Anger at ‘offensive’ memo attached to deaf woman’s letter from council

A MOTHER and daughter from Colerne are angry and upset after receiving a letter from Wiltshire Council with an offensive memo attached to their claim for a free bus pass.

Deborah Hext, who is deaf and has osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis, had applied for the pass for her carer, her 24-year-old daughter Anna.

When Mrs Hext opened the response last month at her home in Martinscroft, she discovered a memo attached to the letter implying that she was not actually deaf.

The memo had been written by a council employee who had had a telephone conversation with Mrs Hext, who uses a specially adapted phone so she can make and receive calls.

Disappointed with the lack of compassion and disability awareness, Miss Hext put a post on Facebook which has since been shared nearly 800 times.

“I was so angry,” she said. “My mum was just upset; it has been such a long process for us to get any help whatsoever with her care and it almost normalised the way she was being treated. She is deaf and has mobility problems and needs a carer because she cannot hear what the bus driver is saying.

“In March, through the new PIP system, they took away my mum’s mobility car. We live in Colerne, where there are not the best transport links.

“I posted the letter on Facebook – my mum was quite shocked with the response, whereas I wasn’t. I was upset, though, by the amount of comments from people saying they have been in a similar position and I imagine a lot of people don’t have the same support network behind them. It was lovely to see the support for us, though.”

The Facebook post received lots of attention from people all over the country and Cllr Jerry Wickham, cabinet member for adult services, brought it to the attention of the council.

The Hexts were told that the memo had been attached to the letter by accident.

“The only real apology we have had is that the note should not have got to us,” Miss Hext added. “Not that the note shouldn’t have been written, just that it shouldn’t have got to us. They are happy to pay me to be mum’s carer, but we have had to fight to get me on the bus pass – they need to work on the system.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We have spoken to Mrs Hext and apologised to her and her family for any distress caused. We value all of our residents and endeavour to treat everybody equally, however we accept we have not met these high standards on this occasion.

“A full investigation has been carried out and measures, including retraining, have been put in place to avoid this happening again.”

The Hexts have now been contacted by a charity to help them appeal their PIP claim for a mobility car.


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