Council apologises to Plaistow pensioner with no internet after she was told to book waste collection online
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 April 2019
A partially sighted pensioner has won an apology after she was told to book a bulky waste collection online even though she can't see to use the internet.
Bee Macfarlane of Selwyn Road, Plaistow, was clearing out old furniture and wanted to arrange a bulky waste collection from Newham Council.
But when she called them she was told to book online even though the 77-year-old cannot use the internet because of her sight loss.
Bee said: “I couldn’t get Newham Council to listen to me. They should be aware there are disabled people in their borough. I was not impressed.”
The retired West Ham Park keeper added a council officer suggested she ask a friend to help, but Bee said most had died and the one remaining is dyslexic.
And she has been waiting for four months to hear back about her application to Newham for a carer.
A Newham Council spokesman said: “We are really sorry about what happened and apologised.
“We have procedures in place to ensure callers who are vulnerable or have support needs, get full assistance over the telephone.
“This did not happen here and we are looking at the reasons why. Our contact centre staff have been reminded of their responsibilities.”
He added the bulky waste collection has been done and the council is looking at providing additional support.
Jane Caldwell – chief executive at Age UK East London – said: “Sadly, Bee’s experience is all too common.
“As more and more services are becoming only accessible online, older people who are already excluded from mainstream services become further disadvantaged.
“Those excluded by lack of access are last in the queue.”
By law, councils have to support residents living with a visual impairment and make sure services are accessible for all.
Royal National Institute of Blind People research found only one in three people with sight loss feel able to make the most of new technology.
Cathy Low, CEO of the charity London Vision, said: “It’s crucially important local authorities provide services that are accessible in their preferred formats.
“Moving services online to streamline council services risks excluding significant portions of the population, particularly blind and partially sighted and older people, who lack access to computers or computer literacy.”