Campaign to repair ‘dangerous’ Wheathamsptead steps

Dangerous steps

Dangerous steps - Credit: Archant

CONCERNED elderly and disabled residents are campaigning for improvements to steps outside their homes which they regard as dangerous.

On more than one occasion, a resident of Offas Way in Wheathampstead has tripped down the concrrete access steps but attempts to get them improved have fallen on deaf ears.

There are 16 bungalows in Offas Way occupied by elderly, disabled or vulnerable people ranging in age from mid 60s to 90 and they have been pushing for improvements to be made to the access steps.

They were first constructed when the bungalows were built in the 1950s and while they were adequate at the time, they have deteriorated and residents believe they breach health and safety regulations.

The residents’ spokesman, Roy Rolf, whose wife Barbara, 78, suffered severe bruising after tripping down the steps, has been at the forefront of the campaign to get them improved.

He maintains that on eight points, they do not conform to health and safety regulations including the absence of a handrail on one side and the lack of a textured, non slip surface to aid the partially blind on the top and bottom steps.

A site meeting was held recently with a representative of county council contractors Ringway – after intervention by Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley – but the residents were told that legally there was nothing that needed doing.

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Roy, 79, said this week: “I can understand that they must have benchmarks to say that is sufficient but surely there has to be some moral obligation because these people are elderly and infirm.

“When the bungalows were built in the 1950s, they were fine but by modern safety standards, they are not.”

He went on: “There has been no mention of health and safety and on top of that, they totally ignore the fact that one form of disability is partial blindness and there is no provision for that. When it gets dark, the grey of the steps merge with each other.”

Roy said he had been told that if there was legislation, Ringway would have had to have done something about the steps but there were only guidelines.

Matthew Kelley, Ringway divisional manager working on behalf of the county council, said: “Highways engineers from Ringway have recently met with residents of Offas Way to discuss improvements they would like to see made to steps leading from the houses to the road. After inspecting the site, the engineers have determined there are no maintenance or safety concerns with the steps and are safe to use.”