A Clitheroe family is appealing the decision to take away their severely disabled son’s blue badge.
Charlie Ellis has severe autism and epilepsy. He is non-verbal and requires 24 hour care.
The teenager qualifies for the highest rate of the Personal Independence Payment, which has replaced the Disability Living Allowance, and has qualified for a disabled parking blue badge since being a youngster.
However, officers at the Department for Work and Pensions queried Charlie’s claim when he recently turned 16 – specifically the “getting around” element.
His mother Sam, (40), of Bleasdale Avenue, was forced to answer the question could her son walk if he didn’t have autism or epilepsy, and after reluctantly agreeing that he probably could, she was subsequently told, that although Charlie would still qualify for the higher rate PIP, he is no longer eligible for a blue badge.
Disgusted by this news, Sam, who local residents will recognise as the manager at Clitheroe’s Maxwell’s cafe/bar, has vowed to appeal the decision.
She has also contacted Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans asking for his help to change bureaucracy which she describes as “a ridiculous points system”.
“To ask to put his disabilities aside and ask if he could walk if he didn’t have those conditions is downright ludicrous,” said Sam, who explained that the symptoms of these conditions often floored her son.
“Some times Charlie has to use a wheelchair and he’s been particularly bad with his seizures for the past couple of weeks and he hasn’t been able to walk anywhere.
“That’s when we really need the blue badge.”
Former Ribblesdale High School pupil Sam, who also has a daughter Natalie (19) and a son Harry (17), added: “I’m not the most academic, but I can hold my own, but for those who struggle with forms, it makes me wonder how many others who deserve that higher rate PIP or DLA or blue badges just slip through the net.
“The whole system is wrong and I want to raise awareness about what’s happening.
“For children and adults like Charlie it’s not a case of just ticking a box.
“I don’t have much energy to fight, but I know I have to and do it for other people too.”
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has blasted the decision and is looking into Charlie’s case.
“Anyone with an ounce of compassion or common sense would give Charlie a blue badge,” said Mr Evans who added that he was being contacted more and more about such cases.
Mr Evans said that families such as the Ellises had enough on their plates without having to deal with this kind of bureaucracy.
Charlie, who is also looked after in the family home by his father Sean (47), a former Ribblesdale High School pupil who works at Ultraframe, has seizures on pretty much a daily basis even though he is on three different kinds of medication and had a Vegus nerve stimulator fitted 18 months ago.
A video, taken by his mum Sam, showing how Charlie’s walking is affected by his conditions and demonstrating his need for a blue badge, can be viewed here.
To support a petition to change the European Blue Badge criteria to include children and adults with autism visit: https://www.change.org/p/chief-executive-lancashire-county-council-change-the-european-blue-badge-criteria-to-include-children-and-adults-with-autism?recruiter=652807358&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=281483