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A Cheshire East Council officer rang a 94-year-old deaf and blind woman asking her to read out details for her new disability badge – even though the council itself had certified her blind, writes Belinda Ryan.

The council has apologised for the blunder which left Hilda Bates distressed and embarrassed because she was unable to provide the answers.

Her son, former councillor Paul Bates, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) his mother already has a disability badge but it was due for renewal.

Her circumstances had changed because previously she was sight impaired but now she is classified as blind.

“It’s Cheshire East who did the tests on her and it’s Cheshire East who have sent her the paperwork and a card which says she’s actually blind,” said Mr Bates.

“There should be a signposting process at the council that says, if you come up against this, you do that, as opposed to – this woman’s circumstances have changed, she’s now classified as blind, we’ll give her a ring and ask her to read her details to us over the phone!”

The former Cheshire East cabinet member said he later spoke to the officer who had phoned his mother.

“I said ‘you’ve rung a deaf and blind person to ask them for more information, do you not get the irony here’?

“And you’re asking her for information which has actually been issued by Cheshire East. It’s Cheshire East that certified my mum blind.

“You’ve rung a blind and deaf person and you’re asking them to do your job for you.”

At that, he says, the officer put the phone down.

“It’s just bizarre they’re ringing deaf and blind people and asking them to provide information which deaf and blind people can’t possibly do,” added Mr Bates.

He added he had nothing but praise for other council departments who had helped his mother and that they contacted him in advance because of her disabilities.

A Cheshire East Council spokesperson said: “The council receives a large number of applications for a parking blue badge and each one is checked against the information provided by the customer.

“Wherever possible we also check information already held by the council.

“In this instance that check was not complete, and the council’s blue badge team was not fully aware of all the customer’s personal circumstances.

“We apologise for the distress this has clearly caused. We are continually striving to improve and will learn from this experience.”

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