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Campaigning disabled people miss Parliamentary lobbying - due to access problems on Tube

PUBLISHED: 08:25 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:59 17 October 2019

Disabled people missed a parliamentary lobby in London because of access problems on the Tube. Pic: Emma Corlett.

Disabled people missed a parliamentary lobby in London because of access problems on the Tube. Pic: Emma Corlett.

Emma Corlett

A group of disabled people from Norfolk headed to London to lobby for better support - only for some of them to miss the event because of access problems on the Tube.

Disabled people and their families affected by Norfolk County Council's new care charges lobbied at Westminister on Wednesday. Photo: Emma CorlettDisabled people and their families affected by Norfolk County Council's new care charges lobbied at Westminister on Wednesday. Photo: Emma Corlett

People from Norwich and King's Lynn went to London to attend the lobbying session organised by Norwich South MP Clive Lewis.

But two of the group, who live in Norwich, missed the session because the lift at Westminster station had been broken for more than a week, while they were unable to get off the Tube at Green Park due to the gap from the train to the platform being too wide for their wheelchairs.

They ended up trapped on a train to Wembley Park before they could make their way back and ended up missing the lobbying session.
They were still able to join a meeting which Mr Lewis had set up with minister Caroline Dinenage.

Labour county councillor Emma Corlett, who had accompanied them to the capital, said: "It was ridiculous and demonstrates just how difficult it can be for disabled people.

"What's really upsetting is that we'd checked for advice at Stratford and they'd said everything was in order, when that lift at Westminster had been broken for two weeks."

Around 20 people met Mr Lewis and North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham to tell them how a decision by Norfolk County Council to increase their care costs was leading to financial hardship.

In January the council voted to save £4m by reducing the weekly allowance disabled people get.

It means about 1,000 people are having to pay more for care and 1,400 are paying for care for the first time.

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The council said the changes would bring Norfolk in line with other authorities.

But those affected said it is driving them into hardship.

Sara Heath's charges have gone from nothing to £31 a week and next year they will double, dramatically changing her life, according to her mum Marilyn.

The 23-year old from Horstead has severe learning difficulties

"I have been helping her out but I cannot make up this amount," said Mrs Heath, 67, who was at Wednesday's meeting.

"The increase will mean we will be more isolated. I will have to make decisions between meeting her friends and eating and heating.

"It is an appalling situation for all of us. I want her to have some sort of life."

The changes reduce disabled people's income to the smallest amount they can get which is set by the government.

Mr Lewis said: "We are really concerned that the county council and government are blaming each other for this.

"We want to find out who is responsible and we want to make sure the care minister (Caroline Dinenage) understands the full level of struggle and deprivation that will occur."

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