Access denied for Jack

A LEGLESS Exmouth man is distraught after being told he cannot visit the club where he is a member, because it can t afford disabled facilities.

A LEGLESS Exmouth man is distraught after being told he cannot visit the club where he is a member, because it can't afford disabled facilities.

Jack Hutchinson, of Roseway, would regularly visit the town's Conservative Club, in The Parade, since becoming a member in 1979, to meet friends and have a drink.

The 64-year-old, however, had both his legs amputated at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital last year after developing blood circulation problems.

Once he had been discharged from hospital and was well enough to go back, Jack, a former chairman of the club, found out he could no longer visit.

Now registered disabled, he was told the club lacked the facilities to accommodate him and could not afford to buy the required equipment.

Jack appealed but was sent a letter, which pointed out there would be no change to the decision.

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His wife, Christine, 60, who cares for her husband full-time, said: "That's his place. It's where all his friends go and it has taken a large part of enjoyment out of his life.

"He has done a lot for the Conservative Club and they have let him down."

Jack, who now uses a wheelchair, said inside the building there were stairs beneath the access points to the bar and toilets.

He said all that needed doing was a small ramp putting in place so he could move to those areas.

But, Ivor Pike, secretary for the Conservative Club, explained more was needed to accommodate disabled people.

He said the club could not afford the cost of installing specialised disabled equipment.

Mr Pike said: "I have been exploring all avenues open to me to try find a solution, especially bearing in mind the length of Jack's membership and past service.

"The cost is far above the club's financial resources and so it is unfortunately my task to advise that there are no plans at this time to install specialised equipment such as chairlifts and toilet facilities for the disabled."

The Conservative Club, whose president is East Devon MP Hugo Swire, has more than 400 members, and charges a typical �15 subscription rate to people who wish to join.

Christine said: "I want to know where their money is going because it isn't going towards looking out for members."

"All that needs doing is a ramp putting in place which wouldn't cost that much to do.