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Disabled woman in Norwich left stranded after being refused access to bus

PUBLISHED: 11:32 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:55 06 September 2018

Margaret Dawson who was denied access to a First bus because of her wheelchair. Pictured with her husband Kevin. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Margaret Dawson who was denied access to a First bus because of her wheelchair. Pictured with her husband Kevin. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

A disabled woman from Norwich was left stranded after being denied access to a bus because of her wheelchair.

Margaret Dawson, 52, and her husband Kevin, 64, from Britannia Court in Norwich, were denied access on First buses, with drivers saying her wheelchair is a scooter and needs a permit.

Mrs Dawson is wheelchair bound as she suffers with a type of osteoporosis where spurs grow on her spine causing discomfort.

The couple’s bus problems began around one year ago after they bought a new wheelchair to give Mrs Dawson more independence.

Mr Dawson said: “Konectbus came and checked her wheelchair and confirmed that we don’t need a permit for it.

Margaret Dawson who was denied access to a First bus because of her wheelchair. Pictured with her husband Kevin. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMargaret Dawson who was denied access to a First bus because of her wheelchair. Pictured with her husband Kevin. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“The only route to go and see our daughter is on a First bus, the first three or four times it was fine, but one day we were allowed on the bus into Longwater and denied access on the way back.”

Mr Dawson added: “I can’t let my wife get on the bus on her own because I don’t know what would happen.

“She might be allowed to go one way and get stranded on the way back, that is a scary thought.”

Mrs Dawson emailed First nine weeks ago regarding the problems, but is yet to receive a reply. Konectbus had an assessment of the wheelchair done within one week of an email being sent.

Margaret Dawson who was denied access to a First bus because of her wheelchair. Pictured with her husband Kevin. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMargaret Dawson who was denied access to a First bus because of her wheelchair. Pictured with her husband Kevin. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties, said: “I am disappointed to hear that this matter has not been resolved until now, but I can assure the gentleman concerned that we will be in touch after I have concluded my investigation.

“To clarify, people using a standard design wheelchair do not require a permit to travel on the bus but people wanting to board using a scooter will have to apply and undertake a brief health and safety course to ensure they can safely manoeuvre a scooter onto and off the bus.”

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) launched a Code of Practice aimed at regularising the carriage of mobility scooters on buses.

The code sets out which models of scooter are allowed on buses and which are not, based on size.

Mr Speed said: “We need to ensure for the safety of everyone travelling with us that if the bus needed to be evacuated quickly, a person can do so independently without causing any obstruction to other passengers.”

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