Injured motorcyclist speaks out about pothole and blue badge row with Essex County Council

John Michaels with the potholes

John Michaels with the potholes - Credit: Archant

An injured motorcyclist who is confined to a wheelchair has spoken out about his frustration with Essex County Council.

John Michaels, of Flitch Way, Great Dunmow, was in his first motorbike accident in 25 years when he collided with a car at a junction by Hatfield Heath Common last August.

The crash caused him to black out, break every bone in his leg, and in his own words, his “foot almost fell off ”.

Because of this, John, 43, has a metal frame attached to his leg to try and heal the ankle and cannot walk more than 100 metres without a wheelchair or mobility scooter.

There is a possibility John will never walk unaided again, but doctors will review his progress in eight months time.

John is frustrated not only because the blue disabled parking badge he applied for has been refused because his injury is “temporary”, but because the council said potholes outside his house were not bad enough to fix.

The two combined have rid him of independence, John says – although he can drive his automatic, he cannot park because he cannot open the door to get out of the car without a disabled space.

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If he wanted to get in without a car, his scooter and chair wheels get stuck in the holes on nearby Chelmsford Road and he is forced to avoid them by going around and into the road.

He said: “I’m taking my life into my own hands every time I go to town.

“It’s taken away my independence, I can’t go on my own anywhere. My neighbours, friends and family have been very supportive, but it’s a burden on them.

“It’s frustrating because after 20 years of paying tax we have never asked for help, and suddenly when I ask they say no.”

November was the first time John contacted the council about the potholes, but said he only got a response after several attempts

and when MPs had been copied in.

John is generally positive about his injury however, and always tries to see the silver linings and “not get himself down”.

He said: “I don’t have any malice towards the guy in the car because accidents happen, what I am finding frustrating is the lack of help from the council.

“I never realised potholes were a problem until I was in a wheel-chair – it’s very scary trying to negotiate that part of the road.”

Essex Highways would not comment on individual cases with regards to the blue badge, but it directed the Broadcast to the eligibility criteria, which says a discretionary blue badge – not an automatic one granted to someone with a permanent disability for example – is awarded when the person drives “a vehicle regularly and has a severe disability in both arms”.

Speaking on the potholes, a spokesman said: “An inspector visited the site last week and although there is some surface deterioration it is not deep and the area is avoidable, so it does not meet our criteria for immediate repair.”