Blind Sidmouth pensioner - seriously injured in fall - pleas for repairs to lane
- Credit: Archant
‘It’s getting to the stage where I do not want to go out of the house’
A registered blind woman has been left permanently scarred and afraid to leave her house after falling in what she has branded a ‘dangerous’ access lane.
Jennifer James, of Barrington Mead, was knocked unconscious and hospitalised by the ‘terrifying’ ordeal a fortnight ago. She is now calling on someone to take responsibility for resurfacing the public footpath before anybody else is hurt, or killed.
Jennifer, 68, has accused developer Blue Cedar Homes – responsible for the adjoining new housing complex - of just ‘walking away’ after residents refused the company’s request for householders to contribute ‘thousands of pounds’ towards maintenance of the lane.
Devon County Council (DCC) says the route satisfies its ‘public rights of way’ safety criteria.
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Jennifer is partially sighted and was returning home with her guide dog, Lindley, when she fell on the road - which provides the only access to her house. She suffered serious injuries to her face and was taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for treatment.
Jennifer said: “It was terrifying - I was unconscious and the people that found me said Lindley was trying to lick my face and get me up. A young man came along and phoned the ambulance and then stayed at the end of the road and directed them in. I have fallen three times and I have also picked people up before. No-one will take responsibility for the road. It’s getting to the stage where I do not want to go out of the house. Blue Cedar Homes wanted us all to pay towards doing their road up. Why should we pay for a road with public access? They were asking for thousands of pounds from each of us.”
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Jennifer added that she does not want compensation, but feels Blue Cedar has a responsibility to the community to resurface the road and make it safe for all residents – many of whom are elderly.
A spokesman for Blue Cedar Homes said the company had not received reports of any falls, adding: “A programme of repair works were completed earlier in 2016, following completion of the adjoining development site. The owners of Barrington Mead declined to contribute towards the upkeep of the lane, but the opportunity to do so very much remains open to them.”
A DCC spokesman said that the route was recorded as a public footpath last month following a public inquiry. He added that it also acts as a private access road for all the adjoining houses.
“No issues were raised at the public inquiry about the route’s physical condition and it is taken that the public have used and accepted that condition as the status quo for many years,” said the spokesman. “It more than satisfies our Public Rights Of Way condition criteria and there are no ‘class one’ safety defects that would meet our policy for this status of highway.”