Thursday, 9 July 2009

Monday 6 July 2009

It’s often said that “The Law is an Ass” and nothing could be truer based on recent changes in legislation that potentially effect hundreds of thousands of disabled people, and those with mobility problems. I’m referring of course to the decision to change the tax arrangements for mobility scooters – the battery-powered chairs that you often see elderly and disabled people using to go along the pavement or round supermarkets – and class them as ordinary vehicles, in the same league as expensive cars and event F1 Grand Prix cars. Someone in Governemnt has obviously little or no sense, as there is a world of difference between a petrol-powered car with a top speed of hundreds of miles per hour, and a range of several hundred miles, and an electric scooter with a top speed of around 6 miles per hour, and enough battery power to get you to the shops and back!

I never cease to wonder at the lack of common sense amongst those governing this country, and the lip service that is paid to the needs of disabled people. All sorts of rights are enshrined in legislation, and even though government departments trumpet their commitment to equality of opportunity and access for all, the reality is very different. I can think of many visits to JobCentre Plus offices, where access has been via flights of stairs and where doorways have been too narrow for a wheelchair to pass through, or where there is insufficient seating for elderly and sick people to rest, let alone space for a mobility scooter!

Fortunately, Elizabeth Finn Care seems to have come to the rescue! With some high level support from people such as Professor Stephen Hawking there has been a well-publicised campaign to reverse these taxation changes for mobility scooters, so let’s hope that a victory is on the cards. It seems an obscenity to slap taxes on low-powered scooters that can make the difference between a disabled person being trapped in their home, or having a bit of freedom to go shopping, visit friends down the road, or simply get some fresh air… The things that able-bodied people, especially Government Ministers and civil servants, take for granted!

Like millions of other people I have been enjoying the thrills of Wimbledon over the past week or so, and was full of excitement as the prospect of Andy Murray making it to the Men’s finals drew nearer. Sadly this was not to be, but the men’s final turned out to be spell-binding, with epithets such as “epic” and “monumental” being bandied around by the commentators. It’s at times like this that I have cause to be thankful for the delights of BBC Radio 5 Live, who provided magnificent coverage and superb entertainment. Since losing my sight a couple of years ago I’ve really come to appreciate the joys of radio sports coverage, as obviously TV commentators assume that everyone can see what is happening. As is often said, radio has the best pictures!

I’m not knocking the consummate skill and artistry of Roger Federer or the Williams sisters, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit of a change next year and see some fresh new faces? But I guess that is as likely as Manchester United and Chelsea not being at the top of the Premier League!

Alex Scott