I’m blind but I’ve been refused a guide dog because my penny pinching council won’t trim a BUSH on a path near my house | The Sun
A BLIND pensioner has been left fuming after being refused a guide dog because the council wouldn't trim bushes near her house.
Janice Parker, 68, slammed councillors for failing to repair the overgrown footpath near her home, despite her falling over on it four times this year.
Janice, who went blind in 2019 after a stroke, is registered as blind with no sight in her right eye and only partial sight in her left eye.
Last month, Guide Dogs UK rejected her application for an assistant pet after visiting her home in Chelmsford, Essex.
The pensioner was told by the charity that she couldn't have an assistance pet because the pavement was "extremely unsuitable" for a guide dog.
Guide Dogs UK said that blocked or damaged pavements pose dangers for people with assistance dogs as they can be forced onto the road.
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Unfortunately for Janice the path is her only route to and from herstatic home and the decision has left her "really sad".
Janice, who is widowed, said: "A guide dog would help me so much. I would have so much more confidence walking with the dog than with my cane.
"I've asked the council to sort this out but they don't want to spend the money – surely someone's safety is more important than money?
"The path is terrible, it's extremely uneven. My cane gets stuck in the ridges and the growth.
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"I've fallen over four times this year, fortunately, there was no major damage done. A guide dog would help me so much. My eyesight is atrocious.
"Sometimes I walk into things on my right side and I find steps really difficult.
"The Guide Dogs charity said that due to the state of the footpath it's extremely unsuitable for me with a cane or with a guide dog.
"They said that if the footpath is sorted out to a reasonable standard then I could reapply and go from there."
Janice says that the council said they needed to know if they wereresponsible for the hedges before they could do anything.
But the retired stroke survivor determinedly said that she wouldn't "give up" and would "keep badgering them" despite waiting so long.
She added: "Sorry, they can look that up within minutes. And that doesn't change the state of the footpath.
"I spoke to the council about it three times last year and they told me it was all in hand but nothing happened."
Chris Theobald, senior policy & campaigns manager at Guide Dogs UK, said that poor pavements are "all too common a problem" for people with sight loss.
He said in a statement: "We're not able to comment on individual applications for a guide dog, however when we make our assessments we take many factors into account, including the local environment.
"In cases where the applicant's regular routes would be unsuitable for a guide dog, we may not be able to offer them a partnership.
"Guide dogs need space to work, and very narrow pavements combined with obstacles such as masts or other street clutter can force guide dogs and their owner out into the road repeatedly, potentially causing a real risk to their safety.
"Blocked and damaged pavements are sadly all too common a problem for people with sight loss around the country."
Essex County Council has apologised to Janice for "the inconvenience caused".
A spokesperson for Essex Highways said: "We are sorry to hear about the inconvenience to Ms Parker.
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"We've looked into the situation and have concluded that the vegetation in question is situated on privately owned land. It is the landowner's responsibility to manage this and cut it back.
"We have already commenced enforcement activity by contacting the landowner in question to request that the vegetation be cut back within a satisfactory timescale, specified by ourselves."
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