Disabled car club founder told he needs permit to take scooter on bus
PUBLISHED: 13:39 24 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:27 24 June 2019
A man who founded a club for disabled racing drivers has said he was "shocked and surprised" when he was told he would need a permit to take his mobility scooter on the local bus.
Patrick Ward, of Sterlet Grove, Mulbarton, was taking his regular number 37A bus to Norwich for a haircut and to view potential work spaces for the club's planned disabled racing team, when he was told he couldn't board the bus because he didn't have a permit for his mobility scooter.
He says the bus driver told Mr Ward he was no longer able to go on the bus with his scooter, despite six years of regular journeys as the company was "tightening up regulation".
Mr Ward, who lost his ability to drive when he contracted sepsis as the result of an insect bite, attempted to contact route operators First to book the required test to get a permit, however he says he keeps being redirected back to the government website.
Despite now aranging a test, Mr Ward says he was told by the operator that even with the pass, entrance to the bus was at the "driver's discretion" and that his permit could take 28 days to arrive.
The car club founder accused First of "discrimination between classes of disability" as a permit was not required for those using powered wheelchairs and walkers. Mr Ward said he felt "mentally exhausted" and added he had lost his independence as a result, leaving him "struggling at home".
A First spokesperson said Mr Ward had been sent a form for a permit and added he had given the company his availability to undertake a test at his local bus stop.
The spokesman said that while Mr Ward would be guarenteed a space if the docking bay was empty, in times when the bay was full he would have to wait for the next bus as scooters are classed as an "aid rather than an essential".
The spokesman confirmed Mr Ward would not be able to use the bus whilst his application was being processed, however added most cases are "normally done in a week".