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Chelmsford Woman Declined Guide Dog Due To Local Paths

June 8, 2022

A blind woman has been told she could not have a guide dog because the pavements nearby were unsuitable.

Janice Parker, from near Chelmsford, Essex, was registered blind in November 2020 and referred to a guide dog charity by her GP.

The 68-year-old said, however, the charity found her illegible for a guide dog because of the damaged and blocked pavements near where she lives.

Essex County Council has apologised and said it was investigating the issue.

Mrs Parker said she was “disappointed” the charity could not recommend a guide dog for her.

She said her “freedom and independence” were at stake due to the paths which she said were reduced by the overgrowth and were in a poor state of repair.

Chris Theobald, from Guide Dogs UK, said although the charity could not comment on Mrs Parker’s case specifically, “blocked and damaged pavements are sadly all too common a problem for people with sight loss around the country”.

“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 road repeatedly, potentially causing a real risk to their safety,” he said.

He said in cases where the charity was unable to offer a guide dog partnership, it would try to find other solutions.

Essex Highways has apologised for the inconvenience caused to Mrs Parker and said the area was recently inspected.

It said it was looking into whether the vegetation fell under its jurisdiction or was on privately owned land.

“If the land is owned by us we will prioritise the matter accordingly, however, if the vegetation is from privately owned land it will be the landowner’s responsibility to cut it back,” it said.

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