A FRAIL widower fears being kept prisoner in his own home for the rest of his life because a passage outside his bungalow is too narrow for his mobility scooter to get through.
Arthur Bloomfield’s son-in-law, Robert Smallman, fears the 83-year-old will die before East Durham Homes widen the gap in the fence outside his Jubilee Square home in South Hetton.
Mr Bloomfield’s only exit from the property is via a rear door, but instead of being able to ride straight on to the road, he is faced with a 12-inch gap between the fence and a drainpipe, which is impossible to squeeze through.
This means he has to undertake a detour.
Widower Mr Bloomfield has to navigate an obstacle course of mud and raised drains, riding his scooter across a grassed field and around the back of other properties before he is able to reach the road.
“That’s OK if it is dry,” Mr Smallman said. “But it gets very muddy and bad at the back of the bungalows, and when it snows it’s also very dangerous. There is no other door, so he has no choice but to go the way he does. It also has a raised drain which he has fallen over.
“I would say he is a prisoner in his own home,” Mr Smallman added. “Is my father-in-law going to die before something gets done?”
Retired railway worker Mr Bloomfield has been fighting with the help of Mr Smallman ever since he moved into the property four years ago, but he says East Durham Homes have done nothing about it.
“I am not asking for it all to be pulled down, just enough to get my scooter through,” Mr Smallman said.
“At the moment it’s like giving him sweets with one hand and taking it back with the other, and it is not fair.”
A spokeswoman for East Durham Homes said: “East Durham Homes has visited the property to try and find a solution and investigated whether a new access path could be created and if permission could be granted for this.
“We estimated how much any works would cost, but as they were not a repair or an adaptation, there was no funding available to carry this out.
“On further consideration, even if the gap in the fence was widened or a gate installed, Mr Bloomfield would still have to drive over a grassed area to get access to the front of the property so it was decided not to carry this out.”