Charity refuses to give blind stroke survivor, 68, guide dog because path to house is damaged

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A 68-year-old blind stroke survivor was denied a much-needed guide dog after her local council failed to sort out the half-mile-long path blocked by overgrown shrubs .

Janice Parker, from Chelmsford, Essex, has slammed councilors for failing to act on the dangerous Baker’s Lane footpath, which is her only route to and from her home, which she has stumbled upon four times in the past year.

The widowed pensioner went blind after having a stroke in 2019. She has no sight in her right eye and only partial sight in her left.

And because nothing was done to fix the walkway, Guide Dogs UK told Ms Parker she couldn’t have a service animal because the walkway was ‘extremely unsuitable for a guide dog’.

She said, “I’m really sad about this. A guide dog would help me a lot. 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 any money – surely someone’s safety is more important than money?”

Janice Parker, a 68-year-old blind stroke survivor (pictured), was denied a much-needed guide dog after her local council failed to sort out the half-mile trail on Baker’s Lane , near her home in Chelmsford, Essex, blocked by overgrown shrubbery

Last month the guide dog charity rejected his request for pet assistance after visiting his home in Chelmsford.

Essex County Council has apologized to the 68-year-old for “the inconvenience caused”.

Guide Dogs UK said blocked or damaged pavements present dangers for people with assistance dogs, as they can be forced onto the road.

Janice, who has two children and five grandchildren, said: ‘The path is terrible, it’s extremely uneven. My cane gets stuck in ridges and growth.

‘I’ve crashed more than four times this year, luckily there was no major damage. A guide dog would help me a lot. My eyesight is terrible. Sometimes I step into things on my right side and find the steps really difficult.

“The Guide Dogs charity said that due to the condition of the trail it is extremely unsuitable for me with a cane or with a guide dog.

The widowed pensioner went blind after having a stroke in 2019. She has no sight in her right eye and only partial sight in her left.  And as nothing was done to fix the walkway, Guide Dogs UK told Ms Parker that she could not have a service animal as the walkway was

The widowed pensioner went blind after having a stroke in 2019. She has no sight in her right eye and only partial sight in her left. And as nothing was done to repair the walkway, Guide Dogs UK told Ms Parker she could not have a service animal as the walkway was ‘extremely unsuitable for a guide dog’.

“They said if the trail was set to a reasonable standard, I could reapply and go from there.”

The path, which has several electric poles, runs along a road that serves around 300 homes and a crèche.

Janice, a retired McDonald’s supervisor, said: ‘The board is now saying they need to know if they are in charge of the hedges.

“But sorry, they can check that in minutes. And that doesn’t change the condition of the trail. I spoke to the board about it three times last year and they told me everything was in progress but nothing happened.

“I’m not going to give up, I’m going to keep harassing them.”

Last month the guide dog charity rejected his request for pet assistance after visiting his home in Chelmsford.  Essex County Council has apologized to the 68-year-old for

Last month the guide dog charity rejected his request for pet assistance after visiting his home in Chelmsford. Essex County Council has apologized to the 68-year-old for ‘the inconvenience caused’

Chris Theobald, senior policy and campaign director at Guide Dogs UK, said poor pavements are “all too common a problem” for people with sight loss.

He said in a statement: “We are unable to comment on individual applications for a guide dog, but when making our assessments we take into account many factors, including the local environment.”

“In cases where the regular routes of the applicant 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 sidewalks combined with obstacles such as flagpoles or other street clutter can force guide dogs and their owner into the road repeatedly, which which can pose a real risk to their safety.

Guide Dogs UK said blocked or damaged pavements present dangers for people with assistance dogs, as they can be forced onto the road.  Baker Lane is pictured

Guide Dogs UK said blocked or damaged pavements present dangers for people with assistance dogs, as they can be forced onto the road. Baker Lane is pictured

“Blocked and damaged sidewalks are unfortunately an all too common problem for people with sight loss across the country.”

A spokesperson for Essex Highways said: ‘We are sorry to hear of the inconvenience for Ms Parker.

“We have reviewed the situation and have concluded that the vegetation in question is located on private land. It is the responsibility of the landowner to manage this and reduce it.

“We have already commenced enforcement activity by contacting the landowner in question to request that the vegetation be cut within a satisfactory timeframe specified by ourselves.”

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