Hitchin stroke victim in mobility scooter can’t get into toilets for disabled users

Mr Ken Burton cant gain access to public toilets in Hitchin.

Mr Ken Burton cant gain access to public toilets in Hitchin. - Credit: Archant

A former lollipop man who has to use a mobility scooter after suffering a stroke has been told there is no money for changes to be made to the doors of toilets for disabled people in Hitchin town centre – even though he’s disabled, and he can’t get in them.

Pensioner Ken Burton, 85, helped pupils at Strathmore Infant and Nursery School cross the road safely before retiring in 2013.

He said: “I use a mobility scooter because I don’t have any feeling in my right arm or leg after my stroke – but it’s impossible to access public toilets in The Arcade due to the way they have been built.

“The doors are stiff when you try and open them but when I go to use my good arm to work the scooter the door simply flies shut again. It’s terrible.

“This lack of access sometimes stops me from coming into town.

“It would be great if the authorities could find some money to have new doors or even new locks installed which would be user-friendly for wheelchairs – similar to the ones they have in certain banks where you simply push a large button and the doors open without fuss.

“I’ve talked to Hitchin MP Peter Lilley who then involved the Department of Transport who said they couldn’t intervene.

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“I then wrote to North Herts District Council who said they didn’t have any money to change anything.

“It’s so frustrating as this isn’t just about me – I’m sure there are a lot of other wheelchair users and those who use mobility scooters in Hitchin who find the lack of access hard to take.”

North Herts District Council’s waste contracts manager Chris Carvell said: “I have investigated Mr Burton’s request for electric opening mechanisms to be installed at The Arcade with our contractor.

“Unfortunately, the cost is beyond the council’s budget.

“I can confirm a sign informing users about fully opening the door to allow the closing mechanisms to operate has been installed.”

A spokesman for disability charity Scope said: “Disabled people should have the same opportunities as everyone else.”

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