A profoundly deaf elderly woman with mobility problems has become a “prisoner in her own home” in the last few years due to a set of steps in her road.
Catherine Carmichael (80) was in tears when she told The Falkirk Herald – through British Sign Language interpreter Paula Marshall – how she was getting nowhere trying to get someone to take action on the flight of steps at the end of Bonnyview Gardens, Bonnybridge.
Catherine, who has lived in the street for 16 years, said: “I have a problem with my legs and now, with those steps, I cannot get to the path in my scooter. I cannot go around the other side because Larbert Road is so narrow, with lamp posts that block your way and the pavements are so uneven.
“I also feel sorry for the mothers with their prams who have to go up and down those steps.”
When Catherine’s husband Ian (79), who is also profoundly deaf, is away and she does not have him to drive her, she admits she has become like a prisoner in her own home and does not get out and about as much as she used to.
“Ian’s my chauffeur and it’s a shame for him. This has taken away my independence. If he is away then I’m trapped here. I just sit and look out my window.”
The Carmichaels have been looking for someone to come forward and claim responsibility for the land the steps are located on and maybe consider the possibility of replacing the steps with some kind of ramp which would allow Catherine to get to the path without too much trouble.
Ian said: “In the past three years we have gone to Falkirk Council, our local councillor, MSP and MP and they could do nothing to help. That is why we came to The Falkirk Herald to tell people about it.”
The couple have even tried to convince neighbours at the end of the street to have some of their land converted into slope to allow better access to the pathway.
According to the Carmichaels, Falkirk Council told them the stretch of land the steps are on is not owned by them.
“They didn’t offer any advice at all,” said Catherine. “They said it was not their responsibilty and just passed it on.”
“We then went to our MP and MSP and they sent us back to the council,” added Ian. “The problem is we don’t actually know who the steps belong to.”
The couple thought their problem was solved because shortly after talking to The Falkirk Herald, with help from interpreter Paula, they were able to discover the land the steps are on could be a “ransom strip” – a term for a piece of land that must be crossed to enable adjoining land to be developed – which the couple believed was owned by Douglas Kynoch, who lives in their very street.
However, Mr Kynoch said: “It doesn’t surprise me why they would think I own it, because my grandad owned a lot of land, but I don’t actually own it. I told them, if I did own it, I would have no objection to the council or anyone replacing the steps with a ramp.
“I don’t own it though – it’s not on any of the deeds.”