St Albans man's fight for compensation over mobility scooter shed

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

Fred Banagan

Fred Banagan

A DISABLED man faces a court battle to claim back the money he spent on installing a mobility scooter shed which the district council was asked to provide for him. Fred Banagan, of Jersey Farm, paid for the structure in his rear garden after over two year

A DISABLED man faces a court battle to claim back the money he spent on installing a mobility scooter shed which the district council was asked to provide for him.

Fred Banagan, of Jersey Farm, paid for the structure in his rear garden after over two years of wrangling with the council over where it should be positioned.

The court action is being backed by his local ward councillor Geoff Churchard.

Badly injured in 2001 Mr Banagan, now aged 48, was forced to move in with his mother in 2006 after his mobility deteriorated so much that he couldn't look after himself while his wife Vivian was at work.

After 16 months, Adult Care Services assessed his needs and asked the district council to make essential alterations to his Newgate Close maisonette.

They included a waterproof shed in the garden to house his mobility scooter along with a concrete path along the side of his property and a gate into the garden for access.

But when a surveyor for the district council visited Mr Banagan, he allegedly said the proposal was too costly and decided to build a metal shed at the front of his home instead.

Work started to lay the concrete base but Mr Banagan grew concerned that the structure would cover three stopcocks belonging to Three Valleys Water, now owned by Veolia.

When he contacted the company it confirmed it hadn't been consulted and said permission would not have been given to cover the stopcocks. Instead, the council needed to pay to move them at a cost thought to be at least £600 for each.

The council eventually agreed that the shed should go in the garden and laid the concrete path.

It was during this work that Mr Banagan said he made a flippant remark about how he would have paid for the shed if he had known the trouble it would cause.

He maintained that the council held him to his comment and he was forced to take out a doorstep loan to pay for a wooden shed structure and additional alterations to the garden.

The concrete laid at the front of the property by the council also had to be dug up as water was failing to drain, causing severe plumbing problems and mould to grow.

The total cost to Mr Banagan, who survives on benefits, was about £600 and £400 in interest, which he is now trying to claim back. The council offered £200 which he rejected.

He said: "I'm very frustrated about the way I've been treated. I feel very let down. What the council were proposing was not feasible because the stopcocks needed to be moved, which would have cost taxpayers more money."

He believes the council's first proposal would have cost more than £4,500 compared to a cost of £2,700 for the work he wanted.

Cllr Churchard said: "I really can't believe the decisions that have been made about this and the hassle that Fred has had to put up with - he has been badly let down."

He continued: "I think the council should revise their offer otherwise I will be joining Fred in court. I don't like having to go against the council as I am a member of it, but when it's not doing what is should be and not treading a disabled resident in the way it should be, I don't think I have any option."

A council spokesperson said: "We have met with Mr Banagan and in order to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion we have offered a goodwill gesture of £200 which Mr Banagan has rejected."

Veolia Water Three Valleys will provide a witness at any court case. A spokesperson said: "This is the proper legal process which we are obliged to follow in order to maintain our impartiality in matters of this kind.

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