Wheelchair-bound war veteran Lee Norris claims he is like a prisoner in his own home after a housing association installed wooden bollards outside his bungalow.
The former soldier, whose left leg is amputated from below the thigh, is furious that he is unable to access the front of his property, but is also unhappy that Roddons Housing have failed to follow through on their promise to adapt his bungalow for wheelchair use.
Lee who served in the army for around eight years, and fought in conflict, moved into his one-bedroom bungalow on Main Road, Parson Drove, three years ago. And he claims that at the time Roddons, who own the property, acknowledged it was not suitable for a wheelchair user but said they would carry out necessary adaptations but that could take up to a year.
Three years later and Lee still can’t use his front door because there are steps into and out of the house, the bathroom is so small he has to reverse out as there is not enough room to turn his wheelchair round. There is only a bath, which Lee has to hop in and out of and the kitchen worktops are at normal height making it hazardous for Lee to reach.
Now Roddons have converted the front garden area in front of the terrace of bungalows into a car park and have installed wooden bollards as part of the scheme.
“They put in a dropped slope, and I thought great, then I went away for a couple of weeks for a holiday and came back to find the bollards had been installed. Now I can’t use the path in front of the bungalow because the bollards make it impossible to negotiate in my motorised vehicle.
“The paths are really narrow anyway and are tricky for me to manoeuvre round, but the bollards are the final straw, “ said Lee, who believes that unless something is done he will be forced to move into supported accommodation run by the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association. And if he is forced to move there he will have to give up his beloved pet dog Lucy.
“I don’t really want to move, but I feel that unless they make the bungalow wheelchair friendly, I don’t have much choice. And the thought of having to give up my dog is heartbreaking,” said Lee, who has previously received the Royale Humane Society’s certificate for saving a life. He has also worked in an orphanage in Africa.
Jenny Hodson, Managing Director, Roddons, said: “Before Mr Norris accepted his property, we made it clear to him that we had adapted properties which would be more suitable for him and would not look to fund the major adaptation of this property. Since then, we have carried out three assessments to see if he can live safely and independently in his home. After the last assessment, we wrote to Mr Norris recommending that he work with us to find an already adapted property. In 2011 we did offer Mr Norris a fully adapted bungalow, but he turned this down.
“Roddons has a limited resource for funding major adaptations in our customers’ homes. It would not be responsible of us to complete major adaptations to properties where we know we have adapted properties elsewhere. We are keen to assist Mr Norris in whatever way we can to find a more suitable property.”