Highgate pensioner fears for health after council takes away her blue badge

A Highgate pensioner who is totally dependent on her car after gruelling radiotherapy left her struggling to carry her bags says she fears she could become permanently disabled because the council has refused to grant her the parking permit she needs.

Betty Fox, 79, of Whittington Close, Aylmer Road, used to have a blue badge to park close to shops because cancer treatment left her with such pain in her arms that she cannot carry shopping more than a few steps. But after three years Haringey Council refused to renew the badge although Ms Fox’s condition had not changed.

Now every trip to the shops without the blue badge exacerbates the pain caused by a double mastectomy and radiotherapy years ago, leaving her in agony for a week afterwards.

The pensioner says doctors have warned her that if she continues to carry bags long distances she could develop lymphoedema, a permanent condition which would disable her arms completely.

Ms Fox, who lives alone and does not have the strength to use a trolley, said: “I’m worried that I’m going to get really ill, I’ve already lost quite a lot of weight.” Haringey Council advised her that if she had the permanent disabling condition lymphoedema they would grant her the blue badge, but not without it, she said. To assess her need in February 2010 they asked her to walk around a room but did not assess her ability to carry bags. Since then she has appealed unsuccessfully twice and has had her case rejected by a local government ombudsman, leaving her with fears for the future.

“If I got lymphoedema I might as well be dead. It would destroy my independence,” said Ms Fox. Lymphoedema would mean Ms Fox would lose the use of her arms. “I do not want to have a carer,” she said, “I just want the badge back and to get on with my life.” Hornsey MP Lynne Featherstone said: “This is a dreadful case. There was no justification for taking the badge away in the first place, and Haringey council’s tick box approach to giving out permits is frankly ridiculous.”

A Haringey Council spokeswoman said its policy was to issue blue badges in line with national guidelines and Ms Fox did not meet the mobility criteria they use. She said: “Whilst we regret we could not issue Ms Fox a blue badge, it is our duty to ensure equity of assessment and that only those applicants who meet the legislative criteria are issued with blue badges.”