Exclusion fears over elderly's access to Haverstock Hill consultation
- Credit: Anne Ward
Concerns have been raised over elderly residents’ access to the Haverstock Hill cycle lanes consultation.
Anne Ward, 81, said pensioners were “excluded” from the online-led consultation as they had to request a physical version, and that notification of the public’s opportunity to voice their opinion was unclear and misunderstood.
The chair of the 5-7 Belsize Grove Tenants and Leaseholders Association said elderly residents unable to use the computer were left to call the main switchboard of the council, whose staff didn’t know where to redirect their request.
Belsize councillor Tom Simon said it was “shameful” that some residents were being “disenfranchised”.
The town hall said when concerns were raised it ensured all call centre staff knew how to deal with requests for physical copies of the consultation, which closed on Sunday (March 14).
Anne, who worked in market research, told the Ham&High: “It has been nigh impossible to get hold of paper questionnaires.
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“A lot of older people are not on the internet and I'm very concerned that effectively this consultation has only been available to people on the internet.
“We have experienced enormous difficulty in accessing paper copies.”
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Cllr Simon (Lib Dem) said: “There is no excuse for messing these things up.
“There remains a small but significant number of residents who are not online, who tend to be elderly.
“They have every right to have their say in consultations.
“It is shameful that some people seem to have been disenfranchised by the council's incompetence.”
A Camden Council spokesperson said: “The council’s approach for public consultations on its transport schemes is to deliver a postcard to all addresses within the project area with details of the proposed changes, how the online consultation can be accessed or a paper version of the consultation requested by telephone via the council’s contact centre.
“Residents can then request a paper copy to be posted to their address or emailed to them directly.
“In early March it was noted that a small number of residents were having difficulties when calling to request a paper version and we ensured that all contact centre staff knew the correct procedure to enable residents to request a copy in their preferred format with time to complete and return. Information was also relayed via a ward member who had raised this on one resident’s behalf.”