffield Homes is being allowed to make these threats.”
But council cabinet member for housing, Coun Harry Harpham, said: “Following tragic deaths in a tower block fire in London in 2009 the Home Office and the fire service nationally have been applying a consistent set of rules relating to fire safety in flats.
“In December there was a fire in a communal landing at a tower block in Stannington, Sheffield, caused by a mobility scooter. This brought to attention the need to include the safe storage and charging up of mobility scooters in communal areas.
“It is expected the council will decide a policy by April. Sheffield Homes will implement the policy to find a reasonable solution.”