Disabled residents have been banned from driving their mobility scooters in a community centre – because of health and safety fears.
The Class Three scooters are no longer allowed inside Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre despite having a top speed of 8mph.
The £50 million complex in Stoke-on-Trent includes a community centre, library, pharmacy and cafe.
Bosses introduced the scooter ban claiming healthy and safety reasons after a number of near misses and one incident of an elderly woman being run over.
But disabled residents have blasted the decision and labelled the ban a “big inconvenience”.
Scooter rider Dennis Webster, 84, who lives nearby, said: “Now you have to park outside the centre and tell the staff where you want to go.
“Then they push you in a wheelchair.
“It bothers me because you have independence on a scooter and having to have someone push you around isn’t the same.
“It is the way things are going with health and safety. A lot of people are complaining.”
Fellow scooter rider Brian Meredith, 68, from Bentilee, added: “People on scooters need to be careful, there’s some weight behind one of those.
“But there doesn’t need to be a blanket ban.”
A sign has now been placed outside the centre explaining the rules about the scooter ban which it says is “for the healthy safety of all our visitors and staff”.
It adds: “No road worthy (Class 3) scooters allowed inside, please park outside.
“If you have specific mobility needs please contact the service ahead of your visit.
“Class 2 scooters take UTMOST CARE and drive VERY slowly, consider other customers and staff.
“Please take care when reversing / leaving or accessing the building on external grounds and paths.
“Please do not charge from the centre’s electrical sockets.”
Other residents who use the centre have also hit out at the ban and said it will stop scooter users having full access to the facilities.
Patrick Harvey, 67, from nearby Longton, said: “This decision is a bit odd and very inconvenient.
“This centre provides a service to the sort of people who will use mobility scooters.
“It’s annoying from an access point of view.
“Some facilities may be off limits for people because of this.”
Karen Tunnicliff, 57, from Hanford, Stoke-on-Trent, added: “There should be access everywhere for the elderly.
“When I had young children, I wouldn’t go in a place unless it was child friendly and it’s a similar situation with this.
“You can’t always get someone to push you.
“There needs to be a safe and secure place where people can park their scooters.
“I know there is an aspect of health and safety but then they should alter the building, not the people, so it does not cause a problem.”
Mobility scooter traders also believe the ban will cause confusion with one type of scooter being banned but not the other.
Sharon Kirkham, 51, who is the manager of Total Mobility Care in Stoke-on-Trent, said: “The difference between them is that Class 2 scooters can only be used on pavements not roads.
“Class 3 scooters have lights and indicators, go up to 8mph and can be used on roads. They sometimes have number plates.
“My advice to scooter users is to keep the speed down, don’t get distracted and appreciate that there are other people around.
“I think it should be compulsory to have insurance, in case somebody is injured.”
The centre is run by Pinnacle PSG and is the base for services provided by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the NHS.
A council spokesman said: “Large roadworthy (Class 3) mobility vehicles are no longer allowed inside Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre.
“This decision has been made by all tenants at the centre.
“The neighbourhood centre was not designed to accommodate Class 3 mobility vehicles and, following a number of recent safety incidents involving staff and visitors – including one in which an elderly woman was knocked over – a decision was made based on guidelines in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
“We appreciate the difficulties this may pose for some people but the health and safety of all visitors has to be our top priority.
“Staff are more than happy to aid anyone visiting Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre, and wheelchairs can be borrowed for use on site if we are given prior notice.
“People with a Class 3 mobility vehicle who will now need mobility assistance inside the centre are asked to contact staff to arrange further assistance.”