Wheelchair patient marooned by roadworks

Don Rosewall has heart and back problems, he believes his house at Dunstall Farm Road has been effectively cut off. Pic Steve Robards
Don Rosewall has heart and back problems, he believes his house at Dunstall Farm Road has been effectively cut off. Pic Steve Robards

A Burgess Hill wheelchair user with heart problems was marooned in his home by re-surfacing works that prevented a nurse from reaching him.

Don Rosewell, aged 56, who has a number of serious health problems said: “I might as well have been one of the people on the Somerset Levels. The only difference is, I was marooned by roadworks and they were marooned by water.”

A district nurse due to visit Mr Rosewell on Tuesday (February 4) did not think she would be able to get through to his home at first because two access roads leading to his close, St Mary’s Road and Dunstall Avenue, were being re-surfaced at the same time.

Before being helped through the roadworks by a gateman, the nurse telephoned Mr Rosewell to say she was stranded and Mr Rosewell, who lives in Dunstall Farm Road, contacted West Sussex County Council as a matter of urgency to explain the situation, but was put through to someone’s voicemail.

As the minutes ticked away, an exhasperated Mr Rosewell asked to speak to the director of highways but was given a message via his PA to ‘put his complaint in writing’.

“This has made me so angry,” said Mr Rosewell. “What if I had collapsed and an ambulance had needed to get through or my house had been burning down? There’s a health and safety issue here.

“I had to hang on the phone at my expense and wasn’t even allowed to speak to the head of highways. I couldn’t even speak to his PA. I was just given a message via the receptionist.

“Telling me to ‘put my complaint in writing’ was such a callous response - it was atrocious.”

Before the two-day re-surfacing work began on Tuesday, Mr Rosewell, who is also an amputee with chronic back problems, had been informed in two separate letters, one concerning the work in St Mary’s Road and the other concerning the work in Dunstall Avenue, that ‘Access to your property will be maintained where possible’.

Mr Rosewell said: “Clearly, it wasn’t possible! On the letters there was no mobile number of a site foreman to ring in an emergency and to get two separate letters notifying me and all the other residents of the works was also a total waste of money.”

Eventually, the nurse did get through to Mr Rosewell to take some vital blood samples but she had to speak to a site gateman who let her through.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “We have investigated this matter with our contractor. The nurse spoke to the gateman at the point of the road closure who allowed her access when she explained where she needed to go.

“He advised her to travel slowly through the works and suggested that she exit from the other end of the site to avoid the resurfacing plant. She was briefly delayed by further works as she progressed through the site.

“At all times this lady was dealt with promptly and politely and it was never suggested that she would not be able to reach her destination.

“If emergency vehicles ever needed to gain access to a property within a working site, even if a road closure is in place, this access is immediately granted.”

The spokesman did not comment on Mr Rosewell’s anger over being told to put his complaint ‘in writing’.