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Hornchurch mum denied parking bay as severely disabled son doesn’t meet ‘national criteria’

14:25 27 February 2014

Pauline Henkel with her disabled son Ben

Pauline Henkel with her disabled son Ben

Archant

A mother whose son cannot walk and has the mental age of a toddler has been denied a disabled parking bay close to her home because Havering Council said her son does not meet the “national criteria”.

Instead Pauline Henkel, of Park Lane, Hornchurch, must struggle to find a space and must often cross the busy road where they live, pushing her severely disabled son in his wheelchair.

The 35-year-old cares for Ben, 13, who has a rare condition called chromosome 22 deletion syndrome which means he is unable to walk unsupported and must use a wheelchair most of the time.

Pauline, who has been given a blue badge due to her son’s disability, says she is often forced to park some distance from the house they have lived in for a year and must struggle down the busy, narrow and crowded road where “nobody stops for you”.

The chromosomal abnormality that Ben suffers with causes heart problems, “severe” learning difficulties as well as bone and muscle problems.

He has become very heavy for the mother-of-four to push but the council has said he doesn’t meet the ­requirements for a bay.

“I would like a parking bay but at first the council refused me because my son can’t drive,” said Pauline. “He’s 13 though and he never will [be able to] drive.”

At Ben’s last assessment, it was deemed that he had the mental capacity of an 18-month-old.

Cllr Steven Kelly, leader of the council, said: “It was made clear at the time we rehoused Mrs Henkel that there was no parking ­immediately outside the property, but there is space in the road for her to park safely, without having to cross a busy road with her son. Although it is always difficult to apply eligibility criteria to people, we must do so to ensure we are fair to all and Mrs Henkel’s son does not meet national criteria for a disabled bay.”

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